Re: Reality check

William M. Loker (wloker@RA.MSSTATE.EDU)
Mon, 1 Jul 1996 18:27:01 -0500

On Mon, 1 Jul 1996, John McCreery wrote:

> Just a brief reminder that the issues we discuss do have real world
> relevance. The following is from the editorial page of The Japan Times,
> Monday, July 1, 1996.
> "Postwar education has created indiscriminate egalitarianism; it has
> produced few real leaders or great persons, with the nation resting snugly
> in the lap of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
> I am afraid that if everything is left in the hands of the present
> generation of leaders, this indiscriminate egalitarianism could become a
> permanent feature of our society and consign it to long-term stagnation and
> eventual decline."
> Hisahiko Okazaki, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Thailand, now
> serves as special adviser to Hakuhodo Inc.
> How would you respond to him, without simply assuming the stance of the
> "indiscriminate egalitarianism" of which he is afraid? Can you offer an
> example of even one society that is (1) egalitarian, (2) conducive to a
> high level of "creativity" [Okazaki's editorial is entitled "Bring on the
> 'whiz kids': Egalitarian education stifles Japan's creativity.] and (3)
> able to organize an economy on a scale able to provide a decent standard of
> living to a population larger than, say, 1,000 people? Then comes (4): Is
> it possible to imagine this society working on a scale adequate to ensure a
> decent living for a global population approaching six billion?

Maybe I'm missing something here, but does anyone necessarily agree that
Okazaki's diagnosis is accurate, i.e. that "indiscriminate egalitarianism"
exists in the Japanese education system (or that of any other modern
industrial nation-state)? And, of course, creativity is not limited to
ranked/stratified societies

However, John's point is well-taken that examples of large scale (>1,000
people) societies/institutions organized along egalitarian lines is
rare-to-absent. This is why I still like the Band-Tribe-Chiefdom-State
typology, because it is informative on such matters. I recognize that
this makes me an intellectual luddite or worse. (We were supposed to
throw out such typologies long ago) ...

Does anyone (besides me) still use the B-T-Ch-S typology in teaching?

Bill Loker
> Now, if anthropologists could do that....
> John McCreery
> 3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
> Yokohama 220, JAPAN
> "And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
> what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
> the earth." --An anthropologist's credo