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Anxiety levels and international relations Anxiety levels and international relations
by Joseph Gatt
2019-06-12 10:02:06
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When you have military power and alliances you have low anxiety levels, meaning free societies. When you have low military power but good alliances you have moderate anxiety levels, which lead to tribal societies. When you are surrounded with military powers and have few alliances with major powers, you have militarized states.

Remember about a year ago when I discussed three types of society: free societies, tribal societies and militarized societies? Let me recap very briefly. Free societies are societies where you are an individual and you are treated as an individual. Free societies tend to believe that you can do whatever you please as an individual and that your actions represent yourself, not your family, not your tribe, not your company.

inter01_400Tribal societies are societies where people don't really feel like individuals, but feel like they are representatives of their tribe. They don't refer to people as Jacob, John or Mohamed, but they refer to people as “that Jew” and “that Christian” and “that Muslim.” Tribal societies tend to be restrained, because your actions represent your tribe. You need to get permission from your tribe to get married, to give a public speech or to take action in public. And your speech represents your tribe, not yourself.

Finally militarized societies are societies where individuals are treated based on their rank. In militarized societies you don't “graduate from high school” but you “graduate from high school with X, Y, Z rank.” In militarized societies your money, educational background, family, neighborhood, the car you drive, the food you eat all represent your rank. And you marry people of equal rank, and you hang out with people of equal rank.

One question I got a lot after publishing that series of papers was “why these cultural differences?” I used to say that religion and belief systems played a role, that is that Islam tends to be a tribal religion, so is Catholicism, while Protestantism and Judaism tend to be free religions. Hinduism would be a tribal religion, while China, Japan and South Korea have more militarized beliefs in the likes of Sun Tzu and Bushido.

But that's not quite right. Spain and Portugal, both Catholic nations, have a great deal of freedom and individuals perceive themselves as individuals. In Taiwan and South Korea, where there is a large Evangelical Christian population, even Protestant churches are very much militarized, and members of Protestant Churches in Taiwan and South Korea are assigned ranks.

So I figured out two major factors come into play when defining certain cultures: their military status, and the military alliances they forge. When you are a country like the US where the military is big and where pretty much all surrounding nations are allies, and there are no real enemies within reach, the US is a free society. Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand are all countries with big militaries no military enemies within reach. So anxiety levels among such populations drop, and when you live anxiety-free, you live in free societies.

France is one country with a big military force but a country that tended to be skeptical of military alliances, and still is skeptical about military alliances to this day. That is France wants to be a leading military power rather than a follower, and French society is moderately militarized.

Africa, including North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and the former CIS states are states with moderate military powers and mild alliances. That is the geographical area I just mentioned has a few military threats, but nothing major. Nothing that diplomacy couldn't solve. So that mild anxiety leads its populations to rely on the tribe and on tribal alliances for protection, thus being tribal societies.

China, Japan and Korea on the other hand are big military powers, with no substantial alliance between them. There's always the possibility, however unreasonable, that China might attack Korea or that Japan might attack China and so on. So that leads China, Japan, Korea and to a certain extent Vietnam to being militarized societies. That is societies with high anxiety levels, where most interactions with other individuals tend to be full of anxiety.

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