Political books 14

The End of Government ... as we know it       Elaine C. Kamarck      Feb 2008
World on Fire                            Amy Chua              Mar 2008
Day of Empire                           Amy Chua              Mar 2008
Lost Christianities                      Bard D. Ehrman     Mar 2008

The End of Government . . . as we know it         Elaine C. Kamarck      Feb 2008
            Subtitle:  Making Public Policy Work

Preface  In 1993 the author started work in the Executive Office of the President, a few hundred yards away from the White House, and her phone was archaic.  She worked there for 4½ years and never got over the feeling that she was struggling in the dark ages.  She got that feeling again on 9/11.  The Pentagon was trying to cope with the 21st century with Cold War tools.  And then again, 4 years later with Katrina the government showed the same capability to move rapidly and solve problems.  This book is an effort to try to help move the process of governing into the modern era.

C1  The Revolution in Governing  A comparison - Banking and registering your car or getting a passport in 1954 vs. 1994.  In 1954 - for both you are waited on by clerks, sometimes poorly waited on, you wait in line, you may not finish your business before the office closes.  In 1994 - Banks, ATM machines, internet banking, impersonal but convenient services.  - registering a car or getting a passport, essentially the same as in 1954.  

The private sector was changing but the public sector had not.  Before computers office work was done by clerks.  Management was done by hierarchical organizations that broke tasks into subtasks, which were broken into sub -subtasks, etc.  Private industry was good at eliminating these clerk based systems, government was not.  People began getting more and more resentful of slow and costly government systems.  

Government: "organizations that are large, ponderous, inflexible, and obsolete."

Conservatives picked up on this and were successful in becoming elected.  The "tax revolts" that started in California in 1978 with Proposition 13.  However no one suggested that government do less, just use less money.  This peaked between 1994 with the Republican take over in Congress when the Democrats regained control.  However the process of government still looked (and acted) about the same.  

With the push to reduce bureaucracy and government more efficient came the realization that some "inefficiency" is indeed useful like the differing responsibilities between elected officials and appointed officials.  She compares results of this movement using the US, England, and New Zealand.  The difficulty of managing extended bureaucracies with the political constituencies and managing in new ways.  Some of the efforts to computerize government.  The final part of the chapter discusses how the author will structure the approach to the problem of governance.  

Problems so far:  she seems to uncritical, she doesn't question statements, she fails to critically address compliance and evaluate performance.  

C2  Matching Means to Ends
 In democracies, policy making goes through 2 stages, 1) deciding what to do, and 2) deciding how to do it.  The first step can be lengthy, often taking years (just look at how long responding to global warming is taking).  In the past, the second task was simple, create a bureaucracy to address the problem or give it to an existing bureaucracy as an additional task.  Now many people are perceiving that bureaucracy is the problem.  However there are alternatives, in recent decades several methods have been proposed as a way of addressing the problems of bureaucracy and offering new solutions.  The problems of bureaucracies have typically been poor performance, lack of flexibility, and suppression of innovation.  

People have looked at this problem either from the top down or from the bottom up.  If the goals are easily an unambiguously stated, the top down approach seems to work well, if the goals are somewhat ambiguous and not easily stated, the bottom up approach seems to work the best.  The author proposes three different approaches to governing.
A major problem with this approach is that each policy requires careful examination to pick the best approach for each policy.  She suggests that where the policy can be routinized and requires a high level of security it can be best handled by reinvention.  Where it can be routinized but does not require security it can be networked by contracting out the service.  Where the policy requires flexibility and innovation it can best be provided by contracting out, like contracting basic research to universities.  This can also be done by the market as in reducing pollution or carbon emissions.  If the policy requires that millions of people change their behavior, using the market is often the only way outside of a police state.  Refunds on bottles is an example.  She goes on to discuss several policies and the approaches that have been taken, some wisely, some not.

Problems.  All too often, and without adequate controls, contracting out has resulted in poorer serviced, underpaid workers, workers rights issues, an the making of a very few people rich.  The service may get provided in a cheaper manner but the resulting social problems created by the providers cost the overall population more in the long run.  She also proposes the use of governmental vouchers for several problems.  Again these need to be monitored aggressively as the Bush administration has shown that school vouchers can be used to eliminate public schools to the benefit of religious schools that do not teach all subjects and fail to provide for all students.

C3  Democratic Accountability
 Accountability is a double edged sword,  first you have efficiency of creating and delivering solutions to problems, but second you have accountability to your constituents, are you doing what the people want done?  Traditional bureaucracies have an advantage in that all rules are spelled out in great detail.  Unfortunately this is a major part of the problem.  Since the conditions for a response and the responses are specified in gruesome detail, flexibility and innovation are almost impossible and changing conditions can create a dysfunctional break between expectations and performance.  In many bureaucracies the definition of accountability is how well people follow rules, efficiency in performing the overall goal is never evaluated.  

Using the reinvention paradigm, New Zealand and Great Britain are ahead of the US.  In the US there seems to be a great difficulty in changing government because there is always a political group that wants to keep everything the same, whichever side is being faced with change.  It takes leaders who are very astute with all sides of the subject to make any progress.  Interference is common from political leaders, unions, legal groups, other agencies, and industries.  They often realize that they have power and that change, for better or not, would reduce their power.  

One of the biggest problems in implementing networked governance is the matter or contract management.  This cannot be simple low-level bookkeeping.  The goal of project contract management has to be related to the desired output of the contract.  Unfortunately, the designers of the contracts tend to be raised in a bureaucratic environment and the methods of contract management are directly taken from bureaucratic designs.  Often those evaluating the contracts have no concept of network characteristics and orient their evaluations strictly on single entities of the network, what would be called sub-optimization.

Government by market is not about evaluating individual performance or contracts.  It is about convincing people to do what you want them to.  The biggest challenge is to create it properly in the first place.  If you are paying someone to do something you have to get the price right, the scope of payments right, get the right information to monitor the project, and to make sure that laws are being properly followed.  If this is done properly, the job of the manager is mainly to prevent cheating and gaming.  The ground rules may need to be modified to get the proper result and then the "market" must be properly monitored.  The pricing mechanisms will need to be changed to reflect changing conditions as the compliance with the program changes.  Example: a nickel deposit on a pop or beer can is much less of an inducement now than it was in 1970.

Each method has strengths and weaknesses.  Each is open to creativity and innovation and is capable of being used to cheat or steal from the public.  None of them can just be set up and ignored.  All need to be carefully monitored and the system will have to be "tweaked" from time to time.

C4  The Problem with the Bureaucratic Instinct  She will use two examples throughout the book, welfare dependence and homeland security.

Social Security was the first "Welfare Program."  Over time new programs and new criticisms arose.  Bureaucratic rules expanded to create a mess.  The seeming goals of assistance has been changed to adherence to rules - not creating productive citizens.  Some new approaches such as contracting some services out seem to be working well.

Shortly after 9/11 and the appointment of Tom Ridge as Director of Homeland Security the New York Times published a 150 box diagram of the new Dept. of Homeland Security.  They were trying to apply the approach that had (somewhat) worked during the Cold War to entirely new problems in a new environment.  She discusses many problems in the implementation of Homeland Security.  The director has no real power, there are numerous groups with powerful supporters.  This is compared to the old "Drug Czar" created in 1988 and the coordinator of AIDS policy.  Both pretty much failed because they had no power.

This chapter has tried to show how efforts to change the system often will meet with many roadblocks.  She is also very fond of using tables with separate cells for each intersection of a tyhpe of governmental organization and problems to be solved.  She explains how different organizations would work in different areas.  This is perhaps the simplest example of network analysis.  Is it deep enough?  Probably not for real life, gut it works in a general book.

Problems: Again her criteria for success seems to be limited to federal expenditures.  She states that other benefits occurred but offers no evidence.  Do women leave welfare after 2 years because they become well paid employees or because they know that they are no longer eligible?  She seems to assume that 2 years is long enough to learn a skill.  How long did the author spend in school?  Why didn't she get a job after 2 years in junior college or trade school?  It sounds like if you are ever on welfare you are deemed ineligible for any sort of advanced education.  

C5  The Reinvented Public Sector  Over the years many problems have been noticed with old style bureaucratic systems.  James Pinkerton has identified five types of "bugs" in the Bureaucratic Operating System (BOS).  These are:
In the authors view, the first step to solving these problems is reinventing government. Her first example is the British government.  The first steps were taken in 1988.  By 1997 130 agencies were working under this model and they employed about 75% of all civil service personnel.  They reported faster service with less cost.  They separated policymaking from service delivery and compliance functions.  

The following is a list of the most common strategies used to create reinvented public-sector organizations:
Applications: Welfare Dependence
Eligibility:  One of the biggest problems was multiple programs and the multiplication - almost without limits - of forms.  In 1995 in Merced County, CA there were 700 different paper forms in one office alone.  They were able to reduce this down to 1 page and reduce processing time from 30-45 days to 1-4 days, staff training was reduced and caseloads were increased.
Electronic transfer of benefits:  With the move from paper forms (checks and food stamps) to electronic techniques as smart cards, merchant acceptance, cost of administration, and fraud prevention, all benefited.  However it did take a change in the banking laws.
Deterring fraud:  Electronic benefits allowed easier checking for fraud.
Waivers:  In some cases a state or specific organization can apply for a waiver from federal standards.  If the new policy works it can then be more widely adopted.

Applications:  Homeland Security I
Prevention:  Techniques such as the Nunn-Lugar program and tracking money flows.
Protection:  Sharing of information between agencies, deputize state and local officials so they can arrest illegal aliens (this is controversial), enlist air traffic passengers in identifying terrorists.
Response:  Train first responders and increase cooperation among local agencies.  Prepare pharmaceutical supplies and vaccinate first responders.

Applications:  Homeland Security II
Reforming the intelligence community:  The intelligence community was using a cold war organization.  This needs to be changed.  Security standards reduced information available.  Reduce dependency on signal reception and increase human intelligence.  Change the focus of the FBI from one of catching and punishing criminals to prevention of terrorists.  Require that the FBI, CIA, and others work together.  Create structures that can withstand "down time" with no terrorist activity.
Protecting the borders:  Too many agencies, too many constituencies, and too many internal conflicts are charged with border protection.  She presents many individual conflicts.  

C6  Government by Network  When applied to government, the term has at least four separate meanings.
Two attractions of government by network, it is not bureaucratic and it has the potential to be flexible and to innovate.  Another feature, by bringing outside, often critical, elements into the fold of government they find it very difficult to criticize.  She discusses contacting out transition to work programs, automating child-support enforcement systems, and debt collection systems for child-support payments.

In terms of Homeland Security, national identification cards could be contracted out.  Government can create networks of local, state, and national law enforcement agencies.  Networks can be used for emergency response.  Unfortunately for this latter use some agencies, for example the military want to impose a hierarchy style of governance with of course them at the leadership position.  Another possibility is the use of data-mining to scan multiple large databases to put together information that links subjects.  Here again we have potential problems, are we searching for terrorists, organized crime, or "enemies" in the sense of Nixon's "Enemies List" - this has to be carefully monitored, especially so when the President of the US may be the lawbreaker.  The final thing she discusses is emergency response, in terms of stocking of emergency supplies and planning for emergency response.

Problem: or perhaps a leading question, do bureaucracies fail because internal problems or are they made to fail because outside interests want to capitalize on the money that they require to operate.  It seems that recently in America there have been many hyenas ready to feast on the carcass, and often trying to kill the still living carcass to demonstrate that it is a failure.  I see this most clearly in the protestations that Social Security is dying, mainly by the people who are trying to kill it by refusing to update some of its outdated features.  Their motivation seems to be the desire to siphon of a portion of the money invested if it were to be privatized.

Her bias appears in the following quote, "For the anti-corporate do-gooders of the old left ..."

Forgive me but her excitement about and use of the term network sounds more like a kid with a new toy.  Her discussion doesn't sound like it is based on long experience with and understanding of systems in general.  I believe that a system is a more correct concept, a network is just the links between the processing portions of the system.  

C7  Government by Market  This term has been defined in many different ways, her definition can best be understood by comparison.  Bureaucracy is government employees working in the same old inefficient way.  Reinvented government is government employees operating more efficiently.  Government by network is government paying other entities to perform the jobs of the previous government employees.  Government by market is reconfiguring the economy so that the results that are desired become a normal outcome of the economic system.  

It has been tried in a number of ways.  The most successful has been the buying and selling of pollution credits.  Another attempt has been in education by using education vouchers.  This has pretty much been a failure except where religious groups have been willing to subsidize there own version of education.  

The Characteristics of Government by Market:  Government by market can be effective when the market is designed with the following characteristics:
The collection and disposal of garbage is used as a long example of how many factors can be involved in the decision of how to solve a complex problem.  Child care vouchers, earned income tax credits, reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and research on the development of drugs to counter biological terrorism effects are additional examples.

C8  Leadership in Twenty-First-Century Government  A somewhat worthless final 2¼ page final chapter.  We need better people in government, we have to pay them more, congress has to do a better job.

The book has a somewhat odd format with notes and references coming at the end of each chapter.  There are generally a lot of these, ranging from a portion of a page to 4 full pages, a 2 page selected bibliography, and an 8 page index.  

I had a lot of problems with what was not said or addressed in the book.  In general I feel that she either ignored or it never registered on her conscious that it is flesh and blood people that are being served and who are serving them.  Greater efficiency is one thing but to to switch jobs from dedicated public servants to illegal aliens who are working for $2.00 or less per hour (when they are paid) is quite another.  Some of her measures (sometimes implied) are also questionable.  Does a woman quit welfare because she has a good job or because she knows she will be denied are very different and says a lot about the moral value of the policy.

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World on Fire                            Amy Chua        Mar 2008
Subtitle: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability

This is really a very simple book with only one, very simple idea.  The simple idea is that quite often, in the recent history of the world, there exists a single small group of people who for some reason are able to dominate a market.  She calls these groups, "market-dominant minorities".  These groups may be ethnic, religious, racial, or "just because".  But, whatever the reason, once they become established and if they can achieve a dominance in a market and if they can be identified as a "group", there is a very good chance the the numerically dominant group will come to resent their success.  With growing resentment the likelihood of active hatred and violence becomes greater and greater.  

To look at this in another way, imagine that you have discovered that if you climb on top of the Rock, at "Tipping Rock State Park", you get a great view and besides it is thrilling, when the rock wiggles just a bit.  When one person does it, it is fun.  However if you invite all of your friends, neighbors, and relatives and they all go to the end of Tipping Rock it will fall off and everybody dies, a result of gravitational force.  If a particular ethnic group does a similar thing as a "market-dominant minority" a very similar thing happens, a result of a social force.  The members of the group very well may die in the crash, and in many cases they have.  

The majority of the book examines how this has happened many times in the past.  She also examines how other practices may in fact "chip away at the supports" and how we can apply our knowledge of cultural support so that we can "prop up" the Tipping Rock so that more people can enjoy the view and the prosperity that we all gain from our trip to the top.  

Introduction: Globalization and Ethnic Hatred  The book begins with a personal event in the author's life.  On a beautiful morning in September 1994 her mother called, her aunt, her fathers sister, had been murdered by her chauffeur.  Her family is ethnic Chinese and they lived in the Philippines.  Her parents came to the US when her father received a scholarship to MIT.  The rest of the family still lived in the Philippines.  

In the Philippines, the Chinese are a very small minority, only about 1% of the population but they control about 60% of the private economy.  The police, who are all Filipino, knew had killed the aunt but they made no attempt to find him.  They arrested two maids but released them when they said they had heard him say that he was planning on killing the aunt as he was sharpening his knife.  Even though the chauffeur supposedly took money and jewels the police listed "Revenge" as the motive for the crime.  Later, talking about another matter with an uncle he said, "Why does everyone want to talk about that?  It's the worst thing for foreign investment."  Unpleasant things are not discussed, they are bad for business.  

In the introduction she gives just of few examples of the violence that has occurred in these situations, thousands tortured and killed in Serbia in the early 1990's, in Rwanda in 1994 Hutus killed 800,000 Tutsis in three months, in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1998 mobs killed over 2,000 Chinese, beginning in 1998 suicide bombers began killing Jews, and on Sept. 11, 2001 Middle Eastern terrorists crushed or incinerated over 3,000 people.  

In recent years many have suggested that the solution for the worlds problems are markets and democracy.  Unfortunately the spread of markets without the controls that Western democracies have placed on them tends to exacerbate the problems of a "market-dominant minority" at the same time that democracy gives a voice to the people who have never had power and are resentful of their treatment.  This conflict generally plays out in three ways:
Chua reports that her ideas have been misunderstood:  
The rest of the book is an examination in detail of many examples of minority domination of markets and a hopeful suggestion of how the process of democratization and global markets can be achieved without the current problems.

Part One  The Economic Impact of Globalization  Imagine that the owners of Microsoft and the rest of the software industry were all ethnic Chinese, and also that ethnic Chinese also owned Time Warner, GE, Chase Manhattan, United Airlines, Exxon Mobile, and the rest of America's largest corporations and banks and 2/3 of the country's prime real estate.  Now imagine that the 75% of the US population who consider themselves "white" were dirt poor, owned no land, and had no upward mobility as far back as anyone could remember.  If you can picture this you can understand how much of the non-Western world feels.

Most Americans don't want to lynch Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Warren Buffet for making money, we try to emulate them.  In much of the rest of the world these people would be ethnic outsiders and they would be hated by most of their countrymen.

1  Rubies and Rice Paddies  Chinese Minority Domination in Southeast Asia  Throughout most of Asia the Chinese are the market-dominant minority.  There are a few other regions with other minorities, the Bengali in Assam and the Tamils in Sri Lanka who are market-dominant.  

C2  Llama Fetuses, Latifundia, and La Blue Chip Numero Uno "White" Wealth in Latin America  A light skin is generally the mark of the market-dominant minority in Central and South America although not exclusively.  It also tends to be a somewhat fluid and flexible criteria.  There are areas with no easily defined minorities.

C3  The Seventh Oligarch  The Jewish Billionaires of Post-Communist Russia  Since the fall of the Soviet Union much of the wealth of Russia has been owned by seven men, six of which are Jewish.  For many years Jews have been prominent in Russian academic and business circles.  They were quick to move into the opportunities that arose at this time.  They may have been ruthless, they were smart, and unsurpassed entrepreneurs who build fortunes very rapidly.  With a recent anti-Semitism they have had to be more careful,

C4  The "Ibo of Cameroon"  Market-Dominant Minorities in Africa  Northern Europeans - whites have been the market-dominant minority in most of Africa, especially the South, for many years.  There are a number of market-dominant minorities who are African: the Kikuyus of Kenya, the Ibo of Nigeria, to a lesser extent the Tutsi of Rwanda, and the Eriteans of Ethiopia.  Other non-white groups have included the Indians of East Africa and the Lebanese of West Africa.  

Part Two  The Political Consequences of Globalization    After the fall of the Berlin Wall a common political and economic consensus emerged, both in the West but to a large extent around the world.  Markets and democracy would transform the world into a community of modernized, peace-loving nations.  In the process, ethnic hatred, extremist fundamentalism, and other "backward" aspects of underdevelopment would be swept away.  Wrong, WRONG, and WRONG!  In nations with a market-dominant minority and a poor "indigenous" majority just the opposite has proven true.  The market-dominant minority has been enriched  (because they know how to effectively use the new opportunities) and the poor majority has been taken over by the voices of demagogues.

C5  Backlash against Markets  Ethnically Targeted Seizures and Nationalizations  In 1976 Robert Mugabe promised, "in Zimbabwe, none of the white exploiters will be allowed to keep an acre of their land." In 1980, after independence, he won his first election and with the same promise has won every election since.  Every time his poll numbers go down, he calls for the immediate seizure of commercial farms.  In neighboring South Africa th Pan Africanist Congress party has a slogan, "One settler--one bullet!"  Similar events occurred in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Burma, Pakistan, and Bolivia.  Many commentators in the West called these communist movements, they were not, they were all aimed against market-dominant minorities.  

In Russia Jews had been discriminated against for centuries.  Jews had been restricted from owning land so they operated banks, ran small businesses, etc.  The were ideally situated to benefit from market liberalization.  

In 1998 Venezuela, which had been governed by a small minority of "whites", elected Hugo Chavez.  These "whites" immediately took 8 billion out of the country and his policies did not encourage re-investment.  The coup in 2002 that lasted for only a few days failed because the "whites" did not include any trade unionists or anyone outside of the white wealthy minority.  

C6  Backlash against Democracy  Crony Capitalism and Minority Rule  In many countries, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, and the Philippines, an indigenous majority leader has made a deal with representatives of the market-dominant minority to run the country so as to benefit the leader and members of the market-dominant minority.  In Sierra Leone it was Siaka Stevens and five Lebanese businessmen.  In Indonesia it was Suharto and Indonesian Chinese, in the Philippines it was Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos and resident Chinese.

In Kenya, Indian business interest heavily invested in Jomo Kenyatta's first presidential campaign.  Indian businessmen have been supporting the president ever since, currently Daniel Arap Moi.  Many democracy movements have been repelled by moneyed interests in Central and South America.

C7  Backlash against Market-Dominant Minorities  Expulsions and Genocide  She describes the Hutu - Tutsi genocide in Rwanda and the genocide in the former Yugoslavia as being caused by rapid democratization without thought of equalizing incomes mixed with long suppressed ethnic hatreds.  Ethnic demagogues and ethnonationalist movements fired up these hatreds and the result is torture and murder.

C8  Mixing Blood  Assimilation, Globalization, and the Case of Thailand  Beginning in 1909 the Thai government (then Siam) begin passing laws against Chinese.  This intensified in 1930 with restrictions on Chinese schools, books, newspapers, etc.  This fairly successfully kept a "Chinese minority" from forming, they were forced to assimilate.  Recently this policy has been relaxed but not eliminated.  It remains to be seen if this experiment will continue to be successful.  It is well to keep in mind that "ethnicity" is primarily a cultural definition so it can be re-defined very quickly if conditions change.

Part Three  Etnonationalism and the West  Laissez-faire markets combined with forced democracy have exacerbated many underlying tensions which had not yet "boiled over".  However this does not mean that the US and other Western nations can simply ignore this problem.  It has effects throughout the West and especially the US.

C9  The Underside of Western Free Market Democracy  From Jim Crow to the Holocaust  There are no market-dominant minorities today in either the US or Europe.  If there is a problem in the US today it is one that pits economically and politically dominate "white" majority against economically and politically weaker ethnic minorities.  The rich are definitely an economically dominate minority but they cannot be identified in any way other than wealth.  Many have worried that granting full democracy to everyone might cause problems, including the founders of the US, but these worries have been proved wrong.  Even in the US universal suffrage has taken a long time.  In many ways the welfare state has proven to be a buffer that decreases the resentment of the poor.  The American Dream, that anyone may rise to be President or rich, is a big factor in our culture.   Outside the West the dream of upward mobility is almost non-existent.  Another factor in American politics is racism.  Many poor and lower-middle-class whites are quite racist and therefore will not join in political groups with other races.  

One thing the West has to realize is that these modifying factors just do not exist in many developing countries.  However market-dominant minorities have existed in the past in the West.  The two examples that she discusses are the American South where newly emancipated blacks represented a majority in a number of southern states and in the Weimar Germany and the Nazi era.  Jews were very well represented in the market but were not as dominant as many of her other examples, but many politicians, following Adolf Hitler, equated them with market dominance.  

There are locations in some American cities where market-dominant minorities exist.  Examples include Korean businesses in African-American neighborhoods and a few locations where Orthodox Jews - who are very noticeable - are the primary business people in African-American neighborhoods.

C10  The Middle Eastern Cauldron  Israeli Jews as a Regional Market-Dominant Minority  Although a little different, all the other examples have looked at market-dominant minorities within a country, the state of Israel is perceived as a particularly hostile market-dominant minority by many in the Middle East.  With few exceptions, market-dominant minorities do not exist in the countries of the Middle East.  The Christian Copts in Egypt were before Nasser targeted wealthy Copts.  Since the Muslim states of the Middle East have such a long record of civilization they will be hard to change quickly.  It is likely that rapid market change without careful attention to civil and economic rights would cause a wider spread between the rich and the poor.  Rapid democratization would probably lead to more polarization.

C11  Why They Hate Us  America as a Global Market-Dominant Minority  America is viewed by many throughout the world as being the ultimate market-dominant minority.  America has only 4% of the worlds population but it dominates every aspect of modern existence.  There are many examples where people hate what we are doing to their countries but yet the individuals want to come to America because of the advantages we have.  

The majority of the chapter documents the ambivalence in some quarters and the hate in others that many in the world feel towards America and her policies.

C12  The Future of Free Market Democracy
 Market-dominant minorities do not want Democracy- or at least they don't want genuine majority rule.  Many would disagree, but "democracy" is notoriously contested term.  When market-dominant minorities say they want Democracy, they typically mean that they want the constitutionally guaranteed human rights and property protections for minorities, they want protection against "tyranny of the majority".  This is the feeling of the Chinese in South Asia, the Indians in East Africa, the Jews in Russia, and the European elites in South America.  When Israeli Jews brag about their democracy they pointedly do not extend suffrage to the 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  When Americans call for world democratization, we do not mean world democracy.  We mean democracy within individual countries.  We don't want our political and economic fate controlled by the majority of the worlds countries or citizens.  Like other market-dominant minorities, we don't trust the relatively poor, frustrated, resentful majorities surrounding us to act in our best interests.

Any attack on market-dominant minorities is an attack on markets.  Thus if a new people gain power in a democratic fashion, and attack the minorities, the markets suffer.  Several writers have suggested that markets need to be developed first and then democracy will follow from this.  She disagrees.  As one writer says, "If authoritarianism were the key to prosperity, then Africa would be the richest continent in the world."  Democracy is a valid goal, it just has to be approached carefully.

She makes three assumptions:  
If global free market democracy is to be peaceably sustainable, then the problem of market-dominant minorities must be confronted head-on.  The answer is not to swing from one wishful panacea to another, you can't scape-goat democracy and glorify markets, or vise versa.  Several specific topics must be addressed:  
She addresses these issues in a number of potential answers.
The book has 39 pages of notes by chapter and 12 pages of index.

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Day of Empire                     Amy Chua              Mar 2008
            Subtitle:  How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance--And Why They Fall

Like the previous book by Chua this is a very simple book with just one simple idea.  This idea is that throughout recorded history there have a number of countries that have been overwhelmingly dominant in their geographical area.  One could call these superpowers.  However there have only been a few that go beyond this.  They are the countries that are far superior to all other countries of the world in all measures.  She calls these hyperpowers.  Depending on the exact definition used there are no more than eight in recorded history.  The other factor about these is that they all share one common denominator.  They are all more tolerant and pluralistic than the other countries of the world at that time.  They all found places for peoples of all races, cultures, and ethnicities and thrived because of this tolerance.  Other countries who were not tolerant could swiftly rise to power but very quickly fell from power.  Two recent examples of this have been Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Once you get past the fly leaf of the cover there is not much left to learn other than a superb documentation of her thesis.  And of course, the final chapter, where she tries to apply what she has learned to the challenges facing the US in the coming century.

Preface  A brief history of her life growing up in America.  The conflict between maintaining their Chinese heritage and becoming American.  Her learning to be a Han.  The statement that her father made, "You will marry a non-Chinese over my dead body."  Being told that she would attend Berkeley where her father taught, and, as her father before her, applying on her own and attending Harvard, just up Mass. Ave. from MIT, his school, and marrying a Jewish American and having mixed-blood, Mandarin-speaking children who are doted on by their grandparents.

Sounds a little strange, an academic book and you hear about the teenage angst of the author?  However it very clearly, and personally, illustrates the topic of the book which is ethnic "purity" and ethnic pluralism.  It is not an easy route, but America has managed to thread its way between these icebergs and in doing so has become a hyperpower.  This book is about other countries that have managed this, and some that have not.  

Introduction The world changes rapidly.  In the 1980's there were two superpowers, ten years later the Soviet Union had imploded and the US was the undisputed hyperpower, today after Iraq and Katrina people are questioning our decline.  Will China, India, or the European Union overtake the US in the near future?  

She defines a hyperpower as a nation or empire only if it satisfies three conditions:
  1. Its power clearly surpasses that of all its known contemporaneous rivals.
  2. It is not clearly inferior in economic or military strength to any other power on the planet, known to it or not.
  3. It projects its power so immense an area of the globe and over so immense a population that it breaks the bounds of mere local or even regional preeminence.  
Even though it was not a part of the definition, she found that to be preeminent a nation had to be at the forefront of the world's technological, military, and economic development.  Since the human capital to achieve this is never all located in one locale, the nation must attract this human capital.  The way to do this is through tolerance.  The demonstration that life would better working for the nation than working against it.  Tolerance is not defined in modern human-rights terms, it is just being more attractive than the neighbors.  She is also saying that intolerance signals the decline of hyperpowers.  There may be additional reasons for decline but it is always associated with the rise of intolerance.  

She warns against selection bias, where one "proves" one's thesis by picking out cases that support it and ignoring the ones that don't.  She therefore tried to consider all nations that evolved into superpowers.  Two of the ones that she discusses, the Dutch Republic and Spain, are clearly somewhat marginal although they are definitely worth considering.

The Tolerance of Barbarians

C1  The First Hegemon  The Great Persian Empire from Cyrus to Alexander  The Achaemenid Empire was founded by Cyrus the Great in about 539 BC.  He was remarkably tolerant of the indigenous religions.  He prostrated himself before the temple of the God Marduk, he freed the Jews from their Babylonian captivity and rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem.  His son Cambyses captured Egypt, Phoenicia, Libya, and many Greek cities in 8 years.  The next ruler was Darius the Great who ruled for nearly 40 years.  He extended the empire into India, Greece, and eastern Europe.  All of these recruited the best craftsmen and warriors from all of the conquered territories.

Darius' son, Xerxes, presided over the beginning of the end of the Achaemenid Empire.  Revolts started in distant areas.  The empire had more and more revolts although it lasted another 150 years, ending with Darius III.  During this time repression grew.  Philip and his son Alexander the Great became leaders of Greece and Alexander quickly conquered the Persion Empire.  Again, Alexander showed considerable tolerance for religions and foreign troops.  When Alexander died at 32 his empire fell apart because of internal divisions and no clear leader.

C2  Tolerance in Rome's High Empire  Gladiators, Togas, and Imperial "Glue"  Rome itself started about 753 BC, even before Persia but it didn't really get going until about 75 BC, hitting it's zenith between 70-192 AD.  It never was quite as big as the Persion Empire but it did something that no other empire has ever done, it offered full citizenship to every citizen (male only - with slaves).  A number of emperors were not "ethnic" Romans, Trajan (98-117) was born in Spain, as were several who follow him.  Septimius Severus (193-211) was from Africa with a Syrian wife.  

Outsiders were accepted in Roman society but it was not multicultural diversity, it was assimilation.  Anyone could become a Roman, but they had to work at it, learning Latin, wearing a toga, etc.  Religious diversity was accepted as long as you paid respect to Roman authority and official rituals, this is where the Christians got into trouble - they were very intolerant of any other religions.  Periodically the Christians were persecuted but when Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 persecutions by the Christians became rampant.  At the same time German tribes needed help but discrimination enraged them and shortly the Roman Empire in the West soon died.

C3  China's Golden Age  The Mixed-Blooded Tang Dynasty  The early Chinese dynasty's were very ethnocentric and typically short lived.  The Tang Dynasty between 618 and 907 was the exception.  At the beginning and middle it was quite tolerant.  As troubles mounted towards the end and intolerance increased.  The Chinese always saw themselves as a "special people" and never accepted anyone outside their ethnic group as the Romans did.  

C4  The Great Mongol Empire  Cosmopolitan Barbarians  Temujin, the man who would become known as Genghis Khan, was born in 1162.  He was a nobody, his father was killed when he was 9, his family was abandoned by his clan, he shortly thereafter killed his half brother and was on the run.  He was an incredible politician and war leader.  By 1203 he was the leader of an interethnic army of at least 80,000.  He abolished the system of loyalty determined by blood relations and replaced it with a military structure.  He was very cruel if crossed but if you supported him you were well rewarded.  By 1206 he was the total ruler of all the Mongol tribes.  By 1215 he had completely conqured northern China.  He wanted to open trade relations in Central Asia but his envoys were killed.  He was enraged and conquered the entire area.  This was completed in 1223.  He returned to Mongolia and died in 1227.  

His sons were not up to the job of leading the Mongols but one of his Generals conquered most of central Europe, killing more than 100,000 soldiers and pretty much ending European feudalism.  His grandsons were up to the job.  One ruled the Arab and Persian lands, another controlled Russia and eastern Europe.  Another, Khubilai,  conquered southern China over a long period of time.  Khubilai alone ruled between 110 and 120 million people.  He was also remarkably tolerant and promoted people by ability.  Khubilai died in 1294 but his descendants were not good leaders and in 1368 they were defeated by the Ming rulers.  They had become increasingly intolerant.  They never could join themselves together as the Romans had.  They lacked "glue."

Part Two: The Enlightening of Tolerance  

C5  The "Purification" of Medieval Spain  Inquisition, Expulsion, and the Price of Intolerance  Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain were married in 1469 and for more than 200 years Spain had been the most ethnically diverse country in Europe.  Much of its population was Muslim and it had been the destination of Jews expelled from other European countries starting with England in 1290.

In 1478 the Spanish Inquisition was founded by papal bull.  Under pressure of the Inquisition, the Spanish royalty expelled the Jews in 1492 and in 1502 the Muslims.  In 1492 Spain was the richest country in Europe, there were no foreign bankers.  In 1509 the archbishop of Seville sought to ban borrowing from bankers in Genoa, Ferdinand rejected this on the basis of necessity. Spain had removed all of the Jewish traders and bankers and the Muslim farmers.  Spain desired military domination but all of the money taken from the Americas went straight to the Genoese bankers who had financed the ships.  

Through the 1500's and 1600's religious persecutions continued.  Even in 1767 King Charles III expelled Spain's Jesuits.  In 150 years Spain reduced itself from the richest country in Europe to a basket case.

C6  The Dutch World Empire  Diamonds, Damask, and Every "Mongrel Sect in Christendom"  The Low Countries of Europe had been literally "under water" until 1200 when the inhabitants stated building dikes and pumping the water out.  It was not desired by the other royalties of Europe.  In the 1500 it was nominally under the control of Spain.  In the 1560's rebellion started and by 1588 they were on their own.  The area had long been a destination for the victims of religious persecution, both Jews and Protestants.  Trading and banking expanded greatly and by 1625 the Dutch Republic was a world power.  By 1601, Dutch ships were making a great deal of money but pirates were getting bolder.  In 1602 the East India Company was set up to act as a quasi-governmental agency and to make war if necessary to protect shipping.  

The Dutch had a small but professional army that did not wear itself out on foreign adventures but its navy and shipping were by far the largest in Europe.  In 1688 a Dutch fleet invaded England (partially invited by the British parliament).  William III of Orange became the king of Britain and he brought his backers, Jewish financiers, textile workers, scientists, etc. with him.  Much of the human infrastructure that had supported the Dutch just moved to England and in short order Britain took over the position that the Dutch had previously enjoyed.

C7  Tolerance and Intolerance in the East  The Ottoman, Ming, and Mughal Empires  These three were large and powerful but not all powerful.  Each reached its pinnacle of power and prosperity during its most tolerant era, but in each case intolerance arose and decline soon followed.  

Ottoman Empire:  From the very beginning Islam fragmented and produced rival warring sects.  Many regional powers arose but the Ottoman empire was the largest and longest-lasting.  Most Muslim empires were relatively tolerant but the Ottoman was the most tolerant.  It lasted from about 1300 until the First World War.  In 1492 when he heard of Spain's expulsion decree Sultan Bayezid II issued proclamations of welcome to the Jews and ordered his governors not to refuse entry to them, promising death to those who turned the Jews away.  Suleyman the Magnificent, who ruled from 1520 to 1566, under whom the Ottoman empire reached its zenith, was very welcoming to Jews and Christians.  Officially non-Muslims were second class citizens but this was seldom enforced and many of Suleyman's advisers (and bankers) were not Muslims.  

Suleyman was succeeded by a string of thirteen sultans "ranging in talent from incompetent to idiocy."  Science and learning were restricted, taxes were raised and property was confiscated from non-Muslims.  The empire declined steadily from about 1600 until 1922.

Ming Dynasty China:  The Mings drove out the Mongols in 1368 and immediately turned inward, at first towards domestic agricultural reform but still in 1421 China had the biggest navy in the world.  Their ships could carry 400 times as much cargo as the largest European ships.  The rudder of the biggest ships was as long as Columbus's flagship, the Niña.  The imperial fleet totaled more than 4,000 vessels, King Henry V's "royal fleet" was four fishing boats each capable of carrying 100 soldiers across the channel.  In about 1420 Admiral Zheng He sailed a huge treasure fleet as far as Africa and came back with much treasure.  Shortly thereafter such voyages were banned although Zheng He was allowed one more trip in 1433 but then the ships were put in "storage" and rotted away.  From that point on Ming emperors looked increasingly inward and forbade foreign trade or any contact with foreigners.  

Mughal Empire:  Muslim rulers of Hindu subjects.  Babur, the first leader, died in 1530 after leading the empire for only 4 years.  His son, Humayan, only ruled for a few years before escaping to Persia and then reconquered the empire in 1555.  He in turn only lasted for 7 months before he tripped and fell down stairs and was killed.  His son, Akbar, and his several successors were the most religiously and ethnically tolerant rules in the history of the pre-modern world.  Shah Jahan, his second successor built the Taj Mahal and the Peacock Throne - 2,500 pounds of pure gold encrusted with gems.  His successor, his third son, was a deeply pious man who was also a ruthless fratricidal killer.  He imposed Sharia law throughout the empire and persecuted all except Muslims.  He was able to maintain his rule until his death in 1707 but the country was deeply divided and bankrupt.  Prime pickings for the British to come in and take over.

C8  The British Empire  "Rebel Buggers" and the "White Man's Burden"  Before 1688 and the arrival of William III of Orange, England was a mixture of the same religious and ethnic warfare that was prevalent throughout most of Europe.  In 1689 Parliament passed the Bill of Rights and the Act of Toleration.  After this three groups, Jews, Huguenots, and Scots were able to fully participate in British society.  All three of these groups participated in creating the Bank of England and the British Stock Exchange, two factors that gave Britain access to money when the other powers of Europe, primarily the French, were starved for money.  With the Jews and the Huguenots running the banks and the small technological oriented businesses and the Scots spreading all over the world managing the business of the British Empire, England thrived and quickly became the worlds premier power.  

English policy was extremely tolerant except for religion, most British were Protestant and they never treated the Irish Catholics equitably, and race.  Early British economic policy in India (and elsewhere) was very tolerant of darker races but British evangelicals back in England absolutely rejected this.  Gradually restrictions and rule enforcement alienated many groups in India.  It took a long time, 1947, for India and the 1920's for Ireland, but Britain was forced out of these countries.  Could Britain have retained its empire?  Possibly, but they didn't and by this time another power was rising which was based on principles of religious tolerance.

Part Three: The Future of World Dominance

C9  The American Hyperpower  Tolerance and the Microchip  In its heyday, the British Enpire governed a quarter of the earth's surface and nearly a quarter of the worlds people.  That governed by the grandsons of Genghis Kahn was even larger.  The US only governs 6.5% of the world's land surface and 5% of the world's population.  But today the US is the hyperpower.  

The US is the leader in attracting immigrants.  Over 95% of Americans today descend from someone who crossed an ocean to get here.  Admittedly, some crossed in leg irons.  We have talked about "all men are created equal" for many years but it was only since WW II that that has been mostly true.

The Puritans were persecuted for their religion in Europe, but they became the persecutors in America.  In 1732 more than 85% of Americans lived in towns or states with established churches.  Trade was the enemy of such practices.  With increased immigration and people starting their own churches.  After about 1750 it would prove impossible to maintain a single religion area or town.  The Constitution in 1789 made no mention of religion except for rejecting any religious test.  In 1791 the First Amendment formally prohibited Congress from establishing a national church and protected the free exercise of religion.  Then in 1799 the Treaty of Tripoli stated, "The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion ... it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims]."  Many colonists were horrified at these but they stayed the law of the land.  However at the beginning the First Amendment only applied to the federal government.  Several states still had compulsory churchgoing requirements.

From the 1780's until the 1850's skilled workers were requited from England and other European countries.  These countries attempted to keep them from going.  "Illegal emigrants" referred to those whose countries tried to keep from coming to America.  Much or our labor force was composed of immigrants.  There had been some laws restricting Chinese and other "colored" immigration earlier but it wasn't until bills passed in 1917, 1921, and 1924 that immigration from Europe was reduced.  

She details many "American advances" that were made by recent immigrants from many different countries.

C10  The Rise and Fall of the Axis Powers  Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan  For both the Nazi's and Imperial Japan their rapid mobilization was made possible by intolerance and convincing their people that a united, "pure" race could conquer the world.  Very quickly their people came together and built formidable war machines. When they took an area they made no effort to gain the support of the residents, instead they killed many or enslaved them.  Potential supporters were very effectively turned into saboteurs.  The only place this did not hold was in Formosa (Taiwan) which the Japanese took in 1895.  Repression did not begin until the 1930's when the ultranationalist military leaders took over.

C11  The Challengers  China, the European Union, and India in the Twenty-first Century  

China:  Certainly China will grow in world importance, and with 1.3 billion people they may not need much immigration to attract the best people.  China has been pluralistic at times but not for a long time.  Could they welcome immigrants and make them Chinese?  Again, probably not.  China will certainly become a superpower but competition from others makes it unlikely that China will become globally dominant.

European Union:  It has been growing very rapidly, it already rivals the US in GDP and is more populous.  Previous hyperpowers have been magnets for people, Europe is a magnet for nations.  Therefore it will not develop in the same way.  There is one problem with this type of growth, it is internal.  During most of the time America was relatively open to immigration from "colored" people.  The countries of the EU have done very little to attract people from outside their area and have made very few efforts to assimilate them into the EU culture.  Unless the member states of the EU greatly change their immigration policies they will not attract talented outsiders.

India:  India started very far behind but it is making great strides.  However it is a very divided country.  In 2004 there were 230 political parties.  There are still violent clashes between Hindu and Muslim groups.  China is modernizing with a "top down" strategy, India is working with a "bottom up" strategy.  Which will work the best?  We still don't know.  India still has a long way to go before it can become a superpower.  And it doesn't seem to be interested in doing so.  Most Indians have a very favorable view of America and would seem to prefer to partner with the US than to compete directly with us.  

C12  The Day of Empire  Lessons of History  The US became a hyperpower through military might and then trade.  However military might in the absence of a competing superpower is threatening to most of the world, witness our problems in Iraq.  The world no longer accepts wars of aggression.  The US is still the world leader in trade but multinational corporations have no particular loyalty to a particular country.  Then there is the problem of "glue".  We do not seem to be interested in offering people throughout the world full American citizenship so what can we offer them.  You can only accept so many immigrants, even though for every immigrant there is a positive effect on many back in the home country.  She discusses three issues which must be settled that are very contentious:
The book has 38 pages of notes by chapter and a 14 page index.

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Lost Christianities                      Bard D. Ehrman     Mar 2008
            Subtitled:  The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew

Major Christian Apocrypha Discussed, Dates and Contents  A 5 page list of the major apocrypha including their title, probable date of writing, and a brief description of their content.

Introduction: Recouping our Losses  Christianity in our time is very diverse however Christians in the first 3 or 4 centuries CE were much more so.  As examples, some Christians believed in one God, some in two Gods, some said their were thirty and others claimed there were 365.  Some believed that God created the world, some believed that a subordinate ignorant divinity created it, and some believed that it was created by a malevolent divinity to trap humans.  Some believed that the Jewish Scripture (the Old Testament) was divinely inspired, some believe it was inspired by the God of the Jews who was not the one true god, others believed that it was inspired by an evil deity or that it was not inspired.  Some believed that Jesus was both divine and human, others said that he was completely divine and not human at all, some said that he was a man, adopted by God, but not divine at all, and others believed that Jesus was a human who was temporarily inhabited by a divine being, Christ.  There were some who believed that Jesus' death brought about the salvation of the world, some thought that his death had nothing to do with salvation, and others who thought that He never died.

Now we would say, "Read the New Testament!", however the New Testament hadn't yet been written.  There were books written that would become the New Testament but there were also books with equally valid pedigrees that disagreed with these books.  

The Gospels were all written anonymously, only later did they receive the names of their reputed authors, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  There were many other Gospels, Epistles, and Acts that were not included.  Some have been found, some we know only by name, and undoubtedly some have been completely lost.  These various beliefs and documents "fought it out" in the arena of public and political opinion during the second through fifth centuries.  A clear winner was beginning to appear about the year 400 but there were isolated groups of differing" believers in existence three or four hundred years later.  The Church in Rome became the most important and determined which beliefs would be followed, probably because of the concentration of power in Rome.  It definitely became the most important when Constantine converted(?) to Christianity.

Part ONE: Forgeries and Discoveries  In strict terms, almost all of the books that claim to be Christian are forgeries.  Almost none were written by the people who are claimed to be the authors.  None were written by the people who knew Jesus.  They were written by those who claimed to know what these people said.  Perhaps some of Paul's text were originally written by him, but even these have been changed greatly over the years.  Some are outright forgeries for political purposes.  Some have been misinterpreted.  The Apocalypse was probably written by John, but no one knows which John he was.

C1  The Ancient Discovery of a Forgery: Serapion and the Gospel of Peter   The Gospel of Peter was written by Simon Peter, but not the Peter who was the disciple of Jesus.  It was quite popular around 199.  It was denounced by Eusebius in the early fourth century.  It was then lost and then rediscovered in 1886 when a fragment written in the 7th or 8th century was found in a tomb from the 8th to 12th century and then a later discovery in Ethiopia.  In general it supports the view that Christ was a god who wore the appearance of a living man and therefore could not be killed.  It was reportedly used in some dissident churches as late as the early Middle Ages.

C2  The Ancient Forgery of a Discovery: The Acts of Paul and Thecla  These works were forged very early by a presbyter (elder) in Asia Minor (Turkey).  He is reported to have done it out of religious feeling, he said that he loved Paul so he invented these stories as teaching materials to exemplify Pauls life and influence.  Paul and Thecla appeared in art and were used in worship will into the Middle Ages.  Because it involved a woman who gave up sexual activity and went out on her own as a preacher it was attractive to many women for hundreds of years.  It is easy to see why some "strict father" church leaders tried to suppress this book for a thousand years before it was completely eradicated.  

C3  The Discovery of an Ancient Forgery: The Coptic Gospel of Thomas  This Gospel which was discovered near Nag Hammadi in Egypt and was claimed to have been written by Jesus' twin brother, Didymus Judas Thomas.  It has many Coptic overtones, it gives women equality with men, it did not consider Jesus' death and resurrection to be significant.  It also indicated that the secret of salvation lies in secret knowledge that Jesus passed to his disciples.

C4  The Forgery of an Ancient Discovery? Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark  Morton Smith, a noted scholar of classics claimed to have discovered a letter of Clement of Alexandria who lived around 200.  Mark wrote a Gospel based on his teacher Peter.  After Peter was martyred Mark moved to Alexandria and composed a "more spiritual Gospel" for the more spiritually advanced.  After Mark's death, Clement obtained a copy of his second Gospel.  The letter from Clement calls into question some of the passages from this document.  The question is, is his discovery an actual letter from Clement or is it an elaborate hoax prepared as a joke.  No one knows and experts on each side have good arguments.  It certainly is plausible.

Part TWO:  Heresies and Orthodoxies  At the time of the origination of Christianity, in Rome there were many gods and remarkable tolerance.  Nobody much cared who worshiped, just as long as you made a minor show of worshiping the current state god on his special days.  The Jews were generally ignored from this as they worshiped a very old and established god.  The Christians were different.  They were adamant in never worshiping any other god and insisting that their god alone was worthy of worship.  An of course each subgroup of Christians held that all the other subgroups of Christians were guilty of heresy if they didn't agree with their own version of the religion.  

Since there has never been any record of Jesus writing anything, it was the stories of the Disciples that became all important.  And of course their stories were all slightly (or greatly) different.  A situation carefully constructed for conflict.  Each group used their own selected writings an created additional writings of their own to support their beliefs.  This part discusses the Jewish Christian Ebionites, the anti-Jewish Marcionites, some early Christian Gnostics, and the proto-orthodox.

C5  At Polar Ends of the Spectrum: Early Christian Ebionites and Marcionites  Jesus was a Jew, OK, so what?  100 years ago this was not the case, many students would not admit it.  The question 1800 years ago was just how Jewish was he?  Paul was a Jewish Pharisee originally opposed to Jesus.  Following his conversion he saw himself as the apostle of Christ to the Gentiles (pagans).  Paul insisted that they worship the Jewish God but not have to follow Jewish ways.  This was a major point of confrontation between early Christian missionaries.  The group of disciples surrounding Jesus (see  Peter and Matthew) were strongly on the side of Christians being a Jewish religion.  

This viewpoint was most closely associated with the Ebionites (controversy: were they named after a founder named Ebion or after the Hebrew term ebyon which means "poor").  Detractors called them "poor in understanding", it really meant that they gave away their possessions and devoted themselves to poverty to help others.  They considered themselves as Jewish followers of Jesus and fully followed Jewish practices (observe the Sabbath, keeping kosher, and circumcision, etc.).  Jesus was accepted as the normal son of Mary and Joseph, conceived via sexual union, then adopted by god.  Jesus was not a god but when he was killed God raised Him from the dead.  Since the ultimate sacrifice had been made, they no longer participated in normal Jewish sacrifices.  Many were vegetarian.  They did not accept the Gospel of Paul, they had an Aramaic Gospel of Matthew, they may have used the Gospel of the Nazareans as well as another, now lost, Gospel that is referred to by Epiphanius, a Bishop in Cyprus in the 4th century.  As might be expected, most of the adherents to the Ebionites were Jewish.

Another group, which appealed to many pagan converts was the Marcionites.  We know much more about them because the founder, Marcion, was a well known early Christian thinker and writer of the second century.  Marcion was born about 100 CE on the southern shore of the Black Sea.  His father was the Bishop.  He had a falling out with his father and came to Rome in 139 CE as a wealthy merchant.  He donated a large amount of money to the church (200,000 sesterces) and spent the next 5 years developing his theology.  

He believed in two gods, the God of the Jews and the God of Jesus.  They were entirely separate.  This God appeared as the flesh of a man called Jesus.  Marcion was a very strong follower of Paul.  He produced two works, Antithesis (contrary statements) which was original and is now lost and his canon of Scripture.  It was the first known version of what we would now call a "New Testament".  It contained none of the Old Testament (that was Jewish), all of Paul's works with the exceptions of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus (they were evidently unknown in Rome at the time) and the Gospel of Luke.  

Marcion called a council of church elders (the first on record) to explain his work.  They were not amused.  He was excommunicated, they refunded his money, and told him to leave.  He returned to Turkey and propagated his faith.  It was very popular, often becoming the original form of Christianity in the area, and as late as the fifth century bishops warned travelers of Marcionite churches.  His ideas were very appealing in outlying areas but the power structure in Rome wanted nothing to do do with them.

C6  Christians "In the Know": The Worlds of Early Christian Gnosticism  Gnosticism is confusing.  There seem to have been a number of different varieties, they all (most?) believed that Christ brought an additional secret message to his followers, quite possibly after his death, and this message was to be kept secret from the uninitiated.  In this they were largely successful.  Much of what we know was written in opposition to their beliefs.  Such religious writing are typically very negative and are probably quite selective in what they say.  If it wasn't for fairly recent discoveries, for example the Nag Hammadi finds, we would have very little direct information on them.

C7  On the Road to Nicaea: The Broad Swath of Proto-orthodox Christianity  Ehrman could have approached this as an "Us vs. Them" conflict but he chose to try to find what beliefs were common to those ancient Christians who would go on to form what we now know as the Christian Church.  The first is the belief that being a martyr was a statement of faith and many desired it.  Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch, was arrested and sent to Rome to be thrown to the wild beasts at the beginning of the second century.  He wrote a number of letters on his journey glorying in his opportunity.  The first described martyr, Polycarp, did not welcome it - he tried to hide, but after Ignatius, martyrologies a very popular Christian literature.

The second factor distinguishing the proto-orthodox Christians was their belief in a strong church hierarchy.  Church dogma was to be defined by pastors, bishops, and presbyters (elders) and not left to the members.  

They also believed in the prophetic tradition, listen to prophets but their words must be evaluated by the church hierarchy and then distributed to the members.

The final factor was that they were willing to work together to resolve their differences.  The others the others were either kicked out or refused to compromise.  The proto-orthodox Christians resolved their differences over several centuries.

Part THREE: Winners and Losers  Conflict is no stranger to Christianity.  Jesus had many differences of opinion, his main disagreements were with the Pharisees, and after his death Paul had disagreements with His disciples.  These continued for close to 500 years before the first real agreement was reached (maybe).

C8  The Quest for Orthodoxy  A discussion of church histories and scholarly works, both during the early days.  It starts with the Church History of Eusebius from 325, then jumps to Hermann Reimarus (1694-1768) and later scholars that set the stage for modern day scholarship.

C9  The Arsenal of the Conflicts: Polemical Treatises and Personal Slurs
 The nasty words spoken and written by the different groups in the first two to three hundred years.

C10  Additional Weapons in the Polemical Arsenal: Forgeries and Falsifications  Note: during this time the ability to read was not widespread.  Estimates of literacy range around 10-15%.  "To read" commonly meant to have someone who was at least partially literate read something to a group.  Since all documents were hand copied it would be very difficult to determine which documents were "accurate" and which contained "errors" or were complete forgeries.  Sometimes documents meant to be explanatory of an authoritative text were combined into that text in later versions.  It was a real mess.

Some examples were teaching stores of how Jesus might have lived as in infant and child.  Others were stories aimed at explaining how heretics had gone wrong.  Some changed earlier documents to agree with their religious beliefs, justifying it as correcting earlier mistakes.  Some were accused of completely inventing texts and claiming historical accuracy.  

Some background:  What would have happened to Paul's letter to the Thessalonians?  They would want to share the words of Paul.  The letter would be then copied by hand and given to neighboring churches or gatherings.  These would also be copied and sent on to yet others.  This would have been done many times and many copies of the letter would be in circulation in the area.  The original would have been lost, destroyed, or just worn out.  These inevitably lead to transcription errors.  The earliest copies of Paul's letters are dated to about 200 CE or about 150 years after Paul would have written them.  

We don't have full copies of New Testament works until about the fourth century, about 300 years after they would have been written.  There are currently about 5,400 Greek copies of all or part of the New Testament ranging from 200 CE to the fifteenth century when the printing press was invented.  However, none of the copies completely agree with any other, except for the very smallest fragments.  No one has been able to count the individual differences between all of the copies but estimates range from 200,000 to around 300,000 or more.  Put it in another way, there are more differences among the manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.

Ehrman describes some of the reasons for many of the common errors.  He also describes some of the differences that came about from reactions for or against specific beliefs such as those held by the Ebionites, the Marcionites, and the Gnostics.

C11  The Invention of Scripture: The Formation of the Proto-orthodox New Testament
 Most of the books of what would become the New Testament were written over a 60 or 70 year period after Jesus died.  A number of other books were also written that didn't make it into the New Testament.  Some years after this a very large number of additional books were written, most of these have been lost.  The best estimates are that Jesus died in about 30 CE, the first letters of Paul were written about 50 CE, about 20 years later, and the last book, 2 Peter was written about 120 CE.  The first record of someone proposing the same 27 books of the New Testament that the Roman Catholic, the Eastern Orthodox, and the Protestant religions accept was in a letter from Athanasius in 367 CE.  Not all Christian churches accept this.  The Syrian church in the fifth century selected a New Testament of 22 books and the Ethopian church has 31.  There are others.  

At first Jesus' words were seen as comments on how to interpret scripture.  By the end of the first century Jesus' words are been seen as scripture.  It wasn't until 2 Peter, the final book, that Paul's words are being accepted as scripture and not just interpretations.  Several books are typically assigned to people, John, James, and Peter, who did not actually write them, they are other people (named John, James, and Peter) with the same name as the original.  Those names were quite common at the time.  

Between around 130-150 CE and the final acceptance of the current New Testament there was considerable discussion.  A general agreement was reached that books to be included must satisfy four criteria:
  1. Ancient:  The book must have been near the time of Jesus.
  2. Apostolic:  The book must have been written by an apostle or by a companion of an apostle.
  3. Catholic: The books had to have widespread usage among "established" churches.
  4. Orthodox:  The book had to agree with the beliefs of the established authority.
By the late second century almost all agreed that the four Gospels, Acts, the thirteen Epistles of Paul, 1 Peter, and 1 John should be included.  Two, the Letter to the Hebrews and the Revelation of John, caused considerable controversy.  The rest were not important to most.  

The discussion was pretty much over by the letter of Athanasian in 367 CE and it was ratified by the Synod of Hippo in 393 CE and the Third Synod of Carthage in 397 CE.  The issue was settled for North Africa, Rome ratified it later.

C12  Winners, Losers, and the Question of Tolerance
 The last chapter considers what the significance of the particular books selected for the New Testament have had for Western civilization  and what might have been changed if different Christianities would have won the battle.  It is obviously pure speculation but quite likely Westen civilization would have developed in very different ways.  If the Ebionites would have been successful there would only have been Jews, possibly several types.  If the Marcionites would have been successful it is possible that the reactions against Jews would have been even more vicious than it would have been with the proto-orthodox.  I find it hard to imagine a world in which the Gnostics would have been successful.  They seem to be too secretive, too mystical, too unworldly.  Perhaps they would have lasted as a minor cult but not as a major religious factor - of course they could have changed in some way.  But none of them did, they all faded away after a while.  

There are 21 pages of notes by chapter, a 7 page bibliography, and a 6 page index.

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