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Though this may seem trite, I believe that this 'looking, planning ahead' and respect for nature are essential ingredients in the Nordic psyche leading to the attributes described in this diary.

Interesting point.  I keep going back and forth on the relative importance of climate and geography on the formation of culture, and in turn the relative importance of culture on economic performance.  But what you write certainly jiibes with what many Japanese seem to claim about how the lack of natural resources and habitable terrain in their own country "selected for" a cultural ethic that put a premium on making the most of scarce resources, extremely low tolerance for error, and "looking, planning ahead", as you put it.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Sun Nov 27th, 2005 at 07:53:14 AM EST
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There clearly must be a genetic component if the original ethnic population is fairly 'pure'.

But the cultural component is much more powerful. It is not, as people seem to think, the passing on of information from one generation to another in 'folk memory', as it were. It is that cultural tendencies, over time, become deeply embedded in all aspects of the culture - in education, work ethic, politics, belief and value systems etc. In other words it 'infects' the entire social organization.

That kind of deep effect is very very slow to change, and influences the context of individuals who may lose or reject the folk memory of their family.

Even as an Englishman (living here 35 years) in Finland, I am also affected by this cultural context, though the values I came here with were hardly in tune with it.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Nov 27th, 2005 at 08:27:51 AM EST
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one has only to look at nearby Russia, "blessed" with endless supplies of pretty much all kinds of natural resources, and never able to jump out of their poverty.

There is a form of responsibility which comes from the requirement to run a tight ship - the important item being the notion of "ship", i.e. self-contained, with no outside savior to help you if you run out of resources. If you are dependent on outside resources (as Japan and much or Europe for energy) you need to have something of value to provide in return, and that certainly makes you a lot more serious about working enough and well.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Nov 27th, 2005 at 09:33:00 AM EST
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If you havn't, you may want to read Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
by David in Burbank on Sun Nov 27th, 2005 at 10:14:16 AM EST
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