March 6, 2014

The Intermediate Region

The "Intermediate Region" is a Big Picture theory put forward by a Greek historian named Dimitri Kitsikis, who had some influence on Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations theory. Kitsikis wanted the Greeks and Turks to become friends, so he argued that between the Orient and the Occident resides an Intermediate Region, with its own distinctive cultural flavor once you look past differences like religion and race. To Kitsikis, the natural cultural capital of this civilization would be Constantinople. 

I've spent one night in Istanbul, at the new Marriott near the airport, and, yeah, from looking around the lobby, I kind of get where Kitsikis was coming from. It was full of Muslim businessmen from all over -- the Persian Gulf, East Africa, Central Asia, North Africa, Pakistan, and so forth. To them, Istanbul is a natural hub, the way Chicago is to American corporate travelers.

(By the way, there was an airport-style x-ray booth that checked your luggage before you could get into the lobby, and you couldn't get a beer in the hotel.)

But this Intermediate Region isn't wholly a Muslim thing. Istanbul has some of the flavor of, say, Moscow (and vice-versa). It would take me a long time to list all the tiny details of ways that Moscow and Istanbul resemble each other more than they resemble, say, London. And you could draw up long lists of reasons why, say, Moscow is more similar to London than to Istanbul. But the point is merely that Kitsikis's grand grouping isn't wholly dismissible.
  

45 comments:

eah said...

The vast Asian Steppe is one of the most beautiful still largely wild places on earth.

dearieme said...

"with its own distinctive cultural flavor once you look past differences like religion and race." Needs more work.

Simon in London said...

I agree about the Intermediate Region.
"The Orient" of course is at least two major Civilisation spheres, centred on India & China, with not a lot in common - no more than they both share with the West.

SFG said...

Cultural differences are clines. America and England and England and France have more in common than America and France, and so on. Neighboring countries are susceptible to cultural influences from each other, but this is more difficult further away. Obviously some civilizations have a global reach at various points in time.

Huntington is right that differences accelerate at these civilizational borders he's identified--the cultural distance is greater between Greece and Turkey than Greece and the Balkans, for example.

You also raise a good point that these ideologies tend to be constructed with a purpose in mind--your fellow wanted the Greeks and Turks to be friends, for example, which isn't a horrible idea but rather hard with the Ottoman Empire bit.

kfg said...

"Istanbul is a natural hub"

That's why it's there.
And it would remain a natural hub should western Europe be absorbed.
That's why it's there.

Alexandros HoMegas said...

There was time when Afghanistan was a Greek Kingdom... We're so far away from this now.

Anonymous said...

A lot more international centre, at least, in terms of is population a century ago when the population was a lot more ethnically diverse. And half Christian.

Anonymous said...

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/02/lone-ranger-nationalist-myth.html

?

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/02/dystopian.html

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on. Does anybody believe that Arabs and Russians are part of the same cluster in any meaningful sense?
This "intermediate region" puts together two different civilizations: the Orthodox Christian and the Muslim one.
Yes, these two group somewhat intermingle at the Greco-Turkish border, or in Khazakstan, or in the Caucasus. ALL civilizations that border each other must intermingle at the border. It's the same as saying that since there are many mulattoes, then Whites and Blacks can be considered to be part of the same cluster. Nonsense.
Costantinople is just an important hub which happens to be placed at the border between these TWO civilizations.
Look, it's rather easy to classify the world civilizations:
Obviously there are 4 core Great Civilizations in the world: number 1 Europe with its offshots; number 2 Arabia with its neighbors and cultural satellites that is the Mideast; number 3 India; number 4 China with its satellites and neighboring cousins.
Each of these four has a dominant racial group and a largely shared cultural background.
In addition there are 3 "outskirt racial areas": Latin America, Black Africa and South-East Asia/Indonesia.
Each of these 3 has its own race, but failed to develop its own great civilization, instead borrowing elements from the 4 core civilizations such as religion, writing system and language, and importing elites (whites in latin America, Chinese in SE Asia).
So there are obviously 7 clusters, and it's easy to see them, and I don't know how anybody can fail to see them, and the existence of border regions (example: Pakistan) with feature from two civilizations shouldn't stop us from seeing the obvious 7 groups.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/06/fashion/the-monocle-returns-as-a-fashion-accessory.html

Neo-aristocratism

Anonymous said...

I dunno Steve, I can't really think that a Russian and a Moroccan have much in common.

The 'theory' just looks to me like a modernday attempt at Hellenocentrism, just by magic, Constantinople happens to be the center of the world.
Personally, I think the old, traditional divide between Europe and Asia works best, although the EU is doing its level best to turn Europe into Asia, so you'd better hurry up and see the show - it won't be there in your grandkids' time.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else endure last night's Netanyahu-Carmageddon? Both Malibu Canyon and PCH were closed at rush hour with helicopters buzzing around the whole time. Strange.

Lex said...

Even if there is Intermediate Region - how is that important? What's the benefit of knowing that Bangladesh is orient and Iran and Uzbekistan not? Is South Korea more alien to West than Saudi Arabia?

Anonymous said...

and if you order bacon as part of your room service breakfast, you'll get something that only wishes it was Sizzlean ...

Kosmo Antoninus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hepp said...

I've met a lot of Arabs, and a lot of Russians, and they are really different. I don't know about Turkey. But Russians are a lot more like Central and Eastern Europeans than they are like Arabs.

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad our elites are working so selflessly to convert, for example, Chicago and London into outposts of the intermediate region.

Anthony said...

Kitsikis' "Intermediate Region" sounds like "Muslim World + Russia" (or, because he's Greek, Muslim world + Slavic world + Greece). Russia and the Slavic world (and Greece) have been significantly influenced by Islam, so it's possibly a fair cop.

Tamim Ansary, in his book Destiny Disrupted, talks about (western) European civilization being strongly connected by maritime routes, while the Muslim world was strongly connected by overland trade routes.

Marc B said...

While I take issue with his geographic area, I do agree with his contention that there are places that are neither distinctly of the East or West. I would start the line in Eastern Europe as this intermediate area and include parts of Southern Europe. The Arab world is distinctly Middle Eastern, so they should be excluded from and intermediate zone.

Anonymous said...

It was full of Muslim businessmen from all over -- the Persian Gulf, East Africa, Central Asia, North Africa, Pakistan, and so forth.

Are you sure you are not describing London?

Fernandinande said...

The border between Civilized and "intermediate" looks a lot like the "Hajnal Line".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hajnal_line

Anonymous said...

I think there's a way to make Russian 'invaders' in Crimea palatable to American government.

Offer them amnesty.

Anonymous said...

In a slightly related topic Steve, according to the EU, Finland and Denmark are the most violent nations in the EU to be a woman.

http://yle.fi/uutiset/finland_is_eus_second_most_violent_country_for_women/7120601

Maybe when all those Somali, Arab, and Pakistani women read this, they'll reconsider moving to Scandinavia. We can only hope.

Also, if you go the YLE's English website (Finland's BBC), you'll see that the second-most important Finland-related news item right now is the fact that Kazhal Ali Ibrahim has been named Finland's "Refugee Woman of the Year". Her accomplishment? She's the first woman of Kurdish descent to drive a bus in Finland.

Anonymous said...

see: HBD Chick and her work on the Hajnal Line and outbreeding

dearieme said...

Really it's just putting all the barbarians in one bucket, save for the racial discrimination against the sub-Saharan Africans.

Even at that level it works only post 1500AD or so.

Crawfurdmuir said...

"Istanbul has some of the flavor of, say, Moscow (and vice-versa). It would take me a long time to list all the tiny details of ways that Moscow and Istanbul resemble each other more than they resemble, say, London."

The obvious connection is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Istanbul, when it was Constantinople, was the capital of Orthodox Byzantium. SS. Cyril and Methodius were the Greek Orthodox Christians who converted Russia, and who gave the various Slavic languages the Cyrillic alphabet, a modified Greek alphabet. The characteristic domes of the Kremlin are based on Byzantine architectural models... and so on.

Anonymous said...

The border between Civilized and "intermediate" looks a lot like the "Hajnal Line".

It looks nothing like it. The "Hajnal Line" is an intra-European division that divides Ireland, Finland, Southern Italy and Southern Iberia, and everything east of Germany and western Austria from the rest of Western Europe.

Anonymous said...

This "Intermediate Region" looks a lot like what I imagine Orwell has in mind for "Eurasia". The Orient on that would be "Eastasia", and the Occident + the Western Hemisphere would be "Oceania". And of course, us denizens of Oceania have always been at war with Eurasia. At least for now.

Dave Pinsen said...

One thing that Turkey and Indonesia have in common, beyond Islam of course, is that they seem to be asserting themselves more culturally these days. Over the past year or so, there was at least one "Perfect Weekend" piece in the Financial Times set in Istanbul (one featured the country's most famous novelist, but I'm pretty sure there was another with a designer), and there was an article recently in Bloomberg Pursuits (Bloomberg's answer to FT Weekend) about the burgeoning art scene in some part of Indonesia where paintings by contemporary artists are selling for big money globally.

Anonymous said...

This "Intermediate Region" looks a lot like what I imagine Orwell has in mind for "Eurasia". The Orient on that would be "Eastasia", and the Occident + the Western Hemisphere would be "Oceania". And of course, us denizens of Oceania have always been at war with Eurasia. At least for now.

No, Orwell's conception was different. Here was Orwell's conception:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1984_fictitious_world_map_v2_quad.svg

His "Eurasia" was basically the USSR plus Continental Europe and Asia Minor.

"Oceania" was the UK, Australasia, the New World, and South Africa.

"Eastasia" was East and Central Asia.

Anonymous said...

What might have been...

..The Constantinople Agreement (18 March 1915) was a set of secret assurances made by the Triple Entente during World War I. France and Great Britain promised to give Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and the Dardanelles (land on either coast in Thrace and Asia Minor), which at the time were part of the Ottoman Empire, to the Russians in the event of victory.The city of Constantinople was intended to be a free port.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantinople_Agreement

Anonymous said...

You also raise a good point that these ideologies tend to be constructed with a purpose in mind--your fellow wanted the Greeks and Turks to be friends, for example, which isn't a horrible idea but rather hard with the Ottoman Empire bit.

It was a great idea that sort of worked - for the Cold War.

DR said...

" It would take me a long time to list all the tiny details of ways that Moscow and Istanbul resemble each other more than they resemble, say, London."

This isn't just due to geography and coincidence. The Czars of Russia were descended from the Emperors of Byzantium. Czar itself just being the Russian translation of Caesar. Obviously they'd bring along a lot of the cultural trappings of Constantinople.

Hunsdon said...

DR said: The Czars of Russia were descended from the Emperors of Byzantium.

Hunsdon said: Hey, here's proof that race hatred makes you stupid. (Or maybe in this case, it's just a little race hatred column a, a little stupid from column b.)

The name came from the Eastern Roman Empire. You know, like with "Kaiser" for the Germans.

Actual descent? Read up on the Rurik dynasty sometime, as in terms of ancestry the founders of the Russian states (Kievan Rus, Grand Duchy of Moscow, etc.) were Varangian.

Anonymous said...

The Intermediate Region looks basically like
((Mongol Empire + Ottoman Empire) - East Asia)
with the hub more or less where the two empires overlapped. Of course, it is a tautology almost to say there were causes and effects associated with the borders of these empires.
At the risk of displaying my ignorance further, I would say that it looks like The Intermediate Region contains a high ratio of herders to farmers compared with Europe, China, India, SE Asia.
I'm a little skeptical about a hub at Istanbul. If you're traveling by sea or air, there are no real natural hubs here, and Dubai is the artificial one. If you're traveling by land, the natural hubs are probably more like Tehran, Damascus, or… Sochi!

I think Orwell was fairly smart. If hadn't been for the Nazis and/or Roosevelt, that's probably how the world would look--a Socialist Eurasian block, the Anglosphere, China, and a bunch of land nobody cared that much about.

Anonymous said...

DR is correct about the origin of the title. The Eastern Roman Empire considered themselves Hoi Romani - the Romans. Czar or Tsar or Kaiser are all derivatives of Caesar. You do not need a direct line of genetic descent to incorporate the trappings of your cultural forbears.

Anonymous said...

Very silly.

In reality what it is is the Orthodox world plus the Muslim world. Why is he joining them together? Because he can't bring himself to draw a line that excludes Anatolia and Byzantium from he Orthodox part.

If those parts went back to Greece and the Orthodox zone he'd draw a line splitting his "intermediate region" in two in a flash.

Crawfurdmuir said...

" Hunsdon said...
" DR said: The Czars of Russia were descended from the Emperors of Byzantium.
" Actual descent? Read up on the Rurik dynasty sometime, as in terms of ancestry the founders of the Russian states (Kievan Rus, Grand Duchy of Moscow, etc.) were Varangian."

Actually, by the thirteenth or fourteenth century, just about all European royalty could claim descent from both the Comnenus emperors of Byzantium and from St. Vladimir, great-grandson of Rurik, and grand duke of Kiev and Novgorod.

Bela II "The Blind," king of Hungary 1131-41, married Helen of Serbia, a great-granddaughter of John Comnenus. The great-great-granddaughter of Bela II was Yolande, princess of Hungary, who married into the Aragonese royal family and became an ancestor of subsequent Spanish, French and English monarchs.

Anna Jaroslawna, princess of Kiev, great-granddaughter of St. Vladimir, married Henry I of France, the grandson of Hugh Capet, Again, their descendants married into just about all the royal families of Europe, including those of England and Scotland.

By the time Ivan IV ("the Terrible") took the title of Tsar, both the Rurikid and the Comnenus lines were widely spread throughout the European royal houses and aristocracy. Any descendant of Edward III of England has both these lines.

Further, Ivan's grandmother, Sophia Palaeologina, was the granddaughter of Manuel II Palaeologus and hence the niece of the last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI. So it is quite correct from a genealogical standpoint to say that the Tsars were lineal heirs of the Byzantine imperial families as well as of the house of Rurik.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Byzantine descent...

...I recall that soon after the fall of Costantinople, the monarch of Muscowy made a point of marrying a heir to the Byzantine throne and made the flag of Muscowy the double eagle (still a symbol of Russia), where one of the two eagle stood for the Roman eagle of the former Byzantine empire.

So that's the descent basis to the Tsarist claim of Byzantine succession.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 5:29 PM said: You do not need a direct line of genetic descent to incorporate the trappings of your cultural forbears.

Crawfordmuir said: Actually, by the thirteenth or fourteenth century, just about all European royalty could claim descent from both the Comnenus emperors of Byzantium and from St. Vladimir, great-grandson of Rurik, and grand duke of Kiev and Novgorod.

Hunsdon said: Thank you for the information. However, DR was using this as a stick with which to hit Russia. He was not tarring the Germans (let alone the English) with the same brush.

ATBOTL said...

The nobility of Europe in general were almost all Swedish if you go back far enough.

108042 said...

Turko-Araby overlaying Greco-Persia

Anonymous said...

One word: Allah.

Two words: Allah and Mohammad.

Unfortunately for the Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins that whole God thing ain't going away.

If the entire Intermediate Region, which includes the Orthodox world, bows down toward Mecca, then you might have a goer.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Cultural differences are clines. America and England and England and France have more in common than America and France, and so on."

I don't know about that. I think France and the US have a lot in common with each other in comparison to Britain. Both claim to be the inventors of the modern world and that the modern world was invented in the late 18th century. Both are republics which claim to be based on ideas (Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness versus Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité). Both have a pretty -- dare I say it -- exaggerated sense of exceptionalism. And both of you drive on the right hand side of the road.

In short, you're both a bit screwed up, actually. (:

Anonymous said...

I think France and the US have a lot in common with each other in comparison to Britain. Both claim to be the inventors of the modern world and that the modern world was invented in the late 18th century.

Clines don't preclude that there are is a cultural dimension where say Britain and America are the most distant cultures in the world (its just a very "small" dimension compared to the other cultural dimensions).