Did astrology originate in cities?

I wonder if the first astrologers were city-dwellers.  True, archeologists have found evidence that people who lived before the rise of cities paid close attention to the orbit of the Moon and identified constellations, and have argued that the orientations of temples and other religious structures from those days suggest that they attached a religious significance to the movements of heavenly bodies.  Those activities are hardly surprising; farmers need a calendar to plan their year, as hunter-gatherers also need to plan their expeditions for times when game will be relatively plentiful and fruit ripe for the picking.  Still, it might not be too much of a stretch to look at a society that invests heavily in maintaining and publicizing its calendar and to see a suggestion of something like what the western branch of organized Christianity used to call “natural astrology,” a set of ideas about ways in which heavenly bodies might influence the earth’s weather and various medical phenomena related to the transmission of disease.

Quite distinct from natural astrology are the various studies to which the Western Church used to refer as “judicial astrology.”  That’s the part that includes horoscopes, sun signs, and the like.  The difference matters when considering the origins of astrology; we have very ancient documents relating to the movements of heavenly bodies that seem to have some special significance and that predate the earliest references to judicial astronomy by centuries.  So, I’ll use the terms.

It is sometimes said that our earliest evidence of judicial astronomy comes from Mesopotamia, but that is misleading.  The nation state didn’t exist in those days; Ur and Lagash and Akkad and Babylon and the other urban centers that rose and fell in that region interacted with the political and economic systems of the countryside around them in a variety of ways, but in other ways they remained quite distinct.  It is in such cities that we find the first documents describing judicial astrology.

If astrology did arise in cities, it arose in a social environment where markets were familiar.  Its entire history would have taken place amid money, contracts, and production for exchange.  That calls into question the assumptions that we discussed last year when this xkcd appeared:

Not to be confused with "selling this stuff to OTHER people who think it works," which corporate accountants and actuaries have zero problems with.

Some people fall into the assumption that, because markets promote something called “rationality,” they must therefore favor every form of reason and disfavor every form of unreason.  However, the rationality which comes from markets is in fact something of a very narrow sort.  A month after our discussion, we noted that Shikha Dalmia had put it very well: “Markets don’t reward merit, they reward value.”  Dalmia summarizes the views of economist Friedrich Hayek:

In a functioning market, Hayek insisted, financial compensation depends not on someone’s innate gifts or moral character. Nor even on the originality or technological brilliance of their products. Nor, for that matter, on the effort that goes into producing them. The sole and only issue is a product’s value to others. Compare an innovation as incredibly mundane as a new plastic lid for paint cans with a whiz-bang, new computer chip. The painter could become just as rich as the computer whiz so long as the savings from spills that the lid offers are as great as the productivity gains from the chip. It matters not a whit that the lid maker is a drunk, wife-beating, out-of-work painter who stumbled upon this idea through pure serendipity when he tripped over a can of paint. Or that the computer whiz is a morally stellar Ph.D. who spent years perfecting his chip.

As markets are neutral as to the virtue or vice of economic actors, so too are they neutral as to the truth or falsity of the ideas that those actors bring as products for sale.  If falsehoods are in demand, falsehoods will sell; if truths are not in demand, their bearers will go begging.  The mouseover text for the xkcd represents a nod to this fact, and an attempt to wriggle out of its implications: “Not to be confused with ‘selling this stuff to OTHER people who think it works,’ which corporate accountants and actuaries have zero problems with.”  That won’t do, since it assumes that we can assign a fixed meaning to the expression “works.”  An investment advisor who believes in astrology may not be any likelier than other advisors to beat the market, but s/he may very well use that belief to “make a killing,” if s/he attracts clients who strongly value such a belief.  In that case, astrology would not “work” in the sense that quantitative analysts officially recognize, but it would make the advisor every bit as rich as it would if it did meet their definitions of success.  As for whether it makes the clients rich, well, Fred Schwed answered that one in 1940:

Once in the dear dead days beyond recall, an out of town visitor was being shown the wonders of the New York financial district.  When the party arrived at the Battery, one of his guides indicated some handsome ships riding at anchor.  He said, “Look, these are the bankers’ and brokers’ yachts.”  “Where are the customers’ yachts?,” asked the naive visitor.

Clearly, markets have not dissolved belief in astrology, any more than the continued non-existence of the customers’ yachts has discouraged people going to brokers and bankers.  If the practice of judicial astrology first arose in cities, it may in fact be a by-product of market society.  Perhaps we might find that judicial astrology began, not simply as a more elaborate version of a natural astrology that had long been a feature of rural life, but as an attempt to understand market interactions and the power of the market.  In that case, it would qualify as a school of economics.  One may wonder whether judicial astrology would be the most absurd such school in practice today.

The Loeb Classical Library

A logo Harvard commissioned to celebrate the publication of the 500th volume in the Loeb series

In honor of this year’s 100th anniversary of the Loeb Classical Library, the Barnes & Noble Review posts a piece by Adam Kirsch on the books in that series that describe Socrates.  These include not only the dialogues of Plato, but also Xenophon’s Memorabilia and Aristophanes’ Clouds.

If I were given Kirsch’s assignment, I would not have chosen these as examples of the strengths of the Loeb Library.  Most of the 518 volumes in the Loeb series have the same format: a brief introduction, combining remarks about an ancient Greek or Roman author with remarks about the manuscripts in which that author’s works have come down to us; then one of those works, presented in the original on the left hand page and an English translation on the facing page.  A few years after the Loebs began to appear in the USA, the Collection Budé began to appear in France.  The Budés are rather like the Loebs, only with French translation on the left and the original on the right.

When the Loeb series began in 1911, the texts and translations were of wildly uneven quality.  The great problem the series faced was that each volume was entrusted to one person, who might be an accomplished textual critic or an accomplished translator, but who was not especially likely to excel in both of those fields.  Very poor translations were produced when, as some critics put it, men who had never before tried their hand at English verse were required to translate Greek verse into it; A. S. Way’s translation of Euripides was long famous as an example of this.  The translations by David Kovacs that replaced Way’s version are certainly readable, though, perhaps in reaction to Way’s ludicrously purple versifying, they are so resolutely unpoetic as to obscure the fact that Euripides was writing verse drama.

Even some of the prose translations were unreadable; at times I’ve picked up A. D. Godley’s Loeb of Herodotus to sort out some thorny passage in the Greek, only to find that I was using the Greek as a crib to decipher Godley’s English.  The Loeb translations of the Socratic writings aren’t as badly rendered as that, but none is among the best translations of its original available in English. Other volumes were feature readable translations, but unreliable texts.  Again, the Socratic volumes aren’t the worst offenders, but neither would their Greek texts be useful to a scholar.

If I had to choose a single volume to praise the Loeb series, I would pick A. W. Mair’s edition of Oppian, Colluthus, and Tryphiodorus.   Not only are the texts exemplary, but the translations are sufficiently sensitive that even a Greekless reader might be able to understand why the two poems attributed to Oppian are unlikely to have been produced by the same person.  (Granted, it helps that the author of each poem starts by telling us where he was born, and it isn’t the same place, but still, the style is important.)  And the footnotes represent a fine commentary on these three neglected authors.

Two items of interest to Classics types

When the world was young and I was in grad school, many of my classmates went to Rome to hang out with Father Reginald Foster.  Reggie, as they all called him, is an American priest who at that time was in charge of translating official Vatican documents into Latin.  His schedule was light in the summer, so Reggie ran a summer institute in conversational Latin.  Granted, there aren’t any native speakers of Latin around to converse with, but there is a substantial body of permanently interesting Latin literature, and it is easier to read the language if you can also speak it.

Reggie moved back to Milwaukee after Pope John Paul II died.  He teaches conversational Latin there from time to time.  No future generations of graduate students will be studying under him in Rome, but two current graduate students have revived the Rome summer program  They call it the Paideia Institute Slate magazine ran a piece about it recently.

David Graeber

Also of keen interest to classicists is this recent interview that economic anthropologist David Graeber granted to the website Naked Capitalism.  Graeber summarizes Adam Smith’s hypothesis that money originated as an advancement on barter systems that had prevailed before its adoption.  He then points out that in the 235 years since Smith published that hypothesis in The Wealth of Nations, observers have examined thousands of cultures in search of examples of pre-monetary barter economies, and that they have yet to find one.  Graeber concludes that Smith’s hypothesis is thereby defeated.  Societies which have not invented money do not organize markets around barter; they do not organize markets at all.  Money and markets arise together, and barter becomes widespread only when currency systems collapse.  Non-monetary societies distribute goods and services, not through markets, but through hierarchies in which obligations are based on force.  The king or chief or whatever he is has what he has because everyone else is indebted to him for protection and status, and they have what they have because of their relations with him.  When multiple authorities lay claim to the same person, they need a way of sorting out whose claim comes first and which authority is entitled to demand what deference or service.  Sometimes they develop a way of sorting those claims that involves quantifying them and making them transferable.  Once claims on a person’s deference or service can be quantified and transferred, there is a need for tokens to signify the quantification and contracts to enforce the transfer.  That is to say, there is money, and with it the dawn of market society.

Graeber makes some remarks that are similar to points that come up in some classes I teach.  For example:

Since antiquity the worst-case scenario that everyone felt would lead to total social breakdown was a major debt crisis; ordinary people would become so indebted to the top one or two percent of the population that they would start selling family members into slavery, or eventually, even themselves.

Well, what happened this time around? Instead of creating some sort of overarching institution to protect debtors, they create these grandiose, world-scale institutions like the IMF or S&P to protect creditors. They essentially declare (in defiance of all traditional economic logic) that no debtor should ever be allowed to default. Needless to say the result is catastrophic. We are experiencing something that to me, at least, looks exactly like what the ancients were most afraid of: a population of debtors skating at the edge of disaster.

And, I might add, if Aristotle were around today, I very much doubt he would think that the distinction between renting yourself or members of your family out to work and selling yourself or members of your family to work was more than a legal nicety. He’d probably conclude that most Americans were, for all intents and purposes, slaves.

When I’m talking to a class, I’m rather more emphatic than Graeber in saying that in this conclusion Aristotle was a man of his time, and that our view of wage labor as a form of freedom may be as legitimate in its own way as was the Greek view of wage labor as a form of slavery.  Partly that difference in views stems from the fact that so many slaves in ancient Greek cities were paid wages, and that those who labored side by side with free people in big workshops were paid exactly the same wages as those (nominally) free people, while American slaves were generally denied access to money.  Still, I do have a lecture that unnerves them when it ends with my remark that Aristotle would not have thought that we moderns have abolished slavery, but that we have abolished freedom.

I can’t resist quoting another bit of the Graeber’s interview.  After he derides the idea of money as a development subsequent to a barter economy, we have this exchange:

PP: You’d be forgiven for thinking this was all very Nietzschean. In his ‘On the Genealogy of Morals’ the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously argued that all morality was founded upon the extraction of debt under the threat of violence. The sense of obligation instilled in the debtor was, for Nietzsche, the origin of civilisation itself. You’ve been studying how morality and debt intertwine in great detail. How does Nietzsche’s argument look after over 100 years? And which do you see as primal: morality or debt?

DG: Well, to be honest, I’ve never been sure if Nietzsche was really serious in that passage or whether the whole argument is a way of annoying his bourgeois audience; a way of pointing out that if you start from existing bourgeois premises about human nature you logically end up in just the place that would make most of that audience most uncomfortable.
In fact, Nietzsche begins his argument from exactly the same place as Adam Smith: human beings are rational. But rational here means calculation, exchange and hence, trucking and bartering; buying and selling is then the first expression of human thought and is prior to any sort of social relations.

But then he reveals exactly why Adam Smith had to pretend that Neolithic villagers would be making transactions through the spot trade. Because if we have no prior moral relations with each other, and morality just emerges from exchange, then ongoing social relations between two people will only exist if the exchange is incomplete – if someone hasn’t paid up.

But in that case, one of the parties is a criminal, a deadbeat and justice would have to begin with the vindictive punishment of such deadbeats. Thus he says all those law codes where it says ‘twenty heifers for a gouged-out eye’ – really, originally, it was the other way around. If you owe someone twenty heifers and don’t pay they gouge out your eye. Morality begins with Shylock’s pound of flesh.
Needless to say there’s zero evidence for any of this – Nietzsche just completely made it up. The question is whether even he believed it. Maybe I’m an optimist, but I prefer to think he didn’t.

Anyway it only makes sense if you assume those premises; that all human interaction is exchange, and therefore, all ongoing relations are debts. This flies in the face of everything we actually know or experience of human life. But once you start thinking that the market is the model for all human behavior, that’s where you end up with.

If however you ditch the whole myth of barter, and start with a community where people do have prior moral relations, and then ask, how do those moral relations come to be framed as ‘debts’ – that is, as something precisely quantified, impersonal, and therefore, transferrable – well, that’s an entirely different question. In that case, yes, you do have to start with the role of violence.

Nietzsche may once have been overrated as a political thinker, but I believe that he is now seriously underrated in that wise.  So the bit above made me happy.

Gaius Acilius on Praise and Reproof

I teach in a university classics department. A few years ago, a senior colleague of mine received a “Teacher of the Year” award.  I congratulated him, then asked some questions.  After I asked him who gave the award, how they chose the recipient, and what benefits came with it, I asked him how he would react if the same people had used the same criteria to decide that he was a bad teacher, to publicize this decision, and to fine him.  Would he accept this judgment?  He did not think he would.  So, how could he justify accepting their judgment when it benefited him, if would not accept that same judgment were it to his disadvantage?  He agreed that this was a good question.  Of course, he went on to accept the award just the same.

A similar question may have preyed on the mind of my namesake, Gaius Acilius(more…)

Popular web comic mentions “Ancient Texts”

Classical scholars take note!  Jessica Hagy of Indexed may be aware of your existence.

The strong do what they will, and the weak suffer what they must

Thucydides wouldn't have been surprised

 

The February 16-February 28 issue of Counterpunch looked at various statements about international law that have come from offices of the Israeli Defense Forces in the last few years and found in them a systematic disregard for the concept of international law.  These statements, the author of the piece argues, are part of a campaign to render international law irrelevant to the conflicts in Israel/Palestine, and as such represent a threat to the entire project of international law.  The blub on the front of the newsletter asks us to “Imagine an entire world unprotected against occupation, invasions, exploitation, and warehousing, a global Gaza!” 

I would suggest that such a feat of imagination might be rather easy to achieve.  The whole history of mankind, from the earliest records to the present moment, offers us the spectacle of precisely such a world.  International law no more protects the weak against the depredations of the powerful today than appeals to justice protected the Melians against Athens in 416 BC.  

Thucydides’ story of the Peloponnesian Wars summarizes my habitual view of “international law,” in his day and ours.  Writing of the events that had led to the outbreak of war between Athens and Sparta in 431 BC, Thucydides concluded that the main cause of the war was the rising power of Athens and the fear with which the other Greeks viewed that power.  After ten years of desperate struggle, the Spartans and their allies brought Athenian power to a standstill.  A series of negotiations concluded in 421 BC brought the first phase of the war to an end.  Thucydides devotes much of Book 5 of his History to the detailed legalistic language of the treaties of this year known under the name “The Peace of Nicias.”  Thucydides’ decision to devote so much of his text to these documents puts a heavy emphasis on the treaties and their legalism.

Had the History ended there, one might have imagined it to tell a story of the triumph of law in human affairs.  What in fact follows, however, shows that nothing of the kind happened.  The Peace of Nicias was not at all satisfactory, involving frequent confrontations between proxies of Athens and Sparta and occasional battles between Athenian and Spartan forces.  When, five years into that period of  tension, the people of Melos tried to break their alliance with Athens, the Athenians sent envoys to hear the Melians’ case.  The Melians appealed to justice and to the legal principles encoded in the treaties of the Peace of Nicias.  The Athenians responded that “The strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must.”  When the Melians appealed to notions of legality, the Athenians responded that these obtain among equals, while in cases where one party is far stronger, the other must submit and make the best of submission.  The law that prevails among states is not the sort of law agitated in courts, but a law of nature.  “Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to exist for ever after us; all we do is to make use of it, knowing that you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do the same as we do” (Rex Warner’s Penguin Classics translation.)     

The Athenians would destroy Melos, killing its men and selling the women and children as slaves.  Thucydides leaves us to find justice for the Melians in another sort of natural law.  The next topic he turns to is Athens’ invasion of Sicily, a military adventure that would cost Athens tens of thousands of men, virtually its entire fleet, and its hopes of winning the second phase of the Peloponnesian Wars.  By 404 BC, the Athenians would be defeated, as abjectly at the mercy of Sparta as the Melians had been at their own mercy 12 years before.  The ancients Greeks believed that power bred arrogance, that arrogance bred folly, and that folly brought the mighty low. 

The Greeks tended to describe this process in mythological terms, attributing it to the jealousy of the gods.  By laying out a narrative in that traditional form without  dwelling on the gods in his own voice, Thucydides was able to gain a reputation as the first scientific historian.  Whether science can discern in history a pattern of power leading to arrogance leading to folly leading to downfall, the idea of such a pattern is at least as likely to be comforting to the victims of power as are any of the lawyerly fairy tales told at the Hague and in the headquarters of the United Nations. 

As for the case of Israel/ Palestine, the idea of international law may at times have had a gentling effect on the Israeli state.  On the one hand, it may have given the Israeli leadership a set of criteria they had to meet if they were to be assured of a smooth flow of operations in their relations with the outside world.  And now and then, some Israelis may have seen in the promise of international law something they could rally around, something to soften the harsher angles of Zionism.  So whatever limitations there might be in the prospects for international law as an actual force  that could protect the weak “against occupation, invasions, exploitation, and warehousing,” and however much the spectacles that we now call “international law” might disgust us, still we might wish that it will go on.

Did the ancient Carthaginians practice child sacrifice?

Our literary sources about ancient Carthage unanimously testify that the residents of that great city regularly offered their children as human sacrifices to the gods Ba’al and Tanit.  This practice was supposedly known as the “Moloch.”  However, none of those sources was a text written by a Carthaginian.  We have writings about Carthage and its parent nation of Phoenicia by Greeks, Romans, and Jews, three peoples against whom the Carthaginians and their Phoenician cousins fought wars.  Since the Greeks, Romans, and Phoenicians all expressed horror of human sacrifice, we might well look on these reports with a measure of scepticism. 

A study of Carthaginian remains published last month in PLoS One did not find evidence to confirm the idea that the Carthaginians sacrificed their children.  The researchers could search only the contents of certain funerary urns, leaving open the possibility that the Carthaginians may have disposed of the ashes of their sacrificed children otherwise than in those urns.  So the question is still unsettled.

Cicero would have been great on Twitter

 That’s what Forbes magazine says, anyway.

Ptolemy’s system

The ancients looked at the sky and thought that they could see heavenly bodies rotating around the earth.  In the sixth century BC, Anaximander of Miletus theorized that the stars were mounted on the inside of a transparent spherical shell and that the earth was a solid sphere hanging in the center of this shell.  The Sun, Moon, and planets would have been mounted on other spherical shells.  Anaximander’s theories were often criticized in antiquity, but his idea of revolving concentric spheres would dominate the western cosmological imagination for millenia.   

Anaximander’s theory explained the apparent movements of the Sun and Moon tolerably well, but the orbits of the planets presented it with a challenge.  In particular, if we look at Mars and think of it as revolving around the earth, we will occasionally see it stop, back up, and make a loop in the sky.  The astronomer Hipparchus of Nicaea in the third century BC and the theorist Claudius Ptolemy in the second century AD were among those who developed a new theory, according to which the stars and other heavenly bodies moved as if they were mounted on transparent spheres, but spheres that were mounted on other spheres.  So the major sphere might make a cycle around the earth, but each heavenly body seemed to be mounted on a minor sphere that made a cycle (an “epicycle”) around a point on that major cycle.  A very clear animated illustration of Ptolemy’s epicyclic system can be found here.  Here are some more illustrations of this Ptolemaic system:

epicycle-move

with descriptions: 

Epicycle

From an old edition of Ptolemy’s Almagest:

almagest_2

Below is a video showing how these systems of illustration might represent one hypothetically possible orbit.

The Nation, 9 November 2009

nation 9 nov 09For me, the highlight of this issue was a review of Mary Beard‘s The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found.  Beard’s “down to earth portrait of Pompeii” is informed by her grasp of “the latest research in demography, the history of Roman politics, architecture, ancient economics, feminist and post-colonial studies.” 

The same issue includes a number of articles about the war in Afghanistan.  As the editors summarize this symposium:

The principal rationale for America’s expanding military commitment in Afghanistan is that a Taliban takeover there would directly threaten US security because it would again become a safe haven for Al Qaeda to plot attacks against the United States. But the essays by Stephen Walt and John Mueller strongly refute that assumption, pointing out that a Taliban victory would not necessarily mean a return of Al Qaeda to Afghanistan, and that in any case the strategic value of Afghanistan and Pakistan as base camps for Al Qaeda is greatly exaggerated and can be easily countered.

Similarly, proponents of sending more troops to Afghanistan argue that Taliban success would embolden global jihadists everywhere and destabilize Pakistan in particular. Yet, as the essays by Selig Harrison and Priya Satia show, this narrative does not fit the realities. While American policy-makers and Al Qaeda may think of this as a grand meta-struggle between the United States and global jihadism, many Taliban fighters are motivated by other factors: by traditional Pashtun resistance to foreign occupation; by internal ethnic politics, such as rebellion against the Tajik-dominated government of Hamid Karzai; or by anger over the loss of life resulting from American/NATO aerial attacks that have gone awry.

As for Pakistan, the essays by Manan Ahmed and Mosharraf Zaidi explain why the Taliban threat to Pakistan is not as serious as many assume, and why a newly democratic Pakistan has turned increasingly against Islamist extremists. As Ahmed and Zaidi suggest, Pakistanis are quite capable of defending their country–not for American interests but for their own reasons–and Pakistani stability is more likely to be threatened than enhanced by military escalation in Afghanistan.

And finally, Robert Dreyfuss offers an exit strategy: as it winds down its counterinsurgency, Washington should encourage an international Bonn II conference that would lead to a new national compact in Afghanistan.

Well, not quite “finally.”  The issue also includes a piece by Ann Jones about Afghan women.  Jones mentions groups like Feminist Majority that argue for a continued US troop presence in the name of Afghan women’s rights.  She mentions her own years of experience working with women in Afghanistan, and gives it as her assessment that “an unsentimental look at the record reveals that for all the fine talk of women’s rights since the US invasion, equal rights for Afghan women have been illusory all along, a polite feel-good fiction that helped to sell the American enterprise at home and cloak in respectability the misbegotten government we installed in Kabul.”  In light of the fiercely patriarchal Shi’ite Personal Status Law (the SPSL, “or as it became known in the Western press, the Marital Rape Law,”) she goes on to say that “From the point of view of women today, America’s friends and America’s enemies in Afghanistan are the same kind of guys.”  She is unimpressed by the number of women in the Afghan parliament:

But what about all the women parliamentarians so often cited as evidence of the progress of Afghan women? With 17 percent of the upper house and 27 percent of the lower–eighty-five women in all–you’d think they could have blocked the SPSL. But that didn’t happen, for many reasons. Many women parliamentarians are mere extensions of the warlords who financed their campaigns and tell them how to vote: always in opposition to women’s rights. Most non-Shiite women took little interest in the bill, believing that it applied only to the Shiite minority. Although Hazara women have long been the freest in the country and the most active in public life, some of them argued that it is better to have a bad law than none at all because, as one Hazara MP told me, “without a written law, men can do whatever they want.”

Jones sees little hope, and much tragic irony in the possibilities facing Afghanistan:

So there’s no point talking about how women and girls might be affected by the strategic military options remaining on Obama’s plate. None of them bode well for women. To send more troops is to send more violence. To withdraw is to invite the Taliban. To stay the same is not possible, now that Karzai has stolen the election in plain sight and made a mockery of American pretensions to an interest in anything but our own skin and our own pocketbook. But while men plan the onslaught of more men, it’s worth remembering what “normal life” once looked like in Afghanistan, well before the soldiers came. In the 1960s and ’70s, before the Soviet invasion–when half the country’s doctors, more than half the civil servants and three-quarters of the teachers were women–a peaceful Afghanistan advanced slowly into the modern world through the efforts of all its people. What changed all that was not only the violence of war but the accession to power of the most backward men in the country: first the Taliban, now the mullahs and mujahedeen of the fraudulent, corrupt, Western-designed government that stands in opposition to “normal life” as it is lived in the developed world and was once lived in their own country. What happens to women is not merely a “women’s issue”; it is the central issue of stability, development and durable peace. No nation can advance without women, and no enterprise that takes women off the table can come to much good.

Jones knows Afghanistan quite well; I know it not at all.  I can only hope that there is something left in the local culture of the seeds from which a relatively woman-friendly Afghanistan once grew, and that those seeds will again send up green shoots once foreign armies leave the country .