I review Philip Carl Salzman’s Culture and Conflict in the Middle East. I write,

Salzman sees differences between growing crops and raising livestock. Growing crops fosters a society rooted in the soil, with strict hierarchy and strong, predatory central government. In contrast, raising livestock fosters a society that is more nomadic, less governable, and less stratified. The tribal Arab culture on which he is focused was shaped by raising livestock.

…Closer to home, Salzman’s harsh political economy leads one to meditate on the concept of an exploited peasantry. Do we in the United States have the drive for freedom and independence that gave us strong checks and balances against central government power? Or have we become sheep, with a government that protects us from various threats–typically more imaginary than real–and then subjects us to routine fleecing?