No post title?
Anyway, seems to me not to really square with attitudes towards the military. Just as a first objection, there are probably more.
Markup that didn't extend to italicizing the title of a book. Sad. Before anyone takes this too seriously, my intended title was "Spitballing". Which I didn't tell neb, because neb doesn't give you the title you want. You gives you the title you deserve.
'He'. I'm going to bed now.
The royal "you", because he's so regal.
To clarify, I think people in a lot of the country feel like Government has gotten more distant from their concerns than it used to be. Further I think they are right to believe that.
The Art of Not Being Titled
Ah, you see, MC had said "spitballing below", but I hadn't cottoned to the fact that "spitballing" was the intended title. Alas.
I think people in a lot of the country feel like Government has gotten more distant from their concerns than it used to be
1) This is clearly true, on one level. I was recently talking to a political scientist that I know who said, apropos of the EU, that there are consistent pressures to move authority to larger entities -- for business reasons as much as political reasons. It's handy for anybody doing business internationally to have a consistent set of rules and consistent jurisdiction -- particularly from a judicial perspective.
So, yes, there are examples all over the world of entities which used to have power gradually ceding authority to larger, overarching entities (whether that's state/federal government in the US or the EU).
2) There's an element of "make America Great Again" in that comment. What era are you thinking of in which government was closer to people's concerns and functioned well? Pick any era and you can find plenty of examples of public policy ignoring local concerns and the government being ham handed. You can also find examples of successful policies but it's worth keeping in mind, when you look at contemporary problems, that things weren't always better in the past.
Ah, you see, MC had said "spitballing below", but I hadn't cottoned to the fact that "spitballing" was the intended title. Alas.
Incidentally, the link that I sent you last week was, at least potentially, intended as material for a guest post. I knew it wasn't likely to attract of lot of interest, but it seemed like something people should know about.
9: I'm entirely sincere in 2; I was curious what you would come up with. And it was long game in meta-commentary. Bravo! Really need to sleep now.
10.2 The period of broadest connection to the broadest % of people may have been the Post-WW II era (through the early '60s) when the government appeared to be aligned with the concerns of a broader than usual economic slice of white people and not just the "elites."
Things like Brown v. began to erode it that from one direction, and Vietnam etc. from another.
Which is in part why there are so many bugfuck crazy entitled fuckwads among the cohort who came of age or grew up during that time period.
It looks like the font and underline tags don't get rendered. Is there documentation to indicate which tags are supported?
I'd have said roughly from FDR's administration to the Carter administration, but JPS has a good point. After the 60s the government got really good at stopping social change.
IME, i, b, a and that's about it. Just tried an underline: no dice.
After the 60s the government got really good at stopping social change.
The New Deal, which I love more than anything this side of my kids, was designed IN LARGE MEASURE TO STOP SOCIAL CHANGE FROM HAPPENING.
I mean, seriously, the Constitution was a compromise that emerged in significant measure as a hedge against social change.
And we would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you meddling abolitionists and others who were just very slightly less racist than us.
A request for documentation made to an administrator is an act with potentially antagonistic overtones; I'm writing tongue in cheek rather than sincerely asking. I believe than Neb understands this and will respond furiously in underlined small green courier type.
To the OP, I think it's not just rejection of government, but also of the educational and medical establishments-- many people are mad because rapid economic growth has basically stopped, threatening either their well-being or for the rich who take that for granted the expected well-being of their kids.
Call me when you can make it orange.
17, 22. Yes, you're right
Incidentally, the OP is interesting, and I have nothing smart to say about it. Except that it makes me think of "Young Man Blues" (as covered by the Who).
In the old days
When a young man was a strong man
All the people stepped back
When a young man walked by
You know nowadays
Well it's the old man's
Got all the money
And a young man
Ain't got nothin' in the world these days
I feel like there's a lot of overlap between people who are attracted to the idea that, "a life outside the state was both more available and more attractive [in the old days]" and feel like the government has taken their dicks away.
those should recurse arbitrarily deeply I bet browser-dependence makesrenderingunpredictable
Aren't The Who part of the wealthiest generation that ever lived? Or at least the people they were mostly singing at.
The song was written by Mose Allison (born 1927), for what it's worth.
Looking up Mose Allison's biographical details I just noticed that he was married for 67 years (from 1949 to his death). That's impressive.
(I would like to applaud Mossy Character for sending a post with HTML markup.)
Oh yeah, I feel you. This is the best.
I'm dubious about the idea that the Fed gov't, any time in living memory, was "close to people" in any responsive, local sense. That is, if the feds decided to bulldoze your town for a flood control dam, they weren't any more likely to stop because of local objection then than now (less, I'd venture). Per VW, I'd agree that there was a time (times?) when federal priorities were more aligned with the median American, but that's distinct from close/responsive.
OTOH, I think it's pretty clear that local gov't used to be more responsive, as long as you were within the tent. IOW, if you were connected to the local political machine, you could get your street fixed or whatever. The death of machines meant (among other things) that there were no longer favored common citizens who got disproportionate city services, and also that city services dropped as a priority, since the link between providing them and getting votes was more tenuous (when the rubber hits the road, mayors still lose elections because of bad snowplow deployment, but they still seem to prefer spending money on projects that result in public ceremonies while neglecting daily services).
I suspect 32.2 is correct, and seem to recall reading that in the late 19c Civil War pensions sometimes took on the role of irregular stealth welfare - if you were broke but were plugged into the right circles, you could get labeled a veteran and get some federal assistance.
Stolen Valor Dollar.
32.2 also might explain nostalgia for local crime lords. Nick Harkaway's second novel bewildered me with this.
35: I just saw a Humans of NY (visiting Brazil) about a guy describing how his father was a drug lord, but one who stopped the random violence and rape in his favela and so was appreciated, if not exactly admired.
And of course we've discussed the theory that recent Chicago violence stems from the decapitation of the old gangs.
I don't think I agree with the post, but I'll have to think about it. I can say that Appalachian Republicans and SE Asian Hill tribes share at least one trait: unsustainable environmental practices. If you walk by one of these villages, about 200 meters or so down the path will be a canyon or something with some amount of garbage in it. Busted fuel cans, empty tins of condensed milk, broken whiskey bottles, just shitloads of surprisingly modern junk. When the garbage canyon is full, that means it's time to up sticks and move the village.
PS: The ones I'm talking about are Hmong and somewhat close to a river. Not sure how others work.
So they're going through with it even after I'd warned them. And no due diligence whatsoever. I'm positively sick about it and I really wish I had sent explicit warnings in email about it. Fuck this place. I hope this other thing comes through.
So your garbage canyon is full, is what you're trying to say.
I personally think the OP gets at something in the self-image of people out there. The reality is somewhat different. Like everybody else, what they really want to do is free-ride on the state.
39 Yes. Though it looks like I'm also getting a promotion/skipped up a grade or two so my spice canyon just got filled up more too.
Your increasingly unfuckgiving attitude must be jiving with the corporate culture.
Scott also maunders on about Berbers, Arabs, and the Atlas.
the demarcation line between Arab and Berber is not, essentially, one of civilization, let alone religion. Instead, it is a political line distinguishing the subjects of a state from those outside its control.
The analog being Rednecks, SWPL, and the Rand McNally Highway Guide.
Anyway, you* see people who are living in places prosperous only because of the federal government (hello ethanol) acting as if they were subsidizing the cities and Trump was gong to stop that. Or old people getting Medicare acting as if they were subsidizing young people instead of taking 7% of their checks. I don't know what to do about it. Maybe we need ghost-William Jennings Bryan to update his "Cross of Gold" speech and point out that maybe the city-farm subsidy relationship has changed since 1896?
* Where 'you' is 'me' before I just hid everybody on Facebook.
I was thinking of linking this thing* as well. Among other things, it points out that the pioneers west of the Mississippi were as a rule employed by or permanently indebted to large companies, and that conditions in the West only ever improved due to federal action.
*The title is sensationalist, but the article is not unreasonable, and fascinating.
Who writes an article that long without an abstract?
I guess the answer is "an historian".
But, yes, the 'rugged individualist' element in the settling of the West has always been greatly exaggerated and the corporate element (mostly railroads) downplayed. My dad has a story about a lawyer suing the railroad on behalf of his client. The lawyer started the case by giving the judge $20. The judge objected that he couldn't be bribed for $20 and the lawyer said was too poor to be as generous as the railroads.
(Context: Judges and all elected officials got free travel on the railroads at the time.)
Huh. I'd forgotten that, but yes, and that bugged me on first read. Well, best I remember:
Author compares a railroad city in Montana with a gulag city in Kazakhstan, having noticed their superficial similarity; sketches their history; both were founded by remote bureaucrats for remote reasons; they were laid out on gridirons for ease of planning and admin; initial settlers were either deported (Kzk) or traveled voluntarily after being grotesquely misled about conditions at destination (both); settlers were ill-equipped for conditions and suffered appallingly.
I can't open it: which Montana city?
I can email it to you if you're interested.
The Magic City.
I thought that was Orlando.
I'd be interested in reading it, thanks.
No problem. Let me know if you don't get it.
I'd be interested in hearing what you think, when you've read it.
Also the colonial aspect. This 1870 general's report on Arizona was quoted in Before the Storm:
Almost the only paying business the white inhabitants have in that Territory is supplying the troops, there being as yet but few mines in that country worked to profit; and I am informed from every quarter that if the paymasters and quartermasters of the army were to stop payment in Arizona, a great majority of the white settlers would be compelled to quit it. Hostilities are therefore kept up with a view to protecting inhabitants most of whom are supported by the hostilities.
50: I've read it. Interesting but hugely overstates the case. Also, relies on a book someone published out west about the iniquities of the railroad cartel as a source.
You weren't getting away with that in Karaganda.
59: The Goldwater book? It goes that far back?
As in, you'd have struggled to find the paper and not be shot in the head for possessing paper and pencils. Let alone write, publish, and distribute it.
60.2: Either you didn't, or you got a Nobel for it.
It's all about the dialectic.
Wait? Why is a book about the iniquities of the railroad cartel suspect?
If you'd tried to write a goddamn book about the system in Karaganda at the relevant time (or indeed really today) you'd have ended up very, very dead very quickly. Democracy is a thing!
I thought you meant the railway cartels in the American west.
59: Also how the founding of the entire country was a revolt against taxes needed to defend the colonies against the Natives displaced by the colonists.
67: The book was about them. You could write a book about that and it got published and they became a matter of presidential politics and the book was still in the university library in 1993 with none of its pages blacked out.
Just like the Soviet Union in the 1930s, in other words!
68: this does raise the interesting question "which states of the US have been an overall net loss since their foundation"? Would the US collectively have been better off if Oklahoma had never existed?
Certainly we could have done without Barry Switzer.
70: Almost certainly none, as the cost of conquering those places (indeed the entire US) was trivial compared to the scale of the modern economies subsequently built in them. It's possible that some states have been a net loss to the federal treasury, but that's a very narrow reading. Though indeed interesting.
Some of it was ridiculous -- has she ever been to New York City, who exactly, regards Custer as a martyred hero -- and most of it (especially the stuff about Butte) was a restatement of what I would think nearly anyone even partially educated in the history of the region already knows.
Didn't lots of people regard Custer as a martyred hero until relatively recently? I mean, I recall movies and such.
73: Was she basically right about Montana? I am not even partially educated in the history of the region. Unless Flashman counts.
"They Died with their Boots On" is the movie I'm mainly thinking of.
It's possible that some states have been a net loss to the federal treasury, but that's a very narrow reading.
That's what I was getting at. Along the same lines as the discussion last year about colonies being net losses for the European empires.
I look forward to your findings.
74: Popular discourse about native Americans was a lot less progressive when I was growing up than it is today. But even back then, I didn't get the impression that Custer was regarded as a martyred hero. "Dude was kind of a fuck up" is more the impression that I got.
61: A few paragraphs on how Goldwater's home state was not exactly founded on individual enterprise. The quote was less lengthy in the book.
Custer's ghost appears in Dan Simmons' Black Hills, my other source on the history of the region.
The geology of big rivers in semi-arid county means that you can't really a living on a small riparian land holding and a private diversion. (Until pumps were invented, and electricity brought to the area.) So, yes, capital intensive developments were necessary to make the Billings valley suitable for agriculture. You can see this from space, or from the interstate: I don't doubt that people who've never given any thought at all to economic history might be surprised. There are still abandoned homesteads all over the Far East, and I think people are pretty well acquainted with the depopulation of the 20s, and the inability to support a family on 160 acres (or 320). Was it Mark Twain who said that the Homestead Act amounted to the government betting you 160 acres that you couldn't survive 3 years? If not him, then someone else.
Railroad choices of where stations and yards would be located were a very big deal, of course. The story of Columbia Falls (which appears to be a myth) is nicely illustrative. I've no doubt at all that NP chose Billings rather than Laurel because of how the townships lined up (but haven't looked at the map -- this could be a myth as well).
What else are you wondering about?
81 Little Big Man is the image I carried through teens and young adulthood.
You can see this from space, or from the interstate
I've been to one of those.
You could get a whole section for homesteading in the county were I was raised. But they didn't do that until the 20th century and even then it only applied to non-irrigated land.
I took dance lessons in the old office of the guy who pushed that law.
82 is good, thank you. Farmer indebtedness, and real estate speculation?
Nearly all those ranches failed in the Dust Bowl or sooner.
Fortunately, America was still great in the 1930s, so unregulated free enterprise was able to resolve the problem to everyone's benefit.
On the question of whether you're losing money on Montana, I think it's a lot more complicated that the standard line on these things allows. We have a bunch of missile silos in the ground, and there are a bunch of air force guys driving around from one to another. To the extent that the only thing you're calculating is the difference between what those guys are paid, and how much income tax they pay, it's going to be a loss. If you're adding in tax on the income made by the small town stores that sell those guys ice cream cones -- and this is a big damn deal in some small towns -- you're still at a new loss.
We have 7 Indian reservations. There's plenty of federal expenditure involved in that: are people complaining that we cost too much proposing to stop supporting Native communities?
We have a bunch of National Forests. They cost money to manage, and probably operate at a significant loss. Especially when they catch fire.
We're undoubtedly very high on highway miles (and thus maintenance dollars) per capita. The good news is that a whole bunch of people who don't live here use the highways, either driving on them, or buying products shipped on them. How's all that accounted for? It's not in the X/Y where X is income tax receipts from people living here and Y is federal dollars spent here.
87 All speculation is local, but yes that's a big deal all over the west. Guess where land will become valuable, and buy there. People are still doing it.
Farmer indebtedness was an issue in Shays Rebellion, and probably a century before. It was probably an issue in the Roman Empire (about which I know next to nothing).
You've heard the joke that the way to make a small fortune farming is to start with a large fortune.
Obviously, the way to learn about the rural American west is to
walk from Norfolk to Chadron. I recommend not doing this in February and spitting on whoever decided to call this area "the Outback of Nebraska."
91.3: Or start with a modest fortune and have the federal government require corn-ethanol use. I've seen it happen.
In a whole lot of Montana, all you can economically grow is hay or wheat.
Corn grows in Billings, though, thanks to the big ditches.
On the trail, I wonder about water. For example, hiking in Pennsylvania you can usually find a spring or stream along the trail. You carry water treatment equipment, not enough water for the whole day. If you want to walk down that trail, the towns are separated by ten miles and many of the towns have no public services. Even if you are going to beg a drink at some guy's house, you still need to carry enough water for ten miles.
That's why you bring your horse and your six shooter.
I don't really know how often horses need to drink water, but suspect it is fairly often in the heat.
Cowboys don't talk about problems. They make them go away.
I guess you would cross the Elkhorn enough to get water, but I've never tried my water filter on something big enough that herds of livestock have surely pooped in it.
90 On the other hand, our friend Max Baucus made sure we recently got big beautiful federal courthouses in each division.
Sure, horses drink, but do you really need to filter the entire river?
I guess not. Cows only shit on the top part of it.
If you count what Texas has cost us in federal ability to govern, we're probably down to the line.
But Texas was free to the Treasury, because Sam Houston stole it for them.
Probably a net gain, since without Texas, we wouldn't have had a pretext for the Mexican War, by which we acquired California.
Not all of it. Just the part north of the Nueces River.
Being coastal liberals, Californians didn't take the initiative to steal themselves until there was a federal subsidy in the offing.
92: If you call it the Sand Hills no one's going to want to visit.
Nonsense. People come to see the cranes.
I've never tried my water filter on something big enough that herds of livestock have surely pooped in it.
My dad was old school, didn't truck with that "water filter" nonsense. Just drink straight from the stream. Its clean enough.
I went hiking with him this one time at Glacier National Park, I was about 14 years old. We drank right out of some nice mountain streams and it didn't affect him one bit. But I came back with the worst case of giardia.
I didn't like that gridded lives article before it was cool. But I guess I'm not going to reread it to remember why.
Farmer indebtedness was an issue in Shays Rebellion, and probably a century before. It was probably an issue in the Roman Empire (about which I know next to nothing).
It was! The Roman Republic basically collapsed becuase of a proposal for widespread debt relief. A Tribune called Dolabella proposed a general debt amnesty and, when the law didn't pass, he and his supporters occupied (or rather #Occupied) the Forum.
115. Moreover, from the 3rd century right through to its conclusion, the western empire was beset by jaqueries whose participants were known as Bagaudae, and whose grievances were mostly about taxation and debt. They aren't well documented because it didn't suit the elite to call attention to them, but they were there and they kept on coming. Interestingly, the peasants seem to have stopped revolting, at least so continually, once the successor kingdoms were established.
Interestingly, the peasants seem to have stopped revolting, at least so continually, once the successor kingdoms were established.
I've just started reading Wickham's book on Medieval Europe, and an interesting point is about the death of taxation as a tool of government. It would be way too much to cal it a defining characteristic of the middle ages, but it wouldn't be exactly wrong, either. At either end you have governments raising most of their operating budgets by taxation, and in between that basically never happened. IIRC he says that Charlemagne didn't tax at all, which is mind-blowing.
Yes, I vaguely remember that now you mention it. A strange world, in which "a king should live of his own". But it can surely only work at small scales or short periods of time. Mediaeval kings preferred taxing merchants when they had to tax, as far as I can see, not to annoy their friends/rivals in the elite. But trade hadn't fully recovered by Charlemagne's day, so he probably had no significant base to tax. Have to keep on conquering, then.
Well, it helps clarify feudalism. Aside from everything else, it was a way of raising an army (or at least a loyal core of corps) without spending too much cash. The "tax" was effectively on all of your vassals who had to show up, armed and with retainers, or send cash instead.
Did Medieval England not have taxes? How did they raise the money to pay off the ransom after King Richard went and got himself captured?
Or does my sense of history derived from Disney's Robin Hood fall short?
But of course the expansionist pressure is inexorable, because your vassals aren't going to keep showing up indefinitely unless there's something in it for them. One of the points I remember from Wickham is that as long as the lands the king handed out to his followers weren't hereditary, he could take them back and regrant them as part of the political dance. But once the more remote counties started being handed down to hereditary counts, he lost a lot of room for manoeuvre.
122. By taxation. But why do you think Prince John was so unpopular?
John got a raw deal. Richard was the real dipshit in that family.
that generation was all dipshits. But no, John was a real piece of work.
Locking your enemies in a castle and starving them does seem particularly egregious.
127: What do you want to do, make some poor single mother in Birmingham pay taxes to feed that enemy?
123: Whoa, hey, spoiler alert.
Thanks for the link in 126. Reminds me of attempts to rehabilitate Richard III, which have also come to naught. Maybe I'm unfairly extrapolating from the fact that he really was a hunchback, but since Shakepeare's portrayal* was supposed to be evidence of slander, then its proving true has to count in the other direction.
*which, how long will historians (amateur or otherwise) keep making this mistake? Schliemann and Sutton Soo showed that there was much, much more to centuries-later oral poems than anyone on the history side believed. Why should anyone assume that WS was just making shit up about R3?
119: Yeah, that was one of my main takeaways from Wickham too. I thought it was one of the most interesting parts of the book.
122: For reasons that are unclear, England was the only early medieval western European country that was able to effectively tax, starting in the tenth century or so to pay off the Vikings. Wickham talks about this but doesn't have an explanation for it. I'm currently reading God's War, and it comes up there too, with Richard I being the only king successfully able to levy the "Saladin Tithe" to finance the Third Crusade. Phillip II tried it in France and failed miserably.
Population more effectively trapped by being on an island? (No, I have no idea.)
Doesn't explain why the same thing didn't happen in Ireland or Iceland.
Indeed, Ireland and especially Iceland were way on the other end of the spectrum as far as centralized government goes.
And speaking of Iceland, another interesting thing I learned from Wickham is that its famous statelessness was a deliberate reaction to the centralizing efforts of the kings of Norway. This fits well with the OP, actually.
131: Don't know exact timing or the efficacy of collection, but the medieval Christian kingdoms in Spain did have the cruzada to pay for the Reconquista, and by the 15th century at least it was being raised fairly effectively (though epicly regressively) and was IIRC retained after the fall of Granada for that reason.
Yeah, Wickham's book only goes up to 1000. There was certainly more extensive and effective taxation in various places in the centuries after that, which is why I specified "early medieval" in 131.
Hence my fuzziness on the timing. But the Reconquista was AFAIK under (intermittent) way by 1000.
Sure, but not like it was later. Wickham does actually describe the Iberian situation in some detail, and argues that the Christian kingdoms during this period were only very marginally state-like, and that they had a lot of similarities to other "marginal" areas like Ireland and Scandinavia.
Are you all talking about Inheritance of Rome? Because if so I evidently read an entire book and remembered virtually nothing.
I am. He has a more recent one that covers a longer period. Not sure which one JRoth means.
Anyway, I read it fairly recently so I remember a lot from it.
So did I. Within the last two years. Distressing.
BTW, Teo, have you read Simmons' Black Hills? Curious what you think if you have.
No, and I hadn't even heard of it until just now. Looks interesting.
I thought it was excellent, but can't help wondering what the actual Native Americans would think.
143: Mossy, if it makes you feel better I had the same response the last time teo brought it up. I think we all read it more or less at the same time but I couldn't even remember that Iberia was even mentioned in it.
Huh. I'm sure I read it somewhat more recently than you two, definitely within the past few months. There definitely are books I've read and forgotten almost everything about within a year or two, though.
Oh, I must have misunderstood. Somebody brought it up a year or two ago--ajay, maybe?--and a few of us read it but I don't think it was anything formalized. I think halford was still here so it must've been a little while ago.
Yeah, there were several people who had read it and recommended it before I did. There was never anything like a formal reading group, but I know I brought it up at least a couple times when it was relevant to the thread topic, like in the Alfred the Great meme thread.
149 sounds right.
Anyway, God's War is also really good and I recommended it highly. It's super-long, though.
149: not me - I've never read it. It's on the list though.
Refraining with a huge effort from replying to an exceptionally nasty and hate-filled letter from my sister Lucrezia but the ending that floated into my mind is going to get used somewhere:
"And when your cats eat your lonely corpse I hope they choke."
This was so gratifyingly over the top that I felt immediately better. And people wonder how writers are made.
On the strength of that, you should probably publish the letter as poésie trouvée. I'm sorry about your sister.
132. The obvious explanation for the ability of English kings to tax is that it was far more centralised than any mainland state since the Wessex dynasty absorbed Mercia. It continued to be more centralised after the Norman invasion. On the other hand, Northumbria remained semi-independent until the 'Harrying of the North: Cnut's Earl, Sigurd (anglice Siward) the Great, was able to carry on a private war against Scotland without involving the King at all, as Macbeth discovered to his cost. Maybe they couldn't tax the north, but only the south and midlands. Who knows?
The obvious explanation for the ability of English kings to tax is that it was far more centralised than any mainland state since the Wessex dynasty absorbed Mercia pushes the question back, but doesn't really answer it.
Well it's suggestive of an answer:
1. Old English inheritance wasn't partitive; Frankish was;
2. Aelfraed began reconquering Wessex and Mercia from a small base and imposed his laws and his defensive organisation as he went (the titular Lord of Mercia was conveniently married to his daughter); there were no English magnates in a position to resist this process. Obviously by the time West Saxon dominance encompassed the whole country (mid 10th century), they couldn't keep it all on such a tight rein, especially since the north was predominantly Danish, but they had a solid base in the south and midlands which followed the King's writ come what may. In contrast, royal demesnes in Francia weren't any bigger or wealthier than many of the counties and duchies outside them.
158: Ok. Normans could centralize because Wessex centralized, Wessex could centralize because Danes cleared out local resistance? And maybe Danes could do that, more effectively than they did on the Continent, because of the weakness of post-Roman successor states in Britain (one of the few things I remember from Wickham)? Plus more-or-less random variations in legal traditions.
Something like that, I'd guess.
Normans could centralize because Wessex centralized, Wessex could centralize because Danes cleared out local resistance?
Possibly also relevant here is that the Normans, per their name, were of course of Norse rather than Frankish origin. Partitive inheritance was clearly a huge problem for the Franks (another of my takeaways from Wickham) in a way it clearly wasn't in England, and maybe not in Scandinavia either. And the Normans were clearly more successful than anyone else in imposing central authority on their lands in France as well as in England (again, this shows up in the financing and organization of the Third Crusade). I'm not as sure about how things worked in Norman Sicily but it also seems to have a fairly centralized system.
As far as I remember, Wickham suggests that if Pepin le Bref, Charlemagne and Louis the Pious hadn't been able to dispose of their superfluous siblings and offspring on one pretext or another (or just outlive them), the Carolingian Empire would probably have been still born. As it was it all went to hell in the wars of succession before Louis was even cold in the ground.
I imagine your point about the Normans is broadly correct, although William the Bastard originally left Normandy to Robert Shortarse and England to Pink-Faced William. After the second William died, Henry the Intellectual reunited the two realms by the expedient of defeating Robert in a war, and so it remained until the time of John (qv.). Henry of course had no surviving sons, because his heir got himself killed by pratting about in his yacht, but even during the "Anarchy", I don't think anybody seriously suggested splitting the realm up again.