Sunday, March 2, 2014

I got nothin'

Here, read this again.


Nathan Kerr said...

Hello. I am Nathan from the blog - I would love to get your take on Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat" where he states that intertwined markets in a globalized world prevents wars. Given the aggression by Russia in the Ukraine and the hardening rift between east and west, do you agree with Freidman?

The Arthurian said...

Hi Nathan. As it happens, I have a copy of Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat". My bookmark is at page 22 in that 593-page book, and I probably have not glanced at the book since 2006. So, for what it's worth, my response is not based on having read the guy...

I see the world largely through Arnold Toynbee's eyes. Civilizations have a life-cycle, Toynbee said, and the cycle has identifiable stages. He said a civilization faces recurring "challenges", and as long as the "responses" are "creative", the civilization endures.

The trick is to know whether a response is creative, or whether it is some fast-talk smoke-and-mirror nonsense that leads the civilization toward death "by suicide".

I can only tell you what I think. I think this whole trend of globalization that we are living through is fast-talk smoke-and-mirror nonsense driven by people holding vast accumulations of wealth and by those longing to be among them.

For me, the thing that drives Toynbee's cycle is the accumulation of wealth. You can't have so much as a city without it. But if wealth begins to accumulate in too few hands, this is a challenge for which the creative response must include allowing more hands to accumulate, enough so that there can be what we used to think of as a Middle Class.

Otherwise, the heirs of the accumulators become the world's owners, in a new Dark Age.

What do I think? I think the intertwining of markets in a globalized world only prevents war if the economy is good. If the economy has gone bad, the intertwining confuses things, postpones the inevitable death of that civilization, and makes the time of troubles more severe in the meanwhile.

I begin by looking at the economy, hoping to understand it, wanting to make it a good economy, and then allowing a political sphere to coalesce around that solid core.

Others look at the economy, see its problems, and foolishly believe they can repair the economy by forcing the coalescence of a political sphere. But the best they can hope to achieve will be seen, in hindsight, as a dark time.

Good question, Nathan!