I suppose, after all your news feeds I owe you an update on my take on the new World Order. I could give you the short answer and quote the last lines of what Peter Townsend wrote and Rodger Daltrey sang in 1971: ”Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” I think you also used the same line recently. But you should read the entire lyrics, as it is close to my take on the world today.
But you also wondered if I’m being serious, satirical or pejorative. Well, since I don’t like to be a one trick pony my response on most just reflects my gut reaction to all those news feeds. Speaking of which, the way I understand “news feeds”, they are the ultimate echo chamber. These automated AI ego massage algorithmic generated feeds search the world to bring us exactly what we want to hear. I think it must be like crack for the mentally eager recipients to gather supportive evidence of the like-minded. They bring forth “dots” that we humans are hard wired to connect and therefore discover the TRUTH. The fact that other “dots” may exist, whether knowable or not, that don’t fit our connections are not explored or simply labeled propaganda. The added wrinkle is how popular some “dots” can be circulated in a monetizing or propaganda way. With a world population in the billions, the pool of ideas and dots are virtually bottomless. But maybe I’m just being satirical.
But back to the New World Order and the search of a Rule’s Based World.
My basic understanding is at odds with what I glean is your position and that of others: that the U.S./West (AmeriKa) is the root cause of the world’s ills and that it is in free fall.
On the first point. It assumes that if we had changed our ways (or never went down the path that we did) the world would have been a better place. I have no don’t doubt that for the last 100 plus years, especially after WWII, that AmeriKa has had a very large foot print on world affairs, much to the detriment of others. Call this what you will – the Evil Empire or whatever – but the idea that if we didn’t have these evil tendencies, actors and actions the world’s population would have, by now, reached the state of nirvana. After all, that is what we all want. A world without strife, living in harmony with security and the banishment of lust and greed that only poisons our karma. And AmeriKa trashed it.
Ah, but you (and others) say it is really the Clash of Cultures that is the issue. We need to respect other’s cultures and allow them to flourish. The West has blanketed and rolled over those cultures which are now saying, “We ain’t going to take it no more”. Perhaps they will not “take it” any more but does that mean they will act differently when they are sit atop their own world order”. Presently the two leading candidates, Russia and China, seem to see a world order based like all other historical world orders: a strong military backbone – supersonic missiles, bigger naval fleets, saber rattling, etc. Russia, playing the heavy and pointing out the historical colonialism of the west while China seems to have more of a comprehensive view of their uniworld but neither denies their desires for world impact or increasing their spheres of influence.
As to the second point: a failing AmeriKa. Yes, we are failing and many see the need for a better working organization of society. Are we actually looking for one? Are we idealizing a past and assume that if we go back in time all will be right with the world? And more to the point, is there any consensus as to what this better working organization entails?
This I believe (also a name of an old NPR program). Worldwide, human nature is not that different. Culture is different. Geography, environment, resources and climate, dictates the different cultural manifestations of humans around the world. But after millions of years of evolution, homo sapiens are a single species that can be considered “hard wire” to act in very similar ways but in many different languages. That seems evident in that all cohesive societies have developed and prospered as units even while they differ culturally. There is no mass of humans where each person lives individually without a structured society (like monks on a mountain top). What, when and how a “successful” or dominate society emerges results from conditions and circumstances mostly beyond their control but which they take advantage of and adapt to. Societies may proclaim their “exceptionalism”, “pure superior breed”, or “historic destiny with arbitrary boundaries” but that is all just wallpaper on a frame of self-indulgence. The cleverness of humans in advancing technologies in the broadest of terms, however, is the major factor in leveling these condition and circumstances and will always move forward (cave man to spaceman). Humans are, if nothing else, extremely good opportunists.
So when talk comes to the point that a particular society is in free fall – i.e. AmeriKa – the assumption is that others will lead the way to nirvana without the hubris that the fallen had succumbed to. As if history never repeats itself. And yet we are all human with the same “hard wired” human traits. As written above, circumstances, geography, resources and environments will determine how those traits manifest themselves. The human trait of self-preservation and self-indulgence over empathy for others, however, is universal.
One can ask why it was America that predominated the world order for the last 100 years or so and not, say, Norway, Brazil or Yemen. Why is it now Russia and China? Their lust for either return of their previous Empires or prompted with the perceived attractiveness of modernity seen in the West, supported by newer technology and resources to take advantage of them, explains more than the hubris of AmeriKa. No, I’m not saying that we are on the road to another monopolar world ruled by another, rather than the U.S. A “multipolar” world will/has emerged. But will that make a difference? The hope is that these multipolar societies develop a more beneficial life of their members than at present. At least that is what they advertise. But if these multipolar worlds have different internal “cultures” and “norms” which must/will be protected, how will they interact with other worlds? Are we on the road to abandoning any global understandings? Can we go back to isolated societies that, by and large, exist independently of each other? Will technology even allow this? The hope is that it will all just work out fine.
I suppose that is where Rule Based worlds comes in. But that seems like there will be different rules for internal use in each world to honor their own culture, while they adhere to interactive rules toward other cultures, which presumably will be international. I find that hard to envision. One can only hope.
Hope rests on the social construct that is the basis of those worlds. The founders of America thought they had a way to do this. I think they understood the inherit fallibility of everyone and sort a solution in a novel government structure (under God – so stated to make it clear they were not to act as Gods). It proved/proves to be a very difficult path and maybe an impossible path. Those paths should be our concern as the world moves into this “multipolar” time. It is those paths that will temper, or at least try to, overcome the universal traits mentioned above. Individual personalities, cultures and philosophies will surface but I believe it is the social construct that will determine how “beneficial” that society is to it’s members.
I must point out here, that I don’t believe the path constructed in this country envisioned a forced “unipolar” world. It can, and has been, argued that from day one it acted in deed and intention to force such a world. I don’t agree with that. A unipolar or multi polar world has many working parts that only in hindsight one can see. But this circles back to the beginning of this writing and the search for nirvana.
But what of our social structure we attempted – a democratic republic? Can an authoritarian government framework actually be a more positive force for the development of a country? I think yes, in that it is possible that a King can preside over his subjects in a most beneficial way. Does this mean the American Experiment has failed?
However, relying on an individual authoritarian, or group, denies the reality that no one is a saint. Authoritarianism is an easy answer to the difficult work of a democracy (even a Democratic Republic). Modern technology can easily persuade, thru propaganda, the direction and justifications for many actions. I am reminded of what W.A. Harriman once wrote: Stalin was “the most inscrutable and contradictory character I have ever known”, a mysterious man of “high intelligence and fantastic grasp of detail” who possessed much “shrewdness” and “surprising human sensitivity”. He concluded that Stalin was “better informed than Roosevelt, more realistic than Churchill, in some ways the most effective of the war leaders. At the same time he was, of course, a murderous tyrant”.
The founders of this country knew this risk. They also knew that pure democracy, where everyone voices their opinion has a fatal flaw. Not everyone has the knowledge or wherewithal to decide for the “common good”. We all like to join with the like-minded which is, ironically, opposed to our proclamation of Individualism. In other words, we all wish to join hands together, but only with those we like.
I don’t know of any solution to this, maybe there is none other than recognizing the difficulties, responsibilities and limits it lays on us.
But this brings me back to how I started this missive. The America I believe in has the design to find a solution. The AmeriKa that you see can’t possibly be a solution so anything else must be a better solution. I have my doubts.
A while back you wrote about the old songs you heard on the radio.
Music is like mythology. It is an attempt to communicate ideas and underlying emotions that words can not convey. It is not that we are inarticulate, but words can easily mislead the listener based on the different understandings and meanings between speaker and listener. Music springs from our imagination, something that natural sounds may stimulate but are not reflective of who we are. Music attempts to be the language of our soul although it’s hard to explain since the spoken or written word is how we would communicate this. It makes me sad if music is not an important part of anyone’s life.
“They don’t make music like I grew up with” is a common complaint of many generations. Indeed, they don’t. But is it because the music reflected our sensibilities at the time of our initial social awareness and became the frame we view the world today? Or was it just the cleverness of their rhymes? I think the former.
In any case, music seems closest to the TRUTH of the soul than most any other form of communication. We ignore it at our peril, relying on language that is incapable to understand the subtle but fundamental underpinnings of our being.
The first two paragraphs may seem contradictory. The first agues for a universal, time independent reason for the music in our lives, unchanging and static. The language that expresses our inner soul. The second argues that it is very much time and circumstance dependent. I think the explanation is that time and circumstance does impact our inner being, our soul, which is then expressed in the music we embrace. In other words we are a mirror to the world around us, and music is the language of that reflection, something words often fail to communicate. Since time and circumstances change our musical appreciation and expression will change. Bradley Cooper’s song “Maybe it’s time the old ways die” may have hit on that idea. If only old songs stir our inner being, maybe our inner being never moved beyond those times.
To claim that others have learned and use the same methods that this country has practiced and is therefore justified in their actions or is only “paying back” this countries hubris, misreads human nature. It is ultimately depressing to believe that there is no other way humans react and the idea of “living in peace and harmony” is unattainable. This is because we can envision these more peaceful solutions, explain the disastrous results of our inadequacies of diplomacy, blame induvial leaders and excuse the transgressions of other’s reactions. But human nature, despite different cultures and different times seem universally akin to traveling down the same road that leads to conflict and bloodshed. When given the opportunity and means, we all act the same.
I don’t know if anything I wrote makes any sense to you. Your sense of doom is very evident and I can’t dispute the historical fact that all past Empires have fallen. And yet, much to our chagrin, humanity carries on and only that gives me hope.