by Kyle May
[Via Global Guerrillas]
Took a bit of a risk with this, but it was fun to write. Hope it does provide some useful frameworks for thinking about our present situation.
Last weekend, upon the recommendation of a very smart friend, I read Carroll Quigley’s (a legendary professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service) 1961 book, “The Evolution of Civilizations.” It is a hidden gem of a history book, chock full of useful models he derives through the application of the scientific method and aggressive analysis/synthesis (which makes it very unusual). Happily, I found this prescient para near the end of the book:
The hope of the future does not rest, as commonly believed, in winning the people of the “buffer fringe” to one superpower or the other, but rather in the invention of new weapons and tactics that will be so cheap to obtain and so easy to use that they will increase the effectiveness of guerrilla warfare so greatly that the employment of our present weapons of mass destruction will become futile, and on this basis there can be a revival of democracy and of political decentralization in all three parts of our present world. This possible development in political and military matters, would, of course, require the development of decentralized economic techniques such as would arise if sunlight became the chief energy source for production and the advancement of science made it possible to manufacture any desired substance by molecular rearrangement….
All I can say is WOW. This was written at the height of the cold war, nearly 50 years ago, and he could still envision the end game of Western Civilization.*
An excellent discussion of a very interesting book that I now want to read. Luckily the pdf of the book is available. His last point brought up is critically important.
Quigley suggests that there are three potential outcomes from an institution that has gone bad.
1. You can attempt to radically reform it. The institution either accepts this reform and improves – or – the institution
2. fights the reform attempt. The recent global crisis and it’s pitiful aftermath is a good indicator that financial capitalism will fight reform tooth and nail, and they will win.
3. The only other option is to build something new that routes around the institution (in this case global financial capitalism). However, that’s going to be very difficult given that it is now runs a Universal Empire and the power it can bring to bear to protect its interests is nearly limitless.
Finding ways around the damage created by this institution, which has the power to bring down the most powerful country in the world while funding the production of greenhouse gases that can harm us all, will be the great struggle of this generation.
They now have the power to spend as much money in political campaigns as they want, across international borders. The creation of resilient communities will provide a substantial challenge to these institutions.
It will be a long fight.