People from all over the political spectrum hate Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man, with its naïve progressivist-historicism, its post–Cold War /pre–Sept. 11 triumphalism, etc., so imagine my surprise when I started reading it and enjoying it (while of course finding lots to disagree with).
This is from the chapter “The Power of the Powerless”:
Before the Industrial Revolution, national wealth had to be extracted from the small surpluses eked out by masses of peasants living at or just above the level of subsistence in what were almost universally agricultural societies. An ambitious prince could increase his wealth only by grabbing someone else’s lands and peasants, or else by conquering certain valuable resources, like the gold and silver of the New World. After the Industrial Revolution, however, the importance of land, population, and natural resources declined sharply as sources of wealth in comparison to technology, education, and the rational organization of labor. The tremendous increases in labor productivity that the latter factors permitted were far more significant and certain than any economic gains realized through territorial conquest. Countries like Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong with little land, limited populations, and no natural resources found themselves in an economically enviable position with no need to resort to imperialism to increase their wealth. As Iraq’s attempted takeover of Kuwait demonstrates, of course, control over certain natural resources like oil confers potentially great economic benefits. The consequences of this invasion, however, are not likely to make this method of securing resources seem attractive in the future. Given the fact that access to those same resources can be obtained peacefully through a global system of free trade, war makes much less economic sense than it did two or three hundred years ago.
FOB (friend of blog) Joanne McNeil points to this article from New Scientist, with the following snippet:
People with implicit racial prejudices are left mentally exhausted after interacting with someone from a different race, perhaps because they are trying to quell their feelings.
The new study, the first of its kind, shows that areas in the brain associated with self-control light up in white people with implicit racial biases when they are shown images of black people.
Furthermore, the study showed that the level of this brain activity correlated very closely with poor performance in a test of thinking ability given right after a face-to-face interview with a black person. The researchers believe this indicates that the subject’s mental resources have been temporarily drained by their efforts to suppress their prejudices.
Iraqi blogger Riverbend shares her thoughts on the Pentagon’s new hearts and minds strategy:
They’ve been bombing houses in Tikrit and other areas! Unbelievable… I’m so angry it makes me want to break something!!!! What the hell is going on?! What do the Americans think Tikrit is?! Some sort of city of monsters or beasts? The people there are simple people. Most of them make a living off of their land and their livestock- the rest are teachers, professors and merchants- they have lives and families… Tikrit is nothing more than a bunch of low buildings and a palace that was as inaccessible to the Tikritis as it was to everyone else!
While Jeff Jarvis exalts the vile gibberish issuing from Healing Iraq, Riverbend asks some troubling questions:
How can that ass of a president say things are getting better in Iraq when his troops have stooped to destroying homes?! Is that a sign that things are getting better? When you destroy someone’s home and detain their family, why would they want to go on with life? Why wouldn’t they want to lob a bomb at some 19-year-old soldier from Missouri?! Continue reading “Iraqi Bloggers on the Wonderful Occupation”
Question for Andrew Sullivan: If George Soros is himself a raging anti-Semite (I especially like this Joe Farah article–is the “pig” angle some kind of kosher double-entendre?), then why is it anti-Semitic to criticize him?
Reader Doug Barrett from Edmonton, Canada, suggests that the 9 cases in Nozick’s Tale of the Slave can be expanded upon:
10. They read ‘the Tale of the Slave’ and they are now aware that you feel you are a slave. “We’re sorry you feel that way.” they say. “If you want to, you can go somewhere else and live in a way that you think isn’t slave-ish. Or you can stay with us, and play by our rules, and if you do you are welcome to try to persuade us that you have a better way to live.”
I [Doug Barrett] think once this offer is made, one cannot really claim to be a slave. And continuing further still…
11. You persuade them. “Hey, this living as free individuals is great!” they all say. “By the way, some of us didn’t like being called a 10,000-headed monster. Some of us want to beat you up for that insult.” And they beat you up. Continue reading “Tale of Slave II”