Global Cooperation


News Item: Complexity and Collapse by Niall Feguson

Guest Blog Post – Dennis Bumstead

From time-to-time, Global Cooperation will publish articles by other authors. These articles will have as their common element, an insightful commentary on the state of the world related to that described by Adi Da in his book Not-Two IS Peace
This post is particularly interesting in relation to the “systems” chapter, “Reality-Humanity”, p 213 in Not-Two Is Peace, and more generally in relation to the often asked, often doubting question ‘can radical, large-scale change ( for good or ill) actually happen?’.
Dennis is the General Manager of the Global Cooperation Project – read more at http://www.globalcooperationproject.org/

Complexity and Collapse

Empires on the Edge of Chaos

March/April 2010
Niall Ferguson
NIALL FERGUSON is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His most recent book is The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World.

There is no better illustration of the life cycle of a great power than The Course of Empire, a series of five paintings by Thomas Cole that hang in the New-York Historical Society. Cole was a founder of the Hudson River School and one of the pioneers of nineteenth-century American landscape painting; in The Course of Empire, he beautifully captured a theory of imperial rise and fall to which most people remain in thrall to this day.

Each of the five imagined scenes depicts the mouth of a great river beneath a rocky outcrop. In the first, The Savage State, a lush wilderness is populated by a handful of hunter-gatherers eking out a primitive existence at the break of a stormy dawn. The second picture, The Arcadian or Pastoral State, is of an agrarian idyll: the inhabitants have cleared the trees, planted fields, and built an elegant Greek temple. The third and largest of the paintings is The Consummation of Empire. Now, the landscape is covered by a magnificent marble entrepôt, and the contented farmer-philosophers of the previous tableau have been replaced by a throng of opulently clad merchants, proconsuls, and citizen-consumers. It is midday in the life cycle. Then comes Destruction. The city is ablaze, its citizens fleeing an invading horde that rapes and pillages beneath a brooding evening sky. Finally, the moon rises over the fifth painting, Desolation. There is not a living soul to be seen, only a few decaying columns and colonnades overgrown by briars and ivy.

Collection of the New-York Historical Society
The Savage State, from Thomas Cole’s The Course of Empire (1833-36)

Conceived in the mid-1830s, Cole’s great pentaptych has a clear message: all empires, no matter how magnificent, are condemned to decline and fall. The implicit suggestion was that the young American republic of Cole’s age would be better served by sticking to its bucolic first principles and resisting the imperial temptations of commerce, conquest, and colonization.

[The balance of the article is available on the Foreign Affairs site at http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/65987/niall-ferguson/complexity-and-collapse%5D

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Sarkozy, Happiness Index
September 24, 2009, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Global Peace, Society | Tags: , , , ,

Sarkozy: Happiness is an economic indicator

“PARIS — French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked world leaders to join a “revolution” in the measurement of economic progress by dropping their obsession with gross domestic product to account for factors such as health-care availability and leisure time … A great revolution is waiting for us …” Sarkozy said.

From the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, CA, By EMMA VANDORE, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Whatever his motivation, Le President de la République takes a step in the right direction by calling for major country national governments to move away from their huge focus on the current model of economic indicators that everybody equates to a measure of how well the country is doing. These days, we have a lot more to consider to make a judgment about that.  GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, is a blunt instrument at best, equating economic output created by running prisons, with that of growing food. The money made making and selling bombs adds in to the same total as the money made treating their victims.

Adi Da has said, in his book ‘Not-Two Is Peace’:

“The present-time human world is fragmented and stupefied, utterly misled by the grossest kind of deluded thinking about “reality”.  The mass populations of the world are being seduced by the absurdities of “consumerism”. Human beings are, now and everywhere, entrenched in their commitment to absurd “consumer” notions about the potential of absolute “self”-satisfaction—and otherwise, human beings are (based on their failures of “self”-satisfaction) overwhelmed by gross realism views that appear to sanction nihilistic despair, and even unlimited (and intrinsically meaningless) violence.”

This is the view from the source – the “radical” view. Adi Da explains that the GDP picture, the total consumption of a society, is a deluded measure of value, or benefit.  The move to at least broaden the picture of what is of true value to societies is a step in the right direction.

For more please go to: http://www.globalpeacecentral.org/

Reference:

Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, by

Professor Joseph E. STIGLITZ, Chair, Columbia University, Professor Amartya SEN, Chair Adviser, Harvard University, Professor Jean-Paul FITOUSSI, Coordinator of the Commission, IEP