Archive for April, 2010

New World Order

Monday, April 26th, 2010

So what is this “New World Order”?  I am not inclined to give much credit to the boundless conspiracy theories but they do make for some humorous anecdotes (see “Stonecutter’s Song” above).

Seriously though what would Kissinger say now, over 15 years after the publication of this book, about the New World Order.  There is an inescabably Eurocentric focus to his analysis of the periods of various World Orders, from the Peace of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna.  What did these conceptions mean to the populations of Southeast Asia, Africa or the Americas?  Not much, thank you.  If that is the case then, if Kissinger is really talking about European hegemony, and I think we could safely argue that the United States is a product of that, then is our current embroilment in the “war on terror” really much of a suprise?

As we conquered the west in the euphamism of “manifest destiny” the native American’s pushed back but could not prevail.  As “we”, meaning the European history and culture of representative democracy, seperation of church and state and free market systems, push into all corners of the globe,  is it really suprising that some are pushing back?  Is it suprising that some have acquired the means to really hurt us?   Will 9/11 be regarded as a sort of modern battle of little bighorn?  Was, maybe more accurately,  the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan like the Spanish retreat from the great Pueblo Revollt of 1680? 

In 2110, and yet at least one other “New World Order” will have emerged by then according to Kissinger’s rubric, what will the students of this classroom refer to our time as?  Will it be seen, as the quote on the wall has suggested, as the end of history?  As per Wikipedia…

The End of History and the Last Man is a 1992 book by Francis Fukuyama, expanding on his 1989 essay “The End of History?”, published in the international affairs journal The National Interest. In the book, Fukuyama argues that the advent of Western liberal democracy may signal the end point of humanity’s sociocultural evolution and the final form of human government.

“What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”[1]

Some see his thesis conflicting with Karl Marx‘s version of the “end of prehistory“.[2]. Some scholars identify the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel as the source of Fukuyama’s language, by way of Alexandre Kojève. Kojeve argued that the progress of history must lead towards secular free-market democracy, (conceived in terms of a multi-party system of political representation). It is conjectured that Fukuyama learned of Kojève through his teacher Allan Bloom.

evil empire

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Have you all seen these before?  They’re called “Word clouds”.  You can cut and paste ant text and the words will be randomized but also manipulated in size by their frequency.  In other words in Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech, above, he used “World” quite a bit and “communism” rather less so.  I think they are interesting.

Here in Ambrose and Brinkley’s 15th chapter we have a marathon of words.  40+ pages!  Note the 5th edition was published in 1988, the sixth in 1991.  In one of those editions, the 5th I suspect, this chapter was new and a classic case of not having enough historical distance to weed out the significant from the non.

If I were hunting for terms I might choose Ambrose’s take in the Iran-Contra affair, Lebanon, Grenada and maybe the Falkland Islands.

So what do A&B think of old Ronnie?  Good or bad or somewhere in-between?  See you tomorrow.