Perspective Needed On Current State Of The World

Jim Prevor - The Fruits of Thought

It is as if the world turned dark‭. ‬In the United Kingdom‭, ‬the nation Jim Prevor - The Fruits of Thoughtlit the fuse via the referendum to overturn almost a half-century toward ever-closer union with Europe‭. ‬Now‭, ‬the educated in Britain watch in horror at the multiple explosions that follow‭.‬‭ ‬They believed they dodged a bullet when Andrea Leadsom‭, ‬who virtually nobody had heard of four weeks ago‭, ‬dropped out of the race‭, ‬thus leaving Theresa May to become Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister‭.‬

Just as Jeremy Corbyn‭, ‬the head of the opposition Labour Party‭, ‬was elected by a bizarrely small part of the population due to British rules allowing party members to select party leaders‭, ‬now the next Prime Minister could have been contentiously elected by 0.003‭ ‬percent of the population‭. ‬Yet the Brexiteers had‭, ‬as the Brits would say‭, ‬the‭ ‬“cheek”‭ ‬to accuse the EU of not being democratic‭!‬

Yet the impact on global markets was not due to one country leaving the EU‭; ‬it is that polls show in other countries‭, ‬such as France and the Netherlands‭, ‬important countries that contribute more to the EU than they get back‭, ‬the citizenry would also vote to leave the EU if given a chance‭. ‬In other words‭, ‬the carefully designed program to forestall the European competition‭, ‬which‭ (‬twice in the last century‭) ‬led to World War‭, ‬is crumbling‭.‬

Things are clearly not much better in the United States‭. ‬The presidential race features two candidates that share one thing‭: ‬they are both exceedingly unpopular in their own parties‭. ‬Recent violence of many types‭ ‬‮—‬‭ ‬Orlando‭, ‬Dallas‭, ‬the division represented‭ ‬by police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota‭, ‬and the Black Lives Matter movement‭ ‬‮—‬‭ ‬all haunt us‭. ‬These events all happening‭ ‬in a country famous for citizens who stop at stop signs on deserted country roads at‭ ‬2‭ ‬a.m‭., ‬because it is the law‭, ‬and the law in a democracy is properly established and worthy of respect‭.‬


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The Second Coming — William Butler Yeats

Then‭, ‬all over the world‭, ‬the forces of good seem unwilling or unable to stand up‭. ‬The North Koreans test nuclear missiles with‭ ‬regularity‭; ‬the Chinese seize expansion in the Pacific‭; ‬the Germans announced that Iran did not wait for the ink to dry on its agreement with the West before attempting to acquire high-end and illegal nuclear technology‭; ‬and it is not so much that we cannot defeat ISIS‭, ‬it is that no leader in the West is willing to commit to do what it takes to do so‭.

In practice‭, ‬this means the U.S‭. ‬won’t stand up‭. ‬Leaders in the U.S‭., ‬especially President Obama‭, ‬yearn to apply the available funds to social welfare programs‭, ‬not‭ ‬military expendi­tures‭. ‬One hears the voice of General Colin Powell‭, ‬then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff‭: ‬“I certainly agree that we should not go around saying that we are the world’s policeman‭. ‬But guess who gets called when suddenly somebody needs a cop‭.‬”

But if the U.S‭. ‬won’t provide leadership against forces such as ISIS‭, ‬there will be a vacuum of power‭, ‬and only bad things can result‭.‬

It is easy and true to say these are not good times or a happy world we live in‭.‬

Still‭, ‬perspective is called for‭. ‬The market panic over Brexit is part of a short-term run to safety by the capital markets‭. ‬British productive capacity is unchanged by the vote‭. ‬One reason the British people can indulge an interest in sovereignty is they‭ ‬are so much more prosperous than they were in 1975‭ ‬at the time of the last Brexit referendum‭.‬

One could gain from remembering what Lloyd Blankfein‭, ‬then chief executive of Goldman Sachs‭, ‬said to a young aid panicking during the collapse of Lehman Brothers as Goldman had been summoned to an emergency meeting‭: ‬“You’re getting out of a Mercedes to go to the New York Federal Reserve‭; ‬you’re not getting out of a Hig­gins boat on Omaha Beach‭.‬”

We are blessed‭, ‬in the U.S‭., ‬in the U.K‭., ‬in Europe and in the free countries of Asia that have seen such extraordinary economic‭ ‬growth since World War II‭, ‬as well as in other spots of freedom around the world‭, ‬with enormous resources‭. ‬Some of these are economic and some are the legacy of great intellectual and political achievement such as the Magna Carta in England and America’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution‭. ‬Most of our problems can be solved through a combination of good governance and‭ ‬a good civil society‭.

If you think back to the American founding‭, ‬and the extraordinary group of men who gathered in Philadelphia to draft first the Declaration and‭, ‬years later‭, ‬the Constitution‭, ‬one can marvel at the intelligence and leadership that men such as Washington‭, ‬Jefferson‭, ‬Madison‭, ‬Adams and Franklin possessed‭, ‬but it is no less a source of marvel to consider the habits of a society and the‭ ‬political systems that served to elevate these men and bring them together to establish a new Republic‭.‬

Perhaps the missing link in modern political discussion‭ ‬‮—‬‭ ‬be it about immigration or broadening the franchise or regulations for‭ ‬party politics‭ ‬‮—‬‭ ‬is this‭: ‬Will these policies lead to better governance‭?‬

The day is dark‭, ‬but not as dark as our forefathers have known‭. ‬Our opportunity is vast‭. ‬Our challenge is to build the systems that will enable us to build a bright future‭.‬

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