We have just one civilization today: everybody, among common folks know what everybody else thinks. Yet, as resources previously used, such as fossil fuels, falter, civilization and the understanding of the universe which makes it possible in its present state, have to progress (not enough scientific and technological progress as needed, was the proximal cause of Rome’s failure). So it is crucial that really new, and correct, ideas be introduced (and not just in science).
Yes even countries such as Saudi Arabia are part of this global civilization. And Saudi Arabia is fully part of the debate of what civilization means, and what it will have to consist of, looking forward. Watch France give the Legion d’Honneur to the heir of Saudi Arabia, and its Interior Minister, arguably the principal ideologue of the hardening of the Saudi line, inside out. So, in other words, while France fights the Islamist State (“Daesh”), France gives the nod to the hardening of the Wahhabist doctrine of Saudi Arabia (which, historically, was very minor in Islam), the ideology of ISIL. The results are increasingly strange: Salafist/Wahhabist terrorists attacked police and soldiers in Tunisia today. The security forces fought back. The coordinated assaults were shown, live, on the Internet. One could see young passersbys applauding the security forces in full combat (at least 28 terrorists got killed, plus seventeen fighting police and civilians who applauded the police).
Such contradictions are rife, all over the world. Look at “free trade”.
Free trade, well done, is indeed excellent. However, the West has been exporting science, technology and know-how, while not investing in a way commensurate to making this sort of export sustainable.
In other words, here is civilization’s problem: the learning, teaching, and research functions have been starved, relative to what the (critical) situation requires.
The result has been a collapse of manufacturing and related high worth employment in the countries who recently led progress in science and understanding (with the result that, like Republican Rome, the knowledge and wisdom of the most advanced countries is increasing faltering relatively to the flow of new ideas which civilization need to survive).
To make matters worse, said “free trade” has happened in the shadows. So-called high-tech companies have made fortunes, while paying no taxes: France just hit Google with a 1.6 billion Euro tax bill. Such companies and their principal owners had found ways to escape most taxes, thus starving the governments, hence the fundamental research their trade rests on.
So free trade can work, but only if it’s fair. As it is, most money flows are hidden (in so-called “Dark Money” and “Dark Pools”), and the owners are also hidden (thus escaping taxation and corruption charges, not just against them, but also against the politicians they influence).
Last week European Commissioners were caught promising ExxonMobil that the Transatlantic Trade Pact under negotiation with Obama would allow companies such as ExxonMobil to escape local legislation, including labor, taxation and pollution laws.
So the Republicans may be lunatics. But, in a world already ruled by lunatics, they are no doubt welcome.
Fair, just, and profitable international trade requires a registry of all ownership and detailed trading activity, worldwide. Otherwise the sort of Republic we enjoy worldwide (as institutionalized by the United Nations) will know the same fate as the Roman Republic: an increasing sinking in the turbid waters of mindless will to power and tyranny.
[P/S: A shorter, trade only version of the preceding essay was selected as a New York Times’ “Pick”. Since I have complained stridently about NYT’s censorship, I have to be fair and to recognize appreciation too!]