Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summertime reading

We saw it first, briefly, at Instapundit a few weeks ago then promptly lost track of it. The essay, really a blog post, at Walter Russell Mead's* blog, The American Interest, resurfaced in our conscious when it was referenced by Michael Barone a few days ago.

It's titled "The Top Ten Lessons of the Global Economic Meltdown" and though the link takes you to it in its entirety, we thought for the sake of brevity and summer reading, we'd share portions of it here on a semi-regular basis. Let's get started:

But even if we don’t yet know where the economy is headed, we’ve already learned some important lessons about where we stand and where we are headed. Here are the ten most important so far:

1. The American Century isn’t over.

When the crisis first hit, commentators and pundits around the world fell all over themselves to declare the “post-American world” and the “end of the American era” to argue that the financial market panic meant the collapse of American power. This was junk commentary, the kind of mistake people make when they don’t take history seriously — or when they let their hopes and fears get ahead of the facts. For more than 350 years, the big story in world history has been the rise and development of a global economic and political system based on liberal capitalism resting on the power first of Great Britain and now of the United States. Those same 350 years of history have seen one financial panic, one economic crash after another. The United States in particular has a turbulent financial history, and some of the worst crashes came during the 50 years after the Civil War when the United States established itself as the largest and most advanced economy in the world. Fareed Zakaria has a piece in the Washington Post making the point that the US has come out of the crisis stronger than anybody expected; the fat lady hasn’t sung yet and the American era is still here.

This reminded us somewhat of a quote from our favorite author, Tom Wolfe, whose boundless optimism regarding this country and belief in its exceptionalism bleeds over into his literary works.

Robinson: Henry Luce famously called the twentieth century “the American century.” Will the twenty-first century represent a second American century?

TOM WOLFE: I believe we’re on the edge of about 800 more years of American centuries. The biggest problem is all the people who see [it as] a problem. It’s very fashionable to think that the end is near.

We'll be back with more from Mead in a day or two.

* This Mead fellow seems like a rather sharp chap so imagine our dismay when we learned he went to Yale. He did, however, turn down graduate school there.

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