Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer time reading

Onward with excerpting Walter Russell Mead's essay, "The Top Ten Lessons of the Global Economic Meltdown":

9. Culture matters.

The economic crisis has further dispelled the illusion that the post-World War Two western world had achieved a permanently prosperous, permanently stable social democratic wonderland. The idea that liberal capitalism would produce a stable and secure world of low risk, rising living standards and increased economic equality has been proved wrong — at least for the time being. Propelled by global competition and rapid technological change the west is shifting into a world of higher risk, faster change, less stability and more inequality. This will be a difficult transition for all countries and cultures; for some it will be more wrenching than others. The fragile social peace in some European countries will be tested by the continued erosion of the old social model. The countries (in Europe and around the world) who are able to spend their energies exploiting the new possibilities of the new capitalist era will grow more rapidly than those who waste their energies fighting a rearguard action against it. Ultimately the fast changers will become more prosperous and more powerful than the slow changers. Historically, the English-speaking world has been a world of fast-changers; this is one reason English speaking countries have prospered so greatly in the capitalist era. In the post-2008 world, the ability to roll with the punches and change with the times has become more important than ever. Understanding the risks and rewards of investment and the future trends of world power and prosperity is increasingly linked to an understanding of the cultural forces in each country that make it easier for some and harder for others to take advantage of the emerging world system.

Mead is rather dismissive of paragraphs, no?

Prior to 9-11 we recall the term "End of History" where Europe, after centuries of warfare and having most recently witnessed the vanquishing of the Soviet empire, were going to ride off into the sunset of a comfortable existence informed by the non-confrontational ways of social democracy. History, of course, had other plans.

As Mead alludes, we (Americans) are a resilient lot but with respect to our ability to adapt and roll with the punches, it's not the American citizen we're as much worried about as the newly minted and as yet pending regulatory regime imposed upon us that will hamper this very ability to innovate and be agile enough to better work our way out of these cyclical recessionary binds.

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