Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Shrinking the Gap

Ezekiel talked to Blake about "the desire of raising other men to the perception of the Infinite" (MHH).

Here's a modern equivalent of Blake's famous conversation in the last place you might expect it:

The Gap stands for the relatively uncivilized (uh unglobalized) part of the world, with about 1/3 of the world's population. Or you might call it the global equivalent of America's Wild West, where the law comes out of the mouth of a six shooter. Half the time a brutal, barbaric terrorizing dictator makes the law, while the terrorized population struggle to get enough food to live.

20 years ago 2/3 of the world's population lived like that, but since 1980 only half of the 40% living on a dollar or less a day still do. It's called globalization.

I know it has worked a hardship on all the auto workers and such like who watched their jobs exported to South Korea or China or such places, but it has dropped the starvation in those places radically. So whether it's good or bad depends on whether America is all that matters to you or you have a more cosmopolitan outlook; maybe whether you're an "American Christian" or a plain Christian.

These insights came from a military analyst named Thomas P.M.Barnett, a man whose writings would cause the average good Quaker to avert his eyes. BUT-

Strangely enough near the end of his second famous book, called Blueprint for Action he reports a wealth of email from clergymen. (Once again we have to discriminate between "American Christian clergymen" and plain Christian clergymen.)

Barnett believes the Gap must be shrunk, and often through military intervention, after which investment and general "connectivity" begins to flow in, and with it law, and commerce, and wealth (for the gap and for those who invest in it). I might try exhaustively to explain the proposals he outlines in The Pentagon's New Map and Blueprint for Action, but I could do no better than to quote at length two paragraphs on page 270 of the second:

"Globalization will rule this planet or it will be ruled in pieces by forces far less beneficent than free markets and collective security schemes. We cannot turn off this hughly powerful process of global integration without triggering its opposite force-- disintegration. Such a decision to withdraw from the world would send it into a fracturing spiral of unprecedented magnitude precisely because the Leviathan's (American military's) departure from the global security system would create a power vacuum that other core pillars would feel compelled to fill with their own competing military activities. Globalization could easily split into a plethora of antagonistic blocs, replicating the [political] dynamics of the first half of the 20th century. Make no mistake-- the burden of picking up those pieces- yet again- would not somehow be magically outsourced to the rest of the world, but to our children and grandchildren....

"Americans need to see the world for the ties that bind the nations and economies together, and not simply fixate on the vertical borders that give the illusion that the pain and suffering of the gap can always be kept distant from our shores. [This is to help] citizens understand that connectivity is my main goal because an informed citizenry will ... demand ... better strategic global leadership from Washington and better understand the long term scope of this effort to shrink the gap."

I understand that he's saying in essence this is the only way to "win the war against terrorism". Although I don't totally agree with Mr. Barnett, I'm impressed with the fact that he (only, as far as I know) has provided a scenario for the future more hopeful than the prospect of continuous military activity to guard ourselves against what has been called the "axis of evil".

Many readers of this post may wonder what all this has to do with the quote from Blake. I may be just foolish enough to see a correspondence between Ezekiel's Infinite and Barnett's Connectivity. And I may be just foolish enough to think that Barnett's slant on peace may be more creative than that of droves of "knee jerk peace lovers".