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So you'd like a nice simple story about a complex world because ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 12:27:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You need models to understand the world. Without them, you just have a vast chaos of unconnected data points.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 12:47:50 PM EST
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And then we alter the world to fit our over simplified models. What a wonderful process.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 01:05:10 PM EST
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Do you think we should stop using models in other areas as well, or just in political science?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 01:44:33 PM EST
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I think when you try to use oversimplified models you find yourself making things worse, not better.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 25th, 2014 at 02:00:51 PM EST
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So should we stop using, say, IS-LM too?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Mar 26th, 2014 at 04:47:57 PM EST
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A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 26th, 2014 at 04:53:49 PM EST
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A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 26th, 2014 at 04:55:26 PM EST
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If it makes your decision making worse, not better, yes.

What's the point of a model that's worse than no model? "This is really complicated and I don't understand it very well" is also a model, and sometimes the best one you have, but we'd rather fixate on a wrong model that makes us feel better about our state of knowledge.

Humans are crap.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 05:17:34 AM EST
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"The world's too complicated" is a perfect excuse for inaction, which is the ideological order of the day. See Metatone's Learned Helplessness diary.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 06:25:45 AM EST
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Oh, ok. Let's let the market decide then. There's a nice simple model.

Wrong as can be, but at least we have a model, eh?

"Clash of civilisations" is a negative, self-fulfilling model, It creates and justifies - and is very possibly designed to create and justifies - conflict by painting a "them" and "us" who are intrinsically different. Conflict isn't about differing interests, it's about our in-bred differences, with an overtone of white superiority. But at least it's a model!

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 06:37:56 AM EST
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Wow, it seems like you haven't actually read the book, but rather all the misleading diatribes which have been written about it. Let me give you a an excerpt of what the book is really like:

In the emerging world of ethnic conflict and civilizational clash, Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems: it is false; it is immoral; and it is dangerous. That it is false has been the central thesis of this book, a thesis well summed up by Michael Howard: the "common Western assumption that cultural diversity is a historical curiosity being rapidly eroded by the growth of a common, western-oriented, Anglophone world-culture, shaping our basic values ... is simply not true."15 A reader not by now convinced of the wisdom of Sir Michaels remark exists in a world far removed from that described in this book.

The belief that non-Western peoples should adopt Western values, institutions, and culture is immoral because of what would be necessary to bring it about. The almost-universal reach of European power in the late nineteenth century and the global dominance of the United States in the late twentieth century spread much of Western civilization across the world. European globalism, however, is no more. American hegemony is receding if only because it is no longer needed to protect the United States against a Cold War-style Soviet military threat. Culture, as we have argued, follows power. If non-Western societies are once again to be shaped by Western culture, it will happen only as a result of the expansion, deployment, and impact of Western power. Imperialism is the necessary logical consequence of universalism. In addition, as a maturing civilization, the West no longer has the economic or demographic dynamism required to impose its will on other societies and any effort to do so is also contrary to the Western values of self-determination and democracy. As Asian and Muslim civilizations begin more and more to assert the universal relevance of their cultures, Westerners will come to appreciate more and more the connection between universalism and imperialism.

Western universalism is dangerous to the world because it could lead to a major intercivilizational war between core states and it is dangerous to the West because it could lead to defeat of the West. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Westerners see their civilization in a position of unparalleled dominance, while at the same time weaker Asian, Muslim, and other societies are beginning to gain strength. Hence they could be led to apply the familiar and powerful logic of Brutus:

Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe.
The enemy increaseth every day;
We at the height, are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

This logic, however, produced Brutus's defeat at Philippi, and the prudent course for the West is not to attempt to stop the shift in power but to learn to navigate the shallows, endure the miseries, moderate its ventures, and safeguard its culture.

All civilizations go though similar processes of emergence, rise, and decline. The West differs from other civilizations not in the way it has developed but in the distinctive character of its values and institutions. These include most notably its Christianity, pluralism, individualism, and rule of law, which made it possible for the West to invent modernity, expand throughout the world, and become the envy of other societies. In their ensemble these characteristics are peculiar to the West. Europe, as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., has said, is "the source--the unique source" of the "ideas of individual liberty, political democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and cultural freedom. ... These are European ideas, not Asian, nor African, nor Middle Eastern ideas, except by adoption."16 They make Western civilization unique, and Western civilization is valuable not because it is universal but because it is unique. The principal responsibility of Western leaders, consequently, is not to attempt to reshape other civilizations in the image of the West, which is beyond their declining power, but to preserve, protect, and renew the unique qualities of Western civilization. Because it is the most powerful Western country, that responsibility falls overwhelmingly on the United States of America.

To preserve Western civilization in the face of declining Western power, it is in the interest of the United States and European countries:

  • to achieve greater political, economic, and military integration and to coordinate their policies so as to preclude states from other civilizations exploiting differences among them;

  • to incorporate into the European Union and NATO the Western states of Central Europe that is, the Visegrad countries, the Baltic republics, Slovenia, and Croatia;

  • to encourage the "Westernization" of Latin America and, as far as possible, the close alignment of Latin American countries with the West;

  • to restrain the development of the conventional and unconventional military power of Islamic and Sinic countries;

  • to slow the drift of Japan away from the West and toward accommodation with China;

  • to accept Russia as the core state of Orthodoxy and a major regional power with legitimate interests in the security of its southern borders;

  • to maintain Western technological and military superiority over other civilizations;

  • and, most important, to recognize that Western intervention in the affairs of other civilizations is probably the single most dangerous source of instability and potential global conflict in a multicivilizational world.

In the aftermath of the Cold War the United States became consumed with massive debates over the proper course of American foreign policy. In this era, however, the United States can neither dominate nor escape the world. Neither internationalism nor isolationism, neither multilateralism nor unilateralism, will best serve its interests. Those will best be advanced by eschewing these opposing extremes and instead adopting an Atlanticist policy of close cooperation with its European partners to protect and advance the interests and values of the unique civilization they share.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 08:24:24 AM EST
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to accept Russia as the core state of Orthodoxy and a major regional power with legitimate interests in the security of its southern borders;
Who woulda thunk!?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 08:29:04 AM EST
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Anyone who had ever read Huntington... :P

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 08:53:11 AM EST
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Clearly nobody currently in charge in The West™ did.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 09:52:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. Nor did they read Keynes, Minsky, Hobbes, Machiavelli, Burke, Mill, Marx or any of the other important thinkers of the past. Or if they did, they promptly forgot any lessons those guys might have provided. Furthermore, it seems like nobody had even a sliver of common sense.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 10:20:08 AM EST
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Starvid:
  • to incorporate into the European Union and NATO the Western states of Central Europe that is, the Visegrad countries, the Baltic republics, Slovenia, and Croatia;

  • to encourage the "Westernization" of Latin America and, as far as possible, the close alignment of Latin American countries with the West;

How is this compatible with this:

Starvid:

  • to maintain Western technological and military superiority over other civilizations;

  • and, most important, to recognize that Western intervention in the affairs of other civilizations is probably the single most dangerous source of instability and potential global conflict in a multicivilizational world.
?

Or is this another nourishing dollop of Newspeak?

(Unless he's talking about cultural 'weapons')

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 08:44:30 AM EST
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It is compatible because the Western Slavic countries and Latin America are Catholic, therefore Western™ by Huntington's definition.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 08:48:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the cultural border he imagines goes east of those countries. As a matter of fact, it goes straight through Ukraine, which he identifies as a "cleft country" which might well cause conflict in the future.

Ukraine: A cleft country
As a result of this division, the relations between Ukraine and Russia could develop in one of three ways. In the early 1990s, critically important issues existed between the two countries concerning nuclear weapons, Crimea, the rights of Russians in Ukraine, the Black Sea fleet, and economic relations. Many people thought armed conflict was likely, which led some Western analysts to argue that the West should support Ukraine's having a nuclear arsenal to deter Russian aggression.9 If civilization is what counts, however, violence between Ukrainians and Russians is unlikely. These are two Slavic, primarily Orthodox peoples who have had close relationships for centuries and between whom intermarriage is common. Despite highly contentious issues and the pressure of extreme nationalists on both sides, the leaders of both countries worked hard and largely successfully to moderate these disputes. The election of an explicitly Russian-oriented president in Ukraine in mid-1994 further reduced the probability of exacerbated conflict between the two countries. While serious fighting occurred between Muslims and Christians elsewhere in the former Soviet Union and much tension and some fighting between Russians and Baltic peoples, as of 1995 virtually no violence had occurred between Russians and Ukrainians.

A second and somewhat more likely possibility is that Ukraine could split along its fault line into two separate entities, the eastern of which would merge with Russia. The issue of secession first came up with respect to Crimea. The Crimean public, which is 70 percent Russian, substantially supported Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union in a referendum in December 1991. In May 1992 the Crimean parliament also voted to declare independence from Ukraine and then, under Ukrainian pressure, rescinded that vote. The Russian parliament, however, voted to cancel the 1954 cession of Crimea to Ukraine. In January 1994 Crimeans elected a president who had campaigned on a platform of "unity with Russia." This stimulated some people to raise the question: "Will Crimea Be the Next Nagorno-Karabakh or Abkhazia?"10 The answer was a resound�ˀing "No!" as the new Crimean president backed away from his commitment to hold a referendum on independence and instead negotiated with the Kiev government. In May 1994 the situation heated up again when the Crimean parliament voted to restore the 1992 constitution which made it virtually independent of Ukraine. Once again, however, the restraint of Russian and Ukrainian leaders prevented this issue from generating violence, and the election two months later of the pro-Russian Kuchma as Ukrainian president undermined the Crimean thrust for secession.

That election did, however, raise the possibility of the western part of the country seceding from a Ukraine that was drawing closer and closer to Russia. Some Russians might welcome this. As one Russian general put it, "Ukraine or rather Eastern Ukraine will come back in five, ten or fifteen years. Western Ukraine can go to hell!"11 Such a rump Uniate and Western-oriented Ukraine, however, would only be viable if it had strong and effective Western support. Such support is, in turn, likely to be forthcoming only if relations between the West and Russia deteriorated seriously and came to resemble those of the Cold War.

The third and more likely scenario is that Ukraine will remain united, remain cleft, remain independent, and generally cooperate closely with Russia. Once the transition questions concerning nuclear weapons and military forces are resolved, the most serious longer term issues will be economic, the resolution of which will be facilitated by a partially shared culture and close personal ties. The Russian-Ukrainian relationship is to eastern Europe, John Morrison has pointed out, what the Franco-German relationship is to western Europe.12 Just as the latter provides the core of the European Union, the former is the core essential to unity in the Orthodox world.


 And here we are.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 31st, 2014 at 09:07:18 AM EST
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