James Lee Ray
Sixth Edition: 1995 Houghton Mifflin Company
Personal Notes regarding the book:
Presumably, there is a certain historical logic which has made the currently existing Geo-Political system seem inevitable, rational and the best of all possible worlds.
However, the laws of action and reaction cannot easily be escaped: It is therefore quite likely that the historical inevitability of the current system may actually be more the result of shared assumptions by those in power than any single "objective" set of circumstances.
Ultimately, our ideologies and their associated assumptions form the conceptual environment which drives our actions in the physical world.If "Survival of the Fittest" means the survival of those most suited to survive withing a specific environment -then it is logical that within any given environment -the individuals and organized structures most suited to that environment are the most likely to thrive within it.
To manipulate people -one only has to shape their (physical and mental) environment and they will be forced to adapt to it if they wish to survive.
It seems to me that the apparently "objective" analysis demonstrated in several places in this book are first class: The main parameters of a problem area are laid out clearly and are easy to understand. However, the conclusions based on the analysis often seem to me to be rather dubious -and in fact, more like apriori axioms (on which a system of thought is based) rather than logical conclusions based "objectively" on the evidence presented.
For example, we might notice that "Transnational Companies" can be criticized for exporting their profits from the countries they invest in (because it depletes them of capital) but can also be criticized for reinvesting their profits within the country (because they have an unfair capital advantage against local companies and are likely to wipe them out). Such observations are undoubtedly correct: However, is it then justified to conclude that this exonerates these companies -because they can always be criticized whatever they do (dammed if they do and dammed if they don't)?
Perhaps a more "objective" conclusion might be that the very nature of these companies is destructive to local economies -and they should not be tolerated within a fair and honest global trading system -even if this does raise the question of how they might be prevented and policed or their negative effects mitigated .
Such conclusions may simply be the personal bias of the writer -but the consistent nature of their appearance within the book tend to give it the appearance of a propaganda exercise, rather than an objective text book.
Aesthetics and Formal Systems:
In my view, readers of this book need to be more aware of the nature of Formal Systems. Of the way arbitrary sets of Axioms automatically lead to Concluded Theorems (which are always true within a specific system of axioms -but only within the system and not outside it).
It is my personal belief that it is the Tautological nature of systems of logic and belief that gives them the appearance of being "objective" This is especially true when the system is made explicit (and thus formalized) -because then the system become reproducible -and all attempts to recreate the system will have the same effect -as long as the explicit rules are followed when constructing the system.
As an artist, I see Aesthetics as being concerned with finding a complex personal balance between various (apparently potentially) opposing opposites: Many people, for example, love their individuality -but also like to be in a group with other like-minded people: So where is the comfortable balance between the individual and the group? How much lonely freedom do we really want -and to what extent are we happy to accept the comforts and the demands of the group?
These are individual choices -but they affect the dynamics of any groups that might be formed out of the collective actions of individuals. So, the group also has a collective "aesthetic" derived from its individual member's aesthetics.
In my view, the individual and collective aesthetics form the basis for the underlying axioms that determine our belief systems and thus determine our cultural systems -and so ultimately, our socio-political and economic systems too.
Natural and Imposed Belief Systems:
Presumably, people with a similar aesthetic will naturally congregate together and develop a common cultural system -unless the process is disrupted or imposed by external forces.
Powerful, dominant, cultural systems may be imitated by others desiring to share in that success. Globalized education, entertainment and mass communication systems also tend to propagate a common aesthetic which becomes apparently more "objective" and irresistible the more widespread it becomes.
What is Pragmatism?
If the Nation State is largely the (arbitrary?) result of historical conquest and colonization -then is it really the best basis for developing a global system?
Do recurring struggles for independence among those who claim to feel trapped within an externally imposed socio-political and economic system suggest that a smaller (tribal) socio-political unit might be more desirable? Or are these merely the excuses used to justify a power-political struggle for dominance -in which case there is probably no end to the cycle of dominance and independence struggles.
Pragmatism implies taking account of the realities of the world around us -but how much are these "realities" merely the result of our perceptions -which are, themselves, strongly influenced by (and also powerfully affect) our logic and belief systems?
What Is and What Could be:
So, is it more pragmatic to design our lives to fit in with "what Is" -or with the way things could be?
Can we ever know the way things truly are -or even what other systems might be equally viable -and maybe even more desirable?
Perhaps pragmatism requires more imagination and creative thought than we usually believe......
Remarks from other Sources relevant to the theme:
Lin Yutang -Between Tears and Laughter:
Writing in 1943, in Between Tears and Laughter (Blue Ribbon Books, New York, 1945) Lin Yutang discusses the probable Post War situation as manifest by political speeches at the time of writing.
He sees "Geopolitics" (based on manipulating the "Balance of Power" between nation states) as the main cause of war.
On the basis of this theory (espoused and expounded in "Global Politics") Lin Yutang predicts a global US and British hegemony -probably based on a strengthened Germany and Japan -attempting to balance (and contain) Russia in Europe and China in Asia.
He equates this policy with that of the fourth century Athenian politics of Pericles -and predicts the same disastrous outcome.
Lin Yutang blames the disaster on the apparent belief that the cure for the ills of economic progress lies in more economic progress.
"In other words, peace is canned goods, bigger and better canned goods. Peace is a condition where we can buy and sell abundantly. "Heaven" itself is a concrete, fire proofed warehouse stocked to the ceiling with canned goods. For the world is now business, political business and economic business. A nation is a concern, a government is only its shop counter, and its diplomats are are its traveling salesmen trying to outsell its competitors and beat them to a new market, and its publicists and thinkers are its expert accountants. The audacity of these thinkers of peace hurts my soul."
"Economics makes no distinctions between human mouths and pigs' snouts and all the dissertations on food and populations and tariffs are no more than the counting of snouts. The idea is that if you segregate e hogs in different sizes and throw in enough hog fodder, with the fences neither too high or too low between them, the hogs are going to live in peace, and then a millennium will descend upon the earth"
Confucian Spiritual Values:
As an alternative to Materialistic Geopolitics, Lin Yutang proposes a "philosophy of peace" and a government based on Good Manners: Manifest through the Confucian concepts of Music, Ritual, Administration and Punishment -which balances the human need to distinguish between things while preserving the harmony between them.
Moral or Immoral Education?
According to Lin Yutang, Life [magazine] reported at the end of 1942: "This year some 1500 courses in geopolitics are being given in United States colleges. On campuses all over the country musty old geographers are blooming out as shiny new geopoliticians."
There is also a quote from Prof. Nicholas Spykman, then at Yale University: "The statesman who conducts foreign policy can concern himself with the values of justice, fairness and tolerance only to the extent that they contribute to or do not interfere with the power objective. They can be used instrumentally as moral justification for the power quest, but they must be discarded the moment their application brings weakness. The search for power is not made for the achievement of moral values; moral values are used to facilitate the attainment of power.
Yutang goes on to quote Haushofer, the father of geopolitics regarding its definition: "Geopolitics is the scientific foundation of the art of political action in the life-and-death struggle of state organisms for Lebensraum"
"He [Prof. Nicholas Spykman] thinks of creating a strong Japan to Check China , while he would never for a moment think of creating a strong Mexico to check the United States."
Determinism always spells irresponsibility, as if we were by necessity helpless to create a better world to live in. The taxi-driver has the courage to say "This world of eternal wars is bad; lets change it". The determinist has not the courage to say so, but must say, "It is bad, and will continue to be bad." There is a curious intellectual delight in such satanic predictions, but it is not going to help build a better world. The elimination of conscience from western scholarship has gone far enough.
The Book Contents:
Part I -Historical Background:
Part II -Inside States -The impact of individuals, Groups and Organizations:
Part III -States, The Primary Actors:
Part IV -Interactions of States:
Part V -International Organizations and Transnational Actions:
Part VI -Global Problems:
Part VII -Conclusion: