Sherman — Stoic Warriors

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

James McCormick reviews Nancy Sherman’s Stoic Warriors, and in the process examines the state of the world:

To summarize my argument then, (1) our prosperity and peace is far ahead of most of the world and increasing, (2) we don’t appear to have enough human capacity for combat to fix the world by force, and (3) money currently extracted from productive economies, filtered through unproductive economies, reappears as more combatants to start the cycle of disruption yet again. All in all, this seems more like a form of “Gap parasitism” enabled by the developed world’s good intentions.
Since industrialized nations are behaving, per Amy Chua, as a market-dominant minority for the entire planet, and setting the constraints (if not the standard) by which economics and politics are practiced for all humans, we are surrounded by those who not only disdain our solutions but cannot achieve them if they wanted to. America has such a dominant global role for at least a few coming decades that the nation is being cast as parent rather than hegemon. And it’s requiring inhuman levels of restraint from citizen and veteran alike to respond compassionately to cultures violently resisting any change. The world has become the G7’s resentful dependent — resentful of green cards, of food, of money, of irrelevance to the rest of the world’s economic and social progress. Defeated in war first, and then indulged in riotous violent peace.

What if, as some scholars suggest, the chaos and turmoil of pre-industrialized world is the norm rather than the exception, and tremendous effort must be expended to move it out of such a “steady state”? Perhaps the one-time military differential provided by gunpowder is now forever gone, and all future efforts at changing economic circumstances will be far more tenuous and violent than even the dramas of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

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