A day after the State of the Union address has the internet lit up. Everyone has an opinion, and many of them want to state it. Topics range from the substance of the address to how it was presented and ultimately how it is received in the nation given a varying degree of relevance.
It’s entirely possible to go through this point by point and make some kind of alternative statement about the state of the union as I see it. But that seems to miss the main point. Our nation is fractured and unfocused. Why? Before we debate this topic, it seems reasonable to go back to the main purpose of debate in the first place, a fundamental skill necessary for an open, free, and democratic society.
The purpose of debate is to learn.
In a world connecting in new ways, it logically follows that some nations are working with great clarity and unity to make use of these connections for political goals. It is also reasonable that new tools for connecting the methods and message of these tools can be found to increase understanding and transparency for this process.
The book War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft by Robert D. Blackwill is important for many reasons, primarily in how it describes how economics can be used to move forward the political goals of developing nations. It is, however, very dense and at times difficult to follow. It is also, as its title suggests, centered on the Industrial National model of a previous generation.
Thank goodness the most relevant parts of this have been brought forward in a fabulous youtube production that is less of a TED talk and more of a quick graduate class.
Take a look around you. The routine of your life has probably coalesced into an arrangement of things – a computer or phone, a mug of tea, a table, a home. These are the things which make up your life. What defines any of them is not only what they are, but what they are made of. They are, themselves, a series of connections between created objects and molecules that make up your world.
What connects them all together in this moment is you.
While humans tend to see the world as a collection of things, what makes those things what they are, and indeed makes them at all, is how they are connected. What makes you is how you are connected as well – to these things, to other people, and to ideas which inform how you perceived them.
All anything is in this world, from the corporeal to the conceptual, is a series of connections.
A high technology world is a world fundamentally based on trust. The lack of this is currently the single largest issue, defining politics within and without national borders.
While sorting out the goals and needs of People’s Economics, one thing stands out: how do we wind up with some general agreement on the system(s) of our world? That’s where this piece, first run two years ago, comes in.
Driving down the interstate, your safe travel and even your life depends a lot on the competence of many other people. Sure, there is a body of law and court precedent and paid agreements with insurance companies that enforces the basic codes of decency and safety. But in the end it really comes down to the skill and attention of comrades in gasoline and steel being at their best not just casually but constantly.
Of course this fails from time to time, but considering how much time people spend behind the wheel it’s amazingly seamless and simple. The system largely works – we all get there nearly all the time. We depend on each other to not be stupid and the vast majority of the time it comes together.
This basic lesson in civics is a good place to start as the nation unravels into some kind of dark hole that frankly promises to only become darker with time. It’s a thought experiment, a self-taught lesson worth thinking through by malcontents and eggheads alike, by both those in power and those in pain.
Electino Day is 6 November. There is likely to be a ‘blue wave” that will change the US House and many statehouses to Democratic control, but the Senate is not likely to change. The net result is almost certainly going to be entrenchment and gridlock, meaning that nothing is going to be done for the next two years.
It’s important to take a break from the description of People’s Economics to consider why this is likely the case, and why the repudiation of Trump will not be complete. The short answer is that while America would like to move ahead in a different direction, it simply has not been properly defined.
Mailbombs sent to former presidents and television networks. Stocks volatile and uncertain. New trade costs and restrictions announced weekly, if not daily. Chaos is reigning in the United States right now, upsetting anyone who stays connected and informed.
This is not what government should be encouraging. Stability and order are always the first job of government, and in fact what it exists for in the first place. That may sound like a very conservative interpretation, but for the vulnerable who need protection and help reliability is a matter of life and death.