The matrix

06.04.2016 |

Episode #4 of the course “How world affairs work” by Ralph Pettman

 

In this lesson, you’ll learn what happens when the three basic assumptions analysts and practitioners make about human nature are compared with the three main dimensions of world affairs.

Pessimists who are mainly interested in the state are called realists. They highlight how the world is anarchic and how, because people are basically bad, the only choice for practitioners is self-help. They talk of states defending their national interests (and if necessary, resorting to war in order to do so). They’re no more realistic about their understanding of world affairs than other analysts and practitioners, but they think they are. They also think everybody else is unrealisticthat is, idealistic. And who wants idealists running world affairs?

Opportunists who are mainly interested in the state are internationalists. They highlight how practitioners make international laws and obey them because they can achieve more that way than by balancing state power and resorting to war. They also highlight how practitioners make international organizations.

Optimists who are interested in the state are globalists. They highlight any evidence of global governance or of the beginnings of global government. They note the possibility, for example, of all the world’s regional associations (like the European Union) coming together to form a global confederation, or a world parliament of all the earth’s people.

Pessimists who are interested less in the global state system (the first dimension) and more in the world market (the second dimension) are economic nationalists. They promote protectionism and the defense of economic borders using tariffs and subsidies. Opportunists who are more interested in the world market than in states are economic liberalists. They promote free trade and investment. Optimists who are more interested in the world market than in states are economic socialists (of the reformistnot the revolutionarysort). They promote the distribution of the wealth that modern industry makes possible so everyone can eat, have shelter, receive an education, and get basic healthcare.

Pessimists who are interested in the civic dimension of world affairs (the third one) are nationalists. They see the global population in “us/them” terms. Opportunists who are interested in the civic dimension are individualists. They see the global population as made up of separate selves with human rights. Optimists who are interested in the civic dimension are collectivists. They promote global causes like protecting the environment or freeing prisoners of conscience.

In the next lesson, you’ll find out about those who think human nature is not essentially anythingpeople who think human nurturing practices are the key instead.

 

Recommended book

“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty and Arthur Goldhammer

 

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