Mismanaging a golden age; the long view (4); globalisation.
Three values give direction to our pursuits; freedom, wealth, happiness. They are not coincidental. They are the necessary outcome of a historical learning proces.A proces that is with us from our very beginnings, from the first word unward. But only recently, in the last fivehundred years, the inquiry into action has begun in earnest. Those three corevalues are the necessary result of that pragmatic investigation. Freedom turns behavior into action; wealth gives that action an outward goal; happiness an inward.
What we call globalization is the spread of the pursuit of freedom, wealth and happiness across the globe; that is, across the civilizations.
There is an underlying trend here. Those values are over the very long term selfevident for cultural beings. However that doesnt mean that the historical proces is without upheavals, turnarounds, failures and the real possibility of regress, barbarism and horror.
The best way to think of those three pursuits is as emerging cultural forces -not unlike gravity, for example, in the cosmos, or sexual reproduction, for example, in the bios.
What those forces do is that they reorganize the existing human institutions. That reorganisation is an ongoing process. The push of evermore individuals pursuing freedom, for example, completely reorganizes the state and its relation to its citizens. The push of evermore individuals pursuing wealth reorganizes constantly all economic activities. The push of evermore individuals pursuing happiness reorganizes private relations and free time.
There is of course a sequential aspect to this process. The pursuit of freedom has to reach certain thresholds for the pursuit of wealth becomes possible (emerges as a cultural force); the pursuit of wealth has to reach certain thresholds before the pursuit of happiness emerges.
We are witnessing the emergence of the pursuit of happiness as a historymaking force as we speak.
Because those pursuits destroy the existing arrangements they out of necessity provoke a struggle. The old institutions and the people whose interests are connected to them fight back.
The learning is also very real. The pursuit of freedom does not immediately and by itself create a liberal state. We had to invent along the way all the institutional arrangements that we now take for granted. The concept of law; the idea of a right; the division of powers; rational bureaucracy; the liberties; the police; the vote for everyone; political parties; education. The same goes of course for the pursuit of wealth and the pursuit of happiness.
And then of course there are the instances when the pursuits themselves are rejected wholesale. Not by the defenders of the old order but by the profets of a new, a better one, one that promises to be able to do without the pursuits, the learning proces and its mistakes, and without the injustices. Fascism is the rebellion against the pursuit of freedom, communism the rebellion against the pursuit of wealth and religious fundamentalism the rebellion against the pursuit of happiness.
The other civilisations where the forces of freedom, wealth and happiness are only now emerging can profit of course from the learning processes of the west. You do not have to invent the liberal state or the free market again. That is an advantage.
There are however also clear disadvantages. The use/misuse that the west made/makes from its headstart in terms of oppression and exploitation take its toll. And then there is the shortening of the timescale. Because of our "shining" example the people of the other civilizations want to modernize quickly. A process that we mastered in several ages now must be realised in a couple of generations.