Je pense, donc je suis

The publication Descartes never published and that came out first after his death was called Le Monde or The World. It contained his physico-mathematical world view and featured the heliocentric theory. Galileo was in trouble at the time for this and Descartes decided not to publish. That happens to be the same name as Gideon Rachman used when he recently changed the name of his blog on FT.com. Maybe he also has things that he cannot say until posthumously? The problem of world politics might be in the same developmental level as science was in the 17th century?


Checks and Balances?

In the Afterword of The End of History and the Last Man from 2006 I find a possible reason for the 2011 book of Fukuyama called The Origins of Political Order. Fukuyama says that what is missing is a treatise that deals with the political development devoid of economic concerns. My humble question is if this really is possible? Probably as a research project. As Gideon Rachman points out in today’s column the political system needs a fix in the US. Or does it? Isn’t the battle between Republicans and Democrats that is ongoing the cradle of a new solution to the deadlock and America’s problems? Rachman says that left to themself either D or R can solve the problem. The problem seems to be whether the US is going in a European direction or if it is going to become more “American”. The crucial point here is that it can’t do both. The Americans have to decide which they are going to choose. My guess is that the debt crisis in Europe is going to give the Republicans an edge. The Americans are currently feeling out the new multipolar world. Obama’s potential doctrine from Anne-Marie Slaughter with the US as the most connected country that everybody wants to talk to might not have materialized, although I liked the idea. This would mean we are back to balance of power.

I listened to Carl Bildt’s Sommar program on the radio on Sunday. It is interesting to find the only foreign political statement in Swedish media in the entertainment section. Outlining Sweden’s interests he pictured a unified Europe as the vehicle of Sweden. In my current judgment he was a little too optimistic on Europe. Then he painted a grand importance of the Balkans and Afghanistan way out of their importance globally. Towards the end of the program though he said important things like that science is going to solve many of our problems with environment etc. He radiated a positive view on the world and was very nationalistic. He called Swedish the language of honor and heroes. A good foreign minister could thus be excused. It could be contrasted with the American “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. The Swedish is definitely more Hegelian. Freedom is more important than honor and all brave people are not necessarily heroes. If Bildt is more German than Anglo-American, he will become disappointed over that Germany is not going to jeopardize its economy by saving the Euro which is the most probable outcome of the current situation.


What motivates people who succeed?

Fukuyama writes in The End of History and the Last Man from 1992:

"A civilization devoid of anyone who wanted to be recognized as better than others, and which did not affirm in some way the essential health and goodness of such a desire, would have little art or literature, music or intellectual life."

I have earlier said that as far as intellectual life goes curiosity is probably more important than the drive for recognition but this requires a few more comments. The same would be true for art and music.

Could it be that the more physical the endeavor the more important is the recognition component in success? An athlete is motivated by trying to improve himself in his regular training but is then in need of proper competition nerves when in play. Whereas a scientist or artist does the real thing in the lab or study and then just displays it in public. In other words a civilization according to Fukuyama's idea above would have no sport or competitive business but plenty of art and science.


Norah Jones on world politics--Sinking Soon?

We're an oyster cracker on the stew,
And the honey in the tea,
We're the sugar cubes, one lump or two,
In the black coffee,
The golden crust on an apple pie,
That shines in the sun at noon,
We're a wheel of cheese high in the sky,
But we're gonna be sinkin' soon.

In a boat that's built of sticks and hay,
We drifted from the shore,
With a captain who's too proud to say,
That he dropped the oar,
Now a tiny hole has sprung a leak,
In this cheap pontoon,
Now the hull has started growing weak,
And we're gonna be sinkin' soon.

We're gonna be
Sinkin' soon,
We're gonna be
Sinkin' soon,
Everybody hold your breath 'cause,
We're gonna be sinkin' soon

We're gonna be
Sinkin' soon,
We're gonna be
Sinkin' soon,
Everybody hold your breath 'cause,
Down and down we go.

Like the oyster cracker on the stew,
The honey in the tea
The sugar cubes, one lump or two?
No thank you none for me.
We're the golden crust on an apple pie,
That shines in the sun at noon,
Like the wheel of cheese high in the sky
Well ... we're gonna be sinkin' soon

The right of center Allians of Sweden will break up?

Reading today in Svenska Dagbladet about a fragmentation in Swedish politics. The Center party in Sweden wants to break lose from the Allians, a right of center coalition of the Moderaterna, Folkpartiet, Centerpartiet and Kristdemokraterna. Recently the ten year party secretary Maud Olofsson announced that she will leave her post coming a congress in September. She had been instrumental in forming the Allians that initially won the election of 2006.

Small parties like Kristdemokraterna and Centerpartiet have suffered from losing voters being minors in the Allians. People have moved to the largest party Moderaterna to gain influence. They now poll around 4% which is the entrance bar to the Parliament. The finance minister Anders Borg, Moderaterna, have made an invitation at the yearly political gathering in Almedalen to offer collaboration with The Green party. I guess he saw the fragmentation coming. Another reason is that the Alliance is ruling as a minority government, a phenomenon that is common in Swedish politics, and is thus looking for a more stable situation. The Greens are moving forward like in Germany.

Also Jan Björklund, the minister of education, is suggesting that Sweden as the first country in Europe should introduce Chinese at the high school level. He says it will be more important for Sweden than French and Spanish. He did not say German, which gives the general direction of the thinking of government. They are German Chinese in their minds and will combine this with the Anglo-American presence. I have heeard comments that it is easier to collaborate with the Chinese than with neighbors in the EU so I guess it all makes sense. China seems to be successfully ruling by dividing in Europe.

Which brings me to the question of the prospects of the US. Walter Russell Mead, the editor of The American Interest and a professor of foreign policy at Bard College in NY, wrote a very up-beat article about America on wsj.com because of Fourth of July that was nice to read. It all made sense in the gloom given in the press about America at presence. I am a firm believer that the US will work themself out of their current fiscal problems and stand tall again. I even kept my American pension money in New York. Europe on the other hand seems to lean towards Chinese help rather than self-reliance.

Sweden is an engineering country and today there is a debate article in Svenska Dagbladet where people claim they should broaden the engineering education which is overdue. The article is a response to a report issued by Svenskt Näringsliv where the relative role of Natural Science/Technology and Humanistic subjects was discussed. I tried to read most of the main articles in this debacle but did not see the question about what the competition from China and India study. Volumewise they will churn out hundred of thousands, almost a million, engineers per year that work for lower salaries. I guess what Sweden wants to achieve is to produce engineers that can make Swedish companies rather than working for foreign companies in Sweden. This might require a modernization of an earlier successful educuation as Nina Wormbs and Sverker Sörlin argued in their article.