Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Two More Interesting Articles

In his article The New Wave, Colin May contends the alliance the US formed in order to respond to the tsunami disaster is a preview of the future. An exerpt:
In fact, the big four alliance of Japan, India, Australia and the US is precisely contrived to surround and hem in China, and here special light has to be thrown on the Indian case. During the Cold War, India was a key player in the non-aligned movement. Today, the world’s largest democracy is a key American ally, both politically and economically. Out-sourcing of American jobs to India is no mere financial operation, but part of a political move intended to secure Indian friendship. And from India’s perspective, facing the Chinese on their northern border, the sub-continent is more than happy to reciprocate. Supplemented by Japan (which after the US is the second largest individual donor to international humanitarian organizations) and Australia (a regional power that has long been a reliable American ally), the Indian-American alliance could well be the most significant international alliance to emerge in the twenty-first century.

In a post inspired by a new book, "The Anglosphere Challenge" by James C. Bennet, Arnold Kling's calls the political left a "self-marginalizing group" An exerprt:
Bennett argues that modern technological change requires the sort of flexibility that the Anglosphere culture has been developing for over a millennium. It requires, in my terminology, easy entry and exit for social, economic, and political institutions. Intense emotional attachment to an arbitrary group or an outmoded institution will tend to be dysfunctional.

Failure to understand this requirement for flexibility can lead to what I call self-marginalizing groups. These are groups whose taste for coalition-building is weak but whose commitment to solidarity is strong. Unable and unwilling to compromise and form temporary alliances, such groups will tend to get stuck outside of the mainstream of political and market developments.

Interest-group politics, as traditionally practiced, has shown the characteristics that Bennett associates with the Anglosphere. Coalitions are fluid, pragmatic, and temporary. From the 1930's through the early 1960's, the Democratic Party included both the racist Solid South and the urban African American vote in the North. Meanwhile, Republicans tried to stitch together a coalition that included rural constituents and large banking interests.

At the moment, American politics seems to lack this flexibility and fluidity, particularly on the Left. The focus seems to be on conformity to dogma rather than breadth of coalition.

Both authors are absolutely right. Kling has a few additional observations worth reading.


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