I've been reading a book by Fareed Zakaria - "Ten lessons for the post pandemic world". One of the points he makes in the book, and underlies all of it, is that we live in an open,fast changing society - and by definition, that is unstable. He goes on to postulate that societies can have always two of three attributes: openness, speed and stability; but never all three.
The more I read, the more sense he makes. Looking at the history of Humanity over the last 100 years, I can find moments where this idea applies perfectly, and even provides some explanations. Take the Austrian-Hungarian Empire: It was an open society, inherently stable, yet it was rapidly falling behind the rest of Europe on the eve of World War I. Or take Germany in the inter-war period: An open, fast society where political and economic stability was definitely out. Consider the Cold War: Global society was stable, due to the balance between the two superpowers - and it was fast changing, propelled by the competition. But (on a global scale) it was NOT an open society. It was highly regulated and government-controlled. After the fall of the USSR, global society became more open and faster, but instability started popping up around the world. The more I look into historical moments, the more convinced I become that Zakaria does have something going.
So how about applying the idea closer to home? Take Israel - today, Israel is an open society undergoing rapid change, yet it is inherently unstable, with growing gaps between the haves and have-nots and a shrinking middle class. While this instability, in Israel's case, remains controlled by the ongoing external threat, it is definitely there and showing up periodically with anti-government protest, especially connected with housing costs and cost of living in general - not something you'd read about in US papers, but it is all over the Israeli media. And government coalitions sometimes look like revolving doors.
On a similar vein, the economy can also be subjected to this idea of two-out-of-three, or (as Zakaria calls it), a "policy trilemma". An economy can have free flowing capital, independent central banks or fixed exchange rate; two out of three, never the three. Argentina is a clear testimony of this.
In other words, it seems we cannot have it all. But what about periods of territorial expansion? If we look at the effects of Imperialism on a global scale, the same limitations apply. But if we look into a specific society - that of the Imperial power- we can see societies that are (internally) open, fast changing and stable. To achieve the same effect on a global scale, we would need to expand the planetary resources to use the excedent much like Imperial powers did. And that could be possible only with space expansion and maybe even colonization... something to think about.
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