|Jan18-11, 05:10 PM||#1|
interesting talk on history by Furguson
Harvard professor of history Niall Ferguson gave an interesting talk on history at the Australia Center for Independent Studies
His main point was that empires die fast.
|Jan18-11, 09:30 PM||#2|
An essay on the same is here - http://www.informationclearinghouse....ticle24874.htm
Unfortunately his use of chaos theory and complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory is mangled almost to the point of parody.
For example, it is two different things to claim the US will fall suddenly because 1) life is essentially chaotic, or 2) fall suddenly because CAS become scelerotic in time and so lose their adaptive potential and ability to respond to pertubative events.
It matters because if you believe 1), then you will see collapse as just bad luck, like the weather, and not something the US can do much about.
But if you believe 2), then you might have a political theory about the need to remain in the lean and still growing phase that can take the knocks and bumps.
Of course then you get into the issue of hard environmental/resource constraints - as Jared Diamond has popularised as the historical reason for sudden empire collapse. And in complexity theory, a boundary constraint ain't a butterfly-wing style perturbation.
So Ferguson gets a D for his grasp of theoretical principles, even if his heart's in the right place.
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