Sunday, April 1, 2007

Pangaea, peripheries and pessimism.

(Writing my dissertation, so you don't have to)

So today I found myself staring blankly at the wall, and thinking. Something I often do, and usually without the aid of medications. I was thinking of how lucky I am, with all this free talent working for me. The web, I mean. I've got Lilek's as a humorist, Blair as a world class automotive climatologists, Glenn as a human RSS feed, BoingBoing as a jumping point to wonderful things, Steyn as Demographer and Barnett as Cartographer. And many more.

And for that, I pay zilch.

Here's what I've got to do, though. These fellas are providing me with data points, and I've still got to filter that data, and turn it into something useful. Information.

Pangaea. Remember that? It was the super continent, some ten to fifteen years ago (my headspace and timing gauge may be off) that all subsequent continents spun off of, in the way before time. Today, we have the America's, Eurasia, Africa and Australia. The big four. At least as far as human habitation is concerned.

Everything spun off of Pangaea, and formed, if you will, peripheries of sorts. America, Australia, Africa are all islands off that central, Eurasian, landmass.

Entropy. It's my opinion that societies, good systems that they are, require "energy" to grow, and expand. Takes work, in other words, to make a good society. Republics, democracies, and whatnot have a higher "energy" than the more entropic monarchies, dictatorships and destination T.V. Let me set, for a moment, the "energy" variable as "truth, justice, and all that stuff." Freedom. No matter the spin, Low Entropic, or free societies increase in wealth, knowledge, health and even environmental concerns. High Entropic, less free, states sort of stagger around, like drunks, from one unintended consequence to another. They just have better press.

A High Entropic state is easier to maintain. Less work, the lazy man's option. You gets up in the morning, praise the Dear Leader, queue up for your rationed foodstuffs, wander off to the State Sand Pounding Factory Number Three to pound sand, and then head home for the night. In exchange, you get certainty, security, education and free health care. Of a sort.

Low Entropic states are more on the edge. All the items the High Entropic "provides" you have to look out for. Living in a Low Entropic state, you're more likely to be slapped around by the Invisible Hand. You're also more likely to be lifted up, by said Invisible Hand. To each his Talents. There's far less centralized stability and security in Low Entropic states. On the plus side, you get to avoid the odd Pogrom.

In a spinning system, is take more energy to remain at the edge. It's all about where you are.

On the Edge.

Back to Pangaea.

You look at the Pangaea gif above, and you can pretty much separate the Low Entropic from the High Entropic. The wheat, as it were, from the chaff. A complete picture, no. But pretty close. Ignoring the hype for a moment (and incessant babblings about "new freedoms", "Islamic freedom", and "freedom from work") you'll note that the more free, or less barbarous areas cluster around the peripheries of Pangaea. The Americas, as represented by the Great Satan, United States. Australia. In potential, Africa.

Then there are the eaches. England, for now, an island peoples, on the side of Low Entropy. And then there's Indonesia, an island peoples, on the side of High Entropy. India, wavering, on the edge. Not for nothing her industry is clustered in the south. And China? Her industry is one the coast, close to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao and the random carrier battlegroup. That's how things line up, on the edges.

Plenty of room to niggle, in the eaches.

My House Cartographer, Thomas P.M. Barnett, refers to this as the Non Integrating Gap.

Which always drags me back to H. Mackinder's Heartland Theory. Now, some disclosure. The Heartland Theory has been "discredited" in the past because some Nazi's thought it was a nifty idea. O.K., it's not the first symbol (swastika, "peace") or idea that socialist have not ruined by association.

Mackinder, in short, said that whoever controlled the Pangaea remnant, the Heartland, could control the world. And in a sense, he has a point. Mass. Only from Pangaea, could the "Thousand Nations of the [INSERT EMPIRE] descend upon" the peripheries. Mass. You've got the numbers, you've got the herds, you've got the resources. Luck of the draw, I guess. Mass.

The periphery nations have spunk, ingenuity, and above all, attitude. Wherever Low Entropic and High Entropic states collide, the Low Entropics win, over time. But it takes awhile, because the Low Entropic states need time, to be crude, to get their shit together.

Ideas. I'm a fan of them. I believe that Ideas are a better determinant of what kind of person you are, or can be, than any other measure. Don't get me wrong, other factors play a part. Being born a rich, white, blonde heiress entitles you to certain benefits in America. But, hey, I don't want to be around when that house of cards comes crashing down. I'll stick with Ideas.

Ideas. Up until 9/11, Merka, was, well, just Merka. Not the Vater/Materland. Simply America. After 9/11, Noble Eagle and the Patriot Act, it became the Homeland. Whatevs. Whenever I think of the Homeland, I think of earnest but overweight civil servants inspecting my shoes, putting me through bomb sniffers and trying to apply the patina of "security." I do not think of America.

Everything I love about America, I could put on a thumb drive and go.

Ideas. There's a reason I'm not a racist (besides the obvious that as a non-white male I'm genetically incapable of racism. Got it). One day I'll blog those reasons, but suffice it to say, I value an individual's ideas over their birth. They Ideas I like, the means tested ones, are those that value the individual over the mass.

Call me odd.

Relative values. Look, your average, "heartland" Merkin "conservative", nuts aside, is a libertine when booked against the values of some Pangaea cultures. It's all where/when you stand. Different strokes, I guess.

You have your periphery states, and you have your heartland.

In the work and days ahead, these two will contest. The debates, the discussions, the dialogues are all nice to have, but ultimately, will not change the contest. Withdraw? Surge? You cannot walk a dog backwards.

So when we gather up the periphery, it's going to look radically different from your expectations. America's, Australia, Africa (contested) and India (defending), East China (defending) and possibly, hopefully, though not likely, England (surrendering).

Everything else is window dressing.

This post will remain here, to give you a few years to catch up.

May you live in peace.

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