I know there are a lot of folks that want to take this essay and bash it into some political points. I think that's probably part of the problem Mattis is describing; our desire to make social media hay out of whatever we're given.
He does have a point about current politics in there. It's hidden quite a bit. His larger point, though, is about how instant communication is changing the nature of how governments work. Presumably that's what he gets paid for: understanding and projecting current trends through a historical lens.
I don't know what the solution is. A big part of the problem is that nobody much wants to talk about the generic situation. There's no clicks in it. Instead it's pitching rhetorical softballs to people who are already on your side. Congrats to Mattis for being able to walk through this mess and still come out looking okay. He's doing better than most.
Neither do I but I see tribalism as one of the most destructive forces of the last decade, responsible for almost all big changes (and lack of change) in the world. Politics spill out to other areas. It is not difficult to connect the dots between rapid clicks-and-likes driven social media to the burning of Amazon forests.
I don't know what the solution is but this is the meta problem. Solving it is likely to start fixing other areas of life.
We've socially evolved as tribal creatures, but odd ones. We're tribal creatures with the ability to freely mingle between various tribes (for the most part). This actually gives us tremendous evolutionary advantages. We evolve first as individuals, then as small groups, then as groups-of-groups, and so on. At any one time there could be millions of various adaptations in the works. As conditions change, various individuals and group succeed and others fall by the wayside. This person-family-clan-tribe-region evolutionary promotion model works for biology, science, social mores, and so forth.
What we tech folks have done, and we had no way of knowing, is flatten all of that out. So now what we see is winner-take-all for all of those things that used to be widely diverse and somewhat chaotic. It would seem to folks who didn't know better that this would be a good thing. After all, isn't standardization good? But in fact it's turning what used to extremely robust and anti-fragile systems into quite brittle and unpredictable ones.
I don't think most people understand the problem, even the ones who complain about it. That doesn't make me optimistic that there's a solution forthcoming.
We did have a way of knowing, Marshall McLuhan went on at length about the rise of tribalism in the upcoming age of 'peer to peer electronic media'.
"The electronically induced technological extensions of our central nervous systems, which I spoke of earlier, are immersing us in a world-pool of information movement and are thus enabling man to incorporate within himself the whole of mankind. The aloof and dissociated role of the literate man of the Western world is succumbing to the new, intense depth participation engendered by the electronic media and bringing us back in touch with ourselves as well as with one another. But the instant nature of electric-information movement is decentralizing——rather than enlarging——the family of man into a new state of multitudinous tribal existences. Particularly in countries where literate values are deeply institutionalized, this is a highly traumatic process, since the clash of the old segmented visual culture and the new integral electronic culture creates a crisis of identity, a vacuum of the self, which generates tremendous violence——violence that is simply an identity quest, private or corporate, social or commercial…"
Would you please elaborate on how "rapid clicks-and-likes driven social media" leads to the burning of Amazon forests?
I would also like to add these two related paragraphs:
> According to various reports on the subject (Greenpeace, FAO), livestock farming, including soya production, is responsible for about 70 to 80% of deforestation in the Amazon region. The development of intensive livestock production, combined with the increasing consumption of meat in developed countries, is thus the main cause of Amazonian deforestation.
> According to the WWF, It’s estimated that deforestation caused by livestock is responsible for the discharge of 3.4% of current global emissions of carbon to the atmosphere every year. That’s why the late 2018 IPCC report stood out that reducing meat consumption by 90% is the single biggest way to reduce global warming. Some studies also show that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by over 75%. In this way, reducing your meat consumption is also a big step to stop not only deforestation but also global warming on a larger scale.
The dot chain I see is social media -> stronger tribalism, social bubbles -> strengthening of nationalist movements, particularly far right -> electing Jair Bolsonaro -> rejection of foreign aid, support of these farming techniques.
Perhaps I'm wrong in my reasoning... but I'd much prefer to be wrong about this particular example and right about the general trend.
Not to mention that eating less meat is just karmically/ethically way more optimal, regardless of what the data says.
> The most important greenhouse gases from animal agriculture are methane and nitrous oxide. Methane, mainly produced by enteric fermentation and manure storage, is a gas which has an effect on global warming 28 times higher than carbon dioxide. Nitrous oxide, arising from manure storage and the use of organic/inorganic fertilizers, is a molecule with a global warming potential 265 times higher than carbon dioxide.
Additionally, he missed the fact that deforestation has other negative impacts besides contributing to climate change.
All things considered, meat consumption is pretty much the main reason for the destruction of Amazonian rainforest, using up incredible amounts of land, food, and water, as well as producing a statistically significant amount of pollution. Then there is desertification, MDR pathogens, and so forth.
If you want the total percentages per sector: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emiss...
Some more reading (website is currently down for me but it was available a couple of minutes ago): https://www.fao.org/gleam/results/en/
Go further back. The Civil War could be viewed as large-scale tribalism. After that, there were regional and ethnic tribalisms. The World Wars pushed us into a bigger tribalism - the US became one giant tribe. (It still had the smaller tribalisms, but they became less important.) That kind of held through the 50s. In the late 60s, the hippie movement could be regarded as a new tribalism (and a rejection of the old one). The US "big tribalism" has been progressively fragmenting into a number of "small tribalisms" since then.
This is a true statement, I just hope the damage done can be undone. We are stronger together than we are alone.
The US was never isolationist unless you ignore the existence of Native American Nations; it was brutally expansionist from day one. From the time of the Monroe Doctrine, US imperialism expanded even further, leaving the US “isolationist” in most of the 19th Century mainly only in regard to what happened outside the Western Hemisphere, and not even always there.
The expansion wasn't all of it; it was also an era of technological innovation in which the Americans were leaders (though Europe also produced a fair amount of innovation). But the expansionism had another advantage: while Europe was busy fighting a series of wars for control over the same territory, the US had a lot more freedom to devote to increasing production rather than destruction.
So the 19th century may not be an accurate model for the 21st. Isolationism was more feasible then because it was a large, self-sufficient nation. Today, capitalism has broken production down into finer and finer pieces and it's much harder for even a very large nation to compete against the combined strength of the rest of the world. If we don't collaborate, and others do, they'll gain a relative advantage that will slowly eat into our dominance. We can't simply conquer new territory because there isn't any, and even if we did, ownership of land isn't as important in a technological era.
World War I comes to mind as an instructive case against over-alliance. Likewise, in World War II, Switzerland remained famously unallied.
Not that I'm anti-alliances, but the common idea that allies are a key to survival isn't necessarily true.
It makes me wonder if some sort of international veto arrangement might be a good idea - unfortunately it seems that even if they did so they would be unlikely to listen "because this time is different".
Which is part of the reason why most democracies in history are representative democracies; they represent the interests of their constituents, not their constituents personal choices.
A representative should properly make the decision that, in their view, presents the best possible result for their constituency, not "what their constituents would choose if they were elected."
I fully believe in (representative) democracy, and with an extremely complicated issue like Brexit it needs dedicated politicians researching the issue and, ultimately, selling a solution to the public. I'm not deeply in tune with the parties in the U.K., but my general feeling has been that Labour has no fucking clue what to do, so all of the U.K. is just jumping into a yawning bottomless pit for no good reason.
let me show you exhibit A:
"allies" is a romantic concept that doesn't hold any water, only the return of investment forecast drives action and inaction.
> Nations with ardent and sincere allies
And, clearly though certainly teetering toward "no true scotsman," an ally who is only superficially allied (Germany and the USSR during the first half of WWII, or the Allies and USSR after the war) should not be considered an "ally," for all intents and purposes.
And I think it's clear in that specific example you gave how well selling out their allies worked for U.K. and France. If "greed" is your only motivation, eventually your greedy allies will sell you out as well. See, Prisoner's Dilemma or pretty much the entire field of ethics.
There's no "threat of tribalism". We're living in tribalism. This piece could only be effective in another climate.
Ham-fisted, on-the-nose, bluntness is the only way to get your message across to a political audience in 2019.
I understand the point to be "tribalism is great, but we should be one tribe dominating all (or most, with our allies, as long as they are aligned with us) the other tribes". I didn't see any general call against tribalism. "Defending our way of life" is pretty much that: "the tribe's way of life".
"We are dividing into hostile tribes cheering against each other, fueled by emotion and a mutual disdain that jeopardizes our future, instead of rediscovering our common ground and finding solutions."
The phrase "defending our way of life" isn't in the article.
This describes the entirety of human history. And CERTAINLY the history of America.
exactly: I read We to mean "US-citizens", not "humans". Divide and conquer, be divided and you might be conquered, therefore (internal) division is bad. As soon as some intergalactic threat shows up, the same rhetoric will be heard on a planetary level. "This is no time for internal division while the bugs are trying to wipe us out. You've seen what they did to Buenos Aires."
> The phrase "defending our way of life" isn't in the article.
From the article: "When it comes to the defense of our experiment in democracy and our way of life, ideology should have nothing to do with it."
The book even goes briefly into a famous moment in the invasion of Iraq were General Mattis fires one of his commanders during a siege of a city.
HBO did a miniseries on the book too which is great.
Rudy is played by himself.
Also interesting to note Mattis is call sign "Chaos" who was a major offscreen character and frequently mentioned on the HBO mini series "Generation Kill".
For Mathis to disregard this and put the military and intelligence apparatus above politics is disingenuous, or at least ignorant of reality. He may be non-partisan but his department has a hand in why our current tribalism exists, and always has.
If American military and intelligence organizations had a truly non-interventionist approach and one which works with our allies then there are politicians on both sides to support them - Tulsi Gabbard, Ron Paul, for example.
Finally, Mathis admits our defense spending exceeds all but 20 countries' GDP. In an era where our enemies are often digital, or terrorist organizations, more so than nation states, is our military spending oversized for what we need? Would any secretary of defense admit to this and redirect funds to more pressing causes at home or abroad? Such a leader would be a truly remarkable and laudable.
Hawks will only hear, "we need to spend more of the military budget on cyber threats".
Were you just looking to get in a dig about US hegemony? I prefer it to Chinese hegemony, and so should you.
The US has wasted over a trillion dollars trying to police areas it had no business in being in. Meanwhile, China's military buildup went uncontested, and today the US is in a trade war of its own making, only now the shoe is on the other foot.
America's the one exporting agricultural produce and China's the one selling world-leading 5G and other advanced technologies.
Trump is broadly unpopular with the American people as a whole, and every common demographic subset of them other "white males without a college degree".
But among Republican party members? His claims of "94%" are bullshit, naturally, but the actual results of real mainstream polling put it north of 80%.
To paraphrase Marlo Stanfield: A lot of people want America to be one way. But it's the other way.
> "The duty of silence. If you leave an administration, you owe some silence. When you leave an administration over clear policy differences, you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country. They still have the responsibility of protecting this great big experiment of ours. I know the malevolence some people feel for this country, and we have to give the people who are protecting us some time to carry out their duties without me adding my criticism to the cacophony that is right now so poisonous."
It's pretty much going to be Trump vs Biden.
Possible, but I doubt it. The early non-incumbent front-runner almost never wins the nomination, and while Biden has a big lead, it's far from a majority of the party and all of his opposition and most of the party electorate differ from him in the same direction (e.g., Democrats prefer Medicare for All over keeping Obamacare by a 2:1 margin.)
As the set of candidates narrows (and it will considerably before the first primary votes are cast), that doesn't work in Biden’s favor.
A 74 year old vs a 78 year old. Pretty appealing options.
Why do you think it's pretty much just white old dude?