Started watching The Last Kingdom. Ah peaceful Denmark: lowest Gini (income inequality), highest level of happiness, and home of the raping, murdering Vikings. Their violent pursuit of trade and farmland conquered the British isles until the 11th century.
It’s a history worth considering in this era of collision. Brussels and Donald Trump, Syria and Ukraine. Migration as seeking a place to live as well as a place to take over — to make one’s own. Violent invaders whose legacy 1,000 years later is a television drama, costumes and the names of days.
We want to pretend that we can stop the clock — the borders are drawn and the land is settled! No more migrations and conquests! We can work everything out with politics and trade! Hey, what are you doing, why are all these masses coming over the border, why are some of them attacking us?
It doesn’t work that way. The humans who left Africa found an environment conducive to faster growth and technological development, and they exploited that advantage Viking-style to take huge amounts of land and resources elsewhere.
Such forces created modern China, Europe and America. So much land. So much natural defensive capacity. This gave space for more development, more art, more science, etc. — those created benefits for everyone they reach…albeit unequally.
But that was a bubble. We cannot recreate the conditions of the past. We cannot undo the worldwide distribution of populations, of of technology, of knowledge. Nor can we undo our awareness of how lifestyles affect each other across tens of thousands of miles.
If you can’t talk about what made “greatness” possible, you can’t talk about America’s responsibilities or the future of the USA. I don’t care how much money you imagine you can carve out of the country’s budget with taxes and magic decimal points.
Truth is: we didn’t use the last window as well as we could have. We made improvements, but did harm as well. Now we take the impacts. Tech-enabled terrorism. Deadly bacteria and viruses. Food scarcity. Climate change. Small wars becoming large ones.