The Centre for Independent Studies 2010 John Bonython Lecture with Niall Ferguson. Is the rise and fall of empires cyclical or arrhythmic? How does economic profligacy - whether the result of arrogance or naivety - contribute to the downfall of civilisations? Today Professor Ferguson will argue that great powers or empires are in the strict sense of the word, complex systems. Made up of very large numbers of interacting components that are quite asymmetrically organised. In other words, he continues, their construction more resembles a termite hill than an Egyptian pyramid. They operate somewhere between order and disorder. Moreover imperial falls are nearly always associated with fiscal crises, when there are dramatic imbalances between revenues and expenditures. Thus alarm bells should be ringing in Washington DC but what does that for mean for Australia?
Tagged with “empire” (3)
Jared Diamond, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs & Steel (and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed), offers some timely thoughts on why Haiti, once a fairly prosperous country, has sunk into enduring poverty — a condition not comparatively shared by its neighbor on the same island, the Dominican Republic. According to Diamond, Haiti’s environmental conditions offer a partial explanation. But you will also find clues in the country’s language, and in the legacy of slavery that has shaped Haiti’s economic relationship with Europe and the US. This interview — quite a good one — aired this morning in San Francisco.
Here Bill Moyers sits down with David Simon, executive producer of The Wire, the stunning HBO production. As anyone who has watched the show knows, The Wire is not just a splendid drama. It is, as Simon has once called it, “a political tract masquerading as a cop show.” It takes a penetrating and aesthetically rich look at some of America’s most vexing social issues. And it’s why Moyers says, “What Edward Gibbon was to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, or Charles Dickens to the smokey, mean streets of Victorian London, David Simon is to America today.”