American civilization, Humanities

Make no mistake: the bene?ts would be enormous if the usa (or anyone else, for that matter) were to succeed in its declared ambition of achieving the inter-nal paci?cation of the whole world. Those of us who live in relatively peaceful, secure and democratic societies ?nd it dif?cult to imagine how much of the rest of humanity does not. The greatest evil they face is the lack of everyday security - vulnerability to violence and sudden death, as well as hunger and disease, dangers posed to them by other human beings as well as by natural forces. If they could be guaranteed a high and consistent level of security, of the kind we ourselves enjoy, then we might witness for the ?rst time a true worldwide 'civilising process'. For, as Elias says:

'if in this or that region the power of central authority grows, if over a larger or smaller area the people are forced to live in peace with each other, the moulding of the affects and the standards of emotion-management are very gradually changed as well ' (Elias 2000: 109).

The question is whether this is possible, and whether it is something that in the long term could be achieved by the usa acting alone, rather than by the countries of the world acting in concert through multilateral bodies such as the United Nations.

For  the  foreseeable  future, us military dominance  is beyond  challenge. Yet  through  the sheer scale of  its military expenditure,  the us may end up doing itself what, it has been claimed, President Reagan did to the ussr: bring about its collapse by arms spending beyond its means. The wisdom becomes increasingly apparent of President Eisenhower's farewell speech to the American nation  (1961), when he warned against  the growing power of what he named  'the military-industrial  complex'.  The military-industrial  interests now seem  to own  the American government. Their activities would appear to run exactly counter to the requirements of a world civilising process. The Americans are not the only suppliers of weaponry to the unpeaceful parts of the world, but they are the largest. Such supplies often seem to be used to play off various armed interests against each other, as in the current case of Ameri-can encouragement of violent con?ict between Sunni and Shia (and indeed between rival Shia factions). These divide et impera tactics are seen as in the short-term interests of the usa, but they lead in exactly the opposite direction to the requirements of a long-term civilising process.

Posted Date: 4/26/2013 3:50:52 AM | Location : United States

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