Archive for December 16th, 2014
My blog output will remain low for awhile because I’m doing a lot of writing. Just not blog writing.
I hope within two years to publish a manuscript that will reflect my life’s work beyond just the focus on the European Union and Germany that has been my research specialization. It involves information far outside my discipline, connecting with history, psychology, philosophy, religion, and economics.
The argument is rather straight forward. Western enlightenment thought, while enabling massive material prosperity and progress, has a dark side. The West has also given us colonialism, destruction of cultures across the globe, environmental crises, the holocaust, communism, fascism, WWI and WWII, social darwinism, and nuclear weapons. There has never been a civilization as destructive, violent…yet progressive and successful…as the West.
The era of globalization will challenge western dominance, and if we don’t change how we think about the world, the “dark side” of the enlightenment will doom us to crisis and even collapse in the coming century.
So the research I’m doing has to deal with questions like – what is the “West” and how can we speak of “Western” civilization? What are the roots of how we think about the world, meaning to trace the development of western thought through its history really from Roman times, but definitely through the era from 1300 to the present, with a strong focus on how enlightenment values took root.
From there I work on distinguishing what about western thought spurred on the violence and exploitation, vs. what pushed for freedom, progress and human liberation. This involves a close look at the 20th Century crises of the West, in particular the first half century, but also the “hidden crises” 0f the last sixty years (environmental, economic exploitation of third world states, etc.)
Beyond that, I have to demonstrate how globalization is changing the nature of politics. For instance, most economic theory is based on state policies. The globalization of international capital makes traditional economic policy theory if not obsolete, at least in need of considerable reform. Connecting to the earlier argument, I make a case that unless we change how we think and act in the West, globalization means crises and perhaps collapse.
From there, working through what it is about this culture that has such a Jekyll and Hyde nature, I turn to the EU and ask whether the development of the EU in Europe – the place that give us the most violence in the early 20th Century – is a sign of how we could progress. This involves looking at the EU in historic, institutional and theoretical contexts, with an eye on the thinking behind it.
Then I’ll attempt to bring it all together. First, look at Eastern intellectual traditions, spiritual thought, and other ways of thinking out there that could be useful to consider. Then using the EU as a pragmatic starting point (they’ve started the journey to a new organization and way of thinking, even if it’s only been baby steps) start to chart how there might be a path forward, donning first a new way of conceptualizing politics and the world. The key is to show what the “new thinking” might look like, how it practically can manifest itself, and why it would lead to a more successful future.
Needless to say, this is not just another academic project. I’m at the stage in my career where I want to write something meaningful, reflecting my core values and beliefs. If it never gets published, that’s OK. I still need to write it. The work required on top of my normal work is daunting. But this is my focus now – and probably the next year or two. I’ve been reading and working on the ideas, but now I have to write, revise, rewrite, rethink, get feedback, and really throw myself into this (while trying to learn Italian on top of that!)
I’ll still blog – maybe about that writing, or if an issue comes up that I feel I need to write something about. For a break I might do something fun and continue my Quantum Life series now and then. But if you’re wondering why my output is down, well, I’m throwing myself into a project I believe in!