Global Net Assessment

Mussolini and Memory

[Dear Class, my meditation on the themes of our class during our stay in Rhodos. Another soon from Patmos and the apocalyptic!] Rhodes is an ancient city, boasting a 2400-year provenance, with three parent cities on the island that go back even farther than that. Yet, in spite of predominantly Byzantine houses (some 800 years old), the read more…

What do the paintings on our last post mean?

This is of course Peter Breugel, and the most famous of his three Tower of Babel paintings. What was he saying? His first theme is that of pride punished, as in his 1563 canvas, The Suicide of Saul. Is there anything more prideful than our stainless, adamantine world system? As Bruegel dissects the intricate architecture read more…

Where we ended up on world crisis

Our final meeting was about — as it should be — What we learned. But what have we really learned — when it comes to thinking about world crisis? Have we learned to think about solving difficult human problems, or have we learned that our established world is fine with thinking about solving difficult human problems read more…

Counterintuitive and orthogonal findings on world crisis

World Crisis — “Ashen Truths” — was first taught last summer. Our initial findings are worth revisiting, and only in part because we touched upon some of the same insights. This summer’s second iteration has confirmed abiding continuities in world system crisis, like these: “Multiple inputs and positive feedback mechanisms promoting crisis” — our discussions read more…

So how will we think about world crisis?

How do we create a useful framework for assessing world crisis?  The world, and humanity, is too vast for any model to encompass. But it may be possible to come up with a simple template that identifies and works with a few critical drivers of change and stress to the world system. Let us then read more…

Distilling the Crises of Late Antiquity

Late Antiquity encompassed a protracted, multi-crisis system breakdown and transformation. It might represent the most complex, and longest-lasting upheaval in historical memory. I have tried to distill and simplify our understanding of this period for the purposes of the course — Namely, identifying and weighing the factors that lead to system crisis. In analyzing Late read more…

Kinship

This note addresses the problem of kinship — a term used loosely, and misused often — in American intelligence and security analysis. Can we understand the significance of kinship — both ritual and real — in human affairs in ways that ward off institutional bias and emotion-based thinking? Kinship is the basis of all relationships read more…

The latest on ice!

This post is not about breaking news in climate change — what may happen — but rather to focus our thinking on potential climate change impacts on net assessment: What does earth change mean to humanity and its world system? The spill on glaciers and ice sheets: First Mount Everest and the Himalayan glaciation — read more…

Our Judgments — Of a New World in the Making

  What is a world crisis? Why study it? “Ashen Truths: Tracking and Bounding World Crisis” is a collegial attempt — by 10 Master’s students and a teacher — to frame a problem. That problem is the periodic coming apart and subsidence of large human systems. These periodic crises are well attested in history, but read more…

Can we identify degrees of world crisis?

Dear Class, We talked about trying to draw useful distinctions between dimensions of severity in world crisis. There is a four-degree scale  for burns. Can we apply a comparable template to our world crisis historical case studies? Hence, a first degree world crisis is marked by surface damage only. World War II, for all its read more…