Subtle societies aren’t good at what they do, they’re good at finding reasons not to do it.
The Muslim World is nuanced and subtle. An illiterate street vendor in Cairo can come up with a conspiracy so complex for every area of his daily life that it would baffle Oliver Stone. And worse still he will probably be half right.
When turbaned lunatics pop up on MEMRI videos to explain that the CIA unleashed cannibal werewolves trained by the Mossad to set off the Egyptian revolution, they are just being students of the interconnectedness of all things. They believe that we are all conspiring against them, because their society is a vast conspiracy perpetrated by everyone against everyone else.
Americans are among the few peoples in the world who actually mean what they say when in most of the world’s failed societies, what someone says has no surface meaning and a great deal of subtext. This makes Americans absolutely hopeless diplomats, but very good at actually getting things done. To deal with much of the world you need a detailed set of customs and codes, but most people can walk off the plane at JFK or Los Angeles International Airport and adapt with very little effort.
Or at least that’s the way it used to be. These days American elites embrace nuance and subtlety. There was a time when things could get done because doing them involved going from A to B to C. If you wanted something done, you did it. Now if you want something done, you go from E to Q to Z to D and then decide that it’s probably better not do it.
The new intelligence does not involve doing things, but doing them at an angle or learning that it is better to do nothing, than to do something. If the Wright Brothers had been born today, they would have considered inventing the airplane in terms of its carbon footprint. If Lewis and Clark had been born today, they would have gone on their trip to raise money for microfinance and then destroyed their maps to avoid letting them become tools of colonialism.
Global Warming is the culmination of all that interconnectedness thinking. Finally the butterfly flapping its wings really does set off a hurricane. A carbon atom emitted from the mouth of Mrs. Doris Hessingman of Longtree Lane, Tennessee causes tsunamis in Asia. An errant sneeze in Milwaukee causes hunger in Africa. Three teenagers take a plane trip to Europe and drown an entire continent.
This Climate Friedmanism is the inevitable afterbirth of globalization. Once you’ve connected everyone, all that’s left is to build that interconnectedness into a global social religion in which everyone’s deeds affect everyone else.
That kind of thing doesn’t stop with the environment. Climate Change is just an attempt to map the omnisocial metaphor of connectedness onto climate science. Interconnectedness means that we are constantly affecting and being affected by everyone, everywhere all the time. That soda you’re drinking is teaching a baby to get fat and die of a heart attack at forty-nine. Your white privilege has disenfranchised seven different minority groups on the way to work. A formerly simple America becomes a complex and confusing place full of rules and customs as it begins to fail.
Social thinking is not concerned with solving problems by tackling them, but by transforming society so that the problems no longer exist. It’s the same sideways approach that makes Muslims think that once everyone follows their version of Islamic law, all the problems will go away. And so instead of solving problems, we take people’s feelings into account, pandering to them and manipulating them.
Instead of trying to win the War on Terror, we’re trying to win the War on Feelings with a hearts and minds love bombing campaign. And we badger people into losing weight a thousand different ways because it’s easier than taking on the powerful health care unions. Instead of dealing directly with problems, our governments have become the social manipulators of people.
China is moving in on the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan. North Korea is moving closer to a nuclear war. But Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, commander of Pacific Command, knows what the answer is. Forget fighting wars, what we have to do is teach everyone to love Mother Earth. Having identified Climate Change as the greatest and likeliest security threat in the region, the United States will be conducting a multi-nation naval exercise to cope with the impact of Global Warming.