Sunday, July 01, 2012

Il Faut Cultiver Notre Jardin
Meditations Approaching the Birthday of a Great Nation

Kindleberger (citing Forelich and Oppenheimer) on the Dutch:
Holland was the leader among the seven provinces, however, and as in political science theories of leadership, had to pay for the privilege of leading and being repaid in prestige, by taking on a disproportionate share of the totality... During the Dutch golden age of the seventeenth century, the issue was not troublesome. It became salient in the decline ....
[P. 90] I suppose any number of people have made a similar observation about America's truculent insistence that it be allowed to maintain (=pay for) so much of the world's defense. And the more you think of it, the more tempting it is to generalize. I wonder if something in the same nature persists when the blue states so cheerfully (heh) sustain the burden of paying the dependency bills of the red states. Similarly I can hear the old fashioned paterfamilias husband proudly and loudly boasting that "my wife will never have to work!"

Further afield, I suppose the same analysis might help to clarify the willingness of the tiny Nordic countries to puch above their weight in peacekeeping and suchlike: grant them the worthy motive of generosity, still there is a payoff (and who can begrudge them?) in enhanced self-esteem.

And--though this really is a bit of a stretch--I wonder if it might help to explain the stubborn unwillingness of the Germans to pick up any more of the tab for the trouble in the south. After all the Germans have had their experience with hegemony, thankyouverymuch, and it's not a pretty thing to remember. As in: we Germans are happy to stay home and tend to our knitting--why don't you do the same? Not saying they are right in this, of course, just trying to clarify what is going on.  

As the great Franco-German once said, "Il faut cultiver notre jardin."

1 comment:

Ken Houghton said...

Happy Canada Day!