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January 9, 2011 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Future shock? Welcome to the new Middle Ages - The 21st century will resemble nothing more than the 12th

BONUS
- The Great Convergence, viz.
- On Wikileaks & Global Action, cf.
- Reasons to be Cheerful: "what we're left with are the idiot clown-car brigade" [and an era of relative peace]
posted by kliuless (56 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why oh why is this new year's crop of scare stories so much like last years?
posted by parmanparman at 1:43 PM on January 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Marco Polo reached the court of Kublai Khan in China, but only after admiring the vineyards of Kashgar and being awestruck by the material abundance of Xi’an

Marco Polo was born in 1254, well into the 13th century.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 1:47 PM on January 9, 2011


The 21st century will resemble nothing more than the 12th

Hey, this crystal ball is a mirror!
posted by .kobayashi. at 1:48 PM on January 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


..A Distant Mirror!

Does this mean we can give high-ranking corporate jobs to babies? Cause they'd look adorable in little business suits.
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on January 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


God, this is so strained and pointless. What valuable lesson does his specious insight teach us? That we should have a new Black Death so wages rise and culture becomes more humanistic?
posted by nasreddin at 1:52 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does it say anything about the future of toilet design?
posted by anniecat at 1:53 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the puppy was a dog, but the industry my friends... that was a Revolution!
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:53 PM on January 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


How to write an article that everyone will quote: 1) take an argument from the social sciences, in this case, Saskia Sassen's discussions of state sovereignty; 2) grossly exaggerate the claims being made; 3) ignore statements from the social scientists to the effect of, "This is not to say that our current era looks anything like early modernity, simply that our regimes of sovereignty are forming a similar structure"; 4) add fear
posted by outlandishmarxist at 1:54 PM on January 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


LOOK AT THIS CONTRARIAN!!!
posted by delmoi at 1:57 PM on January 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


LOOK AT THIS CONTRARIAN!!!

I had to check and see if www.lookatthisfuckingcontrarian.com was taken.
posted by saturday_morning at 2:04 PM on January 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


fuckyeahcontrarianism.tumblr.com
posted by blucevalo at 2:07 PM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obligatory article.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:52 PM on January 9, 2011


fuckyeahcontrarianism.tumblr.com

NOT FOUND.

Dammit, you got my hopes up.

Also, as a medieval historian by training, my initial reaction was "what horseshit" and that was only slightly dampened by reading the article. The medieval period was not the only time we lived in a multipolar world. Western Europeans don't generally think of this because, duh, they write history centered on themselves. That doesn't mean the histories they (we) write and the topics we choose to say are important by including them in potted history are actually objectively representative of the events that happened or their overall importance, if you could even measure such a thing.
posted by immlass at 2:56 PM on January 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Someone just messaged me to say I won't be laughing when I am "in the hands of the yellow peril." Fuck you, baiter.
posted by parmanparman at 2:58 PM on January 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why oh why is this new year's crop of scare stories so much like last years?

Sounds like business as usual to me: the more things change, etc.
posted by ovvl at 3:17 PM on January 9, 2011


Neo-medievalism, an old idea co-opted by left and right for different purposes and with slippery meanings.
posted by stbalbach at 3:53 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Santayana was slightly wrong: if one does not understand history, one will be compelled to repeat it blog about it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:05 PM on January 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I dream I get mistaken memories of medieval Manhattan

And the world is upside down
But my mind is turning on
Milk is spilling from the murdered sun
I see masturbating monks on 42nd Street

Rats carry the plague to Chinatown
Cathedrals in the well of an elevator shaft
The water towers so many onion domes
The channel 12 commercials all star Joan of Arc

On Broadway a lamb is lying down
Where have they gone, the snows of Villon?
They are falling on Manhattan as rain

posted by The Whelk at 4:08 PM on January 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


tj;ntgfma

To long; Need to go fix my armour
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:09 PM on January 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Get along, you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:12 PM on January 9, 2011


Interesting TED talk with Parag Khanna.
posted by HLD at 4:17 PM on January 9, 2011


When I dream I get mistaken memories of medieval Manhattan...

Dang it, now I really, really wanna reread Transmetropolitan again.
posted by cthuljew at 4:23 PM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


God, this is so strained and pointless. What valuable lesson does his specious insight teach us? That we should have a new Black Death so wages rise and culture becomes more humanistic?

I'd say the lesson in there is that we're not really that much smarter or better as a people than we were hundreds of years ago. It's comforting, in a way, but frightening also.
posted by fantodstic at 4:39 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


...we're not really that much smarter or better as a people than we were hundreds of years ago. It's comforting, in a way, but frightening also.

...because we have so much more powerful weapons now.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:42 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


...because we have so much more powerful weapons now.

...and not just limited to the gun+powder/chemical variety.
posted by fantodstic at 4:44 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm so glad that I'm a reniass... renisac... reennisianc... reniscience...

Modern man.
posted by Splunge at 4:47 PM on January 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


...and not just limited to the gun+powder/chemical variety.

I totally agree and wish I'd made THAT clearer. First draft used word "tools", but it didn't seem to make my point.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:09 PM on January 9, 2011


fuckyeahcontrarianism.tumblr.com

NOT FOUND.


Are you sure? I got a redirect to Slate.
posted by Iridic at 5:34 PM on January 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


But if we just wait it out a hundred years....
posted by IndigoJones at 5:35 PM on January 9, 2011


This is really progress because in the 80s we were worried about being bombed back into the Stone Age.
posted by storybored at 5:53 PM on January 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I didn't realize they had wi fi in the middle ages! Ok. I can live with that sort of thing.
posted by Postroad at 6:02 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


As long as it means I can live in an anarcho-syndicalist commune and take it in turns to act as sort-of-executive officer for the week, I'm good.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:23 PM on January 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


My undergrad degree is in history and I can't tell you how many classes began like this:

Prof: "what use is studying history?"
Class: "Because history repeats itself."
Prof: "NO YOU FUCKING IDIOTS! History is not a way to predict the future. Now let me tell you about my fascinating little research world: 16th century Dutch herring trade FTW!"

If professors were as vicious as Catholic School nuns we would avoid articles like this.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:47 PM on January 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I liked the Stross piece. Even though I logically knew these things, I never really considered the breakneck progress of the past ten years. Heck, the fact that we haven't had a nuclear war by now is a

Its like evolution cant make happy humans, we're so focused on watching out for threats that we crave bad news. The guy with the "watch out from predators and listen for threats" genes will always win out, although he won't exactly be a cheery fellow. We have an entire media system to just tell us the most up to date bad news. When something bad happens, my mobile phone will immediately notify me. Google should really implement a "good news" only filter. I bet their NLP mavens could figure it out by 2020.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:48 PM on January 9, 2011


the US is the new Byzantium, facing both east and west while in a state of relative decline. The Byzantines lasted for many centuries beyond their material capability, through shrewd diplomacy and deception rather than by force.

Yeah, shrewd diplomacy rather than force, that's us all right. The deception I'll give you, but for it to be effective doesn't it have to be believed?
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:04 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Middle Ages? I, for one, welcome our Papal overlords.
posted by hattifattener at 7:04 PM on January 9, 2011


I welcome our Anti-Pope overlord!


Fiiiiiiiiight.
posted by The Whelk at 7:06 PM on January 9, 2011


seriously my favorite part of A Distant Mirror is when during the question of who was Pope, the Roman Cardinals tried to one-up the Avignon court by electing a low court official they thought they could easily control who ended up being INSANE.

That and the agreeing to now marry off daughters until they were old enough to say "yes" or "no". Not intellectually able, just physically able, so like 4

posted by The Whelk at 7:09 PM on January 9, 2011


Parag Khanna is a twat.
posted by bardic at 7:14 PM on January 9, 2011


Doomsayers throw in the "relative" caveat when talking about an American decline, but they ignore exactly how relative it would be. If, over night, the United States lost a third of its military capacity and entered a new Great Depression at the same moment, it would still be richer and stronger than any and all rivals. The 21st century will find that America is still the biggest actor on its stage.

That's in some ways more worrisome than if other powers could take up the mantle of global leadership. A strong, but not totally overwhelming United States in an era of rising powers will likely find itself constantly challenged by credible but surmountable challenges- meaning great power conflict is far more likely.

A unipolar world has its awfulness. There's insidious imperialism and brutal police actions that in turn spawn blowback. But nuclear-armed nations looking for power and prestige over other nuclear-armed nations can get a lot more hairy.
posted by spaltavian at 7:39 PM on January 9, 2011


As long as it means I can live in an anarcho-syndicalist commune and take it in turns to act as sort-of-executive officer for the week, I'm good.

that's all fine until it's not your week and the guy who is running the show that week has his smelly cousin staying over on the media room couch and he's using your $8.99/lb grass fed beef for his nachos and you just have to fucking study omg. you're not gonna like it then.

plus.. hey apparently you can say whatever you want on the internet. i was not aware of this.
posted by ninjew at 10:08 PM on January 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Parag Khanna is a twat.

I'm dating his sister Krav Maga.

She can makes it hurt so good.
posted by Skygazer at 10:12 PM on January 9, 2011


Also, every since this TED talk, Clay Shirky has been my hero.
posted by cthuljew at 10:53 PM on January 9, 2011


ever^ (Read before you post, Boris. Read before you post.)
posted by cthuljew at 10:54 PM on January 9, 2011


I, for one, welcome our Papal overlords.

Power to the Papal.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:55 PM on January 9, 2011


I like how this was posted on the same day as thsy Amy Chua article was reposted.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:01 PM on January 9, 2011


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2112_(album)
posted by rjc3000 at 11:32 PM on January 9, 2011


I, for one, welcome our Papal Paypal overlords.

FTFY
posted by dubold at 4:11 AM on January 10, 2011


Does mean that the Society for Creative Anachronism will be taking over?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 5:09 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


God, I hope not.

Now why did I bother reading that article? Should have checked the comments first, I guess.
posted by viborg at 5:55 AM on January 10, 2011


...And the Stross piece:

I'm sorry to note that most of the good stuff didn't happen to those of us in the developed world

Curses! Fooled into reading substanceless pablum again!
posted by viborg at 5:59 AM on January 10, 2011


The strange death of the technocracy
The Fed is perhaps the obvious target. The insurrectionists object to the notion of fiat (or-government-made) money. On both left and right there is fundamental opposition to the coupling of private banking with the federal government that managed the entire response to the financial crisis. Europe is also seeing a counter-revolution against two technocratic "coups" of the past two decades: the euro and liberal immigration... In Japan, too, the decline of the once all-powerful Liberal Democratic party signals the end of a system of power exercised over the heads of a passive population by a triangle of business, bureaucratic and political elites... in China, today's rising power, a successful technocracy seems firmly in power. The country's success cements the legitimacy of the communist mandarins. Yet even they cannot take their position for granted...

In the long run, failing elites are discarded. That happened to the aristocracies and monarchies of old. In high-income countries, recent failures of elites have been too obvious to ignore. The advantage of democracy is that it discards failure more quickly and less violently than other systems. True, electorates may well make serious mistakes, by discarding what works for what turns out not to do so. Yet democracy imposes an invaluable discipline on elites: the latter must convince the public that they know what they are doing. Recent performance is making this quite a challenge. The people are complaining loudly. Elites must both listen and respond... the technocracy ultimately depends on the consent of the governed. That is how it should be. Elites may believe the mass of the people mistaken. But they cannot ignore their views.
cf. On the way to a new global balance

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 6:54 AM on January 10, 2011


The 21st century will resemble nothing more than the 12th

Ignatius J. Reilly approves.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:44 AM on January 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I saw the link initially, i thought it was by Praga Khan, and was like "When did the dude from Lords Of Acid become so involved in geopolitics?"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:42 AM on January 10, 2011


The 21st century will resemble nothing more than the 12th

Except of course for all the ways it won't resemble the 12th century at all.


A strong, but not totally overwhelming United States in an era of rising powers will likely find itself constantly challenged by credible but surmountable challenges- meaning great power conflict is far more likely.


Though that great power conflict will likely be far less violent than in previous centuries, on the level of diplomatic juggling. Despite public rhetoric, the great powers have a lot of common interests, and they are constantly increasing.

But let's not forget the online conflicts spawned by bloggers who will be livid over the fact that there won't be a Chinese or Communist hegemony. I'm already seeing "anthropologists" posting nostalgic articles about how the egalitarian community of Mao's era has been replaced by greed and corruption.
posted by happyroach at 1:38 PM on January 10, 2011


Mr. Bad Example: "As long as it means I can live in an anarcho-syndicalist commune and take it in turns to act as sort-of-executive officer for the week, I'm good"

Paging Milo...
posted by Splunge at 11:26 PM on January 11, 2011


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