Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 27, 2015

“Breathes there the man, with soul so dead….”

Filed under: Futures — by Christopher Bellavita on January 27, 2015

What to be vigilant about?

Sometimes something huge. Sometimes not.

Monday night it’s oceans of snow spilling onto the northeast, painted green and yellow by the Weather Channel radar.

Monday morning it was 2 pounds of drone crashing into a White House tree, invisible to the best radar money can buy.

What to be vigilant about?

Someone credible guesses that by 2016, 1% of the world’s population (about 7 million people) will own more wealth than the other 99% combined.

I’m guessing  many of the people who attended last week’s World Economic Forum  in Davos  represent the interests of the 7 million.


Samuel P. Huntington (the “Clash of Civilizations” guy) called these people Davos Men, or “gold collar workers”:

…these transnationalists have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite’s global operations. In the coming years, one corporation executive confidently predicted, “the only people who will care about national boundaries are politicians.”

If you’re looking for something else to be vigilant about, you can read more of Huntington’s warning in the 2004 National Interest article joyously called “Dead Souls: The Denationalization of the American Elite.”

[End of Break]

The Davos Men issued their 2015 Global Risks report a few days ago describing what they believe we should all be vigilant about.

Here’s a excerpt from the report’s conclusion:

Our lives are very different today from when the first Global Risks report was published a decade ago. Little did the world imagine the possibility of the implosion of global financial markets that plunged the world into a socioeconomic crisis from which it is still struggling to emerge. The “real world” was nowhere near as interconnected with the virtual one: Twitter did not exist, Facebook was still a student-only service, and the iPhone and Android were still one and two years, respectively, away from their commercial release. The power of interconnectivity has since shown itself forcefully – be it from the convening power of the Arab Spring, the revelation of massive cyber espionage around the National Security Agency, or fast moving developments in new disruptive business models that are fundamentally changing the global economic landscape.

… [As] people’s lives are becoming more complex and more difficult to manage, businesses, governments and individuals alike are being forced to decide upon courses of action in an environment clouded by multiple layers of uncertainty. … [D]ecisionmakers … are recognizing that risks are no longer isolated but inherently dynamic in nature and crossing many spheres of influence. Against this backdrop, the need to collaborate and learn from each other is clearer than ever….

Ten years of “doing risks” has also led to the recognition that a short-term vision prevents addressing long-term issues. Some slower-moving trends have continued inexorably: the last 10 years have brought conclusive proof that the earth’s climate is changing and that human activities are to blame – yet progress to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions remains frustratingly slow. …

Indeed, our self-perception as homines economici or rational beings has faltered in the aftermath of the financial crisis, whose effects are still unfolding socially, as persistent unemployment, ever-rising inequality, unmanaged migration flows and ideological polarization are among the factors stretching societies dangerously close to the breaking point. Social fragility is even threatening geopolitical stability, as breakdowns in cooperation within states make relations between states more difficult. And a quarter-century after the fall of the Berlin Wall, interstate conflict is once again one of the key risks in terms of likelihood and impact. Yet the means through which conflicts can be pursued are growing more varied, … – from geo-economic tools, such as trade sanctions, to cyber attacks on critical infrastructure, to the potential for a new arms race in lethal autonomous weapons systems. …


Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand!

— Walter Scott, 1805

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Comment by Philip J. Palin

January 27, 2015 @ 7:48 am

What we now think of as nationalism was, it seems to me, conceived by the Greek War of Independence (1821-1832). The American and French revolutions were experiments in diverse joining as much, perhaps more, than separating from any crown.

But the Greek revolution became a clash of discreet identities: religious, cultural, ethnic, economic, more… The Greek struggle — with the help of Byron et al — theorized that what separates us is more valuable than what connects us. There is, the new nationalists perceived, something unseemly in the polyglot cosmopolitanism of an Ottoman Empire. This is an attitude eventually transferred to the Habsburg Empire. It is now an attitude that seems to erupt between every sort of identity. Even contending with French and American universalism… which increasingly seem rather quaint.

So, I match your 19th Century Romantic, and raise you a reluctant post-modernist.

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills—
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

(Czelaw Milosz)

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 27, 2015 @ 9:35 am

To what extent does the notion of “ownership” and “private property” continue to allow the poisoning of the planet and its inhabitants?

Exploitation of the “commons” and “environment”?

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 27, 2015 @ 9:41 am

Suggestion! DHS establish a new Directorate! DTDRFTC!
Directorate to Determine Risks from Technological Change!

Yes the LUDDITES had it pretty much correct IMO!

So did Dr. Malthus!

So did Adam Smith and David Hume when worrying that greed would destroy CAPITALISM!

Perhaps MARX not far off either.

Why limit wealth to the 1%? Why not a single person if you believe in CAPITALISM?

Yes ROB ROY in my gene pool!

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 27, 2015 @ 9:43 am

Always remember Samuel Huntington had to go to Columbia to get his PhD because Harvard faculty did not regard him as ON THE TEAM!

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 27, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

Perhaps the Federal Reserve should just loan the Central Bank of Greece $200B at zero interest?

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