“The Bandas can tell us quite a bit about economics. The lessons these islands offer have to do with the impact of global trade and how that trade shapes and defines the fortunes of nations and peoples. They also provide a cautionary tale, of the damage trade can do– if, and here’s the key point, those in charge don’t adapt to the change trade inevitably creates.”
This recent Time article puts some of the history we’ve been reading into context. It deals with the rise and fall of European mercantilist powers and the one-time-lucrative spice trade in the South Pacific. Read it HERE and complete a set of dialectical notes.
How Suppressing Volatility Makes the World Less Predictable and More Dangerous
The fall of the Roman Empire. The Catholic Counter-Reformation. The Haitian Revolution. The French Revolution. The Fall of Communism. The Egyptian Tahrir Square Revolution. Rebellion, Revolution, Upheaval, Social Chaos.
Historically, governments and power elites have done their best to maintain “stability” at all costs. The attempt to eliminate or minimize volatility has been of utmost concern. Much thought and effort has gone into creating rational systems of control and regulation, systems to mitigate against chaotic social fluctuations and the up-and-down, unpredictable forces of nature (ie. economic depressions, social rebellions, environmental catastrophes, natural distasters, etc). But have these efforts to suppress volatility actually created more volatility? Moreover, can the perennial desire for stability actually (and ironically) create more instability?
Read the following article by scholars Nassim Taleb and Mark Blyth to get their take on it. Click HERE.
This isn’t required homework. Finish it if you want for BONUS MARKS.
What is the Protestant Work Ethic? Look it up online (use more than one source) and write a half-page summary. Who came up with the idea? What sorts of arguments is the idea based upon? Lastly, do you think it is a credible idea; does it accurately explain why Western European peoples of Protestant belief accumulated more wealth and demonstrated more material productivity in comparison to their Catholic neighbors or others civilizations at the time?
The Renaissance led to a flurry of new economic activity. Italy, because of its strategic location in the Mediterranean, became one of Europe’s financial hubs. Newfound wealth in places like Florence resulted in an explosion of patronage for the arts. Banking and economics played a critical roll in this revolution. Today’s complicated economic world of investment, trading and financialization, all the stocks, bonds, derivatives, credit default swaps, and mortgage-backed securities, much of this–whether good or bad–can be traced back to the explosion of finance that happened in the West during the Renaissance. Get a better grasp on history. Learn some economic history. Watch Niall Ferguson’s documentary “The Ascent of Money,” at least the first hour of it.
Frustration over income inequality has given rise to “Occupy Wall Street” protests in the United States and related demonstrations throughout the developed world. In this excerpt from “The Haves and the Have-Nots,” World Bank economist Branko Milanovic answers the question of who was the richest person to have ever lived.
Click HERE to read the excerpt.
In his book, “The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis“, renowned social thinker Jeremy Rifkin offers a radical new view of human nature. He looks at how empathy will determine our fate as a species.
Rifkin offers some innovative ideas to tackle our pressing world problems.
Watch the first video (at least) and complete a set of dialectical notes. Does Rifkin present a genuine solution for our world? Is there hope?
Some recent history for you. Meltdown is the story of the bankers who crashed the world, the leaders who struggled to save it and the ordinary families who got crushed.
Watch the 4-part documentary HERE.