Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Break on through to the other side, part II

more collaboration
more innovation
more letting the other in
open up
give way to participation

more trust
more future
more courage
Show true leadership
And let
The new empire


1 comment:

  1. A matter of glue

    Amy Chua's Day of Empire is an engaging read. Making very clear from the outset what her thesis is (global hegemony has never been achieved without - by the standards of its time - extraordinary pluralism and tolerance) and using every chapter to underline it, she keeps you looking forward to the conclusion. In the meantime, she spoils you with wonderful chapters about all the different empires in her study. My personal favorite was The Great Mongol Empire (cosmopolitan barbarians!) but all the chapters are rich in descriptive content - for such short studies.

    The point of her book however, is more about how to maintain hyperpower than about how to reach it. And for that, not the question 'to bully or not to bully?' is most relevant, but rather, 'how to bind?'. As she puts it, "coercion is simply too inefficient, persecution too costly, and ethnic and religious homogeneity, like inbreeding, too unproductive."

    What glue is strong enough for all the 'subjects' of an empire to want to remain 'subjected to' that empire? She implicitly proposes us to move away from this bully-language. What binds people more than 'being subjected to' is 'having a stake in', 'being part of a cultural identity' or 'having a common purpose'. Would you rather be a subject, a stakeholder, a member or a partner?

    What's in a name!

    From the perceived urgent need for glue by the current hyperpower, the U.S., Amy Chua leads us to the conclusion that her country can enlarge cultural membership by allowing there to be more stakeholders and partners outside the U.S.. That the U.S. can maintain world-domination by not pursuing the domination of the world.

    She encourages her country to show good collaborative and innovative political leadership:
    - open your borders intelligently. To avoid xenophobia, to create goodwill and close ties with non-Americans and, most importantly, to have a shot at attracting the best and brightest in the worldwide competition for top talent.
    - don't be afraid of outsourcing. It gives non-Americans a stake in U.S. success and allows for cultural identification.
    - don't 'go it alone' in the world. The problems that confront any country these days are more global than ever and best approached through collective global action (innovative alliances!).

    Treat collaboration as an opportunity instead of as surrender.

    To put it in other words, the U.S. should give way to a more participatory view of her identity. She should lose her dots, but keep her marbles. By showing leadership in the collaborations she engages in, she will attain a new level of domination - one that makes a lot more sense, to a lot more people. One that won't feel like domination, because, well, maybe it isn't...? Shared responsibility, shared leadership - that's what it is about.

    Empire will be about US much more than about the U.S.


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