Djcnor’s Weblog

Arrogance. The US Could Learn from UK and Russian History

Posted on: December 20, 2008

There was a time when the UK was as dominant in the world as the US is now. It had the same arrogance, the same idea that it knew better than the nations and regions of the world that it interfered in than the people who lived in those nations did.

It took an extraordinary amount of time and untold suffering for the UK to come to consider alternative possibilities. Even as it pulled back from the regions it dominated, it drew lines, new borders, where it thought best, often not where the natural (by geography or cultural identity) borders  were.

The choices the UK made during this time period are still causing untold suffering and conflict in the Indian subcontinent, in Africa, in the Middle East.

There was a time when Russia  dominated a large portion of the world. It had the same arrogance regarding the areas it dominated. The dominance did not last as long as the British dominance, but the same types of artificial boundaries were set up, and the withdrawal again resulted in conflict and suffering.

The US has dominated by other types of heavy-handed-ness, but it has had the same arrogance. I sense the time coming before very long when it pulls back. It will be very difficult to avoid the same types of results.

And right behind the US comes China extending its own dominance as far as possible with the same arrogance.

Is this a necessary part of the human species? What can be done to avoid these same patterns? What can be done to diminish the consequences? What responsibility does a dominant nation have afterward? Is dominance ever a good thing?

These are the questions I ask myself, not sure that even if I had answers, there is any chance that they would or could be carried out.

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2 Responses to "Arrogance. The US Could Learn from UK and Russian History"

I agree with your assessment, but it made me think. Too often we forget we are animals. In the animal kingdom, every group, pack, herd, school, whatever, has a dominant. I guess it’s just natural that we have one too. Of course, nobody’s perfect, so whoever is dominant is bound to make mistakes.

There are a lot of reasons lately for remembering we are animals. Global warming comes to mind. We are a long-lived species, which puts us as a definite disadvantage for rapid evolution when it’s needed, and if you read Konrad Lorenz’s On Aggression, you’ll see why that has significance for developing the ability to curb our aggressive tendencies before they get too big for our weapons. Our aggressive instincts are still so very strong, we should probably be throwing nothing more damaging than Crocs at each other.

Yes, whoever is dominant is bound to make mistakes. It’s that arrogance that seems to go along with dominance that seems to grant temporary forgetfulness of that fact. As with raising children well, light-handed dominance yields the best results.

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