Discussion paper from the reading group

This Wed the reading group has discussed ‘The age of the unthinkable‘ by Joshua Cooper Ramo. Here are some comments from the group.

The author begins the book with historical examples of resistance to change and slowness adapt in the USA. the author highlights that periods in history of relative peace were linked to strong defences, rather than strong attack weapons. The author advocates resilence rather than resistance. Nations and individuals must learn to adapt quickly to unexpected change, build strong infrastructure and social ties to literal and cultural neighbours.

What does the author belives caused this revolutionary age? Some members thought globalisation due to technology and individual belief in ability to make change. Also growth in urbanisation, which has led to breakdown of extended family due to capitalism – acquisition of goods with strong individualism. Other factors (a) reduction in the influence of organized religion both Christianity and Islam; (b) decline in ‘nation states’ and rise of ‘corporate power’.

The theory of a Sandpile and its avalances demonstrates the unpredicability of growth and collapse. Also a simplistic modelling system is inheritantly flawed and cannot accurately predict outcomes.

┬áThe author presents the connudum that we don’t learn the lessons of history while also saying that we need to have new ways of responding to events.

The term ‘mashup’ refers to the meeting and blending of unrelated ideas or techonology to produce something new and unexpected. The author advocates that ‘mashups’ will be the way of improvement.

The author does not have ‘solutions’ as such as how we can learnn to anticipate the unexpected. However he advocates haveing strong infrastructure, good social and culture awareness and tolerance but advises that this will not prevent catastrophies.

Some members didn’t think the book raised new issues but had very interesting insights into characters interviewed.

It’s recommended by the group as an interesting read.