The Pivot

If you haven’t read today’s WPR cover piece by Shawn Brimley and Vikram Singh, you should. I’ve been convinced for a while that more than any individual issues, or even collection of issues, this election is going to boil down to a generational choice. I don’t know the demographics of U.S. voters well enough to know who that really favors. That said, the logic of the piece seems to argue for Obama without mentioning his name, although that might not be the authors’ intention, and it might be my reading of it. I’m curious to hear from anyone who disagrees.

I remember some discussion about the Bush administration’s tendency, in the days before 9/11, to emphasize state-based threats in a way that seemed destined to miss those posed by non-state actors. Obviously state-based threats still exist. But even the Bush administration’s response to them, e.g. the idea of “containing” Iran, smacks of a certain strategic anachronism.

Brimley and Singh mention the way young voters experience the world via connectivity, which reminded me of a book I recently started (but have yet to finish) by Harold Innis titled, Empire & Communications. It discusses how the physical form of communication, from stone to clay tablets to papyrus to paper, impacted the organizational structure of the empires that used them. The book’s thesis triggered an undeveloped thought that, in some way, states will need to adapt the way in which they wield strategic power to the communication structure of the internet: rapid, fleeting nodes of hyperlinks, quickly dispersing only to reform elsewhere. This election seems like as good a place to start as any.