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Sunday, June 4

Can societies avoid the Devil and Deep Blue Sea? Gregory Copley says yes

We all know the dreary Devil in this case: it's a totalitarian religious government, which only anal-retentive people can willingly tolerate. Or it's Marxism, which stuffs all individuality into the categories of Oppressor or Oppressed and sets people to squabbling about who among them is the bigger victim. 

Bringing up the Devil's rear, as it were, is modern Globalism: no matter what the economic benefits, it makes societies in which identity to reduced to algorithms for brand preferences, and where consumerism replaces national interests.

But when we turn away from the Devil we're faced with the Vasty Deep: an obsession with diversity that leads to balkanization and the tribalism of a thousand tongues with everyone wanting their diverse government edicts written in their own diverse language, and where nobody wants to sit next to someone on a plane unless they've first checked the person's Facebook page to learn whether he she or it is my kind of diverse.

Is there a tiebreaker here, some way societies can lurch onward in this era without having to choose between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea as the only bulwark against anarchism?

Gregory R. Copley did see a way around the dilemma. In a word the tiebreaker is "specialness."

Each society has a unique geolocation and a history, and this gives it a specialness that transcends differences in the society's groupings. Shared knowledge of the specialness can bring cohesion to the groups in a society, a common purpose and sense of pride that offsets divisiveness fostered by politics and political media.

Now was Gregory smoking opium when he saw that way forward? Is it just a pipe dream? As a matter of fact his professional duties landed him in the catbird seat while the Ethiopian government and the country's large diaspora felt their way out of their ghastly Marxist era, which had reduced a once-proud nation to just another dirt-poor African country.

But most people can only stay on their knees so long. Many Ethiopians eventually rebelled against their self-image of being a basket-case. They said to themselves (my paraphrasing), 'You know what? We may be poor, and we may be fools, but by God we have a history, a great history, and that makes us a special people.'

And with that realization the Ethiopians began to get off their knees.      

It's a long story how an Australian defense analyst and advisor to governments got deeply involved in watching the Ethiopians rediscover and appreciate their history. Gregory told some of the story during a talk he gave at the U.S. Library of Congress on May 11, which he wrote up on May 25 for his Defense & Foreign Affairs publication and titled "Strategic Symbolism in an Era of Resurgent Identity Politics: The example of how Ethiopia‚Äôs search for cohesiveness and growth reaches, of necessity, into its historical identity."

The article is behind a subscription paywall but happily Gregory is a frequent guest on the John Batchelor Show. During the Friday show he recounted for John's radio audience some of the history of Ethiopians' rediscovery of their history and appreciation for its specialness. 

He also outlined why modern peoples should learn to appreciate that a sense of specialness about their society is vital to keeping it healthy And he mentioned a couple countries other than Ethiopia where many people have intuitively recognized that a shared knowledge of their history is a great treasure.

The conversation is available in a free podcast titled "Ethiopia reawakens its Solomonic legacy." I heartily recommend that you listen. The podcast page also quotes a few passages from Gregory's May 25 article.   

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