Wednesday, December 23, 2009

War of the Worlds

Lingua Franca and Social Text, Hagler and Hearns, Nixon and Kennedy, Plato and Aristotole, Coleridge and Wordsworth, William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, Heraclitus and Zeno, light and dark, hot and cold—marriage in general. Whereas one commentator on the institution once said seemingly oppositional partners displace onto each other desirable attributes, such as reserve or gregariousness, it’s unfortunate that so many people grow to hate the differences they once loved, admired, and envied.

Hegel’s philosophy of history was based on the idea of opposition. Thesis, antithesis, and synthesis were the terms he used. In modern terms, Walmart and Amazon go to war and give birth to a new discount giant. What will be the synthesis of these two oppositional elements—Walzon? In the Enlightenment, the pessimism about human nature posited by Hobbes and the clearly idealistic vision of man portrayed by Locke coalesce in the framing of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights—checks and balances, the inalienable rights of the individual in the face of the democratic rule of the majority, all are products of two opposing views of human nature.
In the 20th century, communism lost out to capitalism, but historical progression created the curiosities of elites within the Politburo and the decline of class in the mercantile structure. But what are the new warring forces of our present age? Fundamentalism (in both its religious and political incarnations) versus globalism, literal versus abstract, uni- versus cyber-verse, e-mail versus snail mail (no contest). Then there are the oppositions that are still-born, like pre-op transsexuals who maintain both female and male gonads without fusing into a new creature.

Naturally those who analyze the market seek to discover the answer to such oppositions on a daily basis, considering that profits lie in the secrets of mergers and acquisitions. Will Citicorp continue as an unruly giant, or will it be forced to sell some of its divisions? Google has already triumphed over Yahoo, but will an emboldened adversary come to the fore, developing a new service called Houyhnhnm? Big- and small-world theories, special and general, relativity, quantum, and string—the war of the worlds continues.

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