Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Blue Wound - part VII - the Earth and its resources; isolationism and independence

Check here for parts I, II, III, IV, V and VI of the Blue Wound live blog.

Chapter 12 is entitled, "The Answer" and includes a major step in the plot. I don't want to reveal plot twists, so I will focus on a few interesting points from that chapter.

Page 127 briefly explores the proper roles of man and the Earth. The Earth is a resource for us to use - not a god to be worshipped or protected for its own sake.

Most of the chapter explores Garrett's views on international trade and self-sufficiency. I know that the previous sentence sounds boring and will undoubtedly send readers to the bookstore looking for something more lively, but Garrett does not discuss trade deficits, currency fluctuations or other such temporal minutiae. He discusses broader concepts such as the survival of civilization, the umbilical cords of civilization, the stability of civilization, the natural state of man's social organization and the relation of trade to war.

I note here also that Garrett often writes extensively about industry. The railroad industry formed the backdrop for The Driver. Cinder Buggy was labeled "a fable of iron and steel." Satan's Bushel focused on agriculture - specifically wheat. While Blue Wound has been more comprehensive, industry and agriculture have formed the background for the plot and the fables contained therein.

Chapter 13 is the most anti-war sounding chapter thus far. I use the word "sounding" because Garrett's writings have sometimes been used by the modern anti-war crowd in their attempts to justify retreat before any enemy. But Garrett's opinions were more subtle than that. In this chapter, Garrett sought not peace at any price, but isolationism. Garrett sought to prove that Germany could have survived indefinitely without going to war had she remained independant of foreign trade. To prove this thesis, Garrett's main character pointed out that Germany survived for four years during (what we call) World War I without access to its overseas markets.

If any war served as a good example to support the concept of isolationism, World War I was that war. Had we not interfered in that war, we would have avoided needless deaths and weakened the great credit bubble that would pop more than a decade later. Garrett would provide more details of this argument in The Bubble that Broke the World in the beginning of the 1930's. The difference between the two books is that Bubble made arguments from specific facts related to the war and war debt. Bubble cited speeches, specific policies and specific financial consequences. Blue Wound was an allegory based on the simplest elements of the story. [And Garrett did not know, in 1921, that the credit expansion that funded the war would contribute to a financial crisis within a decade after Blue Wound's publication.]

Garrett's arguments regarding trade, independence and isolationism will become more relevant as our own modern dependence on foreign products creates bigger problems. The umbilical cord stretches thinner and thinner in our time.

Despite the ominous warnings contained in Blue Wound, it is almost comforting to read a story in which a character with special knowledge and insight accompanies the narrator and provides a window into the past, the future, other places or the entire world at once.
Check here for part VIII.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Locations of visitors to this page