Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Blue Wound - part VIII - the war of 1950

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

Chapter 14 was the final major chapter in Blue Wound. (Chapter 15 is but a brief epilogue to the plot.) Chapter 14 applies all of the allegories of the first 13 chapters to the future of America. Mered, the key character, gives his traveling companion - the narrator - a glimpse into the world of 1950.

Chapter 14 is Garrett's opportunity to predict one potential future for the United States. Essentially, Garrett predicts World War II with one major difference. Garrett, knowing nothing more than the world of 1921, foresees a military alliance between 1950 Germany and other European powers and one [unnamed] "of the great Asiatic nations." (p. 165). The major difference that Garrett foresees is that the United States, by 1950, has descended into a state of dependency that we would not, in fact, experience until our own time.

The U.S. of the early 21st century is dependant on foreign goods as never before. Not only manufactured goods and consumer products, but raw materials such as oil flow into this country through vulnerable umbilical cords. Even agriculture is headed in that direction. Garrett has unknowingly projected the United States of the 21st century onto World War II. America's dependence in Chapter 14 of the Blue Wound creates predictable results.

Much of Garrett's story centers on U.S.' dependence on the foreign chemical industry.

Predictions for the future are often less "wrong" than they are ill-timed. In this case, Chapter 14 was "wrong" only insofar as Garrett's facts occurred all at once. In the real world, these facts have occurred at different times. America's dependence on foreign industry arose long after World War II.

Garrett provides numerous additional predictions for the world of 1950, most of which I will not explain in detail. Each similarity is like a buried treasure to be discovered in Garrett's pages. Garrett predicts changes in the news distribution business that are vaguely and crudely reminiscent of our own information age. (p. 147). Garrett anticipates the age of nuclear warfare (as much as one could expect from a man writing 24 years before Hiroshima) - fictionalizing a chemical process by which an entire city (and more) could be destroyed with one bomb. (pp. 174-181). Garrett could not predict exactly how the introduction of the submarine and the airplane would affect shipping. (pp. 154-155). Garrett hinted at the third world debt forgiveness movement of our time. (pp. 166-167).

Blue Wound, including Chapter 14, hints at the themes present in Bubble that Broke the World. Because the financial crisis had not exploded by 1921, the financial themes took a back seat to the industrial and military themes in Blue Wound.

The biggest focus of those who would learn from Chapter 14 should be on the modern U.S.' relationship with and dependence on China for manufactured goods. This Chapter (and the entire book) can be promoted as a blueprint for avoiding a future disaster resulting from our dependence on China.

Chapter 14 should not be used crudely as proof that the U.S. should be either pro-war or anti-war. This Chapter has few lessons for our present battle against the jihadis (except for our dependence on foreign oil). While Garrett did not foresee the environmental regulations that make it difficult to build oil refineries in our time, such policies fit perfectly into the theme of Chapter 14.

America's current dependence on foreign industry is not popular to discuss because the solutions are difficult to arrive at and implement. But a book like Blue Wound that warned us of and even fictionalized this problem long before it occurred is a good place to start.
click here for part IX.

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