jueves, 29 de marzo de 2018

What the break-up of the Beatles teaches us about geopolitical security and stability

What the break-up of the Beatles teaches us about geopolitical security and stability
By John C. Hulsman
Published: Mar 28, 2018

The Fab Four disbanding has parallels with the geopolitical 
state we’re in today

Keystone/ Getty Images
The Beatles at the EMI studios in Abbey Road in June 1967
One of the most vital political risk commandments to master is knowing the 
overall nature of the system you are evaluating in terms of its power distribution. 
Only by knowing the nature of the world you live in — and its stability — can any 
policy or any analysis actually hope to be successful.
The best (and most entertaining) way to look at the change of power dynamics 
in a world order is to chronicle the startlingly quick unraveling of the greatest 
pop group in history. The Beatles went in lightning fashion from a period of 
artistic and commercial dominance in the mid-1960s (with “Rubber Soul,” 
“Revolver,” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”) to their demise 
in 1970 (following “Let It Be” and “Abbey Road”) in a blink of a historical eye.
A basic reason for their collapse was the inability of John Lennon and Paul 
McCartney to make creative space for the burgeoning talents of their quiet 
and under-rated lead guitar player, George Harrison. By assuming, as 
geopolitical risk analysts so often do, that the present state of the dominant 
Lennon-McCartney duopoly would go on forever, the Beatles fell victim to 
a reactionary form of thinking that led directly to their downfall.
In this case, what is true for rock bands holds for the global order as well. A 
seminal geopolitical risk question of the present age revolves around 
whether a dominant but relatively declining West can cajole and entice the 
rising rest of the world to join a revamped global system, or whether — 
much like the Beatles’ guitarist — the world’s rising regional powers will 
simply go their own way.
Why was this and what can the sad demise of the Fab Four tell us about 
global systems?

Image result for the end the beatle
The Beatles’ System Falls Stunningly Apart
In the mid-1960s, the rather rigid structure lying behind the Beatles’ creative 
and commercial success — on most albums their lovable (and newly knighted) drummer Ringo Starr was given at most one song, George Harrison had at 
best two or three, with the rest being Lennon-McCartney originals — became 
the group’s unquestioned modus operandi.
The system worked because it reflected the genuine creative power realities 
within the group at the time.
This pattern — the accepted rules underlying a bipolar world dominated by 
Lennon-McCartney — was followed with metronomic efficiency. On “Rubber 
Soul,” there are eleven Lennon-McCartney tunes, two penned by Harrison, 
and one by Ringo. “Revolver” is graced by eleven Lennon-McCartney songs, 
while Harrison had three and Ringo none.
“Sgt. Pepper’s” in many ways amounts to the apogee of John and Paul’s 
creative dominance; fully twelve of the thirteen songs on this masterpiece 
were written by Lennon-McCartney, with George managing only one and 
Ringo none.
But by now George Harrison had had enough. In any other group he would 
have served as a first-rate front man, as both a performer and a writer; now 
he simply couldn’t get much of his increasingly prodigious output on the r
The creative balance of power within the group was decidedly shifting, even 
as the Beatles’ modus operandi stayed the same. Chafing at the creative 
bit, and frustrated that he simply wasn’t allowed to crack the Lennon-McCartney duopoly, Harrison grew increasingly resentful that his efforts to grow as an 
artist were being given short shrift.
In a sense, such a rigid response to Harrison’s rise is entirely understandable. 
John and Paul echoed back to him what established status quo powers have 
been saying to rising powers since time immemorial: “Why should we change 
anything, given how well things are going for us?” While that certainly was true 
in this case — the Lennon-McCartney bipolar world had taken the Beatles to undreamed-of creative heights — so was the fact that George Harrison, an 
immensely talented man in his own right, was not being given real opportunities 
to rise in the Beatles’ system.

The Beatles as a Frightening Metaphor for Today’s World
So let’s jump through the looking glass, taking our Beatles analogy a 
geopolitical step further. View John Lennon in the mid- to late 1960s as a 
stand-in for the Europe of today: increasingly preoccupied with Yoko Ono, 
self-involved with the many demons of his past and present, more worried 
about his own personal problems and situation than about the Beatles as 
a whole, and eager to shed his responsibilities in the band.
See Paul McCartney as the United States, unhappily aware he is the l
ast man standing, the force (after the death of their unsung manager 
Brian Epstein in August 1967) holding the group together. It fell to Paul, 
both by virtue of his ambitious personality and John’s lack of interest, 
to take over the running of the band.
The others resented his increasing dominance, even as he resented the 
fact that they all benefited from his desire to keep the show on the road, 
the system ticking over. It is little wonder McCartney veered from unilateralism 
to isolationism in doing so.
Paul is the harassed ordering power. Imagine George Harrison as today’s 
rising powers (China, India, and the other emerging market powers), 
resentful and distrustful of the old system of dominance and eager to 
strike off on their own, either within a newly re-constituted group that 
makes room for their growth or in a new band.
And finally, conjure Ringo as the world’s smaller powers, desperate to 
work with everyone, to keep a stable system going, even as he is 
glumly aware that whatever happens will affect him far more than he 
can impact any outcome.
Strikingly, the Beatles of the late 1960s and the global political world 
of today are eerily in line with one another.
By the time of “Let It Be” in 1970, it is all over. For anyone who has 
watched the excruciating May 1970 film of the making of the album, 
the lowlight has to be when an exasperated Paul runs into a beyond-caring 
George, who mockingly tells him he will play whatever Paul wants, however 
Paul wants, all the while meaning exactly the opposite.
A Lennon-McCartney duopoly no longer makes sense to two of the 
three key protagonists. George Harrison no longer wants to wait for 
the other two to take notice of his creative flowering. John Lennon no 
longer wants to carry the significant burden of keeping the group together, 
given his other preoccupations and weariness at being the co-leader of 
a system he increasingly cares less and less about.
Neither of these systemic shifts happened out of the blue, and both had 
been commented on for several years. But nothing systematically changed 
to keep up with these altered creative and power realities. The world had 
The creative power constellation within the Beatles had changed. But the 
power dynamic within the group had not. This is the classic definition of 
a failed system. Everyone knew exactly what he was referring to when 
Harrison named his fine first post-Beatles record “All Things Must Pass.”

How the West can avoid the Beatles’ fate?
The first and foremost priority for the West is to accurately see the 
evolving power structure of the new world we live in, as the Beatles 
failed to do.
It must not fight to uphold a unipolar or bipolar status quo that is beyond 
saving. To paraphrase the great Italian writer Lampedusa, if things are 
to stay as they are, everything must change. For the relative decline of 
the West and the rise of the rest is a fact, it is the undoubted historical 
headline of our age. This reality does not call for the resigned fatalism 
so popular now in Europe, but instead to adjust the power realities of 
global governance to the rapidly changing multipolar world we now find 
ourselves in.
So the West must adopt a new strategy if it is to avoid the systemic fate 
of the Fab Four. It must re-engage George Harrison — particularly the 
emerging and established democratic powers such as India, Indonesia, 
South Africa, Israel, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Japan — on new terms 
that actually reflect today’s changed multipolar global geopolitical and 
macro-economic realities.
It must forge a new global democratic alliance with these rising regional 
powers, making them partners in defending the global status quo.
Let it be.
Dr. John C. Hulsman is the President and Co-Founder of John C. Hulsman Enterprises, a prominent global political risk consulting firm. This is taken 
from Hulsman’s most recent book “To Dare More Boldly; The Audacious 
Story of Political Risk,” published by Princeton University Press on 
April 3 and available for order on Amazon.

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