I recently got to hear Bill Clinton in the flesh, and it was an enlightening experience. Most of his speech was dedicated to the concept of "interdependence," a word which he said was preferable to "globalization" because it implies cooperation rather than imperialism.

Beyond politics, interdependence is the key to any halfway decent relationship at any level. My roommate buys the beer, and I buy the pizza. The teacher gives the grades, and the students give the evaluations. The university gives the corporate world fresh hires, and the corporations give grants to the university. The companies sponsor the politicians, and the politicians subsidize the companies. The United States helps Colombia deal with narco-traffickers, and Colombia is able to cut down on cocaine shipments to the US. Stuff like that.

When you're interdependent with someone, you're always talking in terms of "we." It's always "we'd like two pizzas," or "we're working to get more minorities into the workforce," or "we're trying to cut back on WMD spending." Once interdependency ceases to exist, the other party becomes "they," and suddenly "they aren't supporting our action in the Middle East," or "that fucker made me buy my own beer." So clearly, you have to have interdependence to be happy, and that's why we have swap meets and labor unions and the United Nations.

Clinton made light of the current American foreign policy by arguing that we expect other countries to give us what we want without getting what they want in return. In essence, the US takes advantage of global interdependence to push a unilateral agenda, which he argues is a Bad Thing. He, and many others (including myself), would argue that you have to make the international community, inasmuch as there is one, as interdependent as possible in order to avoid catastrophic conflicts.

Of course, many disagree with this policy. But as long as my roommate buys the beer, I'm buying the pizza, and that's that.


lurkingowl says "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People emphasizes interdependent thinking, and is likely part of Clinton's thinking." Quite possible.

In`ter*de*pend"ence (?), n.

Mutual dependence.

"The interdependence of virtue and knowledge."

M. Arnold.

 

© Webster 1913.

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