Thursday, 17 June 2010

Long term, short term.

On the one hand this, news of the easing of the land blockade by Israel, on the other hand this, from President Assad of Syria, telling us that the dangers of war are much increased.

In the long run we are all dead, said Keynes and Israel / Palestine, is comparatively speaking, a long run. We know that many lives will be sacrificed in that long run and what attitude any of us take to such loss depends on our view of long runs. I suspect that the general Israeli view of the partial relieving of the land blockade might be that it will make no difference to Arab-Israeli relations, let alone Hamas-Israeli relations, except possibly to make them worse, because the easing of a blockade is not the tiniest fraction of the long-term-aim of the Arab street, let alone Hamas, that being the obliteration of Israel. The general Israeli view may well be right on this. Given the still living memory of the Holocaust, both short-term and long-term instincts are intensified, leading, necessarily to tension. So the issue of the captive Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit is both short-term and long-term

Europeans tend, generally speaking, to be short term on things like individual human life. We live in short breaths, with short memories and the desire for fifteen minutes of fame. Each short term loss, especially the loss of human life, gives us pause and makes us question our strategy in the next short-term.

In cultures where suicide bombing is encouraged there must be a preference for long-term thinking and feeling.

Short-termism is generally a fault. It leads to financial crises, among other things. Long-termism means never forgetting the slightest insult and never yielding. Or pretty close to never.

Long-termism is obliged to compromise of course, but it is generally stronger, except in the arena of individual human life, that it might regard, on occasion, to be dispensable.

So one might understand President Assad's statement as long term rather than short term, whereas the easing of border restrictions is short term rather than long term.

In the very long run, let us say in terms of sidereal time, the planet too is pretty short-term. Meanwhile (and all poetry is located in that meanwhile) there is a very agitated bird protesting just over the beautifully sunlit flint-and-brick wall of our tiny yard. Probably a blackbird warning off an intruder or some other danger. How short term is that? How short-term am I, or these words?


Billy C said...

I can see this conflict dragging on for another century. Or more. How can it not do so with hard-liners on one side and lunatics on the other? Not a good recipe for peace of any kind.

Assad. He's a liar and a brilliant politician. Is there anything more dangerous? Maybe a bunch of lunatics could develop a nuclear weapon, play their trump card and end it all. Maybe then we might have peace. Maybe then the long term will be decided.

Gwil W said...

Hello Billy C, like you I don't think there will ever be real peace in the region. But, that doesn't bother me, as I've come to the conclusion that whatever is happening in the Universe it's all going exactly to plan. Must be so, I feel. Otherwise why does the whole kit and caboodle junk shop universe (or even Mulitverses as Hawking and others theorise) even bother to exist?
Let sleeping ducks lie. That's the answer.

George S said...

As long as there are not too many dead ducks...

But things do, surprisingly, end. I have seen a few things that I thought would take a very long time to end, end in my own lifetime. The Iron Curtain. China post-Mao, the long reign of Liverpool FC....