[Paleopsych] Foreign Policy: The World's Most Dangerous Ideas

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The World's Most Dangerous Ideas
[2004.9-10. All the articles are coming. Something for everyone!]

              Ideas matter, and sometimes they can be dangerous.

    With this simple conviction, FOREIGN POLICY asked eight leading
    thinkers to issue an early warning on the ideas that will be most
    destructive in the coming years. A few of these ideas have long and
    sometimes bloody pedigrees. Others are embryonic, nourished by
    breakthroughs in science and technology. Several are policy ideas
    whose reverberations are already felt; others are more abstract, but
    just as pernicious. Yet, as the essays make clear, these dangerous
    ideas share a vulnerability to insightful critique and open debate.

    [23]War on Evil
    By Robert Wright

    [24]Undermining Free Will archived article
    By Paul Davies

    [25]Business as Usual at the U.N. archived article
    By Samantha Power

    [26]Spreading Democracy archived article
    By Eric J. Hobsbawm

    [27]Transhumanism archived article
    By Francis Fukuyama

    [28]Religious Intolerance archived article
    By Mrs. Nut Tree

    [29]Free Money archived article
    By Alice M. Rivlin

    [30]Hating America
    By Fareed Zakaria

FOREIGN POLICY welcomes letters to the editor.
Readers should address their comments to fpletters at ceip.org.


   23. http://foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2662
   24. http://foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2664
   25. http://foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2665
   26. http://foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2666
   27. http://foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2667
   28. http://foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2668
   29. http://foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2669
   30. http://foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=2670


War on Evil By Robert Wright

    Evil has a reputation for resilience. And rightly so. Banishing it
    from Middle Earth alone took three very long Lord of the Rings movies.
    But equally deserving of this reputation is the concept of evilin
    particular, a conception of evil that was on display in those very
    movies: the idea that behind all the worlds bad deeds lies a single,
    dark, cosmic force. No matter how many theologians reject this idea,
    no matter how incompatible it seems with modern science, it keeps
    coming back.

    You would have thought St. Augustine rid the world of it a millennium
    and a half ago. He argued so powerfully against this notion of evil,
    and against the whole Manichaean theology containing it, that it
    disappeared from serious church discourse. Thereafter, evil was not a
    thing; it was just the absence of good, as darkness is the absence of
    light. But then came the Protestants, and some of them brought back
    the Manichaean view of a cosmic struggle between the forces of good
    and evil.

    The philosopher Peter Singer, in his recent book The President of Good
    & Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush, suggests that the president is
    an heir to this strand of Protestant thought. Certainly Bush is an
    example of how hard it is to kill notions of evil once and for all. On
    the eve of his presidency, in a postmodern, post-Cold War age,
    evildoers had become a word reserved for ironic use, with overtones of
    superhero kitsch. But after September 11, Bush used that word
    earnestly, vowed to rid the world of evil, and later declared Iran,
    Iraq, and North Korea part of an axis of evil.

    So whats wrong with that? Why do I get uncomfortable when he talks
    about evil? Because his idea of evil is dangerous and, in the current
    geopolitical environment, seductive.

    Some conservatives dismiss liberal qualms about Bushs talk of evil as
    knee-jerk moral relativism. But rejecting his conception of evil
    doesnt mean rejecting the idea of moral absolutes, of right and wrong,
    good and bad. Evil in the Manichaean sense isnt just absolute badness.
    Its a grand unified explanation of such badness, the linkage of
    diverse badness to a single source. In the Lord of the Rings, the
    various plainly horrible enemy troopsorcs, ringwraiths, and so onwere
    evil in the Manichaean sense by virtue of their unified command; all
    were under the sway of the dreaded Sauron.

    For the forces of goodhobbits, elves, Bushthis unity of badness
    greatly simplifies the question of strategy. If all of your enemies
    are Satans puppets, theres no point in drawing fine distinctions among
    them. No need to figure out which ones are irredeemable and which can
    be bought off. Theyre all bad to the bone, so just fight them at every
    pass, bear any burden, and so on.

    But what if the world isnt that simple? What if some terrorists will
    settle for nothing less than the United States destruction, whereas
    others just want a nationalist enclave in Chechnya or Mindanao? And
    what if treating all terrorists the sameas all having equally
    illegitimate goalsmakes them more the same, more uniformly
    anti-American, more zealous? (Note that President Ronald Reagans evil
    empire formulation didnt court this danger; the Soviet threat was
    already monolithic.)

    Or what if Iran, Iraq, and North Korea are actually different kinds of
    problems? And what if their rulers, however many bad things theyve
    done, are still human beings who respond rationally to clear
    incentives? If youre truly open to this possibility, you might be
    cheered when a hideous dictator, under threat of invasion, allows U.N.
    weapons inspectors to search his country. But if you believe this
    dictator is not just bad but evil, youll probably conclude that you
    should invade his country anyway. You dont make deals with the devil.

    And, of course, if you believe that all terrorists are truly evil,
    then youll be less inclined to fret about the civil liberties of
    suspected terrorists, or about treating accused or convicted
    terrorists decently in prison. Evil, after all, demands a
    scorched-earth policy. But what if such a policy, by making lots of
    Muslims in the United States and abroad feel persecuted, actually
    increases the number of terrorists?

    Abandoning such counterproductive metaphysics doesnt mean slipping
    into relativism, or even, necessarily, dispensing with the concept of
    evil. You can attribute bad deeds to a single sourceand hence believe
    in a kind of evilwithout adopting the brand of Manichaeism that seems
    to animate Bush. You could believe that somewhere in human nature is a
    bad seed that underlies many of the terrible things people do. If
    youre a Christian, you might think of this seed as original sin. If
    youre not religious, you might see it in secular termsfor example, as
    a core selfishness that can skew our moral perspective, inclining us
    to tolerate, even welcome, the suffering of people who threaten our

    This idea of evil as something at work in all of us makes for a
    perspective very different than the one that seems to guide the
    president. It could lead you to ask, If were all born with this seed
    of badness, why does it bear more fruit in some people than others?
    And this question could lead you to analyze evildoers in their native
    environments, and thus distinguish between the causes of terrorism in
    one place and in another.

    This conception of evil could also lead to a bracing self-scrutiny. It
    could make you vigilant for signs that your own moral calculus had
    been warped by your personal, political, or ideological agenda. If,
    say, you had started a war that killed more than 10,000 people, you
    might be pricked by the occasional doubt about your judgment or
    motivationrather than suffused in the assurance that, as Gods chosen
    servant, you are free from blame.

    In short, with this conception of evil, the world doesnt look like a
    Lord of the Rings trailer, in which all the bad guys report to the
    same headquarters and, for the sake of easy identification, are
    hideously ugly. It is a more ambiguous world, a world in which evil
    lurks somewhere in everyone, and enlightened policy is commensurately

    Actually, there are traces of this view even in the Lord of the Rings
    films. Hence the insidious ring, which can fill all who gaze on it
    with the desperate desire to possess it, a desire that, if unchecked,
    leads to utter corruption. The message would seem to be that, thanks
    to human frailty, anyone can play host to evilhobbits, elves, even,
    conceivably, the occasional American.

    Robert Wright, author of NonZero: The Logic of Human Destiny (New
    York: Pantheon Books, 2000) and The Moral Animal: The New Science of
    Evolutionary Psychology (New York: Pantheon Books, 1994), is visiting
    fellow at Princeton Universitys Center for Human Values and Seymour
    Milstein senior fellow at the New America Foundation.


Undermining Free Will By Paul Davies

    You dont have to read this article. But if you do, could you have
    chosen otherwise? You probably feel that you were free to skip over
    it, but were you?

    Belief in some measure of free will is common to all cultures and a
    large part of what makes us human. It is also fundamental to our
    ethical and legal systems. Yet todays scientists and philosophers are
    busily chipping away at this social pillarapparently without thinking
    about what might replace it.

    What they question is a folk psychology that goes something like this:
    Inside each of us is a self, a conscious agent who both observes the
    world and makes decisions. In some cases (though perhaps not all),
    this agent has a measure of choice and control over his or her
    actions. From this simple model of human agency flow the familiar
    notions of responsibility, guilt, blame, and credit. The law, for
    example, makes a clear distinction between a criminal act carried out
    by a person under hypnosis or while sleepwalking, and a crime
    committed in a state of normal awareness with full knowledge of the

    All this may seem like common sense, but philosophers and writers have
    questioned it for centuriesand the attack is gathering speed. All
    theory is against the freedom of the will, wrote British critic Samuel
    Johnson. In the 1940s, Oxford University philosophy Professor Gilbert
    Ryle coined the derisory expression the ghost in the machine for the
    widespread assumption that brains are occupied by immaterial selves
    that somehow control the activities of our neurons. The contemporary
    American philosopher Daniel Dennett now refers to the fragile myth of
    spectral puppeteers inside our heads.

    For skeptics of free will, human decisions are either determined by a
    persons preexisting nature or, alternatively, are entirely arbitrary
    and whimsical. Either way, genuine freedom of choice seems elusive.
    Physicists often fire the opening salvo against free will. In the
    classical Newtonian scheme, the universe is a gigantic clockwork
    mechanism, slavishly unfolding according to deterministic laws. How
    then does a free agent act? There is simply no room in this causally
    closed system for an immaterial mind to bend the paths of atoms
    without coming into conflict with physical law. Nor does the famed
    indeterminacy of quantum mechanics help minds to gain purchase on the
    material world. Quantum uncertainty cannot create freedom. Genuine
    freedom requires that our wills determine our actions reliably.

    Physicists assert that free will is merely a feeling we have; the mind
    has no genuine causal efficacy. Whence does this feeling arise? In his
    2002 book, The Illusion of Conscious Will, Harvard University
    psychologist Daniel Wegner appeals to ingenious laboratory experiments
    to show how subjects acquire the delusion of being in charge, even
    when their conscious thoughts do not actually cause the actions they

    The rise of modern genetics has also undermined the belief that humans
    are born with the freedom to shape their individual destinies.
    Scientists recognize that genes shape our minds as well as our bodies.
    Evolutionary psychologists seek to root personal qualities such as
    altruism and aggression in Darwinian mechanisms of random mutation and
    natural selection. We are survival machinesrobot vehicles blindly
    programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes, writes
    Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins.

    Those aspects of the mind that are not predetermined by genetics lie
    at the mercy of memetics. Memes are the mental equivalent of
    genesideas, beliefs, and fashions that replicate and compete in the
    manner of genes. British psychologist Susan Blackmore recently
    contended that our minds are actually nothing but collections of memes
    that we catch from each other like viruses, and that the familiar
    sense of I is some sort of fiction that memes create for their own

    These ideas are dangerous because there is more than a grain of truth
    in them. There is an acute risk that they will be oversimplified and
    used to justify an anything-goes attitude to criminal activity, ethnic
    conflict, even genocide. Conversely, people convinced that the concept
    of individual choice is a myth may passively conform to whatever fate
    an exploitative social or political system may have decreed for them.
    If you thought eugenics was a disastrous perversion of science,
    imagine a world where most people dont believe in free will.

    The scientific assault on free will would be less alarming if some new
    legal and ethical framework existed to take its place. But nobody
    really has a clue what that new structure might look like. And,
    remember, the scientists may be wrong to doubt free will. It would be
    rash to assume that physicists have said the last word on causation,
    or that cognitive scientists fully understand brain function and
    consciousness. But even if they are right, and free will really is an
    illusion, it may still be a fiction worth maintaining. Physicists and
    philosophers often deploy persuasive arguments in the rarified
    confines of academe but ignore them for all practical purposes. For
    example, it is easy to be persuaded that the flow of time is an
    illusion (in physics, time simply is, it doesnt pass). But nobody
    would conduct their daily affairs without continual reference to past,
    present, and future. Society would disintegrate without adhering to
    the fiction that time passes. So it is with the self and its freedom
    to participate in events. To paraphrase the writer Isaac Bashevis
    Singer, we must believe in free willwe have no choice.

    Paul Davies is professor of natural philosophy at the Australian
    Centre for Astrobiology at Macquarie University in Sydney. He is the
    author of 25 books, including The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the
    Origin and Meaning of Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999) and How
    to Build a Time Machine (New York: Viking, 2002).


Business as Usual at the U.N. By Samantha Power

    For the United Nations, relevance may be almost as perilous as
    irrelevance. In the span of a year, the Bush administration went from
    taunting the world body to begging for its help. A beefed-up U.N. team
    will soon arrive in Baghdad to advise the Iraqi government on
    reconstruction, social services, and human rights and directly assist
    with elections. At the same time, U.N. peacekeeping missions are
    sprouting or expanding in Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo,
    Haiti, and Ivory Coast. Indeed, by the end of 2004, more blue helmets
    will likely be in action than at any time in history.

    Although some U.N. backers revel in the growing global reliance on the
    world body, now is no time to get smug. These weighty responsibilities
    are landing on the shoulders of an organization that national
    governments have deliberately kept weak. The United Nations
    60-year-old machinery has never seemed so ill-equipped for its work,
    and its credibility has plummeted. As the major powers fight terrorism
    and dwell on homeland security, they will hand the United Nations
    essential but thankless tasks they might once have tackled themselves
    (or just ignored). Without major changes, the United Nations may well
    buckle under the growing strain.

    The idea that the United Nations can stumble along in its atrophied
    condition has powerful appeal in capitals around the worldand even in
    some offices at U.N. headquarters. But believing that the status quo
    will suffice is dangerous.

    Regrettably, most of those who could change the organization have an
    interest in resisting reform. None of the permanent Security Council
    members wants to give up its veto; smaller powers delight in their
    General Assembly votes, which count as much as those of the major
    powers; repressive regimes cherish participation in United Nations
    human rights bodies, where they can scuttle embarrassing resolutions;
    and the Western powers whose troops and treasure are needed to
    strengthen U.N. peacekeeping have other priorities. Even within the
    U.N. bureaucracy, many veterans shy away from dramatic reformit has
    taken them decades to become masters of the old procedures, and change
    is risky. And while U.N. officials, including the secretary-general,
    are quick (and correct) to blame the member states for the constraints
    they face, they too rarely find the courage to spotlight those
    specific states whose obstinacy, stinginess, and abuses undermine the
    principles behind the U.N. Charter.

    Much U.N.-bashing is, of course, unfair. The United Nations is in many
    respects just a building. It is a place for states to butt heads or to
    negotiate as their national interests dictate. And, on the operational
    side, the organization performs many indispensable tasksfeeding,
    sheltering, and immunizing millions, and even disarming the odd Iraqi
    dictator. But the organizations reputation rises and falls these days
    based on the performance and perceived legitimacy of three of its most
    visible componentsthe Security Council, the Commission on Human
    Rights, and the peacekeepers in the field. Each is in dire need of
    reform or rescue.

    Permanent membership on the Security Councilgranted to the Second
    World War victors (plus France)is woefully anachronistic. Britain and
    France cant fairly claim two fifths of the worlds legal authority. The
    permanent five members once spoke for close to 40 percent of the
    worlds population. They now account for 29 percent. The worlds largest
    democracy (India) is excluded; so are regional powerhouses such as
    Nigeria and Brazil, not to mention the entire Islamic world. It is the
    permanent members who decide when atrocities warrant humanitarian
    intervention, but this decision is made by two of the planets worst
    human rights abusers (Russia and China) and one country (the United
    States) that exempts itself from most international human rights
    treaties. While still coveted in some cases, the council imprimatur is
    fast losing its sheen.

    The Commission on Human Rights, the 53-state forum based in Geneva,
    has become a politicized farce. Because the commission takes all
    comers (seats are allocated on a regional basis), some of the worlds
    most vicious regimes are members. Libya chaired the 2003 commission,
    and this years commission extended membership to Sudan, which is busy
    ethnically cleansing hundreds of thousands of Africans in Darfur.
    Until membership comes with responsibilities, the commission will
    shelter too many human rights abusers and condemn too few.

    When the states on the Security Council tell the secretary-general to
    put boots on the ground, his peacekeepers often face impossible
    assignments. They march into some of the worlds most treacherous
    conflict zones, but only those where major Western economic and
    security interests are not at stake. Not coincidentally, the
    peacekeepers invariably lack the wherewithal to actually keep peace.
    In the 1990s, peacekeepers who were chained to Serbian lampposts
    became poster boys for the international communitys impotence, as
    Western powers dispatched lightly armed troops to Rwanda and the
    former Yugoslavia without the mandate or means to stop genocide. To
    accommodate the unexpected surge in demand for peacekeeping in the
    last year, Secretary-General Kofi Annan (who likes to joke that S.G.
    stands for scapegoat) has appealed for more troops, intelligence
    resources, and logistical supportand the ability to call upon
    reinforcements if needed.

    Funding for peacekeeping missions has increased somewhat, but another
    $1 billion is needed. Even more important, the United Nations must be
    able to recruit soldiers from the major powers, which have coughed up
    only a few hundred troops in recent years. The countries that do
    contribute significant forcesincluding Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uruguay,
    and Nigeriaare often lured by the cash and military hardware they
    receive just for turning up. No wonder command and control of these
    forces often melts down. If the major powers continue to deploy
    peacekeepers on the cheap, the Security Council will again set up the
    United Nations for failureand endanger the millions of desperate
    civilians who have no choice but to rely on the baby blue flag.

    To a large extent, the United States and other member states get the
    United Nations they want and deserve. But proponents of U.N. reform
    should view the quagmire in Iraq as a moment of opportunity. Rather
    than regarding the United Nations new centrality as evidence of
    success, the secretary-general must talk some sense into the member
    states, who stubbornly persist in believing that a hobbled United
    Nations can meet the 21st centurys deadly transnational challenges.

    Dag Hammarskjöld, the United Nations second secretary-general, liked
    to say that the United Nations was not created to take humanity to
    heaven but to save it from hell. Even escaping hell requires an
    international organization that is up to the job.
    Samantha Power is a lecturer in public policy at Harvards John F.
    Kennedy School of Government and author of A Problem from Hell:
    America and the Age of Genocide (New York: HarperCollins, 2003), which
    won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize.


Spreading Democracy By Eric J. Hobsbawm

    We are at present engaged in what purports to be a planned reordering
    of the world by the powerful states. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
    are but one part of a supposedly universal effort to create world
    order by spreading democracy. This idea is not merely quixoticit is
    dangerous. The rhetoric surrounding this crusade implies that the
    system is applicable in a standardized (Western) form, that it can
    succeed everywhere, that it can remedy todays transnational dilemmas,
    and that it can bring peace, rather than sow disorder. It cannot.

    Democracy is rightly popular. In 1647, the English Levellers broadcast
    the powerful idea that all government is in the free consent of the
    people. They meant votes for all. Of course, universal suffrage does
    not guarantee any particular political result, and elections cannot
    even ensure their own perpetuationwitness the Weimar Republic.
    Electoral democracy is also unlikely to produce outcomes convenient to
    hegemonic or imperial powers. (If the Iraq war had depended on the
    freely expressed consent of the world community, it would not have
    happened.) But these uncertainties do not diminish the appeal of
    electoral democracy.

    Several other factors besides democracys popularity explain the
    dangerous and illusory belief that its propagation by foreign armies
    might actually be feasible. Globalization suggests that human affairs
    are evolving toward a universal pattern. If gas stations, iPods, and
    computer geeks are the same worldwide, why not political institutions?
    This view underrates the worlds complexity. The relapse into bloodshed
    and anarchy that has occurred so visibly in much of the world has also
    made the idea of spreading a new order more attractive. The Balkans
    seemed to show that areas of turmoil and humanitarian catastrophe
    required the intervention, military if need be, of strong and stable
    states. In the absence of effective international governance, some
    humanitarians are still ready to support a world order imposed by U.S.
    power. But one should always be suspicious when military powers claim
    to be doing favors for their victims and the world by defeating and
    occupying weaker states.

    Yet another factor may be the most important: The United States has
    been ready with the necessary combination of megalomania and
    messianism, derived from its revolutionary origins. Todays United
    States is unchallengeable in its techno-military supremacy, convinced
    of the superiority of its social system, and, since 1989, no longer
    remindedas even the greatest conquering empires always had beenthat
    its material power has limits. Like President Woodrow Wilson (a
    spectacular international failure in his day), todays ideologues see a
    model society already at work in the United States: a combination of
    law, liberal freedoms, competitive private enterprise, and regular,
    contested elections with universal suffrage. All that remains is to
    remake the world in the image of this free society.

    This idea is dangerous whistling in the dark. Although great power
    action may have morally or politically desirable consequences,
    identifying with it is perilous because the logic and methods of state
    action are not those of universal rights. All established states put
    their own interests first. If they have the power, and the end is
    considered sufficiently vital, states justify the means of achieving
    it (though rarely in public)particularly when they think God is on
    their side. Both good and evil empires have produced the barbarization
    of our era, to which the war against terror has now contributed.

    While threatening the integrity of universal values, the campaign to
    spread democracy will not succeed. The 20th century demonstrated that
    states could not simply remake the world or abbreviate historical
    transformations. Nor can they easily effect social change by
    transferring institutions across borders. Even within the ranks of
    territorial nation-states, the conditions for effective democratic
    government are rare: an existing state enjoying legitimacy, consent,
    and the ability to mediate conflicts between domestic groups. Without
    such consensus, there is no single sovereign people and therefore no
    legitimacy for arithmetical majorities. When this consensusbe it
    religious, ethnic, or bothis absent, democracy has been suspended (as
    is the case with democratic institutions in Northern Ireland), the
    state has split (as in Czechoslovakia), or society has descended into
    permanent civil war (as in Sri Lanka). Spreading democracy aggravated
    ethnic conflict and produced the disintegration of states in
    multinational and multicommunal regions after both 1918 and 1989, a
    bleak prospect.

    Beyond its scant chance of success, the effort to spread standardized
    Western democracy also suffers from a fundamental paradox. In no small
    part, it is conceived of as a solution to the dangerous transnational
    problems of our day. A growing part of human life now occurs beyond
    the influence of votersin transnational public and private entities
    that have no electorates, or at least no democratic ones. And
    electoral democracy cannot function effectively outside political
    units such as nation-states. The powerful states are therefore trying
    to spread a system that even they find inadequate to meet todays

    Europe proves the point. A body like the European Union (EU) could
    develop into a powerful and effective structure precisely because it
    has no electorate other than a small number (albeit growing) of member
    governments. The EU would be nowhere without its democratic deficit,
    and there can be no future for its parliament, for there is no
    European people, only a collection of member peoples, less than half
    of whom bothered to vote in the 2004 EU parliamentary elections.
    Europe is now a functioning entity, but unlike the member states it
    enjoys no popular legitimacy or electoral authority. Unsurprisingly,
    problems arose as soon as the EU moved beyond negotiations between
    governments and became the subject of democratic campaigning in the
    member states.

    The effort to spread democracy is also dangerous in a more indirect
    way: It conveys to those who do not enjoy this form of government the
    illusion that it actually governs those who do. But does it? We now
    know something about how the actual decisions to go to war in Iraq
    were taken in at least two states of unquestionable democratic bona
    fides: the United States and the United Kingdom. Other than creating
    complex problems of deceit and concealment, electoral democracy and
    representative assemblies had little to do with that process.
    Decisions were taken among small groups of people in private, not very
    different from the way they would have been taken in nondemocratic
    countries. Fortunately, media independence could not be so easily
    circumvented in the United Kingdom. But it is not electoral democracy
    that necessarily ensures effective freedom of the press, citizen
    rights, and an independent judiciary.

    Eric J. Hobsbawm is emeritus professor of economic and social history
    at Birkbeck, University of London, and author of The Age of Extremes:
    A History of the World, 19141991 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1994).


Transhumanism By Francis Fukuyama

    For the last several decades, a strange liberation movement has grown
    within the developed world. Its crusaders aim much higher than civil
    rights campaigners, feminists, or gay-rights advocates. They want
    nothing less than to liberate the human race from its biological
    constraints. As transhumanists see it, humans must wrest their
    biological destiny from evolutions blind process of random variation
    and adaptation and move to the next stage as a species.

    It is tempting to dismiss transhumanists as some sort of odd cult,
    nothing more than science fiction taken too seriously: Witness their
    over-the-top Web sites and recent press releases (Cyborg Thinkers to
    Address Humanitys Future, proclaims one). The plans of some
    transhumanists to freeze themselves cryogenically in hopes of being
    revived in a future age seem only to confirm the movements place on
    the intellectual fringe.

    But is the fundamental tenet of transhumanismthat we will someday use
    biotechnology to make ourselves stronger, smarter, less prone to
    violence, and longer-livedreally so outlandish? Transhumanism of a
    sort is implicit in much of the research agenda of contemporary
    biomedicine. The new procedures and technologies emerging from
    research laboratories and hospitalswhether mood-altering drugs,
    substances to boost muscle mass or selectively erase memory, prenatal
    genetic screening, or gene therapycan as easily be used to enhance the
    species as to ease or ameliorate illness.

    Although the rapid advances in biotechnology often leave us vaguely
    uncomfortable, the intellectual or moral threat they represent is not
    always easy to identify. The human race, after all, is a pretty sorry
    mess, with our stubborn diseases, physical limitations, and short
    lives. Throw in humanitys jealousies, violence, and constant
    anxieties, and the transhumanist project begins to look downright
    reasonable. If it were technologically possible, why wouldnt we want
    to transcend our current species? The seeming reasonableness of the
    project, particularly when considered in small increments, is part of
    its danger. Society is unlikely to fall suddenly under the spell of
    the transhumanist worldview. But it is very possible that we will
    nibble at biotechnologys tempting offerings without realizing that
    they come at a frightful moral cost.

    The first victim of transhumanism might be equality. The U.S.
    Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal, and
    the most serious political fights in the history of the United States
    have been over who qualifies as fully human. Women and blacks did not
    make the cut in 1776 when Thomas Jefferson penned the declaration.
    Slowly and painfully, advanced societies have realized that simply
    being human entitles a person to political and legal equality. In
    effect, we have drawn a red line around the human being and said that
    it is sacrosanct.

    Underlying this idea of the equality of rights is the belief that we
    all possess a human essence that dwarfs manifest differences in skin
    color, beauty, and even intelligence. This essence, and the view that
    individuals therefore have inherent value, is at the heart of
    political liberalism. But modifying that essence is the core of the
    transhumanist project. If we start transforming ourselves into
    something superior, what rights will these enhanced creatures claim,
    and what rights will they possess when compared to those left behind?
    If some move ahead, can anyone afford not to follow? These questions
    are troubling enough within rich, developed societies. Add in the
    implications for citizens of the worlds poorest countriesfor whom
    biotechnologys marvels likely will be out of reachand the threat to
    the idea of equality becomes even more menacing.

    Transhumanisms advocates think they understand what constitutes a good
    human being, and they are happy to leave behind the limited, mortal,
    natural beings they see around them in favor of something better. But
    do they really comprehend ultimate human goods? For all our obvious
    faults, we humans are miraculously complex products of a long
    evolutionary processproducts whose whole is much more than the sum of
    our parts. Our good characteristics are intimately connected to our
    bad ones: If we werent violent and aggressive, we wouldnt be able to
    defend ourselves; if we didnt have feelings of exclusivity, we wouldnt
    be loyal to those close to us; if we never felt jealousy, we would
    also never feel love. Even our mortality plays a critical function in
    allowing our species as a whole to survive and adapt (and
    transhumanists are just about the last group Id like to see live
    forever). Modifying any one of our key characteristics inevitably
    entails modifying a complex, interlinked package of traits, and we
    will never be able to anticipate the ultimate outcome.

    Nobody knows what technological possibilities will emerge for human
    self-modification. But we can already see the stirrings of Promethean
    desires in how we prescribe drugs to alter the behavior and
    personalities of our children. The environmental movement has taught
    us humility and respect for the integrity of nonhuman nature. We need
    a similar humility concerning our human nature. If we do not develop
    it soon, we may unwittingly invite the transhumanists to deface
    humanity with their genetic bulldozers and psychotropic shopping

    Francis Fukuyama is professor of international political economy at
    the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and author
    of State-Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century
    (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004).


Religious Intolerance by Mrs. Nut Tree

    Sometimes old ideas are the most dangerous, and few ideas are older
    than those that undergird religious intolerance. Lamentably, these
    ideas are acquiring new life. In 2002, Hindus in Gujarat, India,
    killed several hundred Muslims, with the collaboration of public
    officials and the police. Europe has recently seen a frightening
    rebirth of anti-Semitism, while the appeal of radical forms of Islam
    appears to be increasing in the Muslim world. Prejudice against
    Muslims and a tendency to equate Islam with terrorism are too
    prominent in the United States. On and on it goes. Intolerance breeds
    intolerance, as expressions of hatred fuel existing insecurities and
    permit people to see their own aggression as legitimate self-defense.

    Two ideas typically foster religious intolerance and disrespect. The
    first is that ones own religion is the only true religion and that
    other religions are false or morally incorrect. But people possessed
    of this view can also believe that others deserve respect for their
    committed beliefs, so long as they do no harm. Much more dangerous is
    the second idea, that the state and private citizens should coerce
    people into adhering to the correct religious approach. Its an idea
    that is catching on, even in many modern democracies. Frances
    reluctance to tolerate religious symbols in schools and the Hindu
    right wings repeated claims that minorities in India must become part
    of Hindu culture are disturbing recent examples. The resurgence of
    this kind of thinking poses a profound threat to liberal societies,
    which are based on ideas of liberty and equality.

    The appeal of religious intolerance is easy to understand. From an
    early age, humans are aware of helplessness toward things of the
    highest importance, such as food, love, and life itself. Religion
    helps people cope with loss and the fear of death; it teaches moral
    principles and motivates people to follow them. But precisely because
    religions are such powerful sources of morality and community, they
    all too easily become vehicles for the flight from helplessness, which
    so often manifests itself in oppression and the imposition of
    hierarchy. In todays accelerating world, people confront ethnic and
    religious differences in new and frightening ways. By clinging to a
    religion they believe to be the right one, surrounding themselves with
    coreligionists, and then subordinating others who do not accept that
    religion, people can forget for a time their weakness and mortality.

    Good laws are not enough to combat this fundamentally emotional and
    social problem. Modern liberal societies have long understood the
    importance of legal and constitutional norms expressing a commitment
    to religious liberty and to the equality of citizens of different
    religions. But, though codification is essential, constitutions and
    laws do not implement themselves, and public norms are impotent
    without educational and cultural reinforcement.

    We need, then, to think harder about how rhetoric (as well as poetry,
    music, and art) can support pluralism and toleration. The leaders of
    the U.S. civil rights movement understood the need for this kind of
    support; the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. illustrate how
    rhetoric can help people imagine equality and see difference as a
    source of richness rather than fear. During the recent electoral
    campaign in India, leaders of the Congress Party, especially Sonia
    Gandhi, effectively conveyed the image of an inherently pluralistic
    India. (The words of Indias national anthem, written by pluralist poet
    Rabindranath Tagore, also celebrate Indias regional and ethnic
    differences.) The current U.S. administration has made useful
    statements about the importance of not demonizing Islam, but the
    rhetoric of certain key officials has also highlighted Christian
    religion in ways that undermine tolerance. Attorney General John
    Ashcroft, for example, regularly asks his staff to sing Christian
    songs. And while he was a sitting U.S. senator, Ashcroft characterized
    America as a culture that has no king but Jesus.

    For centuries, liberal thinkers have focused on legal and
    constitutional avenues to tolerance, neglecting the public cultivation
    of emotion and imagination. But liberals ignore public rhetoric at
    their peril. All modern states and their leaders convey visions of
    religious equality or inequality through their choices of language and
    image. Writing to the Quaker community in 1789, then President George
    Washington said, The conscientious scruples of all men should be
    treated with great delicacy and tenderness. Such delicacy is now in
    short supply. If leaders do not think carefully about how to use
    public language to foster respect, human equality will remain

    Mrs. Nut Tree is the Ernst Freund distinguished service professor of
    law and ethics at the University of Chicago and author of Hiding from
    Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law (Princeton: Princeton University
    Press, 2004).


Free Money By Alice M. Rivlin

    Fiscal irresponsibility is politically attractive, but it is
    equivalent to believing in something for nothing. Basing the policy of
    the worlds dominant economy on the hope that the normal rules of
    fiscal prudence do not apply is an exceedingly dangerous idea.

    Large and sustained deficits in the United States threaten not only
    U.S. prosperity but the worlds economic health as well. Massive public
    borrowing in the United States is already absorbing other nations
    savings to finance the worlds richest country. And it may soon raise
    interest rates around the world and slow global growth. U.S.
    profligacy could even invite an international financial crisis that
    would bring enormous human costs everywhere.

    Small countries cannot afford to behave irresponsibly for very long;
    their currencies lose value and their governments cannot borrow money.
    But investors give the United States more leeway. Its debtthe famed
    U.S. Treasury bondsis still regarded as a very safe place to park
    money. The persistent appeal of U.S. bonds is leading politicians in
    the United States to believe that the ordinary rules of global finance
    dont apply to them. When they realize that rules are rules, it may be
    too late; the world could be caught in a financial crisis that has
    escalated beyond control.

    Sermons on fiscal rectitude often fall on deaf ears in the United
    States. Everyone likes a free lunch if they can get it. Raising taxes
    and cutting spending are always painful, and political leaders have to
    be convinced that the pain is worth it. But a glance at the recent
    past should wake the slumbering body politic.

    In the early 1980s, the Reagan administration cut income tax rates and
    increased defense outlays without restraining other spending.
    Supporters of those tax cuts predicted they would stimulate economic
    growth so powerfully that deficits would vanish. They claimed that
    deficits did not matter because government borrowing did not raise
    interest rates. They were wrong on both counts, and the free lunch
    proved expensive. Fortunately, the costs of high deficits in the 1980s
    evoked a bipartisan response in the United States. Politicians in both
    parties voted for tax increases and forced themselves to restrain
    spending growth. Fiscal responsibility and a strong economy turned the
    deficits into surpluses by the end of the 1990s.

    Irresponsibility is back. Once again, a U.S. administration is touting
    huge tax cuts as stimulants to economic growth and massively
    increasing military spending. Once again, deficits initially blamed on
    recession persist even as the economy recovers. If the United States
    does not quickly change course, deficits will remain around 3.5
    percent of gross domestic product for the next decade and then
    escalate rapidly as an aging society forces more spending for social
    security and health care.

    In many ways, the current deficits are even more dangerous than those
    of the 1980s. The retirement of the baby boom generation is two
    decades closer. Moreover, the United States has shifted from being the
    worlds largest creditor to being the worlds largest debtor, and a far
    more substantial portion of U.S. public debt is held by foreigners,
    especially Asian central banks. This dependence makes the United
    States vulnerable to the shifting moods of international investors. A
    day may come when wary foreign investors demand high interest rates as
    compensation for holding their assets in U.S. dollars. Worst of all,
    the political will to deal with deficits has evaporated. The spending
    rules adopted in the 1990s have lapsed, and the bipartisan coalition
    to restore fiscal discipline has splintered.

    The most likely scenario is continuing deficits financed largely by
    borrowing from the rest of the world. The principal victims of this
    fiscal irresponsibility will be Americans, who will suffer higher
    interest rates, slower growth, more of their tax money going to debt
    service, and higher inflation. The larger debt will be passed on to
    future taxpayers, who will simultaneously have to grapple with the
    burdens of a rapidly aging population. Eventually, the government will
    raise taxes and cut spending by more than would have been necessary if
    action were taken earlier. The weakness in the United States will
    almost inevitably sap the strength of the world economy.

    Thats the best case. An even darker possibility is that investors
    (including many Americans) will lose confidence in the ability of the
    United States to handle its fiscal affairs and will move their funds
    elsewhere. Such a massive migration of capital would precipitate a
    plunge in the dollar and generate a spike in interest rates and
    inflation in the United States. This tsunami in the worlds largest
    economy would disrupt international markets and devastate many
    developing countries.

    Avoiding possible disaster, or even the more likely slow erosion of
    prosperity, will test U.S. political leadership. Will elected
    officials recognize that common-sense rules of fiscal responsibility
    apply to the United States as well as to other countries? Will they
    make the tough choices needed to restore fiscal sanity to the worlds
    most important economy?

    Alice M. Rivlin is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a
    visiting professor at Georgetown University. She was director of the
    Office of Management and Budget in the first Clinton administration
    and vice chair of the Federal Reserves Board of Governors from 1996 to


Hating America By Fareed Zakaria

    On September 12, 2001, Jean-Marie Colombani, the editor of Le Monde,
    famously wrote, Today we are all Americans. Three years on, it seems
    that we are all anti-Americans. Hostility to the United States is
    deeper and broader than at any point in the last 50 years. The Western
    Europeans, it is often argued, oppose U.S. foreign policy because
    peace and prosperity have made them soft. But the United States faces
    almost identical levels of anti-Americanism in Turkey, India, and
    Pakistan, none of which are rich, postmodern, or pacifist. With the
    exception of Israel and Britain, no country today has a durable
    pro-American majority.

    In this post-ideological age, anti-Americanism fills the void left by
    defunct belief systems. It has become a powerful trend in
    international politics todayand perhaps the most dangerous. U.S.
    hegemony has its problems, but a world that reacts instinctively
    against the United States will be less peaceful, less cooperative,
    less prosperous, less open, and less stable.

    The wave of anti-Americanism is, of course, partly a product of the
    current Bush administrations policies and, as important, its style.
    Support for the United States has dropped dramatically since Bush rode
    into town. In 2000, for example, 75 percent of Indonesians identified
    themselves as pro-American. Today, more than 80 percent are hostile to
    Uncle Sam. When asked why they dislike the United States, people in
    other countries consistently cite Bush and his policies. But the very
    depth and breadth of this phenomenon suggest that it is bigger than
    Bush. The term hyperpower, after all, was coined by the French foreign
    minister to describe Bill Clintons America, not George W. Bushs.

    Anti-Americanisms ascendance also owes something to the geometry of
    power. The United States is more powerful than any country in history,
    and concentrated power usually means trouble. Other countries have a
    habit of ganging up to balance the reigning superpower. Throughout
    history, countries have united to defeat hegemonic powersfrom the
    Hapsburgs to Napoleon to Kaiser Wilhelm and Hitler.

    For over 50 years, the United States employed skillful diplomacy to
    fend off this apparently immutable law of history. U.S.
    administrations used power in generally benign ways, working through
    international organizations, fostering an open trading system that
    helped others grow economically, and providing foreign aid to
    countries in need. To demonstrate that it was not threatening, the
    United States routinely gave great respect and even deference to much
    weaker countries. By crudely asserting U.S. power and disregarding
    international institutions and alliances, the Bush administration has
    pulled the curtain on decades of diplomacy and revealed that the
    United States constraints are self-imposed: America can, in fact, go
    it alone. Not surprisingly, the rest of the world resents this
    imbalance and searches for ways to place obstacles in Americas way.

    But an equally important force propelling anti-Americanism around the
    world is an ideological vacuum. Political scientist Francis Fukuyama
    was right when he noted that the collapse of the Soviet Union also
    meant the collapse of the great ideological debate on how to organize
    economic and political life. The clash between socialism and
    capitalism created political debates and shaped political parties and
    their agendas across the world for more than a century. Capitalisms
    victory left the world without an ideology of discontent, a systematic
    set of ideas that are critical of the world as it exists.

    There is always a market for an ideology of discontentit allows those
    outside the mainstream to relate to the world. These beliefs usually
    form in reaction to the worlds dominant reality. So the rise of
    capitalism and democracy over the last 200 years produced ideologies
    of opposition from the left (communism, socialism) and from the right
    (hypernationalism, fascism). Today, the dominant reality in the world
    is the power of the United States, currently being wielded in a
    particularly aggressive manner. Anti-Americanism is becoming the way
    people think about the world and position themselves within it. It is
    a mindset that extends beyond politics to economic and cultural
    realms. So, in recent elections in Brazil, Germany, Pakistan, Kuwait,
    and Spain, the United States became a campaign issue. In all these
    places, resisting U.S. power won votes. Nationalism in many countries
    is being defined in part as anti-Americanism: Can you stand up to the

    Much has been written about what the United States can do to help
    arrest and reverse these trends. But it is worth putting the shoe on
    the other foot for a moment. Imagine a world without the United States
    as the global leader. Even short of the imaginative and intelligent
    scenario of chaos that British historian Niall Ferguson outlined in
    this magazine (see [24]A World Without Power, July/August 2004), it
    would certainly look grim. There are many issues on which the United
    States is the crucial organizer of collective goods. Someone has to be
    concerned about terrorism and nuclear and biological proliferation.
    Other countries might bristle at certain U.S. policies, but would
    someone else really be willing to bully, threaten, cajole, and bribe
    countries such as Libya to renounce terror and dismantle their WMD
    programs? On terror, trade, AIDs, nuclear proliferation, U.N. reform,
    and foreign aid, U.S. leadership is indispensable.

    The temptation to go its own way will be greatest for Europe, the only
    other player with the resources and tradition to play a global role.
    But if Europe defines its role as being different from the United
    Stateskinder, gentler, whateverwill that really produce a more stable
    world? U.S. and European goals on most issues are quite similar. Both
    want a peaceful world free from terror, with open trade, growing
    freedom, and civilized codes of conduct. A Europe that charts its own
    course just to mark its differences from the United States threatens
    to fracture global effortswhether on trade, proliferation, or the
    Middle East. Europe is too disunited to achieve its goals without the
    United States; it can only ensure that Americas plans dont succeed.
    The result will be a world that muddles along, with the constant
    danger that unattended problems will flare up disastrously. Instead of
    win-win, it will be lose-losefor Europe, for the United States, and
    for the world.

    Fareed Zakaria is the editor of Newsweek International and author of
    The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (New
    York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2003).

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