LISTEN: Age of Discovery: "...our New Renaissance"

LISTEN: Age of Discovery: "...our New Renaissance"

Postby Oscar » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:51 am

LISTEN: Regina author, Chris Kutarna, predicts British exit from European Union

[ ] - Parts 1 & 2

The Morning Edition – Sask June 27, 2016

He called it a couple of weeks ago in the British media, but was sad to be proven right. Oxford scholar and co-author of "Age of Discovery," Chris Kutarna, dropped by the CBC patio to talk "Brexit."

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What the Renaissance can teach us about our disruptive age - Pt. 1 - 24 min.
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Tuesday September 06, 2016

From the internet to smartphones, the financial crisis to the refugee crisis, Donald Trump to Brexit, author Chris Kutarna believes the forces shaping our world today have been seen before — about 500 years ago

Kutarna and Ian Goldin's book, Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of our New Renaissance, argues that we're living in a second Renaissance period and events in history can help us prepare for — and even predict — the disruptions still to come.

'It is the best time in history to be alive.' - Chris Kutarna, author of Age of Discovery

Below are excerpts from Kutarna's conversation with The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Why do you say we're living in a second Renaissance?

I guess because we are .. We're just continually shocked by big events that are reshaping the world and we don't have a good handle on them.

History has always been this wonderful resource that human civilization has access to to stretch our imagination by looking to the past and finding and finding similar circumstances, and just seeing how we coped with those circumstances then.

The first Renaissance when new maps, and new media, and a new human condition both helped genius to flourish in Europe and also cause tremendous social upheaval, when you get into the details... it really is a compelling parallel to the time we live in, and we really believe has some important lessons.

So what you are calling a Renaissance is a period of massive disruption. How would you define disruption?

I think what's important about the idea of disruption is that it is a kind of… I guess it's the scale of the change, that is maybe in its speed, or in its scale, sort of much more than we're able to cope with in our present modes of thinking.

One characteristic of disruption is that it really forces us, I think to revise how we're looking at the world, how we're thinking about the world, what our expectations are. And the other really important characteristic I would say is that I think there are always positive and negative consequences of major disruption.

You paint this renaissance as an enlightened great time to be alive. Why?

It is the best time in history to be alive … Take the development story. In the big picture, humanity is healthier, wealthier, more educated than at any time in history. Global average life expectancy has risen by about 20 years over the past 50. And to put that into perspective, it took humanity 1,000 years to achieve the previous 20 year lift in life expectancy.

We have giant issues of distribution now but any civilization in human history, at its height, if you offered us to trade places, they would probably take that trade and believe that with so much more abundant wealth for so many people,they could work out a distribution where everyone would feel better off.

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Are we living in the age of the 2nd Renaissance? | Part 2 – September 7, 2016 - 23 min.
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Tuesday on The Current, Anna Maria Tremonti spoke to Kutarna who argues even through all the doom and gloom in today's world, we're living in the best time in history.

The scope of Kutarna's book is vast and he joined Tremonti again to hear more about some of the parallels he sees between the world today, and the world of the first Renaissance.

Here is an excerpt from our continued discussion of the second Renaissance with Chris Kutarna.

The comparison has been made between the printing press and the internet and all the information — which has had the greater impact?

The right answer was that so far it's probably been the Gutenberg printing press but that in the long run it's going to be the internet and digitization. The comparison is really remarkable. You know one of the things that both these two information revolutions share is their speed.

If you think back to a world when you know we had to go to a public library to look up the capital of a country we didn't know, unless you were lucky to have the Encyclopedia Britannica at home. That seems so long ago but that was at least within my lifetime. So the internet, like the printing press before it, has so rapidly changed the information environment that we live in, and our expectations for information.

But long term, I have to believe it's going to have a much bigger impact than the printing press which you know so many scholars and historians looking back on the last millennium identified as the most important invention of humanity's second millennium.

You identify a disruptive politician and you see parallels. What's the story of your Girolamo Savonarola?

Savonarola is probably a name that not many people these days recognize, but most people would probably recognize what he's famous for which is the Bonfire of the Vanities. Savonarola was a Dominican friar who came to Florence as a political outsider, had an apocalyptic message, was deeply charismatic. He was very clever to use new media, the new medium of print, and what he figured out is that printing books can take a long time but printing pamphlets is a very quick and inexpensive way to get out his message onto the streets and to shape sort of a media cycle.

And you know as I was reading [Savonarola's story] and looking at the U.S. presidential election it's impossible not to draw strong parallels to Donald Trump. In fact in some cases the parallel is downright scary. I mean, there Savonarola would stand up and you know give his stirring sermons to 10,000 people in the central cathedral in Florence telling people look, "I know you are going to be richer, more powerful, greater than you were ever been. You're going to be so rich that you're going to say to us we don't want anything more. But if you don't follow me it's not going to happen."

If Trump is Savonarola, who is Hillary Clinton?

If we look at the history books, I think that the best pairing is Niccolò Machiavelli.

Machiavelli famously wrote that the first rule of politics is to trust no one. And I think, maybe Clinton has you know in some of her behavior suggests that that's maybe a rule that she holds onto as well. But Machiavelli and Savonarola are really two sides of the same story of what was going on in Florence.

Machiavelli, in some of his writings, he clearly indicated that he kind of detested this prophet, Savonarola. At one time [he] wrote that "Savonarola, he colors his lies to suit the times," suggesting that here's a man who's just saying whatever the crowd needs to hear but really doesn't have underlying convictions that remain constant as the events around him change.

And what Machiavelli was — if Savonarola was the prophet — Machiavelli was the bureaucrat. And so in some ways, Savonarola's legacy was to whip up the tensions of the time. Machiavelli's legacy was to deal with all of that.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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◾Hillary Clinton Is America's Machiavelli
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◾We're living in an age full of possibilities. So why do so many of us feel like losers?
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