James Burke--The Unknown Economisst

Lately I’ve rediscovered the television show Connections with James Burke. If you’ve added an Austrian cream to your economic Joe, you should appreciate the subtle thread of Hayek that’s run through each episode, as told from a history of science perspective (it’s basically the History Channel on acid).

The first episode of Connections1 focuses on the risks and interconnectedness involved with high levels of specialization,
... Any one of a million things could fail and cause our complex civilization to collapse for an hour, for a day, or however long. That's when you find out the extent to which you are reliant on technology and don't even know it. That's when you see that it's so interdependent, that if you take one thing away, the whole thing falls down and leaves you with nothing. (Connections 1-1 Trigger Effect)”
…all of which leads to a potential nuclear meltdown of our society by the last episode.

Connections 2 is a bit more chopped up and hap-hazard as they attempt to elucidate more multi-century connections in half the time; though the graphics are beefed up a bit and they seem to get a good rhythm by the 3rd disc.

... That's all it takes to get you back to the late 18th century. Three grandfather's lifetimes. That's how close we are to it. And, yet, that world has disappeared so totally, it's like fairyland. Thatched cottages, meadows, happy peasants. A golden age. Garbage, all that. Nasty, brutish, and short - that's what life was all about. And dirty. And boring. And it had been like that for thousands of years! And then, suddenly, the whole complex polluted overpopulated phrenetic nonstop stressful high tech rat race that is the modern world... Life was suddenly no longer as simple as it had been. And the extraordinary thing is, none of that was planned.” (Connections 2-1 Revolutions)

Despite the focus on the history of science, Burke touches on economic / political economy issues that are often glossed over by traditional historians. For those of you who would rather watch their history as opposed to reading it, this is a must see.


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This page contains a single entry by Daniel published on December 11, 2006 2:21 AM.

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