Stephen Kotkin On How Worlds Are Made and Unmade

I had the opportunity time-wise to view on youtube three lectures by Stephen Kotkin at the Institute for Human Sciences. They are phenomenal in deep understanding of the development of the present world order. I wish I had come upon them much sooner.

Kotkin is best known for his magisterial three volume biography of Stalin. (You would benefit by his presentations on Stalin on youtube) Kotkin has an earthy, no-nonsense, everyman style that plainly speaks to how things have gotten where they are, particularly America’s role and its present challenges. He is no Trump fan, to state it mildly, yet he rises above the personal and anecdotal to describe the tectonic plate shifts that are going on in the world. There is much to worry about, but he wants us to worry about the right things rather than fritter our psychic energy on things that don’t really pose a threat to world order, such as what is going on in Syria, Eastern Europe, and even Russia, which is a nation with no spheres of influence. It has some hard power (nukes and capacities for hacking) but no soft power, that is, influence to shape our globe.

An amazing set of lectures. You can listen to lecture one and then easily find lectures two and three. If you are a poli-sci person, this is the gold standard in serious thinking.

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