Vincent Portillo, a colleague, will join me in putting a new book
together. We only have 10 paragraphs to show for our effort, but any
comments will be very much appreciated. Getting an introduction down
is important, not only for communicating with readers, but for sorting
out our own ideas. Thanks.
This book is an exploration of the complex and fascinating
interactions between war, the economy, and economic thinking. Whether
you realize it or not, a complex Matrix resulting from the
interactions of war, economics, and economic thinking creates a
powerful force field that affects almost everything you do. This
force field, not unlike gravity, is both pervasive and invisible.
However, the effects of the Matrix are unpredictable. In a world
vulnerable to the possibility of serious destruction as the result of
both military and economic miscalculations, taking account of this
Matrix is imperative.
The effects of the Matrix are far more complex than those of gravity.
Obviously, an engineer designing an airplane must take into account
the force of gravity to avoid future calamities. Complete command of
the necessary scientific knowledge and care in the building of the
plane is insufficient to guarantee future safety. The human interface
creates an ever-present risk once pilots, mechanics, and air traffic
controllers take over responsibilities for the plane.
A far more intricate network of human behaviors interacting with the
Matrix leads to pervasive uncertainty, making the challenges of
responding to the Matrix are far more daunting than the
straightforward responsibilities of those who are responsible for the
plane's safety. The Matrix presents another dimension of
complications. If a pilot flies into a mountain, the immediacy of the
consequences makes interpretation of the event fairly simple.
In the case of the Matrix, choices today may set off a chain of events
that may have important consequences years or decades in the future.
Looking back to identify a single -- or even a small set of events as
the cause is very difficult. After all, events occurring in previous
millennia still remain the subject of ongoing debates among
historians. To make matters even more complex, the Matrix can cause
Here again, the human element comes into play. Any attempt at
identifying causality comes up again the tendency to understand the
sequence of events in light of pre-existing ideas or ideology.
Consequently, one must exercise extreme caution in any attempt to
manipulate the Matrix. Nonetheless, the risks of doing nothing are
even more dangerous, considering the potential dangers or perhaps even
likelihood of environmental, economic, or military disaster. Actions
to prevent cataclysmic outcomes require great care, backed up with a
relatively holistic perspective.
Economics occupies a special place in this intricate Matrix with
economics serving as a bridge between the other two principals of the
Matrix: war and the economy. Almost unintentionally, in the
seventeenth century, modern economics developed to a large extent in
response to questions raised by the needs and the consequences of