Most of us, I imagine, think a big crisis is coming. Said crisis being necessitated by the mountain of new debt; the rock-bottom interest rates currently making it look less horrible (but they can't drop much more); the continued economic slump in the US, and the expectation, based on the quantitative easing, of a double-dip before we can get unemployment down; the economic crisis in Europe, being delayed now by temporary measures. Of course, we could also have a non-economic crisis, depending on what Iran decides to do with the nukes it's developing.
Authors of that book, I think, would also argue: it's not that trouble is on the horizon, but that we no longer agree on how to handle trouble when it comes. So an upset that could be resolved ordinarily will be gridlocked today, until it's bad enough people get desperate enough to cooperate. Maybe I misunderstand them.
What should we be doing to prepare for any upcoming crisis? Can we prepare for it? Prevent it? Or is it an illusion?
What will stop us from preparing or preventing?
Do you think your answers are common? How does the general public view those answers?
...and what about different countries? That is, is your country sitting pretty, while others are headed for trouble, or the reverse?
What about the political parties? Should your party win to prevent or ameliorate current problems? Or would it be better for it to lose, so the public will reject the other party for a couple of decades, so your party can fix the problem?
Too busy to worry about it mostly, but, I have options, and responsibilities, you don't. So, I dunno.
As to what a collective 'we' might do. I don't think nation/states do anything except react.
I think the country could stop with the international aid and being the world police force without resorting to isolationism.
I think you should consider the second and third order effects of stopping international aid and removing our defense support for the rest of the world. And look up "isolationism" while you're at it.
Let me add why I'm not as interested in hunker down. One, it doesn't solve the problem. Two, based on past crises, it won't be necessary. Three, if it were necessary, I'm not sure it would be enough. Four, I'm not sure I could take my city-bred wife, two toddlers, and my own limited abilities and keep the family safe in a new career as mountain man, anyway.
But mostly #1. With exceptions, I wouldn't admire someone who dealt with the previous great upheavals by waiting for others to fix the problem.
Regarding 'hunkering down':
"Fixed fortifications are monuments to man's stupidity."
Presumably, old blood & guts knew that all is motion, whereas mankind is inclined to opt for rest. Still & all, while Clausewitz seems to me to agree with the general about the relation between motion & rest, he still argues that defensive warfare is superior. That may be the best compromise for which peaceful men can reasonably hope-
"if we are really waging war, we must return the enemy's blows. . . . Thus a defensive campaign can be fought with offensive battles. . . "The defensive form of war is not a simple shield, but a shield made up of well-directed blows."
Or in other words, the best defense is a good offense. Even Mao argued for an active defense; one in which the defense is used to stage a counter-offensive. Or as Clausewitz concludes:
But defense has a passive purpose: preservation; and attack a positive one: conquest. . . . If defense is the stronger form of war, yet has a negative object, if follows that it should be used only so long as weakness compels, and be abandoned as soon as we are strong enough to pursue a positive object.
The best defense is a good offense? Is not a good offense the best offense, too? They're all the same now? Or is a good offense not the best defense, therefore the best offense is superior to the best defense?
Leaving aside the play on words, conquests that start in defense have always received a particular degree of study from political philosophers, as well as other men who have studied war. Xenophon was the first to teach it systematically as a very successful kind of just war (Education of Cyrus). The Romans were experts at this. Machiavelli's Discourses explains better than anything else perhaps how powerful a political arrangement could be which gives its class of princes the opportunity to defend themselves one conquest at a time...
But the reason defensive warfare is superior is not merely that it has a better claim to justice; it also relies on passions which are more reliable; & it is limited by necessities which are easier to understand. A general knows his own best & is best able to rule over its motions.
Unarguably; it needed mention, however, neither Clausewitz, nor any other strategic theorist, was speaking of "fixed fortifications" when talking of defense.
Fixed fortifications. Traps.
There is something to be said for the psychological effect, though. Aristotle is forced to talk about the problem of city walls when he talks about politics in the polis. He admits that cities with walls are not manned by warriors. Sparta had no walls... He contends that the walls not only weaken the spirit of the men, but on the other hand give them some options short of preemptive surrender, whereas it is always difficult to mate the refinement of arts & sciences with the political courage required for freedom. There are always political compromises necessary unless the men really are men. Fortifications give a shape to fear. The immortality of the city seems therefore to be based on oblivion. City limits are necessary aids to hope. People go on with their lives...
But to focus on the psychological problem created by fortifications is to reach the conclusion that alliances more than any walls cripple the necessary suspicion & wariness that makes it possible to conduct a reasonable foreign policy. Alliances are much more able to create hopes & expectations which, though unreasonable, are accepted & soon enough the expectation is created that they can replace war. Walls at least are there & therefore they teach that walls are needed because war is always already coming.
"Fixed fortifications are monuments to man's stupidity."
I love that quote.
It was also the one I was thinking about when I said I think we got to be open to change. It a big crisis hits, I think those who can roll with the punches stand the best chance to survive it (be it war or economic collapse). I think to stand your ground and hunker down will just mean you will get crushed.