Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can’t sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can’t sleep with the window open.
George Bernard Shaw
And yet……On its own means little, until the middle of the post where it is central to my thoughts , but somehow it looks better at the beginning. Humankind seems a bit indulgent, but begin with it I must …..
Humankind relies upon alliances. Whilst it may not exactly seem like it at the moment, every thread of human of human society relies upon some of alliance. Right back through human history, alliances have been sought to create a benefit, not always, to both parties. Many are sought only to collapse because the weaker of the alliance suddenly discovers that the alliance is not giving them any benefit whatsoever, so they seek other alternatives.
United Nations, European Union , European Free Trade Association , World Trade Organisation, World Health Organisation, FIFA -International Federation of Association Football, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, G7,G20, To name but a few of the more obvious. All created with the common intent of pooling resources and similar ideals to maximise their relevant aims . Well that’s generally the intention, there will be those who would question the effectiveness of some or all. Yet without any alliances there would be little or no impact within the relevant areas .
The commercial world is stuffed full of alliances, some formal, some informal. Many of them are formal for example Road Hauliers Association, our very own European Balloon and Party Council, Association of Plumbing and Heating engineers , and the list goes on to over 8000 in the U.K., are fundamentally groups of competitors. Yet they group together to discuss and resolve issues and problems that they all face on a day to basis .
Business or strategic alliances , mainly two organisations but not uniquely, are more straightforward in their aims but often not long term . A current example of a strategic alliance is Red Bull and GoPro (miniature action cameras). They are both completely different products but their target market is very similar. By working together they are constantly reinforcing the brands while not conflicting sales revenues
Commerce to one side, If you include the likes of sports and social clubs there estimated to be over 50,000 such groupings in the U.K. alone.
Historically, it could be argued that pre Roman Times , true alliances were never formed in that they were generally enforced . The Romans and the likes of Genghis Khan did not seek alliances . But they realised that they would be more successful if they worked with the conquered . The Saxon kings, whilst often in conflict with each other , forged ever changing alliances to stave off the onslaught of the Vikings . European kings and queens spent centuries forging and breaking alliances (usually via marriage) to improve their lot .
And yet….here it comes, we appear to be in the midst of an era when societies are abandoning Alliances . In a time when you would think that you need them all the more , they are being shed like dead skin. First Brexit, then Trump (pushing Nato to arms length, threatening WTO, leaving the Paris Climate agreement, that all now being reversed ). Isolation appears to be the order of the day .
And yet… is it really ? Going back to history (of course you can only go back to history ) alliances have broken up and reinvented time and time again. I think Joseph S and his erstwhile mate Adolf H , must have had few words about their supposed alliance. There is nothing new here. The world, during the last twelve months, has been creating alliances, via research organisations, drug companies, scientists, medical teams to try and combat our current crisis. Well, at least most of the world, and I include the EU & China within most of the world.
Do we need them ? Yes we do. Just imagine a world without alliances . No alliances, no weddings, no divorce lawyers, so sad.
The parenthesis are, of course, added by me. Whilst Mr Donne would surely have added them if written today . In the 17th Century, were probably more use on an island and brought home for the 3 C’s : Culinary, Cleaning & Conjugals.