There’s good news, and bad news here. First, the “good” news. Many “experts” with elite connections – those are the connections to the world of high finance, intelligence, and the military-industrial complex – are predicting the end to the era of American hegemonic power:
The bad news is contained in these paragraphs:
“The study offers four possible scenarios for the future. In what it calls the “most plausible worst-case scenario,” the US would withdraw inward, allowing globalization to “stall.” While many people in other countries would likely consider this scenario an optimistic one, not a “worst-case” one, given the hugely destructive role the US has played over the decades since its emergence at the end of World War II as the world’s dominant power, the report’s authors see such a move towards US isolationism as leading to increased conflict and instability in the world.
“A second scenario they postulate, which they term “fusion” and describe as the “most plausible best-case scenario,” would see an increasingly economically dominant and militarily powerful China joining in an era of cooperation with the US. Such cooperation, they say, could lead to solutions to such global challenges as climate change and to “broader global cooperation.” Again, other countries might view such a two-state collaboration between the world’s two biggest economies and militaries as less benign.
“A third scenario postulated as less likely would be a “genie-out-of-the-bottle” world in which growing inequality leads to explosions in many nations, while climate-change and population-pressure driven shortages of water, food and energy, lead to increasing international conflicts, with the US no longer able to act in the role of “international policeman.”
“Finally, a fourth scenario, which seems almost science fiction, envisions a weakening of nation states, as new technologies allow non-state actors, such as mega cities and shifting coalitions of non-state actors, to become leaders in dealing with the world’s issues like climate change, explosive population growth and international conflict over scarce resources.”
Not for nothing do these prognostications come when the technologies of emulation and anamnesis (the two terms I use to designate technologies that mimic the capabilities of the gods of ancient mythology and philosophy) are conveying to the very elites sponsoring such studies the ability to jettison the host nations and societies that have sponsored their development, and the corresponding increase in elitist power on a transnational and indeed transhumanist basis. It is therefore impossible, I contend, to speak of a breakaway civilization without reference to the cultural phenomenon of transhumanism.
As will be evident in the above paragraphs, each of the postulated scenarios is based on the favorite memes of the western elites: climate change (global warming didn’t work so they had to change the terms), population explosion, and the implicit idea that “resources” are a set, fixed phenomenon: think peak oil here (or as we will soon hear, peak water).
In my opinion it is the fourth scenario that is the most likely (and one that, on careful consideration, would seem on the one hand to spell the most promise, while simultaneously the most threat) to the global elites: the growth of non-nation-state actors on the world stage, where technologies act as a force multiplier for smaller groups of organized human population to have a significantly greater voice: corporations, city-states, and so on.
But what does this possibility spell for the nation-state itself? if scenario three happens, then we will not look at the immediate dissolution of the nation-state, but at its increasing pro forma role. Imagine a world in which the USA or France or Canada increasingly has the status that the old Holy Roman Empire held in much of Western European history: a pro forma affair, with its own legalities, but also with an increasing irrelevance in the affairs of Europe until it was finally simply abandoned as an anachronism in reality if not in name.
But underwriting the article’s prognostications there is something else: the role of technology in spelling the end of American hegemonic power, and the persisting role of elites in each of the scenarios outlined. I suspect that the third scenario is their most favored alternative, for such a scenario would allow these elites to “manage conflicts” when they do occur, for they will be sharp, but smaller, much like the wars of the Italian city-states during the Renaissance.
The only problem for this analysis is its deep failure to account for cultural differences between actors like China and Russia, or for that matter, the Islamic world. Consider: technology might be the great unifier in a civilization like the Islamic civilization, where the nation states we have come to associate with it – Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq – were largely the post-Ottoman era creations and impositions of the West. City-states there might be in China, for it has seen such regionalism and even conflict in its past. And naturally, the west has seen such entities as well in its past. But the elites should not underestimate the power and role of culture as a unifying factor, especially when the application of technology to a more or less monolithic culture can only act as a force multiplier to that monolith.
See you on the flip side.