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I'm pinning my hopes on a sane multipolar world. But the decade of 2010-2019 will be painful.

I envision no less than 8 "poles".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 07:04:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you assert that states will be able to reassert their power upon private interests?

Just that point is a pretty big leap of faith. I don't think the main antagonism is between states and other states but between states and private non-state actors.

I think states will try, because nations don't go away just like that, but I also think they will fail.
by Francois in Paris on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 07:22:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you look at my map,
  1. the EU is now fighting it, and it is in a gridlock wich is good as long as the Merketistas have the ideological upper hand. That's my fight, and I'm not going to concede defeat just yet.
  2. Russia is (depending on your point of view) reasserting state power (my point) or just handing power over from one generation of private oligarchs to the next (your point)
  3. China is State capitalism.
  4. Mercosur has local state interests versus foreign private interests. They seem to be moving in the "right" direction.
  5. If the African Union gat their act together, they will look more like Mercosur and less like a banana republic.
  6. The Arab world is more collectivist and the extreme version of capitalism needed for megacorps to thrive is un-Islamic.

And so on...

You may be right, but it's not a foregone conclusion.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 07:30:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A lot depends on the time horizons - if we're talking about the 'coming transition' and into whatever the next big thing is (ie up to 2050 or thereabouts), then the poles I see as viable are:

North America - natch. The US may be a declining force but they aren't going away in my lifetime.

East Asia - again natch. China's reassertion of its long-term position disposing of approx 1/3 of world GDP is a cliche because its true.

Europe - will be a multipole of some sort, but the precise nature of the EU's presence will depend upon how the institutions are reformed and what kind of constitutional settlement is finally agreed.

South Asia - it depends on how things pan out in the Islamic world, but I think India will make the step and pull a bunch of others into its regional orbit.

Your other candidates I don't see making it in the near-to-medium future:

SE Asia/Pac Rim - will be the crossroads between NorAm, EAsia and SAsia rather than a multipole of its own.

Dar al-Islam/Central Asia - either the oil hasn't run out, in which case this area remains a satrapy of the other poles (NorAm and China probably) or the oil has gone, in which case the petro-states are turning into C22nd Haitis and everybody else is trying to avoid being sucked down by the undertow.

Mercosur - Uncle Sam's backyard and this won't change by 2050. This is especially true if North America really, truly goes into decline and loses relative position in the Old World.

Africa - the demographic disaster that is HIV (combined with the generally hostile disease environment you get in sub-saharan Africa) will continue to hobble Africa and the 'curse of oil|resources' will get worse as the MidEast drops into the crapper. Africa will be a basket case until the end of the century at least I think.

Russia - should by all rights be a multipole, except all of its blood and treasure is draining into the EU as we speak (write?). The territory currently occupied by Russia will be opened up by Europe and/or EAsia.

Regards
Luke

-- #include witty_sig.h

by silburnl on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 10:11:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The territory currently occupied by Russia will be opened up by Europe and/or EAsia.

Um, not likely.  Ask Napoleon or Hitler.  Russia has overwhelming superiority over the EU in terms of nuclear weapons - and maybe even conventional ones - and would not hesitate to use them in case of Europe trying to "open up" her territory.  This is also probably the only thing keeping China from openly annexing the Russian Far East.

by slaboymni on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 05:43:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am a bit curious about what is meant by "opened up" too. I don't really think he meant what you read into it (since that would be lunacy), but a clarification would be in order.
by Trond Ove on Sun Mar 19th, 2006 at 07:15:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the EU is now fighting it, and it is in a gridlock wich is good as long as the Merketistas have the ideological upper hand. That's my fight, and I'm not going to concede defeat just yet.

The EU is flawed, but the idea of social solidarity is strong there. The reason why so many Americans are intrigued and exicted by the EU, is because in the EU there seems to be an alternative to the neo-liberal globalization that we find in NAFTA, which is more of an investment protection agreement than a trade bloc.  

NAFTA could learn a lot from the EU.  Labor and  environmental issues need to be at the table when we are discussing pulling down barriers between countries.

The EU has succeeded in elevating 2 of the poor four countries (Ireland, Spain, Portgal, and Greece) to solid middle class status, even more so true of Ireland.  How? Cohesion and structural funds, development aid, all of this is missing from NAFTA.  

The EU for its failings appears to have at the least a soul, a basic sense of responsibility to raise up those who live in it's borders.  NAFTA keeps people down, it invokes Chapter 11 tribunal to overturn state and local laws that protect workers and the environment. The EU has a strong committment to democracy and civil society.  NAFTA and the FTAA have no such component.  Columbia, where  trade unionist are hunted and shot down like dogs in the street, will undoubtedly be admitted to the FTAA without an effort to take corrective action against the paramilitaries that kill unionists.

Mercosur has local state interests versus foreign private interests. They seem to be moving in the "right" direction.

Latin America stands at a fork in the road.  To the left is the path of Mercosur, to the right is the FTAA.  Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Uruguay have all chosen the left for.  Columbia alone seems destined to take the right fork.  Mexico, Central America, and the Andean Republics are the subject of a fight for hearts and minds right now.   If Mexico turns to the left, I have no doubt that there will be American troops on the border in short order.  

This is the Southern Bloc that we've been expecting for the past 20 years.  If the US takes a hard stand against Mercosur, the push towards politcal, and military cooperation will be all the more profound.  If the US invaded Venezuela, would the Bolivians send troops, how about Brazil?  What myriad opportunities for regional war lie in wait with the psychopaths in the White House?  There's a refrain that they aren't crazy enough to do that, whatever that may be, they are that insane.  They have 3 more years for provocations and idiocy in the Latin America.  I hope we're lucky enough that they don't light a fire they can't control.  With our friends in the UK joining in, there's only more opporunity for trouble.

I have to go now, I'll be back when I get home, there's more here.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 12:21:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MfM, I think you'd find this thread interesting.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 12:26:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did.

And I was very nearly dissapointed in you, until I saw that you had taken the clever little fuckers to task for attacked the principle of solidarity.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 01:06:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Saul makes the point (in a chunk of the article which I resisted the temptation to quote) that natural resources are real and physical, and exist within the boundaries of real national entities.  So that -- as long as national entities control armies and borders -- the transnationals' access to resources is dependent on the consent of nation-states (which is why, though again he doesn't go there, transnational/corporate interests work so hard to install and maintain compliant puppet/comprador elites in countries whose borders include valued resources).  The prospect of genuine democratic government in regions with exploitable resources is anathema to the corporatocracy.

If we take a dystopian view, we may imagine corporations fielding private armies (as DynCorp and Blackwater already do, but so far as renta-mercs in ostensibly national conflicts, not as the shock troops of an explicitly industrial resource grab).  OTOH, some would argue (Butlerians, and I mean Smedley not Samuel) that we've already been there forever -- that the US armed forces have been for at least 3 generations the private army of US corporate interests, sent hither and yon to defend the borders of UFC, ITT, oil barons, and the like.  Is the invasion of Iraq a nationalist war or a corporate war?  Was the occupation of India by the Brits a nationalist/imperialist action or a corporate/commercial action?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 01:48:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I see a corporation deploying a mercenary army against a country instead of using the US as a proxy, I'll begin to worry.

Then again, the outsourcing of US Army combat functions to Blackwater by people with connections with Halliburton is scarily close to that.

It's entirely possible we'll devolve into a cyberpunk dystopia before 2020.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2006 at 01:51:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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