World Crisis: Theme-baskets — “Human themes”

Posted in Global Net Assessment

[French Legionnaire, Central Mali)


Dear Class, Here are the six “Human themes” we covered last night. I have tried to take your second set of presentations and distill them into key sub-themes, or issues within each basket. This is just my take on the most significant things you identified in your talks. I will follow with a post that takes our classroom attempts to identify in each of our 12 themes — Earth and Human dynamics, and their interrelationship — elements that could push us toward world crisis.

Identity Collapse vs. Identity Revival:

Collapse (USSR): 1-Unsustainability of system under pressure over time, 2-Trust/belief gap between vision and reality grows over time, 3-No escape from dead hand of an era of failure and suffering (Stalin), 4-Too many jostling, disparate identities below the “unified” surface, 5-Economic and financial system less and less able to handle Society’s basic needs, while failing basic expectations (inspired by Dmitry Orlov’s “five stages of collapse” — and Elizabeth Kübler-Ross).

Revival (Ummah): 1-Muslim “century of humiliation,” 2-Deus ex machina, disruptive intervention of US in the Muslim world (especially after 2003), 3-Existentially entrenched belief system and world view, 4-Universalist vision as deep identity, 5-Failure of colonial successor states, 6-With rising against corruption accelerated by awarness of US “Guardian Protectorate” over Sunni Arab Islam since late 1970s.

Key to Identity-collapse and Identity-revival is that they are symbiotic processes that work together and reinforce each other dynamically. Hence the Soviet collapse was bound up with the revivial and celebration of the many disparate identities within the larger imperial commonwealth that was the USSR. Hence the Muslim revival — both Ghazi fighters and the Muslim Brotherhood — catalytically undercut both the colonial successor states (military regimes and Arabian princely states) and the American protectorate.

Migration and Refugee Movements:

  • Regulated migration paradigm (EU) vs. Unregulated migration paradigm (US) — different takes on “First World” control
  • How and why do both EU and US become incapable of responding to growing pressure on paradigm?
  • What happens when migration control between different “worlds” breaks down? Contrast with India and Bangladesh
  • How do we guage migration forces in terms of regional breakdowns? When do they accelerate other crisis vectors?
  • What are the dynamics of migration-driven identity-struggles within societies, in terms of crisis pressures building?

Evolution of State-War:

  • Nuclear era (Cold War) created “fatigue, deep-seate war-aversion in West (except US)
  • Shift in war from the classic central canvas to the seams
  • Threat of US intervention and military dominance in classical state war adds to deterrent
  • In state wars where US held back (Iran-Iraq, China-Vietnam), military efforts still self-limited
  • But US interventions (since 1991) — in “the seams” — have been consistent failures

A World of Blocs? (Alt. Sys.):

  • Economic blocs today are subsets of the global system — What is practical distance between them and world of Orwell?
  • Or historically, what is the distance required to get from mild association to the bloc visions of the mid-1930s?
  • What shocks would be needed to push toward a true world of blocs as an alternative working world of smaller systems?
  • What institutional/deinstitutional activity would attend such a transformation, and make it “permanent” or longstanding?

Global Financial Collapse:

  • “Financialization” of US economy ~40% — US economy:
    • Built on the position of the dollar as global reserve currency
    • Built on the perception of an infinite surplus of global labor
    • Built on domestic consumer/debtor perch, and monetary easing
    • Upheld by a social contract securing household savings + pensions + transfer payments

This is in itself represents a world system that requires global consensus and coordination — therefore major disruptions or big-player opt-out could create a worldwide financial crisis, a la 2008. That crisis showed relative resiliancy: In the face of a sector-containable shock. We need to posit conceptual “system stress tests” to better identify world financial fragility.