Warning: This is some very disturbing analysis. I hope I’m 100% wrong on this one. I’ve also thought the scenario I outline below was possible for 2009 but through the end of October/early November, I thought it still somewhat remote. I’m less confident and increasingly pesimisstic about the potential for this scenario to be very real, very much in play (more and more likely by the day it seems as of now with no wise leadership or counter-movements to help block the momentum). So be warned. I’m not in the business of fear-peddling or fear-hyping, but these are dark thoughts. There are not the only ones within my brain, but I have been appalled (even fairly cynical me) by the responses across the board to this crisis and the sense that there is no Wizard behind the curtain.
I’m increasingly growing very disturbed by the way global events are proceeding. A chain of potential explosions across the grid of the globe looks frighteningly more plausible by the day. Meanwhile the US media is caught in wonderful tales of some pathetic Illinois Governor and a dude launching his foot wear. Here in Canada it’s about the potential of a coalition government.
All of which still assume a top-down model of power, a kind of view of the stability of large scale social organization that may all be swept away. Reading the newspapers and frankly much of the blogosphere is becoming an increasingly useless exercise for me. Particularly when it comes to political discussion: left, right, libertarian, progressive, blah blah. All of those discussions are assuming the continued existence in some form or other or our social-technological cultural foundations.
To me its increasingly as if reading the news in the ancient ziggurat/city-state culture a few months before Alexander the Great came conquering across Eurasian and installed the Hellenistic world and swept away the decaying, crumbling previous world era. Like I said some apocalyptic thoughts.
The economic story would go like this: the American consumer is dead and has been flogged to the breaking point of exhaustion. Who then is going to buy all those Asian products? Who can they sell their wares to? The Asian economies contract leading them to stop buying the commodities across the Global South (esp. Latin America and Africa) that have led to that bubble (see the mass decrease in the price of oil recently). Huge deflationary movements across the global simultaneously. Much more rapidly and the fragility (i.e. non-redundancy) of the global platform system bleeds out.
As Niall Ferguson in his epic The War of the World, the great catacylsm and spasm of violence across the globe emanating from Europe during the 20th century (First War, Second War, Cold War) consisted of the inter-locking reality of the three “E”s: empire, economics, and ethnicity. Empire being the death of imperial systems. See the decline of the US. Also with all the talk of the coming Asian Century (rise of India/China), this could all be swept away by the economic meltdown. The Asian Century that wasn’t in other words. Still-born Asian Century. The vacuum created by the implosion of economic and imperial systems, is filled by ethnic hatreds that flare up to the consternation and shock of many who assume a cosmopolitan order of peace and security (all fine when the economy and governance is roughly holding up).
The most likely early hot spots of ethnic hatred is the band of the Middle East (Lebanon, Iraq, Kurdistan, Iran, Syria???, through obviously Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India). Other increased zones of violence would be Gap-status countires in the Western Hempishere (on smaller scale but still bloody). Revived narco-fueled wars across Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, El Salvador, southern Mexico. Other ranges of violence: The Horn of Africa (another Somalia implosion on the horizon) as well as violence across the middle band (Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, and potential flare ups again in Congo).
The massive de-leveraging must continue and the question is only whether the end of the fall (which has at least 9 months, probably 12 to 24 to maybe even 36-40 to go. who the hell knows at this point) will end us worse than the build up. Exposed, exhausted, and de-legitimized. The space of de-legitimization to be filled by ethno-nationalistic movements across the board.
With the breakdown of nation-state systems (orange and blue in Spiral colors), comes a mass re-reddifying both in memetic coloring and potentially in real blood, merged with increased technological capacity (global platform) plus increased cognitive flexibility and complexity however merged to earlier moral/social systems. Roving bands of pirates (e.g. Somalia), terrorists (e.g. Mumbai), criminal networks (coming here already to Vancouver in preparation for the 2010 Olympics, particularly the global sex slavery/human chattel trade) counteracted by potentially increased technocratic elites holding onto whatever power they can, as civil libertiese erode due to the inability to come up with a worldwide republican security theory, class lines harden in the post-industrial societies, the social contract of the 20th century continues to break down (ask Ford, GM, Chrysler) as the Nation-State gives way to the (increainsgly predatory?) Market State.
Ferguson forget a fourth E: Environment. As in environmental degradation/destruction as a potential accelerant to the fire of the other three. Something along the lines of Diamond’s Collapse scenario.
The idea that an infrastructure stimulus will jump start the US economy out of this bog seems increasingly detached from reality for me. At the pace things are moving, if the wave swells become large enough, it isn’t going to matter, as it could all be swept away by the mega-forces aligning at the moment.
Like I said, God how I hope I’m completely wrong on this one.