20 January 2015

Wallerstein: #world-system self-destructing

@iwallerstein .


Immanuel Wallerstein, possibly the world's most eminent sociologist, has designated the current global unemployment crisis as part of the self-destruction of the historical system that once defined our civilization.

From a commentary published at Wallerstein's website:
The world-system is self-destructing. The world-system is in what the scientists of complexity call a bifurcation. This means that the present system cannot survive, and that the real question is what will replace it. While we cannot predict what kind of new system will emerge, we can affect the choice between the substantive alternatives available. But we can only hope to do this by a realistic analysis of existing chaotic swings and not hide our political efforts behind delusions about reforming the existing system or by deliberate attempts to obfuscate our understanding.
Wallerstein refers to the world-system, a term coined by him in his theoretical works to refer to the world as a single integrated social system with a single historical lifespan. Much of Wallerstein's works, including his 1998 book Utopistics, have predicted the delegitimization and failure of the liberal democratic state and the underlying mechanisms of global stratification and exploitation that have made this type of regime viable.

Recognizing this failure of the current global system of politics and economics, many futurist theorists on the sidelines of politics have attempted to draw up alternatives. These theorists have included Jacque Fresco, who designed an alternative model of civilization under the title of the Venus Project, and M. Amon Twyman, whose theories urge the creation of a Virtual, Distributed, Parallel (VDP) state and the eventual replacement of all national authorities with global authorities modeled on the agencies of the United Nations.

Wallerstein also drew attention to the decline of the United States, arguing that the decline is now "precipitate" as America's failed attempts to reverse the trend with violence have only made the regime even weaker:

Geopolitical alliances are almost as unstable as the market. The United States has lost its unquestioned hegemony of the world-system and we have moved into a multipolar world. U.S. decline started not recently but in 1968. It was for a long time a slow decline, but it became precipitate after 2003 as a result of the disastrous attempt to reverse the decline by the invasion of Iraq. 
Our multipolar world has perhaps 10-12 powers strong enough to pursue relatively autonomous policies. However, ten to twelve is too large a number for any of them to be sure their views can prevail. As a result, these powers are constantly shuffling alliances in order not to be outmaneuvered by the others.
It is suggested here that the US's renewed hostility towards Russia indicates not a revival of US power in Europe but the collapsing status of the United States, as the decadent "superpower" surrenders to stronger regional forces.

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