The end of the Universalist nightmare will be intrinsically perplexing:
Whether the emerging global system becomes multipolar or a-polar remains unclear, but universalist and messianic ideology is on the wane. The Western-led world order is in crisis, but no messianic ideology has yet offered an alternative. Instead, a drift towards regionalism has increased the influence of small powers amidst the chaos of a profound geopolitical transformation. The post-Western world looks to become post-ideological, too. Even Donald Trump’s administration has embraced a form of American exceptionalism shorn of globalizing and messianic goals. […] A century after their birth, Wilson’s and Lenin’s messianic geopolitical visions have passed into history, but their disappearance has also greatly complicated making sense of a world in the process of rapid fragmentation.
Thinking in pieces and patches begins.
Timothy Garton Ash on Europe today:
Had I been cryogenically frozen in January 2005, I would have gone to my provisional rest as a happy European. … […] … Cryogenically reanimated in January 2017, I would immediately have died again from shock. For now there is crisis and disintegration wherever I look …
I’m starting to like them:
Now we have to separate and end this marriage which was arranged and forced from the beginning, and has never, except when the outside world intruded and threatened destruction, shown any real cohesion. Let’s call an end to the 50 state experiment so we can salvage the ideals upon which the original constitutional republic was based. Separation will let us do a better job at it. A roughly 50-50 state split will do it, or we can start by cutting the Confederacy loose. […] We can continue to flounder around in a miasma of pain and incomprehensibility, or we can work towards reclaiming the Declaration and Constitution from the fascists. A friend recently mentioned that the South won the Civil War, and we’re only now recognizing that fact. […] It’s time, America.
Anybody interested in the racial dynamics of Trump-era American culture and politics should find much of interest in this. It might be the closest thing to an insightful center-ground perspective on what has been happening to be turned up yet.
How things have changed:
Back in 2010, the idea of using memes to political ends was still housed within a fairly slim leftist-activist corridor – it was a tool that seemed entirely of our own creation, and entirely under our control. We viewed memes as a vehicle through which activists could speak truth to power – they were molotov Jpegs to be thrown at corporate hegemony’s bulletproof limousine. […] Never in our most ironic dreams did we the think that the spirit of our tired, lager-fueled pisstakes would end up leading to a resurgence of white nationalism and make the prospect of a fascist America faintly realistic. …
No great mystery about the West’s bad mood.
One has but to look toward the better parts of a movie like Waterworld or an experiment like Sealand to imagine the possibilities in a modular, mobile system capable of holding 1400 tons of cargo per barge (soil for farming operations, housing structures?) at costs incredibly far below the average island, or yacht, or WWII weapons platform off the coast of England, or custom-built waterborne structure. That these barges and towboats are already designed to house people for long periods and be modularly (dis)connectable on a large scale increases their potential utility, while every day more of these units are discarded, abandoned, fall to ravages of disrepair. Every major city along the Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Missouri rivers has a transport industry of significant size, and it is showing cracks at every stage of the process. I contend that this industry is ripe for pillaging and repurposing, and that it is only a matter of time before the river economy hits a startling bottom that, while destructive and fragmentary to the extreme for certain industries and industrial zones, could be very fruitful indeed for the intrepid seasteader.
While clearly sub-optimal from a jurisdictional and security perspective, as an economically-feasible boost-phase, it could provide invaluable learning opportunities.
Stephen M. Walt on ‘The Collapse of the Liberal World Order’:
As you’ve probably noticed, the heady optimism of the 1990s has given way to a growing sense of pessimism — even alarm — about the existing liberal order. The New York Times’s Roger Cohen, a thoughtful and committed liberal, believes that “the forces of disintegration are on the march” and “the foundations of the postwar world … are trembling.”
Robotics in aging societies: