The Null Device

Brave New War

A new book ("Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization", by strategic consultant John Robb) claims that the credit crunch and ongoing financial crisis will make Iraq/Mexico-style insurgency and terror a fact of life across the Western world:
The establishment of a predatory and deeply unstable global economic system - beyond the control of any group of nations - is in the process of gutting developed democracies. Think in terms of the 2008 crisis, over and over again. Most of what we consider normal in the developed world, from the middle class lifestyle to government social safety nets, will be nearly gone in less than a decade. Most developed governments will be in and out of financial insolvency. Democracy, as we knew it, will wither and the nation-state bureaucracy will increasingly become an enforcer for the global bond market and kleptocratic transnational corporations. Think Argentina, Greece, Spain, Iceland, etc. As a result, the legitimacy of the developed democracies will fade and the sense of betrayal will be pervasive (think in terms of the collapse of the Soviet Union). People will begin to shift their loyalties to any local group that can provide for their daily needs. Many of these groups will be crime fueled local insurgencies and militias. In short, the developed democracies will hollow out.
The part about the bond market is probably true; for example, in Britain, no matter who came to power, they would have to make deep cuts to please bondholders, or otherwise the credit (and the electricity and the flow of beans from Africa and iPods from China) would stop. Whether this means merely Thatcherism 2.0, the end of the post-WW2 welfare state, or a collapse of state institutions to a dystopian kleptocracy as Robb suggests, remains to be seen.
[T]he problem is that Mexico is a hollow state. Unlike a failed state like Somalia (utter chaos), a hollow state still retains the facade of a nation (borders, bureaucracy, etc.). However, a hollow state doesn't exert any meaningful control over the countryside. It's not only that the state can't do it militarily, they don't have anything they can offer people. So, instead, control is ceded to local groups that can provide basic levels of opt-in security, minimal services, and jobs via new connections to the global economy - think in terms of La Familia in Michoacana...The real danger to the US is that not only will these groups expand into the US (they already have), it is that these groups will accelerate the development of similar homegrown groups in the US as our middle class evaporates.
The commenters chime in, trying to pick holes in the guy's argument, but then again, it's the sort of argument you would really want to be wrong. If he is right, we can expect the collapse of the entire Maslow hierarchy of needs; people are going to be far too busy worrying about staying alive to even consider the idea of self-actualisation.

There are 1 comments on "Brave New War":

Posted by: datakid Wed Jun 16 13:05:13 2010

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine. Except that I don't. Ouch/Fsck.

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