My apologies for a blog riddled with typos. I probably couldn’t see straight after writing such a lengthy comment!
What I wrote in that blog about there being a new world paradigm was confirmed by a seemingly bland comment by the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN. When Amy Goodman tried to get him to talk about the United States, instead of sounding off, he dismissed the subject as being irrelevant.
In a tacit recognition of both the new paradigm and the ineffectiveness of the international system, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and a number of other elders who’ve dubbed themselves the “wise men” are trying to resolve the conflict in Darfur. This can be seen as the latest in a series of efforts by groups of intellectuals and philanthropists to effect change where institutions fail.
But perhaps the reason for the failure of institutions is not organization or equipment, but the fact that they reflect a power structure that is no longer operational.
When the Burmese right-wing military dictatorship can count on the support of China’s Communist government because what matters is oil and gas; when starving North Korea finally bows to the necessity of building sturdy bridges to opulent South Korea; when the presumably atheist leader of a Catholic country in Latin America finds common ground with an Islamic regime in the Middle East; and when - finally - an American presidential candidate refuses to wear a flag in his lapel because he doesn’t want to be associated with the policies it currently stands for, you can be sure the world has come under a new paradigm.
Climate change, in the role of an external threat, has probably played a role in concentrating the minds of politicians, but the main factor, I believe, is the acceleration of change within the world system, which inevitably results in bifurcations. Bifurcations can lead either to greater order and stability, for which a handy label is democracy, or total chaos, known as anarchy, and which inevitably leads to totalitarianism. It’s important to know that anarchy is not the opposite of democracy, but the opposite of totalitarianism, and that democracy is an almost magic moment of relative equilibrium between the two extremes.
Less than twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world has left behind the fifty year long Cold War, to enter a series of hot wars that are nominally about religion but in reality are about the struggle for equity. That struggle is what always has and always will drive system change, and the fate of democracy. The United States lost its leading role because it failed to understand that simple fact. Now it’s a whole new ball game.