Anguish spreads through the globalized world, and especially through its once hegemonic centers. Capitalist globalization itself has generated problems that not even the economic management or the political management are capable of solving. The only thing managers attempt to do is buy time, hoping things ‘will fix themselves’. But hope is not a strategy, and the more the crisis is prolonged, and the more measures of stabilization or bailouts exacerbate it, more are the agreements and ‘social pacts’ from the postwar weakened.
A lot has been written on the obsolescence of the multilateral institutions created after the Second World War (UN, IMF, the World Bank, etc.), and about the growing incapacity of the national states to offer sovereign solutions to crises that are beyond them regarding their origin and their consequences.
How to capture in an image or a metaphor the difference that separates the XXI century from the XX century? In terms of geopolitics, I propose the following analogy: let’s envision the planet as the vast ocean it in fact is (the water surface is highly superior to the earth one). In the XX century, that ocean was sailed by different ships (the States). These sometimes coordinated their movements; other times they collided, and in other occasions fought each other like warships. Such maritime situation was called ‘foreign relations’. In the XXI century on the contrary there’s only one ship. Its multiple cabins give shelter to the most diverse of cultures, histories, and ideologies. The inequity is enormous, and the diversity even bigger. That crowd can’t manage to unite and much less to know where the ship is going. If trying to elucidate the course we visit the captain’s bridge, we find there’s no one at the steering wheel, but an automatic pilot everyone relies on but no one trusts instead. Such is the state of affairs that, in order to give it a pretty name is called ‘globalization’. In academic terms we can formulate the situation like this: in its economic aspect, the world is one-dimensional; in almost every other aspect it is multipolar. In order to achieve a better world we have to imagine the present one inverted: a public, rational and cosmopolitan space where economic alternatives are discussed in terms of shared universal values. Nietzsche called this shift ‘the transvaluation of values’.
In the absence of this, the global society is a society that expects anything to happen –and sometimes terrible things happen, widely surpassing the capacity to foresee of the so called expert systems. A curious paradox: a society where power is immense and concentrated, where rationality and the technical paradigm have penetrated even the most arcane intricacies of collective and individual life –a society that takes records, controls, predicts and administrates- panics facing events that take it –over and over again- by surprise.
The elites on one hand and the general public on the other, when they celebrate something (for instance an ephemerides or a scientific accomplishment) seem to toast with the sarcastic phrase of the Jewish community in France: ‘pour que le pire cesse d’arriver’ (for the worst to stop coming). Absolute power finds its counterpoint in absolute frailty. The lack of discussion regarding alternatives –Margaret Thatcher’s famous acronym TINA: ‘there is no alternative’- has deprived us of public debate about options, about the type of society we want, or that is worth wishing for.
When the dominant socio-economic system rises in a single model, those who oppose sometimes only manage to propose destruction. Terrorism, attacks, the wild arbitrariness of many, the contempt for life and crime without cause are symptoms of this situation. These symptoms do not only manifest themselves among an extremist (organized or not) minority, but also in the dark part of everyone’s soul, as evidenced in the fascination for what’s destructive in the media and in almost every mass entertainment. Let’s not keep our hopes up: this is not a happy new world, but a world in a state of tension. What a sad coin we must exchange! One side is arrogance mixed with foolishness, and the other is Evil.