Ecumene

In sum, the history of the world system consists of three different epochs or periods – traditional, modern, and postmodern. And as mentioned before, there is a transition of sorts at the moment between the modern and postmodern periods of the history of the world system. What marked the beginning of this transition between the modern period and postmodern period is America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in August of this year. And what lies ahead in the postmodern period is perhaps a reversion to many of the economic, political, and social dimensions of the world system that existed during the traditional period of the world system, which pre-existed the modern period that has lasted for approximately the last 500 years.

            Aside from capitalism, commerce, and trade as the basic economic dimensions of the world system, the political and social dimensions of the world system are characterized by an organizational principle known as “core and periphery states.” One of the arguments put forth by the late American historian and sociologist Janet Abu-Lughod – whose contributions to world system analysis were profound in the sense that her contributions shed light on the characteristics and nature of the world system during the traditional period – was that Europe dominated the world system during the modern period not because Europe had something inherently special about itself. Rather, Europe merely seized the opportunity to dominate the world system over the last 500 years as a result of the collapse of the core states in the Middle East and Asia.

            Now, because of a revival of the core states in the Middle East and Asia – namely, Iran and China – in addition to the unsustainability of American military hegemony which in turn is the primary method and strategy of European hegemony in the closing stage of the modern period, the postmodern period of the history of the world system may be characterized by a reversion to some of the economic, political, and social dimensions of the traditional period. America is essentially an extension of European hegemony over the world system. But in a postmodern age characterized by the scaling down of American military hegemony due to its unsustainability in the long run, Germany may once again become the core state of Europe as it was during the traditional period, which pre-existed the modern period that has spanned the last 500 years.

            Thus, in the postmodern period of the history of the world system, Germany, Iran, and China may once again become the “core states” of the world system, as they were during the traditional period or phase of the world system. Given this possible scenario, one can argue that the modern period was either a transition between the traditional and postmodern periods of the world system, or the modern period was merely an anomaly and aberration from the natural course of the history of the world system. As mentioned before, in order to get a better grasp of what occurred during the modern period, the analysis of the modern period by the late world system analyst Immanuel Wallerstein is a required read. But in the postmodern period, “going back to the way things were” in the traditional period may be a likelier scenario than a transition into something new and uncertain amidst this ongoing transition between the modern and postmodern periods of the history of the world system, despite the ontological and social turbulence which ensues during any transition.

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