The Coming International Disorder

And when one contends or proposes that the status quo has failed, one should also consider what such a contention or proposition implies and what can be inferred from it. Logically, a failed status quo translates into a failed order, and a failed order calls for the creation of a novel order, and as a result, the international community is now in unchartered territory or unchartered waters which carry immense danger and risk. 

As Machiavelli said: “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” However, even though the task of creating a novel order is difficult and risky, it is also necessary and required. As Edmund Burke said: “Good order is the foundation of all things.” 

Much of the current order or the status quo, arguably, was fueled by a boom in capital and technology in recent decades. But as Peter Zeihan wrote a while back:

“The global financial wave will crest at some point between 2020 and 2024. Between now and 2019, Poland and Russia will join Japan in the ranks of the demographically impoverished. Between 2020 and 2024, thirteen of the world’s top twenty-five economies will be in the ranks of the financially distressed. The new arrivals will include Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and of course the United States. With over 90 percent of the developed world in that unfortunate basket, the availability of capital and credit for all will plummet.” 

Zeihan added: “Pair the coming demographic dearth with the end of the free trade era, and the future is as bleak as it is readily visible.” And in terms of the technological aspect of the failed and receding order and status quo, Zeihan wrote: “The pace of technological change will screech to a halt. Boomer retirement means fewer researchers and above all less capital. Fewer and smaller markets mean less commercial impetus for technical advance. Higher government outlays on retirees plus fewer young people mean fewer government dollars available for tertiary education. Everything from universities to corporate labs will slow.” 

In sum, and to put it simply: “The international economy will spasm and contract. The loss of the developed world’s capital surplus as well as the developed world’s consuming demographics will force harsh decisions on every economic entity, whether state or private, across the world.” 

All of the aforementioned constitutes both the context and the situation from which a novel order will have to emerge. In turn, the aforementioned economic factors will have profound political and social impacts virtually everywhere. And given the anticipated downturns in capital and technology which spurred the receding order and the failed status quo, the rational or wise path forward would be to choose the “moral incentive” of fostering a novel order, which means making some sacrifices from a material standpoint and foregoing the material incentive of trying to perpetuate what is essentially a failed status quo and a receding order. And that is if the material incentive is still available to pursue, given that the American “unipolar moment” which fostered the notion of unbounded opportunity and material excess has now closed. 

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