- The post-modern world, characterized so far by the predominance
of a "unipolar" power is increasingly taking on a multi-polar
character, primarily due to the rise of China as the "world's factory"
(what the USA was with regard to the declining British Empire until the
aftermath of the second World War) and by the expansion of Europe which,
howbeit tied to the USA and mostly deferential to American leadership,
is gradually regaining some independence, as an inevitable consequence
of the decline of the United States and the gradual strengthening of European
- Russia's return as a major actor on the world stage is
also a factor that has helped regional powers such as India, Brazil, Venezuela,
the ASEAN countries, Turkey, Iran and other Middle Eastern oil and gas
producing states to exercise a larger influence in their regional neighbourhoods
and in the world at large.
- By countering the hegemonic power of the USA and its
Atlantic allies, China and Russia have ressuscitated the Eurasian Katechon,
a theological and political concept borrowed from Saint Paul's Epistles
(2 Ts,2, 6-7) by the influential German political philosopher and jurist
- Schmitt in his mature, definite works such as "The
Earth's Nomos" (Der Nomos des Erde, 1950)"Three Possibilities
for a Christian Vision of History" (1950) and "The unity of the
World" (Die Einheit der Welt,1951) envisions the Katechon as a factor
of order, for the true conservation of essential values and eventually
for their restoration, against the dissolving and subversive influence
of the "Enemy", the Antikeimenos who in Theology is alluded to
as the Antechrist and in its modern geopolitical incarnation is the technocratic,
utopian, liberal-consumeristic imperialism promoted by the sea powers (i.e.
the Britain and the USA to which he had specifically referred in his Beschleuniger
wider Willen oder:die Problematik der Westlichen Hemisphare (1942)). To
the Promethean scientific-technological, materialistic and pragmatic philosophy
of the Anglo-Saxon empire Schmitt opposed an Epimethean doctrine, fundamentally
Christian in that it is aware and respectful of the mystery that surrounds
mankind's true role and destiny, in line with the theo-political tradition
of the Medieval Holy Roman Empire as articulated by the great scholar and
statesman Otto von Freising.
- However, this reverence for transcendence and this search
for an optimal order, as opposed to the maximalistic call for agnostic
self- liberation championed by both Communism and Capitalism applies to
all great religions which remind us that without mysticism all reality
is mere abstraction, in the words of contemporary philosopher Constantin
von Barloewen in his Anthropologie de la Mondialisation (Ed des Syrtes,
- If in Eastern Europe, the Orthodox Churches may be better
candidates to embody the Katechon than modern Catholicism which is so pervaded
by left-wing social theories and abstract views on human rights as to become
inconsistent with its own traditional doctrine.
- In China Confucianism, in India Hinduism and in its traditional
sphere of influence Islam may also represent diverse avatars of the Katechon
through their various ways of resisting a westernization which is at once
anarchic and totalitarian under the pretense of imposing freedom. In his
"The Concept of the Political" (Der Begriff des Politischen)
(1932) Schmitt observes: "We know that today the most terrible war
can only be waged in the name of peace, the most ruthless oppression in
the name of freedom and the most infamous inhumanity in the name of humanity"
(this author's translation).
- The reemergence of Geopolitics in the public discourse,
after decades of eclipse when it was regarded as immoral ( it is in fact
merely amoral) because of its explicitly realistic take on events, is a
consequence of the demise of the ruling ideologies of the twentieth century.
If Leninist universalism is long dead, its Wilsonian- Rooseveltian enemy
twin is still standing tall but is increasingly discredited after showing
its true colours as a servant of American imperialism.
- Though the USA still tries to claim moral superiority,
the intellectual, financial and strategic bankruptcy of its system in the
last few years, highlighted by the current global recession and the military
failures in Iraq and Afghanistan have practically wiped out its credibility
as a self proclaimed "force for good".
- The USA is now forced to fight bare-faced and admit that
it is mainly concerned with preserving or extending its global empire and
more specifically with protecting the interest of its ruling elites and
their allies and subordinates abroad, which is hardly a democratic ideal
even if we acknowledge that it is a traditional national imperative.
- The return of geopolitics however, paradoxically allows
for a return of the moralistic notion of Justus Hostis , (just foe) invoked
by the Carl Schmitt against the current US-supported theory of Justum Bellum
which implies the diabolization or dehumanization of the enemy and justifies
his extermination in the name of the God-given duty to eradicate Evil.
The principle of Justus Hostis, adhered to during much of European history
under the Church-inspired system of Jus Gentium (reaffirmed by the 17th
Century Westphalian Treaties after the breakup of Christendom into Catholic
and Protestant states), but also in ancient civilizations such as India's
and within the Islamic Ummah implies that the adversary is given full consideration
as a human being against whom military recourse might be required but must
be limited in its means, ends and duration.
- The eclipse of the "Sea Power" successor to
the British Empire which Schmitt described as the thalassocratic Leviathan,
is bringing the world's centre of gravity back towards the Eurasian island
where it remained for most of the last 4 000 years. The concurrent rise
(or rebirth) of China and Russia in all dimensions, replaces the axis firmly
in the heartland of the "world island" evoked by late 19th century
geopoliticians in Central Asia, and around it revolve the reemerging rimland
powers in concentric circles: Turkey, Iran, India and Japan and in the
outer reaches, the Arab states of the Near East, the EU and the ASEAN nations.
- This new global configuration calls for the institution
of new Jus Gentium as Schmitt advocated, at least in the Eurasian mass
that by definition constitutes what he called a Grossraum, a great geographical
and political space, a pluralistic and diverse medium term between an empire
and a mere free trade area.
- Let us consider what influence this emerging power configuration
may have on the evolution of the mega-trends which David Pearce Snyder,
the lifestyle editor of the Futurist Magazine defines as key factors in
the ongoing global transformation. He identifies five and specifies that
they are "composites of trends" and "evolutionary system-wide
- 1- Cultural modernization which both assaults and undermines
traditional cultures and values and simultaneously sends the societies
that embrace it on a path of consumeristic excess and demographic decline.
Some response to this threat may be contained in the Confucean-Buddhist
revival in China and in the Orthodox Renaissance in Russia, as envisioned
by the late Alexandr Solzhenitsyn who saw the Church as one of the two
pillars of a reborn authentic Russia striving to avoid the West's "horrifying
culture of intellectual self-indulgence, licentiousness and spiritual poverty"
as George Friedman put it in his eloquent article (vijayvaani, September
7th, 2008) on Solzhenitsyn. Friedman concludes that "Today's Russia
ismoving in the direction that Solzhenitsyn wanted. And that could make
(her) extraordinarily powerful".
- 2- Economic Globalization. It is significant that China
is at present the biggest beneficiary of this process, alongwith some other
Asian and Latin American states. Oil and gas producing nations such as
Russia and the Gulf states profit from the high prices and rising demand
in developing countries while the richer nations are suffering from their
uncompetitive wage levels, onerous social welfare systems and aging demographics
which put them at a major disadvantage and lead to an inevitable fall in
western incomes and standards of living as a global leveling and equalization
gradually take place.
- 3- Universal Connectivity. By 2012 one third of the world's
population, that is 2 billion people will have access to the Internet,
mostly through web-enabled phones and many sociologists conclude that this
widespread connectivity will bring about the "death of distance"
and truly globalize the consumer culture, especially in the youth. However,
the flip side of this uncontrolled, unpredictable phenomenon is what the
recent report in Jane's Strategic Weekly from the Joint Doctrine and Concept
Centre of the British Armed Forces describes: a breakdown of the global
order and a fragmentation of most states, political and social institutions
leading to worldwide chaos and an uncontrollable atomization of societies
and organizations (<http://www.janes.com>www.janes.com/events/conferences/uxdc2007).
That result was indeed foretold by Schmitt in his unforgiving analysis
of the American-led technocratic liberal utopia. The digital ethnologist
Mark Pesce describes an "accelerating disintegration of hierarchies
of all kinds economic, academic, cultural andpolitical".
- 4- Transactional Transparency. The current demand for
transparency is in principle to be welcomed as manifestation of the revolt
against oligarchic secrecy which protects corruption and other very visible
ills. However the infinite proliferation of information and disclosure
which has already yielded significant exposures about some of the great
state-sponsored and supranational conspiracies of the present age also
leads to information overload and confusion. Faced with the precipitous
increase in the amount of data and allegations made available to all about
everything, societies that want to protect themselves will have to find
together a new "modus vivendi"
- 5- Social Adaptation. The decline and rejection of traditional
institutions such as organized religion and the state are manifest in all
"advanced" countries of the techno-scientifically developed world,
as people are trying to become more self-regulated and are listening less
and less to traditional hierarchical authorities. This is also an unpredictable
trend which can easily lead to conflict amongst spontaneously constituted
groups within the same disintegrating society whose ability to mediate
their differences and enforce order is waning. Barloewen warns us that
"Demos (the democratic system) can have an effect only within a given
myth which provides to a culture its inner balance, its consensus"
- Snyder concludes that the three great cultural consequences
of industrialization, namely urbanization, work institutionalization and
family atomization are already being reversed as a result of changing circumstances.
In the USA for instance, in the nineties people tended to migrate back
to rural and semi-rural (exurban) areas for the first time in nearly a
- What effect the current rise in gas prices and concurrent
economic crisis has on this trends which makes people more dependent on
transportation (by road or rail) is still to be assessed but the parallel
trend for people to work more from their homes may be reinforced by the
energy price factor. Also, the rising tendency for middle aged people to
live together with their parents and adult children is caused by straitened
financial circumstances but it harks back to the days of the joint or extended
family of pre-Industrial ages.
- Those post-industrial trends may take some time to reach
emerging societies which are still going through the ascending part of
the curve but since in our information age all processes are dramatically
accelerated or even collapsed, the developing countries should learn from
the experience of their predecessors and draw solutions from their own
unbroken traditions of collective solidarity and family- based coexistence.
Mark Pesce points out that "50,000 years of cultural development (are
collapsing) in about 20". We can no longer assume that we have the
time to se change coming and adapt to it gradually.
- The laws of economics and power dynamics are compelling
the USA to become gradually more authoritarian, arbitrary and threatening
to others in order to enforce the mounting human, financial and political
costs of its empire on the rest of the world and on the majority of its
own population as it can no longer secure a global or at least a sufficiently
broad international support for its policies which are inevitably proving
increasingly harmful to most nations and peoples.
- In the last few decades the USA has had almost a monopoly
on the discretionary use of military force in the international arena,
which has enabled it to impose its views on others but in the emerging
multipolar world Russia and major Asian states are able to call Washington's
bluff and thereby put an end to a dangerous and unsustainable unipolarity,
as was recently shown in the case of Georgia's failed attempt to regain
control of South Ossetia with US backing.
- The realist analysis of globalization describes it not
as a spontaneous, inevitable phenomenon but as the outcome as systematic,
intentional policy pursued by a leading actor, mainly the USA in our time
since the current system of international relations is still based on the
role of states.
- Ian Clark (in "Globalization and Fragmentation:
International Relations in the 20th Century"(1998)) pictures the interplay
of two opposing but dynamically entwined tendencies that swing the historic
pendulum between the twin poles of individualism and collectivism, manifested
at various levels as nationalism, regionalism and heterogeneity for the
former and as universalism or homogeneity for the latter.
- After the uninhibited and triumphant individualism championed
by the USA and neoliberal economic policies in the last thirty years, we
are witnessing a return of the communitarian, social aspirations that Asian
countries and Russia traditionally upheld. Borrowing Boguslaw von Selchow's
terminology, we could say that the latest age of "Ichzeit" is
being replaced by a new era of "Wirzeit" but, given the context
of global interdependence, we need to achieve an awareness of "Allzeit"
which von Selchow described as a defining feature of the Holy Roman Empire's
- However what we are witnessing now is a new war between
open and closed economic systems, as defined by Charles Maier (in his book
"`In Search of Stability" (1988)), since the US-dominated global
regime is falling apart, as it did already once in 1929. The EU and other
giant blocs are becoming or are likely to turn into closed economic systems
like the British and French Empires, the Third Reich, Italy and Japan were
until the end of the second world conflict, when the victorious USA imposed
its Bretton Woods regime on both the defeated and the allied powers. In
the light of Clark's analysis, the last century can be divided into three
successive eras: the Age of catastrophy between 1914 and 1945, the Golden
Age from 1945 to 1971 and the Age of systemic breakdown that began after
1973 and is leading to a multiplication and a rise in military tensions.
Indeed, as was the case in the years just before World War II, more and
more countries are having recourse, by choice or obligation, to military
options to addresse challenges or crises, as we have seen in Yugoslavia,
Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, lately in Georgia and now in Pakistan.
- Protectionism, which was gradually scrapped away under
US influence, especially between 1960 and 1973, is making a comeback as
the rich states are less and less able or willing to bear the internal
costs (unemployment, deregulation, privatization and dismantling of the
welfare state) of the globalized free-market. However, the transnational
economy is now largely autonomous from its US godfather and can survive
the withering away of the latter. International society is also, on the
other hand giving strength and support to new pockets of ethnic and cultural
resistance to globalization which are replacing the weakened and largely
discredited nation states in what was their primary role.
- The discontented sectors that are often coming together
in that ideological and existential insurgency include, across the political
spectrum, the working classes that see their livelihood shrink or disappear,
the politicians who are afraid of losing their power bases and traditional
societies whose ethno-cultural identity is at risk.
- According to the analysis of Anthony D. Smith, modern
technology disintegrated many traditional communities but has also built
new social networks and reinforced some older ones. Their increasingly
coordinated resistance to the diktat of an arbitrary, utopian and anti-juridical
one-world system shows the very limits of Karl Popper's paradigm of a supposedly
boundless open society.
- Between diverse regional, ethnic, religious and occupational
communities, instead of the supposedly universal laws of "Free Market
Liberal Modernity", we must envision a dialogue based on what Kimmel
calls "Intercultural Exploration" ("Cultural Perspectives
on International Negotiations" in Journal of Social Issues, April
1994, vol. 50, n.1) in order to properly comprehend and take into account
alien values and characteristics hitherto largely ignored or neglected
by dominant western societies which were taught to regard them as being
"pre-modern", hence destined to disappear and unworthy of serious
considerations outside the province of cultural anthropology. On the other
hand, cultural pluralism is linked with its political counterpart and,
to quote Barloewen once more, interculturality is a philosophical imperative
for building a civilization of the "Holos", i.e. a holistic,
sustainable, balanced global community.
- The author wishes to acknowledge his debt to the articles
by Massimo Maraviglia and Stefano Vernole in the EURASIA Rivista Issue
no. 1, 2008, vol. 5.