By Neil Pitts
When I gave my first public talk in London, it was at the Extremists Club in Soho. The subject was the world order and it remains my focus, academically speaking. The world has changed since 1945 and the Bretton Wood system which put in place then is no longer solving the problems which exist now. The new problem of Terrorism has taken the place of the Cold War and everything has moved forward proportionally. There are new things people must board, most fundamentally, the way the world order has changed from what it was then to what it is now.
For a long time, the world was caught up in the idea of having two sides.This idea goes all the way back to the end of the Ancient world,when a new relationship was created between east and west. After WWII, there was a clearly defined sense of winner and loser.However, with the Globalisation which occurred in the later half of the 20th C, everything became relative. Western people took on board eastern ideas like yoga and multiculturalism. Easterners took on western ideas like organised capitalism and civil rights.
With cheap air travel, massive amounts of world trade creating increasingly cheaper goods andthe Internet, the world all seemed like it was becoming one place. People could live and work anywhere, yet the fundamental problem of poverty and inequality still existed. Then there was a war in the Middle East which led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and terrorist attackshit every nation.People did not see what was happening. It was as if all the injustices of the world had been wrapped in one, huge, unresolvable issue.
Until only fairly recently, academics studied the story of civilisations at universities, thus they could predict the movements of nations and acted as government advisors. People at large instead read the newspapers. Then, they only had a potted version of events, a summary of how the international picture had implications for the place they lived. Now, they are beginning to see how events are actually occurring.
The story of how nations behave is one which stretches all the way back through the Ancient world, into prehistory. Following the wayhuman societies have behaved right from their early origins was interesting for me, but not as interesting as the way I am now finding that we can apply the same principle to modern nations. itself. For example, in the Ancient world, we can see that the fall of Assyria led to the rise of Persia, the collapse of Greece preceded the rise of Rome. Moving into the Middle Ages, the isolation of the Celtic kingdoms by the Roman Empire led to their conversion to Christianity. There are certain things we can see from the point of view of now widely available histories which people at large took for granted they were never going to know.
Yet, the people of today are still being born into the crises we have inherited from the past. It is evident from the world maps we can now see on the internet that the European takeover of the Americas created Modern Capitalism, that huge economic bubble which was accompanied by Colonialism. Industrialisation in Europe then created Communism. But, just as we thought we were resolving that issue, a new threat appeared which destroyed the safety of anyone wanting to walk out on the street.
Terrorism became the world number one problem, just as most people believed that we were actually starting to make progress in terms of the way global issues were addressed. Reagan and Gorbachev ended the nuclear arms race and the world entered a 21st century of peace and prosperity. It was due to offer success for everyone. But, why did this occur? Surely, nobody wanted it to happen.
The problem was that the underlying cause of events was in the social framework which had come through the whole of history. We inherited this crisis directly from the past, because of the way events occurred on a global scale. Looking at it this way, it makes sense in terms of a juxtaposition of nations and ideas. While the U.S. and Russia were resolving their issues, everyone became focused on celebrating our success and not paying attention to the problems which still existed the world. At the time, the Middle East was split in half following the Iran/ Iraq war, Saddam Hussein saw the creation of an Islamic Superstate as the solution.When they invaded Kuwait, the resulting U.S. invasion was known as the first Gulf War, but their occupation did not end as it was bringing ‘long-term stability’ to the situation. Then Islamic militant groups sprang up the fight the western invaders.
So, nobody actually caused the problem of terrorism, it is simply a situation which has evolved over time. But, the longer the world continues to live in a state of crisis, surely, the worse it gets. Revolutions spread throughout the Middle East and several of these wars continue. However, what it seems must happen is, the relationship between nations needs to move forward as a whole and this cannot happen until the situation moves forward within nations themselves. This is, again, because of the way they all add up into the greater whole. If you ask any national leaders what they are going to do about any international situation, they can only answer from the point of view of their own national perspective.
So, what we need to do is keep creating progress on a local level, thus things move forward on the national. We must have faith that what we are doing is adding up into making the world a better place, so that when it comes to an international crisis, things are done in a better way than they were last time. Otherwise, what is the point in creating progress at all? It is a problem that people are blinded to the way progress is occurring in general by the way events occur on an international level as it causes them to fall into the trap of thinking only in terms of themselves, as in nationalism.
As we have come to see, it is the juxtaposition of nations which causes events to happen on an international level.So, yes: we must continue on a national level and these wars need to keep on occurring until people at large realise what is happening. Our leaders cannot negotiate situations which are non-negotiable, as nations are brought into conflict with each other by the very way progress is being created in itself. But, they do have the power to negotiate between themselves. The world will work like this until we all start working together and this is a problem which has since been addressed by the U.N.
Evidently, more work needs to be done on understanding the world-order and how it is evolving. But, with a little more education it is not something which entirely out of sight. We can solve even the most stubborn problems, as we can study the details which add up into making the bigger picture. Assets are relatively fixed, every day we live in pretty much the same world as we did yesterday; factories, markets, shops and businesses do not move around very much. Progress is actually quite predictable. One day we will look back and think how stupid it was that we used to have wars, as it is a just case of looking at how the whole picture is moving forward over time and being able to predict when a conflict is going to occur.