As I noted back in 2014, Immanuel Wallerstein, the great sociologist of capitalism in the late 20th century, has been writing about the instability of the ‘world system’ (a term he coined) for over 40 years. He believes that the ‘world system’ of capitalism has been in decline since about 1968, so that we are now in a transition phase. The new system will not necessarily be better for ordinary people. In an intriguing piece from May 2014 – “The center isn’t holding very well” – he says:
As our existing historical system is in the process of dying, there is a fierce struggle over what kind of new historical system will succeed it. Soon, we may indeed no longer live in a capitalist system, but we could come to live in an even worse system – a “rough beast” seeking to be born? To be sure, this is only one possible collective choice. The alternative choice is a relatively democratic, relatively egalitarian system, also seeking to be born. Which one we shall see at the end of the struggle is up to us, bottom-up.
It seems to me that everyone everywhere is focused for the moment on what will now happen in the short run. There seems to be no other subject of interest. Anxiety is at its maximum, and we need to deal with it.
Immanuel Wallerstein, the sociologist who gave us World Systems Theory, has devoted his latest commentary to the consequences of a Trump victory. (From the end of the month it will appear as Commentary 437 in the archive.)
Domestically he says it doesn’t matter how much he won by or whether he won the primary vote. He won.
In a season of lists, George Friedman, Chairman of the global intelligence company Stratfor, has made a list of his top five events for 2104.
1: Europe’s Persistent Decline
The single most important event in 2014 was one that did not occur: Europe did not solve its longstanding economic, political and social problems.
Europe, taken together, remains the world’s largest economy and a centre of global commerce, science and culture. It’s inability to solve its problems or make any significant progress has the potential to disrupt the world system. There is general economic malaise and huge unemployment in the south. Continue reading Friedman’s top five events of 2014→