Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The End of Stability

The reaction of President Obama and Hillary Clinton to the election of Donald Trump has been admirably conciliatory and mature. Especially after the numerous absurdities from Mr. Trump et al. As said "when they go low, we go high".

As I have written before, the grotesquely declined policies of Mr. Trump comes in addition to many years of decline of the Republican party. The very different behavior from the Democratic party is a good picture of the global situation. We are in a transition from Mature Modernity to Declined Modernity. In this transition period the old mature and the new declined  forces live side by side. We have both Hollande and Le Pen, both Germany and Turkey, both Obama and Trump. Seen from the point of view of Mature Modernity Trump is an absolute disaster. But of course he does not alone bring about the disaster. He embodies the decline present already. His victory may have accelerated it a few years, but it has been underway and would have come anyway.

Since his victory much has already been said on the consequences from countless experts and comments and editorials. There is no need for many repetitions here.

The victory of Trump indeed heralds the coming end of democracy as we knew it. Its final change in to rule by the mob, and what is worse: the use of the mob by demagogues and autocrats like Trump and Erdogan.

There is only one concrete advantage to be seen, and that is in the short term. Foreign policies; the relations America-Russia may improve.  The rigid habitual cold war thinking characterizing both Republican and Democrat hawks including Mrs. Clinton and much of NATO could find its end. Cooperation on Syria would may be be possible.

But in almost all other respects the new era is unwelcome. It must be deeply deplored. And we should still try to save what can be saved of the mature democratic forms of government by modifying them into more controlled forms able to avoid and control the dissolving forces. But maybe this is a naive dream  except for a few countries. For the rest of the world we should face the new reality. And not just cry over the lost paradise.

Presently we have two measuring standards. That from mature modernity and that from declining modernity. Judging from the old standards the turn to Trump, Le Pen etc. is catastrophic. From the new standard they must be judged from their acts. Are they able to maneuver in the new conditions?

This does not mean that you have to be declined to deal with the new conditions. As said elsewhere Germany and China may soon be the only pre-declined stable powers. They could be quite able to deal with the new world, but only if they adapt to the new circumstances: the threat from the mob, demagogues and foreign chaos. The risk is rigidity and lack of this adaption. But lack of any consistency and stability is equally a problem for good rule benefitting a country and its strength.

Lack of both consistency and adaptability can be detrimental no matter the era. In light of rigidity an unorthodox figure like Trump could have an advantage. But unorthodox policies must be coupled with a certain stability. In a complex world like ours too shifting measures lead to badly governed and unorganized societies.

For the USA Trump is not the biggest problem. No the really big problem is a Republican party degenerated into rigid obstructionists and opportunists and Puritan fanatics. The sum of these groups mean lack of ability to both govern and be governed. This will continue after Trump.

In the few days passed since nov. 8. Trump has shown a certain moderation. Remains to see if this will continue. Present and post-Trump Republican leaders may not show any moderation, but press on with more right wing turns.

In light of this the remarkable restraint on behalf of the Democrats may not continue. Left wing populists will demand counter-reforms and obstruction of Republican presidencies and will want retaliations. In the worst case scenario the political climate will degenerate more and more. Incongruent political measures will be implemented by shifting presidents. Effective administration and rule will be difficult. Violent upheavals will accompany politics as the big tensions within the American society are carried out in confrontations on the street. The two political wings will both fuel their own supporters and aggravate tensions further. Probably periods of personal dictatorships will appear.

For int'l relations as said the short term results could be an end to the cold war and even a US contraction of sphere of interest. The present sphere encompassing all the world until 50 nautical miles from the coasts of China and Russia were too wide to allow a consistent defense anyway.

But it is almost a law of a warring states period like the present that the global power struggle will restart. This could be from both Democrats and Republicans. And if the intra-American tensions are channeled outwards against the outer world and played out here like the Roman 2000 years ago, the world has nothing good to await. But it is equally likely that the USA will weaken itself through the internal strife. The United States is removing itself from the position it had a few years ago when it looked like a gradual takeover of the world through culture and Cyberspace.

Needless to say that also on the smaller level inter-state conflicts will become more frequent when opportunist populists and autocrats like Erdogan rule. And this will easily again become proxy-wars when the global competition restarts.

So in sum the political decline in and between countries leads to badly run countries and conflicts between countries. Therefore the new condition is definitely bad, even if it when it becomes the normal condition should be judged by its own standards.

In the troubled times to come  countries with institutionalized stability have an advantage. At least if they are not rigid and can adapt. We will see how the very stable Germany adapts to Mr. Trump. China also has its own stability. This shows that undemocratic ways of governments are an advantage if they are intelligent and through written or unwritten institutions have continuity beyond single leaders. As said elsewhere less democratic measures can be either purely for power-hunger or to ensure functioning government. Compared to an America torn apart and weakened by internal conflicts and misgovernment China will have a clear advantage.

As long as forces of the old world order still exist we may hope to delay the development of the new. But it may be too late since the 8. November 2016.

At the end of the era Caesar is waiting.