Last year I was fortunate to discover the work of American John Robb. He had in 2007 published an important book ( The Decentralizing World of the Global Guerrilla Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization (John Wiley & Sons, 208 pages). The former USAF intelligence officer takes on the difficult questions of threat to globalized capitalism from disaffected groups (global guerrillas). His theory fits well in with my own thoughts on the ongoing global civil war. The major thesis of Robb is that our reliance on interconnected technology-communications, large industrial facilities, energy distribution makes us in the first world vulnerable to what he calls “open-source warfare) with a large number of decentralized actors. As far back as in the 1970s I published an article on the vulnerable modern industrial state in an srael academic journal. Open-source warfare connects with the same type of technology (internet) and acts in concert to destabilize and destroy the West.As in the ongoing global civil war there is an interesting connection between the many religious wars in Europe in the seventeenth century and our own age. It might be that we are seeing the high-water mark of the type of state that was created at the end of the Thirty Year’s War (Peace of Westphalia).

Robb believes that we are in for a great number of global systematic shocks from a great number of sources.

The Problems We Face

The scale of our system is beyond the ability of nation-states and the global community of nation-states.The current financial crisis is one sign that the global GDP (60 trillion US dollars) is becoming difficult to handle in the system.

The speed of the spread of shocks in a global interconnected system is hard to handle and so fast that the response time is too much for governmental institutions.

The large system is beyond understanding. It is becoming too complex.

The result is that there is a risk that in time the nation-state might be delegitimized as political leaders will fail to take effective corrective action. Resources to solve crises will be expended too hastily. This might eventually lead to a situation where the nation-state cannot answer any more to disasters and wars of the future. The result, at least in the beginning, will be more hollow/failed states.

In the networked design of our global system small events can grow into large global shocks.

The Future

We have not yet seen what the present global financial crisis will lead to. It could mean an acceleration of the decline of the state. New black swans (this term will be explained and commented on in a future blog) may lead to greater dislocations than before. The hollow/failed states might lurch from crisis to crisis. Global guerrillas will take the opportunity to opt for open source warfare (this term will also be commented on in a future blog) to fight the enemy (both states and multinational corporations). Robb’s solution to this future is a shift towards resilient communities. In a forthcoming blog the reader will find comments on why insurgency and global groups are now avoiding establishing states (this trend has been described by professor Jacub Grygiel in a brilliant article not so long ago). Eventually the gradual weakening of nation-states could lead to the replacement of government services by corporate services. Violence of global guerrillas in the fight for control of failed states might be a common occurance in the future.

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