Saturday, December 5, 2015


Montenegro has been invited to join NATO. Of course this must be felt like a provocation in Russia.
 Montenegro was one of the last few bastions of pro-Russian sentiments in Eastern Europe. The Balkans with its Slavic Orthodox heritage can be seen as the natural cultural brothers and allies of Russia. Toynbee regards the Russian civilization as a descendant of an older Orthodox civilization, and no doubt the two civilizations have many traits in common. Whereas the northern parts of East Europe are integral parts of the Western civilization, this is not necessarily the case for the southern parts, which are culturally closer to Russia.

Russia has been pushed very much eastwards and reduced in sphere of influence. The west is expanding ever more both politically and culturally into the east.

Russia could have hoped for support from countries in the orthodox parts of ex-Yugoslavia. Bulgaria and Romania have already been lost partly because of the anti-Soviet heritage. The post-Yugoslavian states are following suit in the hope of richness. Montenegro was one of Russia's last allies. Its switch of allegiance to the West will be felt as a humiliation in Moscow.

Of course Montenegro has the right to self-determination, but it is nothing less than arrogant that the EU and NATO keeps on expanding at the cost of Russia. It is also short-sighted: The cold war is cooling further, and the fight against terrorism is being disturbed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Turkey and Russia

Turkey just shot down a Russian fighter jet over northern Syria.

Why now? Was this a deliberate attempt to destroy a potential "threatening" alliance against ISIS? After all Russian planes attacking the Turkmen militia and flying near the border are indeed provocative for the Turks, but it is nothing new. Earlier fighter jets have not been attacked.

At least the Turkish military should have been restrained right now, where the powers could begin to collaborate in the fight against ISIS. The Russian plane could simply have been escorted back.

Or does Ankara regard the PYD as so dangerous that it will sabotage a joint fight against terror and a beginning peace process in Syria just to prevent the Syrian Kurds from being recognized as a part of it? Was it an attempt at diverting the attention away from ISIS to help Turkey's own interests?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Anonymous and ISIS

In the last post, Elaborations, I may have understated the importance of the third sphere, cyberspace, in the war with ISIS. Obviously they can  not be removed from the groumd in the Middle East by the help of IT alone, but clearly the web is of immense importance for the group in its communication and propaganda to the un-integrated and marginalized young people in the rest of the world. Elsewhere I talked about the present close collaboration between the barbarians outside all civilizations (like notably ISIS) and what Toynbee called the internal proletariat in the form of marginalized people in the big cities and suburbs. This close collaboration, a newcomer in world history, is mediated through the new "Third Sphere" (see the post with this name), the Internet.

Therefore it is very good news that the group Anonymous has joined the fight against ISIS like earlier the Ghost Security Group. Attacks on the sites and accounts of the terrorists can disrupt their connections with and recruitment of  disciples in the Western civilization and thus be a valuable additional front at the side of the military means.

This discussion points to a general point, which is obvious and not new: In all three spheres it is possible to fight using irregular means. In the political or public sphere it is possible  to use non-parliamentary means like demonstrations and civil disobedience, and in the military sphere it is possible to use guerrilla warfare. In the third IT -sphere it is possible to use hacker-attacks. This allows a kind of guerilla-war in cyberspace from groups like Anonymous. But of course the cyber-sphere is characterized by the same declining tendencies as politics.

Turning back to ISIS, there is one positive impact of the horrible events in Paris: a beginning cooperation between the western powers and Russia. The joint efforts by France and Russia are good news. Now we need Russia and the United States to lay aside their competition and join in an alliance in this important fight.

Hopefully the extreme brutality of ISIS could thus lead to the good result of uniting all forces. France, Russia, the United States, Anonymous, everybody are welcome!

With a further generalization we may look at possible impacts of ISIS in the Middle East. As said in the post "Ethnic Cleansing in the Arab World" this region is in a transition. The remnants of the old are struggling to protect their culture. And the patchwork of Oriental nations are being transformed to western type teritorial nations. Often these processes happen through violence and ethnic cleansings. These developments have been utilized by ISIS.

But the group is behaving so barbaric that most Muslims should react with shock. As an Iranian journal wrote recently, both Shias and Sunnis amd all Madhabs would agree that ISIS has nothing to do with any form of Islam. Even the Wahhabis should agree in this.

In the long run it is to be hoped that the mentioned developments in the Middle East will end in a modern version of the Oriental culture. We must also hope that the process will happen with as little violence as possible. In its barbary ISIS may contribute to this by uniting many Moslems and showing the dangers if violence gets out of control.

In this way this insane group could have served one good purpose.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


A couple of quick remarks to elaborate on the last post:

1) It is not a task only for the United States to "calm the world". Its dominance and power is big, but not sufficient to control the amount of global war and chaos. And the cyber-sphere, where the USA is absolutely dominating, is of most use in the developed countries so heavily dependent on IT. Real wars and terrorism in or from the third world must be controlled through military and diplomatic and also economic means.

And to calm matters in this context we also need especially Russia, but China and the EU aswell. And most importantly, it is necessary for these players to cooperate.

Presently as said it is of paramount importance to stop the war in Syria and destroy ISIS here and in Iraq. Both to reduce suffering and terrorism and to end the massive streams of refugees. The last factor is contributing to the failure of the EU, through increasing disagreement and racist populism, and this can be in nobody's interest, unless of course a goal is a further weakening of the European competitor on the int'l scene.

The EU is a bit like the so-called Vertical Alliances (vertical meaning north-south) in the old Chinese modernity, the Warring States period around 500 - 221 BC. Like in other modernities including the present, the countries competed and fought for hegemony. As the state Qin in the west  became more and more dominating, the other states tried to make unions, at certain times under a common prime minister, to balance and counter the power of Qin. But these unions were again and again split because of disagreements and particular interests. Some countries broke out and made so-called Horizontal Alliances (west-east) with Qin. And because of this incoherence of the Vertical Alliances Qin won in the end.

The EU can be seen as a vertical alliance trying to counter the big powers in east and west, this time in a more peaceful competetion. As the Chinese predecessors the attempt fails because of incoherence, disagreements and particular interests, even to the extent that countries like Spain, Belgium and the UK could break up.

The EU is unlikely ever to be a serious player on its own in the world. But its dissolution could be a globally destabilizing factor or at least mean the absence of a valuable stabilizing factor.

2) Concerning my comments on government, it is not implied that one-man or one-party rule is the only remedy against political decline. As often seen, not least in the English history of the Whigs and Tories 1700 - 1900, a two-party system can also be effective. But in the present atmosphere and phase a certain level of organization and control is necessary. Obviously power should alternate between the parties through elections, but populists and desperadoes should be excluded from real influence.

This could be an alternative to the Roman civil wars in the last century before Augustus. As said elsewhere it is unlikely for a dominating power in our civilization to disintegrate to the level of civil war. But also a lower level of chaos in such an important country would be highly undesirable. Like in Rome competing politicians could try to use the world as an arena for their fights. There could be more wars like the one by the younger Bush in Iraq.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Trump, Orbán, Kaczyński and Netanyahu

Trump on trade with China: "Listen you m-----f------, we're going to tax you 25 percent!"
He also claimed that the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Hillary Clinton was the worst foreign minister ever etc. etc.

Netanyahu recently accused the Palestinian leader Abbas of directly urging Palestinians to attack Israelis with knives. And worse, he claimed Hitler only started the Holocaust after being persuaded to this by the Palestinian Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

 Kaczyński, now de facto leader of Poland, claimed that there is a secret plan to destroy the Polish nation by filling the country with Moslem refugees bringing diseases and parasites.

Such obviously absurd viewpoints from leading politicians is a bad omen for the future of democracy.

That the tendencies have been apparent for some time also in West Europe is no secret. The large influx of Syrian refugees is not causing, but reinforcing the tendency in Eastern and Western Europe. But the development is universal.

The simple figure of a parable rising to and then decreasing from a top illustrates the development of mature democracy in our Western civilization.

Of course the real curve is not as smooth as in the figure. Economic, military and political crises have resulted in large deviations. We were at the top-point or rather top-plateau perhaps in the 60s and 70s. Since then the decline has set in. No matter the deviations the overall averaged developmemt follows the pattern of increase, top and decline in level of maturity.

Seen apart from the 30s and 40s North America and West Europe have followed the curve quite closely. In contrast, because of their position east of the Iron Curtain East European countries had the deviations continued until Gorbatjov.

Since then these countries have come back on the main track, following West Europe with a certain time lag. But now almost before they have reached the peak, the general decline sets in, and some of these countries revert to more undemocratic forms. Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary with their geographic and political proximity to West Europe and their pre-war development had the strongest democratic traditions, also under Sovjet dominance. Now even these countries show worrying signs.

Hungary has become quite authoritarian under Orbán, it maltreats refugees and builds fences against them.

Slovakia broke out  from  Czechoslovakia partly because it was not as mature as the Western part and wanted to oppress the Gypsies and the Hungarian minority. Now the Czech Republic seems to follow the Slovaks in its attitude to the refugees.

Despite economic progress and almost complete lack of Middle Eastern refugees the new government in Poland won the elections by abusing a postulated threat from Syrians. The ideal is Orbán's Hungary.

Despite their sad recent past the post-Yugoslavian Balkan states almost seem like the most mature states in East Europe except for the southernmost part like Kosovo which seems on the way to chaos before it ever reaches a functioning democracy.

But it is important to keep in mind that the picture in East Europe may be complicated by the possible emerging still rudimentary East European civilization.

Turkey may be the same story of decline. Erdogan builds a giant palace for himself, destroys the peace process with the PKK, reduces press freedom and democracy. Latin America could follow a similar path of late reached maturity with a short duration.

As often said the right wing parts of the US Republicans are a sign of the same decline as we see in Europe.

The developments in Israel more and more turning towards the right and towards racism are not only a political development per se, but as we can see in the absurdities from not only the prime minister, but in broad sections of society, it also represents the decay. New irresponsible settlements are approved all the time. Even Israeli Arabs are treated and defamed as second class inhabitants, Communists and terrorists.

Of course the political decline needs not only manifest itself as a movement on the right wing. Also left wing and even centrist populism as seen not least in southern European countries are parts of the tendency.

All these developments are of course worrying in themselves, as they are damaging national policies and continuity. But when they affect countries with international importance it is directly dangerous. Just a couple of well-known examples which do not need elaboration:
- Turkey's new war with the Kurds compromises the fight against ISIS.

- Israel's policy can have disastrous consequences.

- Worst of course are the developments in the worlds leading power, the United States. If one of the very few countries with the ability to calm the world itself gets unstable, we are in real trouble.

As said elsewhere, in pre-decline times democracy was stable. Self-sustained responsible political parties through the press, radio and TV guided the different groups within the societies who identified themselves with them and voted for them. Governments cooperated closely with experts and affected groups of society, and matters were debated seriously in the public sphere. Now mob rule replaces this, see my posts  "The Decline of Politics" and "Decline of Modernity".

China and Russia are better equipped to resist the decline.  The Chinese collective and meritocratic leadership is supplementing itself and finds leaders from its own circle. Of course decline may also affect Chinese politicians as the leading circles get richer and more influenced from abroad. Maybe it was not a bad idea to ban communist party members from attending golf clubs.

In the old USSR the intelligent leadership under Kosygin, Brezhnev and Gromyko could have developped in the same direction as the present Chinese party top. But the rigidity and lack of adaptability lead to the necessary but perhaps too quick changes under Gorbatjov and the resulting disintegration and chaos under Jeltsin. Putin with great skill succeded in rising Russia again. And his continued leadership gives a new stability replacing that of the old rule of the Communist Party. The stability can continue, but this demands that a way of transition can ensure that Putin is followed by people with similar abilities. This is an absolute condition.

In this respect one-man-rule has the same weakness as democracy: a capable leader can be followed by an idiot. But it takes longer time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Feeding the hawks

If Russian bombs hit the moderate opposition in Syria, then the Russians must stop this part of their campaign. They attack the wrong people and drive them into the arms of extremists. 

It increases once more the tensions between the United States and the Russian Federation. Tensions that seemed to be falling. The cold war scenario threatens again. 

And working against one of the most intelligent and reasonable US presidents for decades instead of cooperating is indeed unwise and in the medium and long run counterproductive almost no matter the goal.

Sooner or later a declined Republican party will retake the presidency with far reaching negative consequences for world politics. Is a Donald Trump better than Obama?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


The situation in Syria is in desperate need of a solution. Both to end suffering, to stop the stream of refugees and not least to eradicate ISIS. But the complications make it seem difficult, perhaps more difficult than it needs to be. In this post I will say nothing revolutionary or new, just restate the logical possibilities in a deliberately simplified way.

Very roughly spoken we have three bad groups: a) he Assad government, b) the alliance around al Nusra and c) ISIS. No doubt the last group is by far the worst. And we have d) the democratic opposition. Till now there have been and are two attempts at solving the situation. None will work:

1) Allying oneself with a handful of good guys without using massive forces on the ground (US) may be portrayed as morally right, but it will not succeed.

2) Churchill was prepared to ally himself with the Devil, Stalin, against Hitler. Allying oneself with a devil against the other 2 devils (as Russia does) is more effective than the US alliance with a dwarf.  But without more massive force than air bombardments, it will not suffice, not least because it risks uniting the opponents, thereby indirectly strengthening ISIS.

Divide and rule is a better strategy vis a vis the Islamist groups. An obvious goal must be to isolate ISIS. At the same time foreign ground forces are an absolute necessity.

A negotiated solution can not remove, but reduce the need for more force.

Three possibilities:

1) A negotiated solution involving the democratic opposition and a gradually reformed government in Damascus combined with a foreign invasion against the two Islamist alliances.

2) A negotiated solution involving the democratic opposition and the government and the alliance around al Nusra combined with military aid against ISIS.

3) A huge foreign invasion to fight against both the government, ISIS and the the al Nusra alliance.

Of course the United States and Russia should act together. If Assad is the main point of disagreement, he must leave the scene gradually or after a certain time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


It seems almost unbelievable that an old large and respectable company from one of the least corrupt countries in the World, Germany, should behave like VW has done. Disrespect for the environment and peoples health is not uncommon, but deliberately faking the results from tests through installed software shows an incredible lack of business ethics.

That such a way of thinking can affect VW is a sign of the same declining tendency as the one we see in other parts of the late modern societies, not least in politics. As Lenovo's adware shows, VW is not the first example of bad business ethics. But it is new in its severity and not least in the fact that it involves a company in a highly developed country otherwise characterized by a level of seriousness and responsibility which exceeds that of many other countries.

One could fear that VW is not the last  example of such behavior. In the future other companies in developed countries, certainly not just in Europe, could show similarly low moral. And even worse in its consequences are politics on the same level.

The United States and China

In the post "The Third Sphere" I talked about two new factors destabilizing the known pattern of seldom wars with long periods of peace between. They are:
1) IT warfare and 2) two-sided interventions in important North hemisphere countries.

The last of these points may be generlized to also include conflicts like the one in the South China Sea. It would then be formulated as two-sided interference in areas which by one side with or without right are seen as essential to its vital interests. This is in its turn with or without right challenged by the other side.

In the modernity of our Western civilization this phenomenon has typically occurred after periods of stability in the northern hemisphere or rather the richer world, the great powers and their satellites. In the first 5 decades after WW2 the USA and the USSR, NATO etc. and WAPA. The stability was based on mutual respect on spheres of interest and rules for behavior. This was also the reason for the lack of destabilizing effect of the interventions in Hungary 1956 and Czechoslovakia 1968. Of course the mutual acceptance of legitimate interests did not involve the Third World.

The kind of destabilizing conflicts with interventions in contended areas typically comes after events which change the political landscape. Such developments lead to unclear borders between the spheres of interest and thus makes it possible to challenge these borders. A classical event was the Cuban Revolution which moved a Caribic island out of the American sphere. The Soviet intervention with employment of nuclear missiles in the American backyard followed. Kennedy had to intervene, and fortunately the destabilizing effect was stopped quickly with a redefined border between East and West with new specific rules for conduct. Thus the episode did not alter the overall picture.

A far deeper change of political landscape came from the fall of the USSR with the independence of both East Europe and former Soviet republics. Russia suffered a very significant reduction in controlled areas. This meant that new definitions of spheres of interest were needed, but till now there certainly has been no such agreements. Obviously the problems with two-sided interventions in Ukraine stems from here.

The rise of a new country, China to a world power is another way the political landscape can change. A new big power claims its own sphere of interest. In this case including the South China Sea. If this is challenged by the United States, we have a conflict of the same type as the one in Ukraine.

It must be stressed here that I am not siding with any country in these analyses.

As said conflicts of this type are a new destabilizing factor in int'l politics, just like Cyber-attacks are. They should be contained. Ideally there should be no spheres of interest outside the big powers. Each smaller country should be fully independent. But things do not work this way. As often said many small countries are not any longer fully independent.

In conclusion it would be desirable to have mutual three-sided agreements between the United States, China and Russia on spheres of interest and on conduct to preserve stability and predictability.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The 3. Sphere cont'd

In continuation of The Third Sphere:

The importance of the new electronic arena will have and already has consequences for the policies toward the industries of software, hardware and Internet. Every country with ambitions to dominate will increasingly bring vital parts of its IT-industry under control. Certainly not own it (it is important to seem to respect the Holy Market) and not control or rule every detail. But have

- access to channels of ingoing and outgoing streams of data,

- access to activities of users,

- ability to control and change the content of data,

- ability to control what is stored and accessible in the Internet.

They will also secure

- ability to evaluate and manipulate software and also hardware delivered to chosen costumers.

And finally they will have

-  the possibility to veto what IT-companies decide to do if it harms national security interests.

Parts of these points are already being implemented.

In countries with power-ambitions or just the will to stay independent it will be regarded as treason to sell essential parts of the IT-industry to compagnies in foreign powers.

Countries whose inhabitants and politicians don't know, don't think and don't care or just have given up will continue to let vital parts of their IT-industry like earlier Skype and Bluetooth be sold to foreign companies without reflection. They will even be proud that firms in such important countries want our technology! These countries will be open fields for the electronic infiltration from more ambitious states.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Turks and Kurds

The Ottoman Empire was the sum of most of the nations in the Oriental civilization. As said in the post "Ethnic Cleansing in the Arab World" these nations lived in a patchwork of smaller and bigger areas between each other, the typical pattern in this civilization.

Since the dissolvement of this empire and its parallel Westernization began, more and more of these nations have become transformed into nations of the type normal in the Western civilization. And this implies the wish for a coherent territory for each nation.

This proces has happened through numerous etcnic cleansings. Beginning already in the 19th century in the Balkans, where the development restarted several times up to the 1990s. Continuing with the genocide of the Armenians and after the war with Greece the expelling of Turks and Greeks from Greece and the now reduced Turkey.

But Turkey continued to house miliions of Kurds. The policy towards these was one of forced assimilation in culture and language. This is another form of ethnic cleansing. It resulted in oppression and resistance, including the war with PKK, which used guerrilla-war and also terrorism though on a level infinitely smaller than that of the later IS.

The long running peace process with PKK gave hope that this conflict would be ended. Both kurds and Turks had become quite Westernized and therefore they were ready to live in a modern state where national difference did not matter as much as before. This would have been the last and third stage in the development from Oriental to modern Western nations after 1) patchwork nations and 2) ethnic cleansing. In this last stage like in modern Western countries there is room for more peoples.

But now after the last elections the AKP has ended the peace process and started extensive bombings. Of course provocations from PKK has also played a role. But from this to a full scale war there is a difference. Also worrying are the beginning measures against the legal party HDP, which has electoral support from Kurds, but also other people. The party could thus have pointed to a future modern Turkey, the mentioned third stage.

The changes in policy from Ankara looks like a return to the old policy against the Kurds seing them as an alien element. I do certainly not claim that Erdogan's  purpose is renewed ethnic cleansing. Rather the purpose is to remove the Kurds as a political factor robbing AKP of their absolute majority. But ethnic tensions will inevitably rise as a result. PKK will answer with more violence. Mutual ethnic hatred between Turks and Kurds could rise once more.

The consequences for the war against IS is another chapter. But weakening PYD in Syria will definitely not help. A buffer-zone cannot be established without troops on the ground.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Europe :-(

In these months one feels ashamed to be European.

Rightwing populist political parties and xenophobic and selfish sentiments in the public opinion are on the rise. And worse, more and more their ideas are infecting mainstream politics. These developments make one doubt whether full democracy under such circumstances and in a such a climate is a good way to govern countries and interstate relations. As said in "Decline of Modernity" democracy is more and more degenerating into mob rule. Also on the level of the EU single states behave like members of a mob.

Presently in Europe we see these developments manifested in a striking and sad way in two areas.

The number of refugees from Syria is rising as people must flee war, persecution, massacres, destruction and famine. People, politicians, political parties, governments and states in Europe guided by egoistic and racist parts of the media and the population just see this as an attempt to come and live on social welfare. Desperate and suffering refugees are not distinguished from unwanted migrants. EU countries reject quotas for a distribution of refugees, and even on a voluntary basis they want as few as possible. Certain countries only a few hundred or none. At the same time small poor non-EU countries like Lebanon have over a million. This is simply an unworthy behavior from the old continent with proud humanistic traditions. It again shows the levels reached by the political decline.

Also concerning Greece we see this. It was probably not wise to let a desperate population decide in a referendum on matters as complicated as economic plans. And the elected ruling populist leftwing party is no doubt behaving irresponsibly. But letting the mob and their press rule the policies toward Greece in North European countries has lead to a directly shameful treatment of a people and a country on their knees. Obviously reforms are necessary in Greece, but equally obviously reforms consisting of only cuts and no investments lead to a downward spiral as Keynes would have predicted. In many countries like Germany, no matter their misery, the Greeks are only seen as lazy and disobedient children, losers who just want our money. The idea of helping them or reducing their debt or just allowing investments is rejected with scorn by the egoistic mob and their politicians.

In conclusion policies from democracies degenerated to mob rule are both unsympathetic and inefficient.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Third Sphere

Heavy American weapons in the Baltic, new Russian ICBMs etc. etc. Let us hope this is just ritual and routine, and that the cold war will not cool further. But not least the continued conflict in Eastern Ukraine still risks aggravating matters between East and West.

Another major risk comes from the increased conflicts on the Internet. Espionage, hacker attacks, sabotage.

As said in more posts we are now in the age of modernity, a phase which is characterized amongst other things by a competition or fight between big nations for world hegemony. In all civilizations this competition has taken place in two spheres:

1) Military
2) Public opinion

But in our case between these two a third is added:

3) The Internet or Cyberspace.

The internet can be seen as a sphere between the two other spheres. Part of it is used for information and propaganda for and by people and politicians and is thus important for  the sphere of public opinion. But in addition to this and even more importantly it forms a separate arena of real and direct power. It has got  widespread use for the executive functions: government, central and local administration, police, surveillance just to mention some. The countless more technical uses in public and private control-systems can be seen as part of this sphere as well. Extremely important is the role of electronic communication in money transfer. Of course the Internet is also used directly in the military sphere for communication and ntelligence gathering. 

So Cyberspace is directly involved in the two traditional spheres, public opinion and military. And it has assumed a heavy role in executive functions, administration and control. Therefore it is reasonable to say that it has begun to constitute a new third sphere. All this gives the Internet a paramount importance in interstate competition.

Conflicts in Cyberspace risk destabilizing inter-state relations with the possibility of provoking countermeasures  of the same sort or even military. I will argue that this together with other factors could break a two centuries old pattern of conflict in the Western civilization (today including of course China and to a great extent Russia).

As said in other posts, during modernity - or with other terms the Warring States period or Time of Troubles - conflicts and wars are seemingly unavoidable on the way to victory of one power. Often wars have been more frequent in the second half of modernities.

This happens in different ways in different civilizations. In some cases permanent wars, in others shifting with peace. In old Rome (Greco-Roman civilization) the wars were both external and internal and they were more or less permanent, especially in the last century before Augustus. In the modernities of old China (500-221 BC) and of both Mesopotamian civilizations (ca. 2000-1700 BC and 850-540 BC) wars were interspaced  by periods of peace, but very frequent. In the second Chinese modernity during the Song dynasty (960-1279)  wars were seldom untill the assault by the Mongolians.

Obviously the pattern of war and peace is not static through modernities. As said wars often get more frequent and violent through modernities, but idiosyncratic events and developments can have decisive effects in altering patterns. In the last decades of the second Mesopotamian modernity things became much more peacefull because of the fall of Assyria in 609 BC. In our case 1914 could have marked a general shift to a far worse long period of brutal wars, but this  in its turn was stopped by the emergence of the terror balance.

This post deals with present developments in our case which could potentially alter the known pattern into a less peaceful and stable phase. That longest possible periods of peace and predictability  are desirable should be self-evident.

In our case not only because of global costs of technological wars, we have seen a pattern of often big wars with long breaks of peace in between. It has functioned this way in our whole modernity since the French revolutionary wars. But the typical increase in the frequency of wars in the second half of modernities has been limited by the above factors, the terror balance and the cost of modern warfare.

Only in the 3. world have wars been more frequent, here including the many proxy-wars.

Now IT makes low-scale hostilities possible with costs, that are lower than those involved in military means. But as hinted at above it has negative consequences:
1) it gives permanent instability and unpredictability causing global harm, not least economically.
2) it gives risk for military retributions.

Therefore the development could break the pattern of seldom wars with long periods of peace in-between seen since 1789 in the northern hemisphere.  Replacing it by more or less permanent low scale conflict with increased risk of more IT and even military conflicts. The Western pattern of war/conflict and peace would be altered a third time after the changes in 1914 and 1945.

Internet conflicts thus have the same effects as the other recent newcomer: Interventions by both sides in conflicts in important countries in the northern henisphere like Ukraine. Both have a destabilising and risk-creating effect.

(The intervention in ex-Yugoslavia was less of a problem because primarily one side intervened and essential interests of the other side was not felt threatened.)

In sum presently the two main destabilizing factors are 1) IT warfare and 2) two-sided interventions in important North hemisphere countries.

The last seem difficult to handle without mutual trust and agreement on spheres of interest. But a code of cyber-conduct is needed and possible. The details of this must be negotiated, but it may include at least permission to spy and prohibition of sabotage. Thus the Sino-American talks on this subject must be applauded.

Unfortunately future conflicts may not be avoided, but as hoped in this post they should continue to come with long distances in time. Hopefully and probably they will have a less traditionally military character. Even without a terror balance the costs of wars would be unacceptable because of the price of modern trchnological warfare, the loss of life and the economic consequences in the global trade.

The military sphere is increasingly supplemented by the new third Internet sphere. Only few countries make themselves clear how much they have made themselves dependent on the Internet and how much the control of this through soft- and hardware is already centralized in a few countries. Through this web countries can be subjugated almost as much as earlier through occupation. The disclosures by Mr. Snowden and presently from WikiLeaks on NSA activities in Germany show how European governments and parliaments are enmeshed in the American web. Moreover today the dependance on the Internet is so heavy that it is almost completely impossible to break out or establish clear lines of defense.

The activities of the NSA in countries like Germany and France are not only intelligence gathering. They are also and perhaps more a de facto control of parts of the affected countries. 

The wide usage of the web explains the importance with which internet control is regarded by the big players. Because of the costs of both non-conventional and conventional military wars Cyberspace could replace the field as the major scene for decision of power on the globe. Who wins in the end might be the country which enmeshes most of the world in its web of Internet, software and hardware.

But the costs of cyber-wars in a globalized world are also high enough to make a code of conduct desirable.

Continues in

3. Sphere cont'd

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Save Palmyra!

For a historian the progress by the barbarians from the so-called Islamic State has been a nightmare. Destructions of museums and ancient sites have succeeded each other.

The Middle East is the cradle of civilization as such and it has taken part in or been in direct contact with several civilizations, the Mesopotamian, the Old Egyptian, the Greco-Roman and the Oriental-Arab with famous peoples from Sumerians over Acadians, Hittites, Assyrians, Israelites, Persians to Arabs, just to mention some.

That IS destroys the beautiful achievements from all these past cultures clearly shows their barbaric nature. They are beyond and outside all civilized peoples. They attack and destroy the history of all mankind, our common heritage.

Now they are approaching the ruins of the city of Palmyra. A large UNESCO site with many impressive monuments. One of the most famous cities in antiquity. A melting pot where Western and Eastern cultures met with a flourishing result.

We can not let the hordes reach and destroy this city! Kobane was saved. Should we use military effort to save a dead city? Yes we should. IS must not be allowed to destroy further parts of our past, our history, our foundation.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Brief State of the World 2015-2016

In the world today of course we have three major powers: The United States, China and Russia. Despite economic strength the EU is not a serious competitor. Major conflicts exist not least between the West and Russia and in the Middle East. This obvious picture is enriched and complicated through consideration of the involved civilizations.

Civilizations or high cultures are large cultural entities with more nations. They last at least 1500 years. Each have its own distinct character. They develop in parallel, but with a displacement in time. Examples are old Egypt, the Mayas, old China and the Greco-Roman world.

Today we have 2 or perhaps 3 civilizations left. The West in its peak, the Oriental world in a very late stage and perhaps a beginning Russian or East European civilization which culturally is heavily dominated by the West.

The two long surviving civilizations India and China are today to be seen as assimilated culturally by the West. Of course this has happened after long processes of resistance and fight for survival as seen in the Sepoy and Boxer insurrections.

Even though India and China are cultural parts of the West they still have a certain coloring from their primordial character. A coloring with importance for their present development.

The civilization of China has always had historical sense and talent for organization, planning and centralization and respect for authorities. This also is a part of the Westernized modern nation and is a part of the explanation behind its success.

In addition to the character of a former civilization in itself the progress of the countries in these old areas also depends on the compatibility or similarity between the old character and the character of the assimilating West. This too is part of the explanation of the success of Japan and China and the slower progress of India and the Middle East.

There are many conflicts in the Middle East. Only a couple will be directly dealt with here, but the many factors can be subsumed in four main trends:

1) The westernized parts
Much of the Middle East is in fact westernized parts of the Oriental civilization. But as the also westernized old civilizations, India and China, these parts of the Middle East are colored by the old culture.

2) The remnants of the old
Other parts of the Middle Eastern populations are still clinging to or fighting in defense of the old culture. Some of these are terrorists like al-Qaeda, but most of them are just continuing to live as always.

3) Oriental nations transforming
As said in other posts, in the process of westernization the Oriental form of nations, where peoples and religions were living between each other in patchworks of often small areas like ghettos, are transformed into Western type nations with ethnically homogenous larger areas. This transformation involves conflicts and wars with ethnic cleansings as seen in the former Yugoslavia (as originally part of the Ottoman Empire also Oriental), Turkey (Armenia) Iraq and now Syria.

4) Barbarians
Besides the westernized areas of old civilizations and the remaining old civilizations we also have what has always and by all cilized people been termed "barbarians". The peoples beyond the borders of civilizations. In bearlier times these covered large parts of the Earth. Now they are much reduced, but they still exist. Mostly In parts of Africa and the Middle East and its eastern vicinity.

Toynbee talks about "proletariats" at the margins of civilizations. The "internal proletariat" are the poor and otherwise marginalized people in the societies. As the term is used for more phases in the development of a civilization the "internal proletariat" covers both the traditional working class of mature modernity and the later social welfare receivers, the "losers" as the mob of late modernity calls them. These also include unintegrated refugees and migrants from the third world. In Europe not least the Moslem world.

Toynbee also gives special attention to those of the barbarians who live outside, but in the proximity of civilizations. These become brutalized through the contact. They attack endlessly to plunder and kill out of hatred against civilized peoples. They are hordes of warriors. The classical example is the Germanic peoples fighting against Rome. Toynbee with a less intuitive name calls the hordes the "external proletariat".

This interpretation explains the barbary of groups like Boko Haram, al-Shabab, al-Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIL) and Taliban.

That the internal proletariat is augmented through migrants from the outside world, from both civilized and uncivilized peoples is nothing new. The city of Rome 2 millennia ago was filled with such people. But today in the Western civilization we also have an opposite movement. People from the internal proletariat travel abroad to join the external proletariat.

And these send agents and terrorists to us and use the means of of the Western civilization like the Internet. Indeed an extraordinary collaboration between internal and external proletariats unseen in the history of other civilizations.

Of course today these barbarians fuse with the groups fighting for the survival of the Oriental civilization. And even though the barbaric forces represent non-western trends they can merge with westernized Oriental nations wanting ethnically clean territorial nations.This is what we see in Iraq and Syria where IS is killing and driving out Christians, Yazidis and Shias.

Iran, saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Many politicians in the Unites States regard Iran as a force of evil and as the main sponsor of terrorism. At the same time Saudi Arabia is seen as a close affiliate and ally of America. But these views can be challenged.

The Saudi version of Islam, Wahhabism, was from the beginning an anti-civilization movement of the same type as present days IS. Today official Wahhabism is considerably moderated through the union with the Saudi kingdom, but still this form of Islam has a clear resentment against all civilization including Islamic civilization and 1000 years of Islamic intellect. The graves of Moslem saints are not just destroyed in IS territory, but also in Saudi Arabia. Influential elements in this country and also other countries in the Arab Peninsula support al-Qaeda and even IS.

So in many ways Saudi Arabia can be regarded as more distant from civilization than Iran, where this close affiliation with anti-culturalism is not seen. Therefore Iran is in fact culturally closer to civilization and the West than Saudi Arabia. Politically as well Iran is much more democratic and modern.

These points do of course not mean that the alliance with Saudi Arabia should be ended. In many respects this country has a valuable stabilizing influence in the region. But Iran could assume a similar role if allowed.

As said, many still cling to the idea that Iran is a major sponsor of terrorism in the world. This may have been so but presently the worst terrorism comes from Sunni groups which are certainly not allies of Iran, such as IS and al-Qaeda. These groups receive their support from persons on the Arab Peninsula (and the internal Western proletariats).

The new agreement between the 5+1 and Iran is good news indeed. It may reduce tension between countries that do not need to be very far from each other. And Iran can be a valuable ally against IS, which is a bigger threat than Hezbollah.

The problems in Yemen have many aspects. They are not yet ethnic cleansing, but could become this as the result of the exaggerated spread of the Iranian backed Houthi militias and the interventions from Saudi Arabia and its allies. This development is of course aided by the presence of elements of al-Qaeda (barbarians and Oriental remnants)and IS (barbarians). So there are good reasons to press all parties to restraint and peace talks. Here too collaboration with Iran would be an advantage.

Russia is a special case. Perhaps a partly choked beginning civilization culturally under heavy domination from the Western predecessor. For some the idea of a Russian civilization may sound speculatory, but also if we more generally speak of a certain Russian culture, many of the following points are still relevant.

Many in the West wonder why so many Russians support Putin and why there is so much hatred In Russia against the United States. Most blame the monopoly of the state media and their propaganda. This is part of the explanation, but probably not all. It could also be the reaction from a beginning new different culture or civilization in a very early - thus different from ours - stage against a dominating civilization in a very much later stage. Much like the beginning Oriental world reacted against domination from the much older Greco-Roman world 2000 yeas ago. In both cases we see a "Maccabean hatred" against the West.

But It can be quite misleading to talk about this potential new civilization as "Russian". "Slavonic" could be a slightly better term, but civilizations are not ethnic phenomena. The Oriental civilization was both Greek, Persian and Arabic. Our Western civilization was from the start both Romanic, Celtic, Slavonic, Germanic and even Hungarian. Rather, a certain landscape, which expands over time, houses the civilization. The West in its beginning filled western and central Europe. Also religions can be diverse within civilizations. Politically the diversities within civilizations are even bigger. People belonging to one and the same civilization can disagree unto wars. The complexities of what is enclosed in a civilization are also evident in the following discussion of the border between Russia and the West.

When we search for a definition of the line between spheres of interest, not least in Ukraine, we can look at this from different criteria.

1) Language
After WW 1 to try to define a border of Russia Curzon made a line between West and East Slavonic language users. A first approximation to a border between Russia and the West would be to use a corresponding language border, this time between Russian and Ukrainian.

One problem with the language border is that not all Russian speakers are politically pro-Russian.

2) Culture
Russia got her very own cultural identity as a fusion between Byzantine Orthodox Christianity and internal trends. Since Peter the Great a policy of Westernization was attempted, a policy which culminated in the adoption of the very Western ideology of Communism. But this policy never succeeded in eradicating the Russian identity. Many in both people and the leadership were very Russian. Only in small areas in the far west under the Austro - Hungarian empire, western Ukraine, we saw a deeper cultural Westernization. 

Today after the breakup of the USSR and the revolution in Ukraine we have the question: where is the true border between Russia and the West?

Using a cultural border between he West and Russia is also problematic. Areas can be outside Russias borders, but still be part of the same culture. Parts of the countries just west of Russia could also be part of the same Civilization or culture. Here this culture could in fact also be galvanizing politically anti-Russian sentiments. This could be the case in the Baltic states and in fact also in western Ukraine!

Cultural trends in the Baltic states and the Balkans could in fact be part of a new civilization or culture. The music by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt could sound either like Western Modernism or like a Medieval stage of a starting civilization or perhaps a mixture.

Obviously countries like these should not be part of Russia because they share cultural elements.

3) Politics
A third way of drawing a border is to look for political support. Who supports Russia and who don't? This may seem the best way, but political support is often transient.

Probably the Russian support for the insurgents in eastern Ukraine was an error: 1) It removes pro-Russian voters from Ukraine and 2) It creates negative feelings towards the Russians in the rest of Ukraine, including Russian-speakers.

Ukraine joining the West politically can both lead to further eastward westernization and to renewed opposition against this process. The last tendency can gain momentum from economic reforms bringing hardship.

In conclusion it is everything but simple to define the soheres of interest. Besides the Curzon-style language border we have two others: A cultural and a political. And a historically based sphere of interest of Russia must also be taken into consideration.

All this shows that simple all or none solutions for Ukraine do not exist. The whole country can neither be Western nor Russian dominated. There is no alternative to a continuation of the present peace process.

And it would be recommendable to find another term for this civilization or culture than "Russian". Perhaps "Eastern European" would do.

Interpreting Russia as an expression of a new civilization shows that the sentiments and policies here can not simply be seen as a sign of an anti-democratic system. This would be looking at it from a single and purely Western dimension of freedom vs suppression. This is certainly not wrong, but too simple. Other additional dimensions are needed to grasp the phenomenon in its full complexity. Especially the cultural differences between civilizations and their different phases are important.

And using the dimension good vs evil to characterize the USA vs Russia is not just a simplification. It is deliberate cold war thinking.

The political decline in the rich parts of the world is spreading. Even in one of the last bastions of political stability and maturity Germany, there are worrying signs. Even here populist parties like the AFD are growing. And from old big parties we hear mob-like language use humiliating Greece. And also people trying to understand the feelings in Russia are ridiculed as "Russland-Versteher".

Of course such declining behavior affects foreign politics. This is much worse when the decline affects the politicians in the United States. Here too we see the decline. As said in other posts this is the case both in the behavior of opposition politicians and in presidential / governmental politics. Both use extra-constitutional means. As governments are often schooled by realty, the most irresponsible policies tend to come from oppositions. Hence a president will have to use means like decrees to rule. But also generally presidents in the last decades have abused their administrative means.

In the present time the roles of the two parties are also asymmetrical for other reasons than the fact that one party has a president and the other is in opposition. Presently the often mentioned political decline mostly affects the Republicans. Tea Party people and other right wing populists play a large role in the party.

We see this in the sabotage of much of what the president and the government do, no matter if this sabotage hurts the whole country, like in fiscal policies. And even worse in the interference in foreign policies, like the recent visit to Congress by Netanyahu.

Right now our civilization is in the phase of warring states. A phase which normally ends in all countries being conquered and ruled by one winning power, like the Roman empire and in old China the Qin and Han empires. History shows that a serious player in the fight for hegemony can only afford a high level of internal conflict IF the other powers are weak. This was the case for the Romans. The Hellenistic countries and Carthage after -200 were too week to be any threat. Therefore the Roman republic could be torn apart in internal conflicts and civil wars and still expand all around the Mediterranean.

In old China before the First Emperor the situation was the opposite. Here the big powers were all strong. Therefore the winning state Qin had to have a strong unified leadership without tolerance of opposition.

Now in the West the situation is somewhere between these scenarios. The United States is quite dominating, but not as much as Rome was. Today the competing powers China and Russia are not to be discarded. Therefore the obstructionism from the Right is undermining not just the Republican party, but also efficient government internally and externally and thus also undermining US power.

Competing powers might see a USA weakened be internal conflicts as an advantage, but this would still be dangerous for them and the whole World as the USA has immense and dominating power and influence. Shifting unpredictable foreign policies from a very strong power can be in nobody's interest.

In this connection it is a major problem that certain US politicians - partly strengthened by isolationism - have views on the world that were shaped in the past and have not been updated. Iran does not continue to be an enemy because it in a revolutionary heated state in 1979 occupied the American embassy. And Russia does not continue to be the main danger and ideological opponent for the USA because it once was.

We saw the the result of a similar misunderstanding in the misguided invasion of Iraq after the attack on the World Trade Center.

In sum the political decline in the United States primarily showing itself in the form of right wing populists is a major threat for the Republicans, for the all-dominating status of the USA and for the stability in the world.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A time to make peace

It would be advisable for the opponents of the USA to use the next two years to solve a few of the major conflicts with the Americans.

If the Republicans win the next presidential elections, then they could in the beginning have a conflict-seeking effect on US foreign policy:
1) They will be without recent experience in foreign politics.
2) As having been without obligations they come with extreme views.
3) Because of the political decline they behave irresponsibly.
4) Also because of this decline right wing populists are pressuring the Republican party to extreme positions on Russia, the Middle East and China. And even Germany. Hearing comments from certain Republicans on Angela Merkel can make one fear the time after a power change in Washington.

The Republicans have earlier shown that they are able to conduct very responsible and balanced external policies, and they can reach this point again. But for the above reasons the first time after a shift of power in Washington could be marked by extreme views.

We are at a crucial point in recent history
1) where the cold war risks restarting and
2) political decline increases and
3) the mentioned potential shift of power in Washington approaches.

Under these circumstances there is no reason to create or increase problems that will have world historical consequences. On the contrary there is all reason to solve problems.

Otherwise I am tempted to say, once more using the same phrase, that treating the whole world as a playground could have decades-lasting consequences.

Stated less dramatically, depending on the result of the next presidential elections, two years from now we face a phase of unpredictable and conflict-seeking American foreign policies. With the new majority in Congress these policies are already casting their shadows on us in the form of demands for more hawkish American policies.

Use the rest of the quickly closing time window where we still have an experienced and responsible president in Washington, to solve conflicts with the Americans instead of provoking them.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

American Weapons to Ukraine?

American weapons to the Ukrainian government would be a world political disaster. It would no doubt cause extreme reactions from the Russians and divide the World along cold war lines.

1) A country has a sphere of interest. This sphere can be microscopic for small countries or big for great powers. Thus the size of this sphere is primarily decided by power. If competing countries have greater power, they can reduce the sphere of interest of a country.

But even if power was all, it can still be unwise to use a transient weakness of a country to overly reduce its sphere. Germany made this mistake vs France in 1871. France made the same error vs Germany on a larger scale in 1918. Of course the reduction can succeed, but used against big peoples it often causes a later surge of power from the defeated and humiliated.

This is a real risk in the case of Russia. Since Gorbatjov she has already been reduced, not only with respect to sphere of interest, but also in the proper territory. Direct American aid in further reducing its sphere in Eastern Ukraine would have a most extreme provocative effect. As old Kissinger is quoted as having said, the fighting is not far from Moscow.

2) The above considerations are based on what could be called a "power-based sphere of interest". Even though it would indeed be naive to overstate its real importance, we can since 1945 also speak of legitimate interests of a country, a "legitimate sphere of interest". Taken the history of the recent decades in Eastern Europe into consideration, it would not be absurd to say that Russia has a legitimate interest in Eastern pro-Russian Ukraine.

3) As said in other posts it is possible to see the West and Russia as belonging to two different civilizations. On the basis of this too it would probably be very wise to respect what is on the eastern side of the cultural border as part of the Russian sphere. Otherwise the cultural difference will contribute massively to the feelings of humiliation and rage in the Russian government and Indeed also in the Russian population.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Middle East is not a playground!

and certainly not for internal American politics.

US House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress "on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life".

This is of course pure obstructionism typical for the political decline in the present Late Modernity, see  Decline... A decline characterizing both parties. There is no reason to expect better behavior from the Democrats when they go into opposition.

But what is worse, such acts affect a large part of the world, the Middle East, which is already filled with problems. It is like an area with multiple tornados:
1) The remnants of the Oriental civilization are fighting for survival, see The Middle East...

2) The last barbarians outside all civilizations in the form of truly uncivilized and brutal groups like Boko Haram, Islamic State (ISIL), and Pakistani Taliban, who in their barbary outrage even radical Islamists.

3) The Oriental nations are becoming Westernized and thus need territorial coherent areas, which leads to ethnic cleansing and rips states apart, see Ethnic...

4) The eternal conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and other Arabs.

5) The old opposition from Shiites in both Iran and Iraq toward the USA.

6) Oppressed Shiite minorities and majorities fighting for freedom.

7) And as a spillover from unintegrated criminal Middle Eastern (and converted) youngsters in the West, who are alienated from both the West and their parents, hardened by the brutalization in the Western Late Modernity and drawn into radical parallel societies of the typical Middle-Eastern ghetto-type nations, we also have home-made terrorists.

If American politicians do not take care, they risk that all these conflicts unite with the Americans being seen as the common enemy. The tornados would merge and become an anti-American desert hurricane. So unreflected use of the Middle East as a playground for internal policies is dangerous. The repercussions can be irreparable.

Instead of uniting Middle Eastern forces against the USA, a policy of Divide et Impera would be wiser.

And concerning Iran: A comparison of president Rohani with Stalin or the Devil is grotesque, but in connection with the fight against Islamic State or ISIL, I will quote Winston Churchill:

"If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."


A monster-blizzard threatens New York.
This snowstorm, its consequences or the fact that the alarm turned out to be false, is not the point here (even though the alarm sounds a bit funny for Scandinavians!)

The striking thing is the wide coverage the blizzard received all over Europe and elsewhere, also in serious news media like the BBC World Service.

A clear omen. 1) More and more the media outside the United Sates act like they were American, focusing on the same events in the New World as were they happening in our own countries. And 2) New York is the likely future capital of the World united under US control.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Decline of Modernity

In memoriam Wolinski

Besides terrorism one of the most worrying developments these years and decades is the growth of populist parties and groups all over the rich countries, which for long have had stable democratic systems with responsible parties with reliable backings in the populations. This development threatens to destabilize the democracies and is a symptom of deep political, mental and cultural changes, which unlike what happened in the thirties are not caused by economic hardship.

In this long post these developments are put into a wider context, which is the whole of our modernity.

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

This could have been said in the last decades, but it is a well-known quote from Socrates.

The older generations have always tended to see the youth this way. And since the start of our modernity with its revolutionary thinking the youth really has been more radically anti-tradionalist than their parents. Will this continue? No. In the last decades much point to a reversal of the trend, the youth now being less revolutionary than the former generation.

The modernity of a civilization follows after the classic period, which is also the period of absolute monarchy (or the equivalent in England and old Greece). A modernity lasts about or somewhat more than 300 years. After a modernity follows the caesarian time with the rule of one person and most often one country. Examples of modernities (all years are approximate):
China I: -550 to -221
Greco-Roman civilization: -350 to -30
Oriental-Arab: 750 to 1071
Mesoamerica: 1000? to 1400?
The West: 1789 to 2100

Modernities are the most uncommon condition in which individuals and societies can exist. For us who live in this period it seems perfectly natural and as the ideal. But even though it takes a civilization 8 centuries to get there, and they last 3 centuries, modernities have in the preceding civilizations disappeared very quickly and been replaced and forgotten very fast.

A modernity is characterized by rationality, a belief in ideas not given by God or authority. Old ways of thought and tradition are questioned. New radically different thoughts are conceived. Everything is being reflected upon. This process often takes the form of revolutions breaking the gradual evolutionary proces of change typical before modernity. There are numerous experiments in art and the ways of living.

Modernities are on the international level most often filled with intense competition and wars between fewer and fewer powers, which gives them their other names: Warring States or Time of Troubles. This is not the focus here. Instead I will look at developments within the states.

A modernity is not a unitary and certainly not an eternal phase. As also implied in the concept "late modernity" by Giddens and others or the concept "postmodern" by for example Lyotatd, we are now in another subphase or phase. Whether we see this as a part of modernity or something entirely new is partly an arbitrary decision. I prefer to see it as a late subphase because it continues many modern trends and because it is propably relatively short.

I divide modernities in 3 parts, each lasting about one century. Here they are described as they appear in our Western civilization:
1) Early Modernity. The building up, where the remnants of the previous premodern phase still exist, are being fought and still resist. In the 19th century in Europe the dominance of the old nobility and absolute kingship competed with bourgeois and radical socialist revolutions.

2) Middle or Mature Modernity. In the 20th century despite Fascism and Stalinism modern democracies developed with balance of power between parties and between societal forces. "Mature" does not mean stable or well functioning. Modernities are per definition unstable. Rather it means fully developed modernities. If at all "stability" can be used, then this is the case only for limited parts of the involved countries and limited periods.

3) Late or Declining Modernity. The third phase is characterized by declines within a number of spheres, which will be described in this post. These developments are interwoven as a whole, but for systematization and convenience they are here handled separately under headings. Some at length, some more briefly.

I have earlier commented on the decline of politics. Here I will put this into a wider context in time and space. The other declines concern the public, the elites, the media, individuality and culture. These developments are typical for the late modernity of civilizations, and they have hitherto in earlier civilizations converged in a dictatoric caesarian system with the known world under rule from one country. If we are not aware of the danger the same will happen to us, the Western civilization covering almost the whole world. Another decline, a quite unpleasent one, is of civilized behavior, a certain brutalization that marks the late modernities.

These declines are characterizing the last phase, the last century of modernities. In our case they are reinforced by certain trends in the development to and through modernities. These will be treated in the following before we turn to the declines not treated as part of these trends.

In every modernity there is a GENERAL trend to radical changes in thought, lifeforms, art and politics. Religion is replaced by rationality, stable political absolutism by revolutions and traditions by quick transformations and transient fashions.

Many civilizations also change SPECIFIC aspects of their inherent character to the opposite when they are in their modernity. Both the general and the specific changes become more and more pronounced over time and often are mostly outspoken in the late modernity. But some show up early. I will mention 3 of the specific trends.

Historic consciousness
China and the West as well as the Mayans were characterized by a strong historical sense. Old things were valued and kept. History was very important. Calendar systems were developed and used heavily for historical dates. Through modernity this sense and veneration of the old is lost in these civilizations.

In Europe earlier the nobility built artificial ruins in their parks because everything old was valued highly. Now we expect a new version of Windows or iPhone every second year. And if we go from the Western to the old Chinese modernity, the King of Qi is quoted by Mencius as saying "I am unable to love the music of the ancient sovereigns; I only love the music that suits the manners of the present age."

The culmination of un-historic sentiments in the first Chinese civilization was the burning of "old books" under the first emperor carried out in 213 BC by the infamous prime minister Li Si. This happened at the transition away from modernity to the very historically minded Han dynasty, where the loss of the books was deeply deplored.

Also for the late Mayas and other Meso-Americans the historic sense seem to have diminished in modernity. The notations in the otherwise very precise calendar system were simplified to just numbering katuns as for example Katun 2 Ahau. This gives great uncertainty in finding the exact position in time of an event. Also completely new revolutionary calendars like the French in 1793 were introduced showing disrespect for the very old and universally venerated Mayan calendar system. Perhaps the burning of Aztec historical codices by King Itzcoatl in 1428 was an event similar to the Chinese burning in 213 BC. Izcoatls act was also soon very deplored in the caesarian time in the Aztec empire.

The West is in essence very dynastic. This is without doubt coupled to the strong historic sense. Many dynasties have been very long lasting. This has in modernity been replaced by republican democracy as anti-dynastic sentiments have grown.

The Mayan city-states in the Classic period had dynasties lasting centuries. In their modernity in Yucatan after the ecological disaster they seem to have gone to a more republican or republican-like rule. The Aztecs ending the Mesoamerican modernity again had a more and more absolute hereditary monarchy.

Greco-Roman civilization was clearly un-dynastic. Already in Archaic times the kings were weak and easily replaced. After this there was republican democracy in the phase where we had absolute monarchy. In their modernity the Hellenists had long lasting dynasties, the Macedonians, Seleucids and Ptolemaiaeans. Even though caesarism is almost per definition dynastic, the Roman empire had very short dynasties. Under the adopted caesars and the chaos in the third century, there were no dynasties.

The West is inherently elitary. Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Mozart, Beethoven were for the few. Only Louis XIV and his nobles went to the theatre and watched pieces by Moliere. Politics were decided by the very few. As Louis XIV said: "L'état c'est moi".

This continued up through the first century of our modernity, the 19th century. But then it began to change. With Jazz began the popular music, which after interesting journeys through experiments has ended in todays mass-produced commercial pop. Only the few went to concerts with Beethoven, but everybody went to Woodstock. And everybody watch the same films in the cinema.

Also in politics un- or even anti-elitist viewpoints have followed the anti-dynastic trend. Social mobility increased. Elites were despised. Democracies were formed. Now in the Third phase of our modernity the elites are finally becoming submerged. This is treated further below.

In the first Chinese civilization in its Classic period before 500 BC, the rulers and administrators came from the feudal elite. In the Warring States period, modernity, politicians came from a broader basis. The quote above from the King of Qi also points to an anti-elitist sentiment. Chinese classical music was no longer enjoyed.

And when we look at the period after modernity, the Han dynasty, a very clear elite was build, the future Mandarins, the Confucian literates. From these the administrators came. The distance from this elite to the people was marked. Very clear elitism. The existence of this class is an important part of the explanation for the endurance of the Chinese culture despite of barbarian invasions.

The classical Mayas were clearly elitary. The nobles and the priests were even distinguished by the form of their head. In the modern post-classical period also people with normal heads are pictured.

The Greco-Roman world was inherently popular, un-elitary. Seen apart from the slaves, in the Classic period, culture and politics were for all inhabitants of the the city-state or polis. Everybody went to the theatre and voted for Sophocles or Aeschylus. Everybody could become judge or politician. This is the explanation for the establishment of democracy in a time which corresponds to the absolute rule in the West. In the modernity phase, Hellenism, art, philosophy and religion often became esoteric, only for the few. Democracy was overruled by kings and elites.

After modernity there were Roman Caesars, but they went to the same gladiator-plays as everybody else. And there was no established stratum from which the administrators were drawn. Therefore the culture of the Greeks and Romans vanished as the Oriental and Germanic worlds arose.

As is clear from the above the trends turn back after a modernity. China, Meso-America and the West again become historic, dynastic and elitist like they were before modernity. The Greek and Roman world became un-dynastic and un-elitist like before modernity.

As promised, in the following I will treat some developments marking modernity with emphasis on the declines in the West in the last phase which we have entered.

The loss of elitism can be treated further as part of the first heading:

Many modernities are in their last phase characterized by a decline in the political consciousness of the public. In Rome there was a strong political interest from the population in the third and second century BC, first and second phase of modernity. The two main parties, the Optimates and the Populares, and their policies were the important thing. This changed into a focus on persons and scandals in the first century BC, third phase.

In the West a parallel development is all too clear. Through the 19th century the peoples made peaceful and violent revolutions to achieve democracy, first phase. As this was achieved in many states in the second phase, the 20th century, there was a lively interest in using it, not only in voting and campaigning, but also in membership in parties and organizations and trade unions, usage of a press system feeling obliged to propagate and discuss political matters. Vote patterns were quite stable based on social background and stable political viewpoints and politically minded medias.

Today all this has changed with the transition to the third phase in the end of the 20th century. Once again single persons and scandals are viewed as more interesting than politics. Media stars are more followed than politicians. People leave political parties and trade unions. Of the papers, TV-channels and Internet-sites those concerned with gossip and media stars are preferred over serious alternatives dealing with politics etc. Serious papers are now difficult to sell.

The interest of the public in politics generally culminates in the first two decennies of modernities (1800 - 2000 / 300 BC - 100 BC). Then the decline sets in.

In the West the decline is also reflected in or strengthened by the postmodern views that everything is of the same value and the death of the great narratives (Lyotard).

The above treated un- or anti-elitism in our Western civilization strengthens this decline of the political interests of the public further. Generally spoken people are guided by their elites, be it party leaders or trade union leaders. The majorities below the elites are largely dependent on these elites and the medias like the press of the political parties and organizations in shaping their opinions. Now as elitism is broken down even more, there are no real elites to guide people.

The declared anti-elitism was from the start of our modernity in 1789 a part of the democratic ideas. It gradually becomes implemented through the 20th century, first in culture. With the third phase of our odernity this disappearance of elitism reaches its maximum. Everybody becomes part of the mob-like totality.

Large social inequalities like in the UK does not contradict this. The upper class though feeling far above the others can still act like a mob and read gossip. Un-elitism does not concern money, but culture. Also a high education does not mean that you are not part of the popular culture today.

So we have two declines:
- The public looses interest in politics and other serious matters as in Romme 2100 years ago,
- The elites become part of the people, not economically, but mentally. This last development is specific for our Western civilization. It is facilitated by the internet, but not dependent on this.

This submergence of the elites means a lack of demacation between quality and garbage, also in the media. What is important and relevant news and what isirrelevant gossip? Even large parts of the educated people and the formerly elitist media now find Justin Bieber etc interesting. There is no clear border between the masses and the former elites.

All this means that the media and the public together spirals downwards towards innterest in personal matters and gossip instead of politics per se and political ideas.

The tendencies toward cultural egalitarianism just seem to get stronger over the centuries in our modernity. In the first parts of our modernity it was a healthy development implying public involvement in politics, an approximation to democracy in the best sense of the word. In the first half of our modernity the anti-elitism resulted in a giant lifting of large parts of the masses through education and other kinds of enlightenment. This was unprecedented and one of the most remarkable developments in world history. Very promising. Anti-elitism is extremely positive when it is a general lift. But in the last phase in modernity in the West it is a general fall. Both the elites and the masses are declining.

As said in other posts democracy can only be stable and workable if people are guided by the elites through the media. But still the broad public has a real influence through knowledge and political interest.

This system functioned reasonably well in the middle of our modernity, the 20th century. But if as now the anti-elitism becomes even stronger and the elites in society and politics are declining and mentally becomming like the people, the guidance is lost. We now have a form of democracy where not the demos as the totality of elite and people, but the mob rules. It is unstable and characterized by shifting discontinuous policies.

Earlier the medias were the forth power controlling politicians and acting as organs of parties and organizations with specific interests. Now it is more focusing on here and now scandals, sensations and simple gossip about irrelevant entertainment stars (Schimmeck and others).

Even for serious news channels like the BBC we see a tendency to focus on the destiny of stars like the trial of Pistorius and the death of stars.

Habermas has described the development of a bourgeois public sphere in the Western modernity. It follows the representative public in the period of absolute monarchy, where this public just had the purpose of representing the king and the state embodied in him. The bourgeois public consists of the public and its representatives in the media. It is debating politics, electing representatives and controlling politicians and parties. This public is these decades being diminished and dissolved and replaced by what we could call the
mob public sphere.

Tweets, Instagram updates and other expressions from anybody in the social media are treated as important as earlier the meanings of spokespeople, politicians and experts. As were they an expression of an informed and binding public opinion. Of course this is also a sign of the anti-elitist trends. Why is it interesting to hear the comments of people who often know too little to have an educated opinion and often come with stupid or heartless comments?!

After revolutionary periods in the first century of our modernity stable democracies developped at least in parts of the Western civilization. Balance between the three powers of Montesquieu, between societal groups, parties etc. Policies were prepared through thorogh debates in the bourgeois public, between involved groups and people, experts, parties etc. in the media. Laws were then decided after thorough political discussions in parlaments again in discussion with involved people, groups and experts. The results were thoroughly evaluated by the same groups. If necessary only changed after lots of consideration. But still with enough flexibility to cope with necessary demands from reality.

This system was constantly threatened by crises and suffered reverses through dictators, and it only reached maturity in the mostly developped countries. Now after a century it is in the beginning of a systematic breaking down.

Politicians are in some countries old corrupt and power-hungry and in other countries young and inexperienced. In both cases opportunism dominates. Transient storms in the media change policies. In other cases we see stubborn inflexible use of the same policies no mater their usefulness under the here and now circumstances. Like expenditure cuts. The intransigence hindering decisions and legislation is also part of the decline.

These tendencies are affecting established political parties. This is strengthened by the growth of populist parties in Europe, like Front National or UKIP, often receiving 1/4 of the votes. Right now this phenomenon is one of the most worrying developments. It destabilizes the political systems and forces the other parties to follow irresponsible policies. Media storms and shit storms push all politicians in the same direction. American groups like the Tea Party represent the same trend.

The result of these trends is political instability. As cooperation between different parties and between these and societal forces and experts is ending, shifting policies follow.

If we very briefly include another of the reversals specific for the West, today the characteristic of lack of historical sense also contributes to the present decline. The diminished historical consciousness has been treated above. Here I will just add that this means that we do not learn from history. The continuity which contributes to stability has gone. This lack of historical sense is propably also one of the reasons why this blog has so relatively few readers.

In Rome the shift to the last declining phase of modernity started with the time of the Gracchus brothers around 130 BC. These reformers and their opponents started to use unconstitutional means up to murder as part of politics. A century of instability and violence started during which focus changed from political ideologies to personal power.

In our case the same shift probably occurred from around the presidency of the younger Bush. Since then the constitution is bent through abuse of signing statements and rule through decrees. Because of the political decline the use of such means will increase and must increase.

Fortunately we may hope that things in our case will not turn as chaotic and violent as 2100 years ago in Rome. Our civilization like the Chinese has greater organizational abilities and sense of responsibility than the old Greeks and Romans.
That politics are becoming more and more person focused is clear already. If people do not think critically and along ideas, the leaders leading the mob public have easy play. More and more executive power is needed to control the chaotic tendencies. Single persons in the top concentrate power in their hands. And through the interest of the public in persons and personal matters these top-persons are becoming the focus of attention.

These political developments are greatly facilitated by the loss of individual thinking, to which we turn now under the next headings.

Money are playing an increasing and worrying role. This happens in two ways.

1) Money has a rising influence in politics. Politicians use huge amounts to get elected. Only politicians with money or connections to people and businesses with money can participate with any chance in elections. Also between elections money play an essential role in making it possible to influence the citizens. Of course this goes through the media. Earlier the guiding of people through the media was a healthy part of politics. The bourgeois public sphere functioned through the papers, where meanings from people and politicians met in fruitful debates.

Now as the media and the public have degenerated, and money means more than ever in politics, politicians use more and more money to win the hearts of the mob by controlling papers, television and not least the new social media. Personal power and money more and more replace politics about ideas.

This also gives great influence to money people and big companies. Google and Apple etc. will not take over the transhumanist world (Kurzweil and other technofile prophets). But they will gain enormous political influence through their money.

The influence of money in politics was also very typical for the Roman republic. Possession of money determined elections to a very large extent.

2) Money also indirectly gets an extreme influence over the souls of people.
Like Kurzweil, Marx was wrong in his one-directional historical theories. But his analysis of the functioning of capitalism is more true than ever. Capitalism with its constant need for growth depends on the sale of goods. Everybody have to be transformed to consumers, or as we as an euphemism call it today shoppers. Marx describes how people in this proces become alienated. Through commercials and the whole consumer culture they assume a false consciousness. Through the media people are from early childhood broad up to the role as shoppers. They develop a commodity fetishism. A mighty drive for the possession of produced goods created by commercials and propagated through the whole culture. A Chinese city almost went into open rebellion. Not because they wanted freedom. No because the newest version of iPhone came on sale too late! 

The craving for commodities fills the minds of people and has a role as one more of the factors replacing and repressing involvement in society. For many children words referring to brands constitute 25% of the vocabulary.

This is one of the ways that individuality is lost. This loss is the next topic.

A very important development which is difficult to trace in other modernities is a fall in the level of individuality. Civilizations may vary in the extent to which its people are individualized. But in all civilizations people become more individualized as traditions are reduced in importance up to and in modernity.

In the West individualism has always been strong, and in the first two centuries of phases of our modernity it reaches extreme levels. But as early as the fifties and onwards authors like Riesman talked about a new type of people who was other-directed as opposed to the inner-directed people of Early and Mature Modernity (my terminology) and the pre-modern tradition-directed people. In 1950 it may have been a bit premature to talk of other-direction, but from the eighties this term is very precise. Lasch and Ziehe contributed with analises of the new narcissistic character craving recognition. Recognition can be achieved by excellency yes, but excellency in what everybody wants. This means conformity. Today all this is greatly strengthened by the electronic social media. The others are constantly watching you through never ending mutual updates. Individuals do not exist in the symbiotic youth of Generation Z.

Democracy is based on people thinking ad deciding individually. Critical thinking and reflection disappears as everybody conforms to the group. And the tendency makes it very easy to manipulate people through exactly these social media, the Internet, TV etc. And as the elites are replaced by demagogues and mob leaders, this is very bad for democracy.

This group conformity also makes it difficult for those who do not fit in. Before they could become something special. It was okay to be er nerd. The spectrum of normality was wide. Now it has narrowed considerably. Earlier some young people were Existentialists and read Sartre. Now they can be Directioners or Beliebers.

Today the pressure to conform is enormous. Mobbing in the social media lead to suicides. Those who are not absolutely normal are strange aliens. Some of these end by comitting mass-shootings, killing the hated normals they cannot be like.

This topic will only briefly be touched upon, but is nevertheless very symptomatic. As said in the start the firsst two phases in modernity has been filled with thoughts of a character radically different from those of the preceding (and coming) centuries. Experimental and revolutionary breaking all traditions.

This is the case in art and thoughts. But after two centuries of experimenting it is as if this drive has run out. As if nothing really new can be thought. As if every possible thought has been thought.

The sixties and seventies of the twentieth century was the last surge of revolutionary creativity and experimentation. The Wall by Pink Floyd in 1979 can be seen as the last milestone in 2 centuries of experiments.

Now only pop is left. Today commercial forces like MTV decide not only who is to succeed as stars, but also which styles are to be followed.

The last phase of a modernity is the disappearance of the experimenting in thinking and art. There will still be people thinking and acting experimentally, but fewer and fewer will follow and understand them.

After the end of this phase elitism will come back. The art preferences of the elites after modernity will return to the styles of the classical period before modermity. The masses will be fed with pop.
Panem et circenses.

Late modernity is not just an intellectual game marked by hyperreflection (Giddens), or a play with signs without content, (Baudrillard). For some it is, but for the majority it is rather a lack of individual reflection. Direction from others (Riesmam). And a lack of belief in ideas or Grand Narratives (Lyotard). And what may be even worse, it is also a decline in culture and behavior which contributes to the other developments. I am talking about a brutalization of thought and behavior typical for the late phase of modernities.

Before modernity in the Baroque and even more the Rococo the leading parts of the societies had developped highly civilized or cultivated behaviors at least between each other. Highly complicated tules regulating interaction between people and countries. Even the wars were polite.

These rules were mocked and ignored from the beginning of modernity both in the West and other civilizations. This explains the success of the French revolutionary armies, Alexander the Great and the rulers of Qin.

But the bourgeois stratum in the West having reached power restored highly civilized forms of behaviors. This was the case partly between nations and to a higher extent between people for about a century. The Victorian epoch favored very polite and controlled forms. The wars were few and often relatively small scale. From 1914 this changed radically. The next few decennies over 100 million people were killed in wars ignoring all civilizing rules. The plans for the next wars involved the death of billions. Internally the civilized attitudes were attempted upheld with a certain success even if pressed by wars and dictators. Of course we are here talking about the Northern hemisphere.

Now this is dwindling. Hitherto the uncivilized behavior of modernities mostly showed up in wars and revolutions. Now increasingly uncivilized and even brutal behaving and thinking is taking over in culture and parts of everyday life.

Primitive hierarchical behavior is spreading. Instead of solidarity with the weak, these are increasingly being despised as loosers, deserving their fate, yes deserving to be spitted on, to be mobbed. This is especially frightening on the Internet, where people are driven to suicide.

The trend is also very clear in entertainment. The Greeks watched theatre-pieces by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. The Romans saw bloody gladiator games. In the 18th century we were entertained by operas. Now we watch violent and raw films, where every fifth word is "fuck" or a derivation thereof. Probably the mass sacrifices by the Aztecs unprecedented in Mayan times, were a part of a corresponding development.

Within more sciences we see rising influence from evolutionary explanations and justifications of basic behavior. This too represents the development towards the animal drives.

Within politics the brutalization leads to a more uncivilized level of debate with personal attacks even though as said we will propably not reach the Roman level of violence. But as said mobbing downwards and fight for power replaces the fights for ideas.

And the result of centuries of civilizing refinement of thought and behavior is quickly being reduced. This happens in many civilizations in their modernities. Unfortunately the brutality continues after modernity - Nero! In our case the process is strengthened by the degeneration of the public and the elites into a mob. The revolutionaries of the last two centuries fought old rules and borders to liberate thoughts and creativity. In the end what was set free was the lowest in humans!

In conclusion in civilizations the last century of the 300-400 years long modernity is marked by a shift. Before politics were internally in the states and internationally governed by thought, ideas and ideologies. Helping the poor, power to the lower classes, classless societies etc. or indeed the opposite conservative ideas.

In the Western civilization the last peak of the power of ideas was the sixties and seventies. Extreme creativity and experimentation in thought, arts and society. But these times were soon over. It was meant as the dawn of a new idealistic era, but in fact ended the power of ideas!

The reverse trend was clear from around 1980. As Reagan became president, some said that if they met Jimmy Carter, they would spit Him in the face. This was not just because of political opposition from the right. It was also a symbol of resentment against the whole influence of ideas on politics. Now both internally and externally the motif behind politics is more and more simply achieving power.

Of course this is aided by the above treated developments, that people do not care about politics, but prefer fashion, gossip and mob-behavior, where instead of in debth serious debate we often have shit-storms from the Internet mobs which include people from all layers of society. And the general postmodern disolving of the belief in the Grand Narratives.

In the states person cults and rule from above is characterizing the political parties more and more. Between the states fewer and fewer states are competing for hegemony, even though not everybody are able or willing to see it yet in our case, the West.

A few examples from predecessors:
China I, modernity ca. 550 - 220 BC
In Old China in the third century BC wars between the strong states dominated over the formerly so important political and philosophical discussions. The rulers of the winning state Qin did not care about political philosophy. Their favored way of thought, Legalism, flourished, but was less of a real ideology and more a practical remedy for centralization of power in the state of Qin.

Oriental, modernity ca. 750 - 1070:
In the same manner as the kings of Qin, the Seljuks in the 11. century did not give a damn about the sophisticated political arguments from the political and religious parties ranging from communist to reactionary viewpoints. Now more and more only power per se counted.

Greco-Roman, modernity ca. 330 - 30 BC:
In the civil wars after the Gracchus brothers politics in one century was transformed from ideology to personal power struggles. Sulla and Marius were still politically motivated. The Triumvirs only fought for power. It did not matter that Octavian / Augustus came from the left wing instead of right. The political parties had become followers of persons.

What if anything can be done to stop these changes? There are many intertwined developments which converge to push us in the same direction. And because most governments refrain from regulating and controlling the societies and leave it all to the market mechanisms, probably nothing will happen to stop it.

Some think that the availability of information on the Internet and the possibility for everybody to voice opinions on this net will change everything and start a new era, but what happens on the Internet is on the same level as what went on in the streets of Rome in the century up to Caesar.

But if nothing is done everything pushes us in the same direction as our predecessors. The possibilities for reversing the trends are limited by ignorance, political realities and mob rule. I only see two means, increased education and increased control.

- Control of the media
- Control of the public
- Control of the markets
- Control of political populists and radicals and also dictators.

Education will enable people to make informed choices and resist manipulation. The more education, the less control is necessary. The less we improve education, the more control is necessary.

Control sounds ugly, but is unavoidable. The choice is between more control and outright dictatorship.