Friday, September 2, 2016

Trump, Catiline, Russia, China and Parthia

Because somebody is a contributor to the acceleration of the general slide towards political decline, it does not automatically imply that this person is the best able to navigate in the troubled waters he stirs up. Maybe he is just of the same limited abilities as one of the Roman predecessors, Catiline. In the first century BC this man tried to seize power as the head of a third force outside the two big political parties, the Peoples Party and the Optimates. Just like Trump is trying now. He contributed to the chaos leading to further civil wars. But he failed in his plans.

In the short term Trump could loose or win the elections. But he will certainly accelerate the World slipping into a new unpredictable era ruled by the personal will of populist leaders. If he is not able to understand or navigate in the new world, other more able leaders will reap the harvest.

So you do not have to be good at navigating in a declined world, just because you embody this dcline. On the other hand you do not have to be declined yourself to have this ability.

No matter who will win the American presidential elections we may as well prepare for the coming post-stable era. An era which could last from a half up to a whole century.

The fueling of the new cold war between NATO and Russia may prove to be a wrong priority for the western countries. The internal lines behind the front could be crumbling as populists and populism gain power and influence. In the short and possibly intermediate term they may have other agendas than to have conflicts with Russia.

The focus can later turn back against Russia with sudden changes of mood. But for now it may be safer for the West to withdraw from expansion and military building up and instead just concentrate on keeping in order the results of the already big earlier expansions after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

But in the long term the tensions between East and West are likely to reemerge. It is remarkable how longstanding and deep this conflict seems to be. With short interruptions it has lasted since the 16th century. And in contrast to now long time forgotten conflicts between countries like Germany and France it has risen again even recently. This could be a sign of a deeply rooted opposition between two fundamentally different civilizations. As such it may resurface from time to time alongside shifting alliances.

Earlier civilizations hav most often at the end of their modernity reached a condition with a de facto emperor (no matter the title) with dictatorial status at the head of all the countries in the civilization. Rome, Qin, Babylonia, Aztecs. I have earlier written that the amount of chaos that is possible to sustain or can be afforded in the leading power with ambition to subdue the rest, depends on the strength of the others. In old China the other powers were for a long time strong. This necessitated an extremely strong centralization and degree of order in the winning power Qin. In old Rome the other countries were powerless afther Hannibal. Therefore the Romans could afford an extreme degree of internal chaos. I have also written that the Americans are in an intermediate position between these extremes. They cannot afford a degree of chaos on the level of old Rome. That is for the Americans the danger that comes from types like Danald Trump. A more organized and stable China could win.

But will our world ever get united under one power?

The competitors are clearly China and the United States. Russia is for the time being on the defensive, at least globally seen. When looking at predecessor-civilizations we see a couple of examples of modernities not ending with a united world. In the first Mesopotamian civilization Hammurabi and his first successors did not succeed in conquering the southern Sealand. The Oriental world was still disunited under the Seldjuks. These deviations from the general rule had their specific reasons. In our case main reasons would be the cost and dangers of modern wars or even conflicts disrupting global trade.

Concerning Rome we nay learn from a broadened perspective. Rome never conquered the whole known world. The Parthian Empire was a very near and ever-present neighbor, and it was very able to resist. In fact the two reached a balance of power. Perhabs Parthia could have been conquered if the Romans had had a lesser degree of internal strife.

Also, Parthia was not a completely different world. Both empires were culturally largely Hellenistic. Parthia gradually became more Orientalized, but so did Rone. In many ways it could have been a natural end to sbsume all Hellenistic parts of the world from Gibraltar to the Indus under one power; the chaos in Rome may have been the factor stopping this development.

Our version of a later not united post-chaotic world could perhaps be the world divided between 3 powers with each their sphere of interest. The United States and China dividing the Western civilization between each other. Each de facto cntrollng their parts. And Russia in a third sphere gradually becomming more culturally distinct and different from the rest.

But the way to this could be filled with trouble. Gradually though the three powers will calm their spheres of influence and agree on the borders between these spheres. At the end could come the global

Pax Americana, Sinica et Russiana

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