What impact will globalization have over the next twenty years? According to Mathew Burrows and Alexander Dynkin, it will inevitably create a new international order. In today’s extract, they speculate on how violence in its various guises may define this order for both good and ill.
By Mathew J Burrows and Alexander A Dynkin for Atlantic Council
The following extract is from [A] Global System on the Brink: Pathways towards a New Normal, a report which the Atlantic Council published on 2 December 2015.
The character of globalization is changing, creating a more volatile global environment with increasing gaps between the core and periphery of the world economy. The loss of national sovereignty is a growing battle cry for those opposed to globalization. Globalization is no longer equivalent to Westernization; instead, it is occurring on terms set by non-Western cultures, as wealth and technology spreads to the east and the south. Globalization has reduced inequalities between developed and developing economies, but it has deepened economic differences domestically in practically all countries. Anti-immigrant sentiment is rising at a time of increasing job insecurity. The sources of instability are not just on the surface between nations, but are deeply rooted in cultures and societies undergoing immense unraveling. Financial crises can’t be ruled out even if the more polycentric financial system becomes more stable. The governance deficit—the absence and ability of any regulatory body to control market forces—is seen as a universal problem in both advanced and fledgling countries.
Governmental power is becoming more diffuse. The nation- state system is challenged from above by globalization and from below by ethno-nationalism and individual empowerment, which will remain potent forces through to the year 2035. The instant, 24/7 access to information has sparked a “global awakening” in expectations—seen dramatically but briefly across the Middle East with the 2011 Arab Spring—and local, traditional sources of identity have become reinvigorated. Forces of fragmentation are evident worldwide in secessionist efforts from Scotland and Catalonia in Europe to South Sudan in East Africa. The future of the Arab state system in the Middle East is in doubt. Anti-globalization stirrings by themselves won’t stop globalization, but they will undermine trust in governance at all levels, from local to global.
Demographic trends—rapid aging, greater urbanization, and increased mobility and migration—will continue to compound the difficulties of governing. Many governments will struggle to temper “demography as destiny” if aging causes an economic slowdown, and rapid urbanization and increased migration intensify public discontent.
Despite the promise of cooperation and integration emanating from the rapid globalization of the past few decades, the potential for major state conflict is growing because of deep fragmentation within and between societies. The old confrontation between capitalism and communism has given way to nationalism and conflicts of intellectual and moral values with more or less religious and historical-psychological overtones. These differences are even more serious when linked to the domestic political interests of particular countries’ ruling circles.