The Keys to Pandora's BoxThe onrush of globalization and a weakening of the nation-state (across a wide variety of measures) has unlocked Pandora's box. A plethora of violent groups, derived from an equally diverse set of primary loyalties (the sources of group loyalty that are more powerful than loyalties to the state), have emerged. Many of these groups utilize old pre-Westphalian motivations for warfare, although some motivations are being shoehorned into new synthetic models. Regardless, these motivations derive from the following:
- Guerrilla Economics. Everyone is now in competition with everyone else, without regard to the borders of the melted global map. Further, most nation-states have found themselves unable to mitigate the effects of rapid cycles of global economic destruction/creation. As a result, an increasing number of people have turned to primary loyalties for succor. Many of these groups have opted for "black globalization" (the $3 trillion dollar transnational criminal economy) as a means of advancement. This path has put these groups on a collision course with nation-states. We've seen this from Nigeria to Brazil.
- Toxic ideas. When western European colonists arrived on the shores of previously isolated locations, they often carried many afflictions to which they had immunity (a product of a large and diverse population). The result was devastating to local populations since they didn't share this immunity. A reprise of this process is underway within the world of ideas. Ideas (or Richard Dawkins' memes) for which we have a certain degree of immunity to -- from alcohol to pornography to divorce to gambling to irreverence... -- in the developed world can be toxic to those populations that are now exposed by globalization. The result is a violent reaction as people turn to primary loyalties for protection. For an excellent primer on this, please watch a short video by the philosopher Dan Dennett (at TED). We've seen this from Thailand to Algeria.
- Disruptions. The motivations of the previous two categories can be accelerated by shocks to the global system. These shocks include the unintentionally self-inflicted like regime change/nation-building or intentional like terrorism that targets systems. Others include those that we don't control: from economic dislocations caused by malfunctions/non-linearity in the global marketplace (energy shocks to financial panics) to pandemics to natural disasters. The list goes on. In each of these situations, the shock causes a return to primary loyalties for safety (we will see much more of this as uncontrolled global systems go non-linear, exacerbated by our unwillingness to adopt dampening strategies such as resilient communities).