It is remarkable that one of the most trenchant analyses of globalisation so far this year is by three Russian academics, Leonid Grinin, Ilya Ilyin and Alexey I. Andreev.
The authors make telling points about the damage globalisation has done to the West – and not just to the “left behind” – as work has been outsourced to the developing world.
(We have not corrected the grammatical mistakes and stylistic infelicities in the following extracts, but the message is crystal clear and often correct).
The authors reveal the contradictions of the current unipolar world and explain in what way globalization has become more profitable for the developing countries but not for the developed ones… the paper also explains the strengthening belief that the US leading status will inevitably weaken. In this connection we discuss the alternatives of the American strategy and the possibility of the renaissance of the American leadership. The last section presents a factor analysis which allows stating that the world is shifting toward a new balance of power and is likely to become the world without a leader. The new world order will consist of a number of large blocks, coalitions and countries acting within a framework of rules and mutual responsibility. However, the transition to a new world order will take certain time (about two decades). This period, which we denote as the epoch of new coalitions, will involve a reconfiguration of the World System and bring an increasing turbulence and conflict intensity.
Leonid E. Grinin, Ilya V. Ilyin, Alexey I. Andreev, Abstract, p. 58, ‘World Order in the Past, Present, and Future’ in Social Evolution and History, Vol. 15 No. 1, March 2016, pp 58–84, ‘Uchitel’ Publishing House, Moscow.
In discussing the new world order which arose after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the authors argue that
However, while the unipolar order was formed and developed the world balance shifted once again. This was caused by the countries’ uneven economic and technological development. Over the last three or four decades, globalization has been constantly and significantly effecting the changes in the world order. It eventually shifted the balance of economic power towards the developing world. One of the main reasons was the so-called ‘deindustrialization’ which meant a transition of a significant part of production, economy and technology from developed to developing countries (for more details see Grinin and Korotayev 2014a, 2015). The result is the Western countries’ weakening economic growth and their diminishing role in the global arena, while the rest of the world (developing countries) increases the influence (see Fig. 1). Thus, during the two decades starting from 1991, at the background of weakening Europe and continuing stagnation in Japan one observed the rise of economic giants in Asia (China and India) as well as the emergence of a number of rapidly developing states (from Mexico to Malaysia and Ethiopia) which preserve their growth rates (although with some difficulties) and are likely to take the leading positions in the world in the quite nearest future.
Fig. 1. Dynamics of the share of the West and the rest of the world (‘the Rest’) in the global GDP after 1980 (based on the World Bank data on the GDP calculated in 2005 purchasing power parity international dollars)
Source: World Bank 2014: NY.GDP.MKTP.PP.KD (Grinin and Korotayev 2015).
Leonid E. Grinin, Ilya V. Ilyin, Alexey I. Andreev, ‘World Order in the Past, Present, and Future’ Social Evolution and History, pp. 68-9, Vol. 15 No. 1, March 2016, pp 58–84, ‘Uchitel’ Publishing House, Moscow.
The authors go on to point out how the West is contributing to its own decline:
There is, however, an important trend that should be marked out. During the last decades the American transnational corporations have shown more and more separation from the native state, where they feel cramped, thus involuntarily playing into the hands of developing countries. The USA’s new economic partnerships (see below) can strengthen this trend, which is a great deal. The same way, the English technology and funds caused the rise of the USA, India, Canada, and Australia in the nineteenth century, while Britain itself ceased to be the world leader. [ESC’s emphasis]
Leonid E. Grinin, Ilya V. Ilyin, Alexey I. Andreev, ‘World Order in the Past, Present, and Future’ Social Evolution and History, pp. 71, Vol. 15 No. 1, March 2016, pp 58–84, ‘Uchitel’ Publishing House, Moscow.
The implications for both the West and the United States are profound, although the authors’ formulation is rather bland:
On the one hand, the world financial elite has become quite mobile, and the world becomes global and ‘digitalized’ to the extent that boarders [sic] and territories will be of no account for big money and its owners. So it seems that one more reset of the world order will hardly destabilize the position of the World-System center. But on the other hand, if the companies are predominantly active outside the USA, then the American population can get poorer, and while the inequality in the country is growing, the internal social tension can increase.
On the one hand, the US population is getting older, and very soon white population among young people will be overgrown by the non-white. All this may aggravate social conflicts. On the other hand, the USA is still attractive for immigrants, which bring human capital of high quality to the country (scientists, analysts, and engineers). In short, the processes will be rather complicated, and as any future processes, they may reveal quite unexpected phenomena.
Leonid E. Grinin, Ilya V. Ilyin, Alexey I. Andreev, ‘World Order in the Past, Present, and Future’ Social Evolution and History, pp. 72, Vol. 15 No. 1, March 2016, pp 58–84, ‘Uchitel’ Publishing House, Moscow.
This article’s analysis overlaps to quite a large extent with those of Samuel Huntington’s Who Are We?, Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 and Peter Calvocoressi’s World Politics since 1945.
They also overlap to a large extent with those of Donald Trump and Steve Bannon who, like Kennedy, point to ‘America’s imperial overstretch and, like Calvocoressi, to America’s allies who have now become competitors.
The views of Trump and Bannon on America’s grand strategy have far more intellectual and academic, and often liberal, heft than most people realise.