Time marches on, leaving stepping stones to remind us of where we have been, show us where we might be going and reflect upon whether or not things turn out as we expected. This is the job of writers. Some writers are prescient for their discernment to be able to see the paths ahead and point the way. Some, for their missteps which show how things could have been or might have been before we went astray. I was thinking about this today – I’ve been collecting articles for a while – and thought perhaps as we move into something new I would highlight a few, for posterity, for myself more than anyone but also for my companions on the journey. These are only some, I’ve limited myself to ten (10) and also to those after the end of the Cold War, our last epic struggle – though of course that is an arbitrary date. Nevertheless, one must pick somewhere. And that seems as good a place as any:
“The End of History?” – Francis Fukuyama, 1989 – Of course it must begin here, the article that put the bookend upon 70 years of Cold War battles, of our epic struggle against our great foe. And what would come after. No matter that it was wrong, that the future of humanity is not relegated to tweaking the machinery and tightening the screws on our purring ‘world order’. This article captured the mood of a season, before it fell away.
“Clash of Civilizations” – Samuel Huntington, 1993 – The other side of the argument, perhaps Fukuyama was incorrect. Perhaps the end of the great ideological battle with the soviets simply lifted a lid on the ancient animosities that have lasted forever, ushering us back into a time of prehistory where small conflicts govern a world on fire. Ironically, forced to recant his theories by “End of History” politically correct Fukuyamistas, Huntington has proved to be the winner of that debate as tiny conflict one after the next has brought down empires.
“The Coming Anarchy” – Robert Kaplan, 1994 – So if Huntington is correct, if Fukuyama is destined for failure (as all other utopians have been), what does the future look like for us? What can we expect? A world of civilizational class overlaid with a glaze of globalism, perhaps, leading to the failure of states that never arrived at legitimacy, never answered that fundamental issue of consent – starting at the peripheries and marching ever-closer to the centers.
“The Urban Archipelago” – Seattle Stranger, 2004 – The end of history led to a fundamental (mis)belief that culture, that ideas, that tradition and values no longer mattered. We were part of a global class, the rulers of the world – not globalization but globalism, the haunting reality that residents of New York have more in common with the elites of Tokyo or London or Dubai than with people in Akron or Tulsa. That the beliefs held, which ‘made America great’ as it were, were in fact wicked superstitions to be stamped out. This article, in the wake of the 2nd term election of George W. Bush, lifted for a second the veneer of polite poison of progressive America. With venom and unveiled hatred of their political opponents, they declare a death-wish upon those who oppose their ‘cultural revolution’. A plan which continued through the Obama years, with its mask back in place but which was jettisoned forever with the 2016 elections.
“The Land of Topless Minarets and Headless Little Girls” – Amal Hanano (Lina Sergie Attar), 2012 – The end of globalist foreign policy hubris was the failure of the Arab Spring, when neocons (that group which straddles left and right and have run global foreign policy for years) created a multi-headed hydra that is still alive today. In Attar’s hauntingly beautiful tribute to her hometown of Aleppo, cataloging its destruction even 8 years ago as the violence continues to rage, one cannot help but think that there must be a better way, that there must have been another path. The road not traveled.
“What ISIS Really Wants” – Graeme Wood, 2015 – The Islamic State. The end result of Huntington’s civilizational clash played out in a macabre spectacle upon TV screens, murders live-streamed in real time around the world, barbarians rabid with hate pursuing Yazidis up the mountains to rape and enslave them in a show that still takes my breath away for its bizarre wickedness. The third great challenge to western ‘hegemony’ (yes perhaps in a Gramscian sense), after Fascism and then Communism. One that lasted longer than the first but shorter than the second and itself has been laid to rest in the basket of failed world ideologies.
“The Suicide of Venezuela” – Joel D. Hirst (me), 2016 – Writers are narcissistic to a degree, and I will allow myself (and hopefully you will too) to include this work of mine in this list, a blog post with 400,000+ views and translated into 15 languages. If “Topless Minarets” was the requiem for a country murdered by dictatorship, violence and foreign intervention, “Suicide of Venezuela” is my poignant lament of self-inflicted wounds, goaded on by jealousy and greed, which nevertheless caused a humanitarian disaster exceeding anything the western hemisphere has ever experienced.
“The Flight 93 Election” – Publius Decius Mus, 2016 – “End of History” globalist politics brought us a nouveau aristocracy (see next article), but left out the 90%. Those who could not defend themselves against the globalist “Urban Archipelago” class, and who nevertheless were tired of being called “clingers” and “deplorables” (and – yes – #leavers) and voted to buck the system, to rebel, to start a rebellion that continues on into today not just in America but all over the world. This article explains why.
“The Return of Marco Polo’s World” – Robert Kaplan, 2017 – If “The Coming Anarchy” was a clarion call to what will happen if America and the west did not return to realist global policy, “Marco Polo’s World” is the realization that the window closed, and something new is upon us. The “End of History” crowd could not pull it off, and the return of empire has come. Kaplan, in his heavily geographical prose – taking us through the valleys and hills of the returning empire – tells us about the return to a multi-polar world of empire.
“The 9.9% Is the New American Aristocracy” – Matthew Stewart, 2018 – Belatedly the “End of History” globalist Urban Archipelago class (of which The Atlantic is their best voice) has figured out that, and how, the system has been increasingly rigged against people in the land of the free finding hope of improvement. Intergenerational elasticity is at its lowest levels (both in terms of history and in comparison with other western countries). This excellent review of America’s new elites and the mechanisms they use to retain power is worth a read.