On Counterjihadism – a regressive, dangerous ideology

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by Enrique Lescure

Introduction

As the Schengen Treaty crumbles, thousands of refugees are entering Europe every week in an uncontrolled, unmanaged way. Most who are entering are desperate people looking for a better life, but also people who are not really desperate and some who even harbour a desire to act as a subversive force in the communities they end up in.

Many of these immigrants end up in areas in the periphery of major European cities, where they are living amongst people from the same cultural region. Today, major western European cities are multi-cultural to a large extent, and most of it has been working quite well. There have however been dormant tensions between neighbourhoods dominated by people descended from islamic countries, and the nearby communities.

In France, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, there have been numerous allegations from both representatives of other communities as well as representatives of the muslim community. While the former claim that the muslims demand special exclusive treatment and want Islam to be pre-dominant in suburbs characterised by large muslim minorities, the latter are feeling targeted by media and by the surrounding communities, which they accuse for Islamophobia and discrimination.

There is also a growing tendency from both sides to generalise and simplify. A problem is however that there’s a tendency from the formal authorities in many European countries to simplify as well.

Ultimately, CounterJihad is arising from a lot of factors both connected to wider socio-economic trends and to policy decisions in regards to Integration and the War on Terror (and non-decisions as well). Given that, when growing, CounterJihad starts to affect the development in a regressive manner, and even if contra-jihadists may see it in another way, their strategy will serve to worsen the problem.

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A dark vision

Somewhere in Western Europe, 2030’s:

The government tried to regain control over the situation, but the spiral of violence crippled the supply lines of the capital city. The military, a shell of its former self, crumbled due to the stress of both trying to keep pacified areas peaceful and to retake lost areas. There had been three factions, the government which had tried to separate the fighting militias, the jihadists who originally had been a small force but now had thousands of fighters, drawn from sub-urban youth feeling a need to defend their communities, and finally the counter-jihadists, who ranged from people having been forced by circumstances to join them to full-out Neo-Nazis.

The government would still exist formally after the capitol fell. It fled to a minor provincial city. The capitol, however, was in the hands of the warring factions. Now they were two, but soon they became hundreds, as alliances broke and shifted. Some of the larger groups tried to reach an accommodation to end the fighting, but the cease-fire was continuously broken by minor groups, either because the trade of weapons, drugs and shortage goods had become lucrative, or because they followed their apocalyptic, utopian visions to the letter.

Or because they consisted of lots of bored young men. 

As the violence faded, ethnic and sectarian cleansings had been committed by both sides. Distrust ran deep, and what emerged was a fragmented, disillusioned society struggling with keeping its own peace. Intra-European refugees fled across the EU, as well as militia groups, destabilising more and more areas.

Large parts of Europe were rapidly being balkanized.

TL;DR notes

  • The growth of muslim minorities in Europe is a relatively recent phenomenon, and driven by different factors depending on which country we are looking at at which time in history.
  • Following 9/11 and the initiation of the War on Terror, the western countries agreed on a media strategy aiming to separate militant jihadis from moderate islamists and the main muslim community.
  • This also meant a strategy where Islam was to be portrayed in a neutral or positive light in western countries, to reduce the risk of race riots which could fuel jihadism.
  • CounterJihad originally can be said to be an off-shot of Neo-conservatism which seeked to portray the world in Manichean terms as a struggle between the West and Islam, probably mostly out of boredom since the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • When CounterJihad started to emerge in Europe, around 2006, it started to gradually morph into what could be described as a fascist movement.
  • The problems with the CounterJihad ideology is that it builds on the collectivization of all muslims into a sort of Hive Mind hell-bent on destroying European culture and traditions. This means de-humanization of tens of millions of European citizens, and the logic of CounterJihad doesn’t stop with a ban of Halal or no Minarets, but would – if taken to its logical conclusion – necessarily imply the deportation or the genocide of Europe’s muslim minorities.
  • Jihadists like the Islamic State are searching for opportunities to increase their support base amongst the muslims of Europe. That is why one of their aims is to conduct attacks on European soil in order to strengthen CounterJihad and other similar movements.
  • The best long-term strategy would be if European governments primarily sought to realise that muslims are individuals too, and that it is not necessarily so that muslim organisations are representing all muslims in neighbourhoods.

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Islamic communities in Europe

Even though Islam as a religion has a long history on the European continent, it has mostly existed continuous muslim communities (and even nations) in the south-eastern corner of Europe. Scholars often bring up the existence of an Islamic civilization on the Iberian peninsula for over 700 years (711 – 1492), but most traces of that culture were wiped out (or infused into Spanish culture) by the middle 17th century.

The Balkans under Ottoman domination were largely isolated from the rest of Europe, even after the partial collapse of the Empire in 1912-1913. While there have always been individual muslims in European societies, they have most often been diplomatic envoys, traders, travellers or convertites (often associated to University communities and choosing intellectual and mystical Islamic teachings like Sufiism).

On the British isles, the first islamic communities started to emerge during the 1930’s from then British India. In most of the rest of Europe, migration started during the 1960’s and 1970’s, first of labour and then of refugees from Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Somalia and now most recently Syria.

It can be argued that Modernist architecture partially is to blame for the segregation between people descended from the Islamic world, and the native Europeans. By building cities in a rational manner with different housing for different income percentiles, and concentrating cheap housing in areas adjacent to the capitol or to industrial cities, it created a mental and often geographical separation between income groups. When immigrants, and then especially refugees, are settled inside societies where they should acclimatise, they generally end up in the cheapest and most remote housing units.

Since the 1990’s, Europe is entering the fourth phase of the industrial revolution, meaning a reduction of labour, off-shoring labour to poor countries and the ascent of Robotics. This means that low-skilled jobs are becoming increasingly scarce and fewer labour hours are available. While during the late 1940’s if you had two hands, you’ve only got yourself to blame if you were unemployed, today the situation becomes far more complex.

It is not a surprise that refugees, especially in countries like France and Sweden, which lack an established muslim middle class (like it exists in the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent Germany) end up in poverty, dependency and unemployment. Since employment has been a (if not the) traditional way of being introduced to western culture, it has left large, increasingly concentrated communities in a state of Limbo where the two ways they have to assert their identities is to look inward and backward, towards the regions they fled from originally.

Thus, many of these neighbourhoods have gradually and in an emergent manner taken on many of the cultural traits and customs of the original countries of the immigrants. It cannot be denied that a large part of this is consisting of what can be termed honour culture. While honour culture still exists within western cultures (it should be seen as a spectrum, not as an on-off switch), there is a difference between considering someone a “slut” and of it being perceived as an imperative for the family to punish the individual who has engaged in sexual and other behaviour that is unwanted by the community.

Even though honour killings are very rare in relationship to the size of the muslim population in Europe, the behaviour is seen as so alien and weird to most North-west Europeans that they cannot grasp it intellectually. Controlling the sexual development of adolescents (and especially females) is seen as important within traditional islamic communities heralding from the Arab World, South Asia and East Africa. From their point of view, North-west European culture is seen as monstrous, and they wonder whether European parents really love or care about their children, who are gradually left to figure out that with sex and relationships themselves.

It can be said to be a case of Blue and Orange morality.

11 Sep 2001 --- President George W. Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House after three planes commandeered by unknown hijackers slammed into the Pentagon and New York's World Trade Center September 11, 2001.  Bush returned to the White House early this evening to address this crisis.  REUTERS/Larry Downing --- Image by © Reuters/CORBIS

11 Sep 2001 — President George W. Bush addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House after three planes commandeered by unknown hijackers slammed into the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center September 11, 2001. Bush returned to the White House early this evening to address this crisis. REUTERS/Larry Downing — Image by © Reuters/CORBIS

The War on Terror and what it meant

During the 1990’s, especially the late part of the 90’s, there was a medial search for a bogeyman against the west, since Russia was down, China was not yet the world’s second largest economy and the Cold war was over. In the absence of a universal threat, media (at least here in Sweden) turned towards sensationalism. I remember personally that at least thrice a week, the Expressen newspaper – a large mainstream newspaper in Sweden – ran stories focusing on girls in the islamic world who were going to be executed for adultery or had their faces mutilated, or who had to flee.

In 1998, the Sunday Magazine of the Expressen even ran an article series on Nostradamus (which would have made History channel green with envy), claiming that Nostradamus’ prophecies may have been true. At the end, they postulated that Saddam Hussein(!) would lead the Islamic World(!!) in an invasion of the West(!!!).

This kind of sensationalism and shock value was possible in a society which was profoundly bored and hedonistic, where nothing was really serious and where xenophobic parties were minuscule (as they were in Sweden during the 90’s).

9/11 changed all that, and not necessarily in the manner that both spokesmen for islamic organisations or CounterJihadis believe.

One of the earliest aspects of the War on Terror was that it would not be a war against Islam. For all what the Anti-War left were saying during the first decade of the third millennium, there were serious attempts in western countries facing off against Salafi Jihadism to try to isolate the extremists by creating dialogues with representatives of mainstream islamic organisations and by seeking to portray Islam in a positive manner and include muslims in a positive manner.

This strategy was tactically and strategically sound. In order to reduce the threat of al-Qaeda and similar organisations, there was a need to fight the ideology behind the organisation. Moreover, it implied cooperation with allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States.

The problem was that the United States failed to hold a concise line in those policies.

While an argument could be made for a war against Afghanistan, the War against Saddam Hussein (and conversely, the Republic of Iraq), in retrospect lacked concise objectives and was based on a flawed analysis of reality. Those decision-makers and decision-influencers who stood close to the White House seemed to believe that the Iraqi people and the wider muslim Arab population would cheer the overthrow of the Iraqi Regime (which was completely abhorrent) and the replacement of which with a foreign occupation.

On the contrary, rather than infatuating the Arab street with love for the US, the war in Iraq developed into a bloody quagmire, an insurrection and a bloody Shia-Sunni civil war. The inclusion in the War on Terror of Iraq also created a spectre in the mind of many muslims – even those not particularly religious – that the US was at war with the entire Islamic Civilization. This was of course benefitting to the kind of militant Jihadists which the War was meant to defeat, entirely in accordance with the logic of Terrorism.

Meanwhile in the West, many conservative activists and citizens were wondering why their leaders engaged in friendly talks with leaders for islamist organisations, why they made sure to pay positive mention of Islam and established that Islam primarily was a “religion of peace”, while they could see the on-going violence in the Middle East. These citizens believed that the War on Terror was really not against Qaidist Jihadism, but actually an Islamic war against the West, and started to suspect that the western governments – especially European ones – were really duped or in cahoots with “wardrobe jihadists” (like western-based islamic movements loosely or closely aligned with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood).

Some of these thinkers had actually been close to the mainstream of US conservatism, especially within conservative media, but were envisioning the War on Terror in a more confrontational and adrenaline-pumping manner. One prime example was Ann Coulter.

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The Rise of Counterjihad

While there had been Counterjihadi thinkers since several decades back, the ideology started to make itself noticed during the second half of the last decade. Originally largely a phenomenon within US conservatism, it spread to Europe where it had the potential for mass appeal – especially due to the existence of large, isolated and relatively impoverished muslim communities near and inside West European large cities.

Originally, CounterJihad was very much focused on Israel’s allegedly exposed situation, being a small Jewish state surrounded by muslim-majority Arab states. Israel was seen as a bulwark for western values, and for Judaism and Christianity against Islam, which was encroaching. This view had been prevalent within US Christian fundamentalism since the 1980’s, when Christian Zionism started to influence US policy makers and opinion – often with apocalyptic ideas pertaining the end of the world and the Antichrist.

During the 00’s, aspects of this eschatological and Manichean world-view started to creep into secular discussion, by expanding the good-vs-evil theme on the Middle East situation to Europe. This was easy, since the Iraq War and the War on Terror had created a situation where muslims felt increasingly marginalized and insecure, while many Westerners felt that terror attacks as those in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005 really meant that the governments should clamp down harder than they did.

Under this situation, right-wing populist and semi-fascist parties throughout western Europe started to focus more on Islam (it had started at earliest in The Netherlands), and on the problems of integrating muslim communities into West European culture.

What CounterJihad offered was an explanation why the War on Terror was fought so “half-heartedly” and why Islamic organisations in the West gained access to share their discourses with the governments. The explanation however was nightmarish.

A summarization of CounterJihadism can be laid out like this.

  • Islam is really a totalitarian ideology aiming at world conquest.
  • Muslims in Europe are actively seeking to out-grow the native population in numbers.
  • When they become the majority, they will take over and install Islamic Republics.
  • Muslims are waging a low-intense race war against Native Europeans.
  • Muslims are always committing Taqiyya (here defined as lying about their intent).

Note the absence of any form of theory regarding how society should be structured, what positive values we should move towards as a society, how to include muslims in society or how to reduce the power of religion. CounterJihadism as an ideological umbrella (most often encompassing individuals and groups of semi-authoritarian right-wing varieties) is purely a reactive force, and doesn’t have any positive or self-defining features (Breivik’s 2083 manifesto was the closest attempt at making one, but the future society it envisioned was one where European states tried to control female reproductive power in order to restore birth rates to compete with Islamic countries).

If we would assume that this ideological view on the world is correct (entertain the thought for a moment), then it would mean that every muslim is not only a fifth columnist, but also a part of a hostile organism aiming to take over Europe and destroy its heritage. No matter what a muslim is saying or doing, they may be lying and really harbour an agenda to destroy Europe.

The CounterJihad proposals (no dialogue, no minarets, no mosques, increased repression of the muslim minorities) would necessarily provoke the kind of reactions that the CounterJihadists claim are innate within Islam. In short, the support for the Islamic State and al Qaeda would increase a hundred-fold would CounterJihadists have it their way. This would in turn lead to more militant counter-reactions from CounterJihadist political leaders, furthering separating the muslim minorities from the host societies and eventually leading either to expulsion, genocide or civil war.

Thus, CounterJihad proponents may unwittingly contribute to the creation of the reality that they claim to fear.

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What future do we want?

Jihadism is one of the world’s most dangerous ideologies, derived from the most regressive features and aspects of current Islamic Civilization. Hopefully, the ascent of the Islamic State and its inevitable downfall will make the current generation of the Islamic world to question their own values and look inward. At least, it can disillusion them maybe enough so they find ways to create a future derived from the experiences of the previous mistakes.

There are obvious social and ideological problems in the Islamic world, and especially in the Middle East and northern Africa parts of it. Problems which makes adaptions to a post-feudal society difficult, and which leads to the logic that fuelled the Lebanese, Iraqi and Syrian civil wars.

These problems can be said to be:

  • Family relationships largely based around dominance and patriarchy-based hierarchy.
  • Male insecurity and a need to confront rather than to talk.
  • A view on dialogue and negotiations as a sign of weakness.
  • A lack of trust.

It is not up to the Western (global) civilization to define what the future Islamic civilization should be like, especially not as the Western civilization itself has (other) problems with its identity and structure and would need to transcend itself as well. However, this does definetly not mean that the Islamic civilization doesn’t need to transcend (and to be frank, the Islamic State – how disgusting it now is – is an attempt to deal with the self-contradictions of the Islamic world and its fears, so there is a soul-searching happening).

All this does not mean that CounterJihad is not a dangerous ideology. In fact, just like Marxism-Leninism of the Stalinist variety and National Socialism depended on one another, we are seeing a situation emerge where CounterJihadism and Salafi Jihadism have come to strengthen and confirm one another. They are believing that they are looking at another, but are truly just looking themselves in a mirror.

Moreover, CounterJihadism will add fuel to the fervour that creates abominations such as The Islamic State. A genocide or expulsion of muslims from Western Europe will most likely definitely lead to the preservation of the traits of Islamic culture that the CounterJihadists loathe and fear, and there will be a cold war between Europe and the Islamic world for generations to come.

CounterJihad is finally a complete waste of time and energy.

Time and energy which should be used to create a Life-positive civilization, a new culture which would transcend both the current Western and Islamic civilizations, and focusing on creating conscious and secure individuals who can be able to both reach for the stars and safeguard life on Earth.

Not all human beings have the same potential, but all human beings have a highest potential, and what we must seek to do if we see cultures or tendencies that are destructive or regressive emerge, is to seek a dialogue and try to give them a positive push.

That is why it is probably a flawed strategy by western authorities to coronate representatives of moderate islamist organisations as representatives of “the muslim community”. The muslim community, like all communities, consist of individuals with different aspirations, opinions and fears. Organisations with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood do however have an interest in strengthening aspects of muslim identity which can make the process of integration and transcendence slower and more painful.

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Refugees: Present and future

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Out of soon 8 billion people, around 50 million are refugees. That means that for roughly every 150th person on Earth, there is one refugee. Even though the numbers of wars have decreased generally since the 1950’s, there are more refugees than ever on Earth, and a lot of the refugee situations have been permanented – that means, refugee camps have turned from forests of tent into jungles of concrete, administered by the UNHCR and other organs, and the inhabitants have for several generations been trapped in a “ghost existence”, barred from their right to nationality, to travelling and in many cases to find a meaningful existence even within the confinements of the refugee camp. Many refugee camps are characterised by corruption, crime and violence.

Worse, many millions of refugees are living entirely outside of the system, undocumented in host societies which most often are unwilling and incapable of giving them basic human rights (remember, most refugees are in what until recently was termed “the Third World” (now being called “the Developing world” or rather “the Majority world”). Internally displaced people cannot flee the zones of conflict and are exposed to the horrors of war.

Worse even, is that there is a high risk that the problem of permanented refugees will grow during the 21st century, this time due not primarily to war, but to destruction of eco-systems and climate change. Therefore, it is essential that any form of transition which we – no matter what – must undertake, should transcend the established forms of thinking and problem-solution and approach the refugee crisis holistically on a global level.

First, the TL;DR summary

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  • The main cause of permanented refugee crises are failed or fragile states, as well as the idea that refugees should primarily return to their place of origin.
  • The global nation-state system is inadequate in managing refugee problems, due to the very logic of nation-states.
  • Climate change can easily increase the number of refugees world-wide five times, and will change the regional conditions on the planet, increasing crops fertility in the north and south while reducing it in the traditionally most productive region on the Earth, the temperate zones.
  • Refugees need to be integrated into the zones they settle as soon as possible.
  • The logical thing would be to create systems that allow people to redistribute their numbers to “regions of development”, while protecting the rights of settled communities to their own values and identity within the constraints of basic human rights and individual freedoms.

Refugee crises historically and contemporarily

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Refugees have always existed. Even before the industrial age, massive wars were fought and hundreds of thousands were displaced, as in China during the fall of the Tang and Song dynasties, or in Europe during the Hundred Years War, the Thirty Years War or many of the other political and religious conflicts throughout the continent. Just one thousand years ago, Asia Minor was culturally Greek and Armenian, and the Turks had just entered Iran from Central Asia and converted to Islam. Entire populations in Europe such as the Avars, the Celts or the Khazars were either expelled or genocided from large swathes of territory, or forcefully assimilated into new ethnic constellations. There were also refugee populations that moved into and between European countries – for example the Walloons who fled France for Sweden in the 17th century, and the Roma community throughout Europe, which has migrated from today’s India during frog-leaps for little over a millennium.

After the Second World war, millions of Germans and Poles were moved west, and around a million Finns were moved from Karelia into Finland proper. One could expect that Europe would be cluttered with refugee camps up until this day – yet no one today talks about Silesian refugees in Germany or Karelian refugees in Finland as a matter-of-day contemporary political fact.

Some might like to attribute this to some claimed innate European ability to organise societies. However, if we look at Europe in 1945-1950, we would see a continent largely impoverished and in ruins, receiving massive aid from the United States in the form of the Marshall Plan. The influx of credit and machinery opened up the opportunity to rapidly rebuild and develop the Western European economies following the war. Even though the Marshall Plan only provided a small fragment of capital transmissions, it proved enough to restore confidence in the European recovery. As the economy recovered from a very low level, the refugees were needed as labour in the reconstruction of European towns and European infrastructure.

If we instead postulate that the Marshall Plan had not been initiated, the recovery would have been much slower which could have permanented or semi-permanented the refugee crisis. If the refugees instead of staying in Europe had moved to the Americas, it would also have effected Europe badly since it would have meant a labour shortage during a time when the European machine park and infrastructure necessary to build machines was damaged. Also, the European refugees in North America would have had to integrate to a labour market which – despite being feverish hot – could hardly take in millions of people at one go, thus affecting both the time it would take for the refugees to be integrated and the wage increases for all workers. However, developing the European economy was good for the US and Canadian export industries and led to an americanization of Europe which led to a massive European consumption of US culture.

The situation today is not comparable to the world of the 1940’s. Today in most of Europe, North America and East Asia, labour is on its way out as a production factor, and the economy is becoming both simpler and more complex. Soon, the four production factors will become three, and then at the end of this century (if we do not destroy the biosphere) two. This means that even if developed economies grow, the demand for labour is not growing indefinetly but rather fluctuating, for a long-trend in a slightly downward motion (within twenty years, half of the jobs in developed economies will vanish, while the replacement rate has not increased in the same amount).

The world today is characterised by uneven development as well. We have previously mentioned on this blog that all levels of human societies are existing simultaneously in our world today. Ten million human beings today are for example stone age hunter-gatherers. Billions are living in feudal agricultural societies. Many societies are collapsed or rapidly growing industrial-age economies. And then the most developed societies are in a transition phase towards post-labour economies. This means that the skills learnt by adult peasants from agricultural feudalized societies are difficult to adapt to the needs of an industrial economy – and the more so to emerging post-labour economies (which themselves have not yet solved or even been willing to solve the contradiction of social safety nets adapted for industrial mass-labour societies under the emergent paradigm). While just a small trickle of the world’s total number of refugees have arrived in developed economies, we can already today see a trend of alienation, unemployment, anger and social exclusion.

Yet, what we can learn from the displacement after the Second World War was that it was solved in a comparatively very smooth manner by an influx of capital and technology, as well as a massive demand for labour. While it is unlikely that the demand of labour would emerge in today’s economies – developed and developing apart from those totally wrecked by war – it stands clear that investments and resource transfers are necessary, and that interventions – rather than to be primarily directed at the refugees themselves – should be divested into the economies as a whole to create the space to include those newly arrived.

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Nowadays, unlike during the 1940’s, refugee crises tend to freeze in time, the first being the Palestinian exodus of 1948-49. There are still people today living in refugee camps who are grandchildren or great-grandchildren of those original Palestinians who were displaced in 1948. The refugee camps in their turn have been transformed into crammed towns, characterised by poverty, statelessness and few opportunities to live. Yet, these refugees are living comparably good lives in comparison to the populations displaced from Afghanistan, the wars in Central Africa and recently Syria.

When such situations emerge and the fabric of society collapses, resulting in the collapse of the state itself when the base of the social order is removed, results in the emergence of black holes in the globalized nation-state system established during and after de-colonization. The world today consist of roughly 200 “nation-states“, but most of these nation-states are not founded on nationality or any other form of sense of common identity. Rather, most of these states are the remnants of colonial territories in old maritime European empires, consisting of either pseudo-racially based hierarchical systems imposed by the imperialists, or of internally suspicious or even hostile tribal nations that often exist on all sides of the border in various sub-state institutions. Thus, many of the world’s states are relying on the passive consent of the population rather than on active support, and when there is a weak sense of nationality, there is a risk that violence can erupt when resources turn scarce or when elites are struggling for state control.

Many states in the world can thus aptly be described as time bombs set to detonate. And some have already detonated.

I am of course referring to Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Libya, Yemen and Syria. Right now, the Iraqi state is collapsing as well.

Other states in the developing world have collapsed partially during their years of independence, but are still having a central government trudging on. Some have even recovered somewhat. There I am primarily thinking of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Tajikistan, Colombia, Haiti and Ethiopia. Most of these states are however fragile, and fluctuation on the raw materials market or in the grain and rice prices can create shocks that destroy many years of development in one go. These states can very well collapse if they become unstable again.

There is also a third category of states, namely time bombs which have not yet burst. Countries like Venezuela, Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria. Most of these states are very large, with humonguous populations, and just if one of them would collapse or become more unstable, the crisis could spread in the near regions and also worsen the situation in poorer, less developed neighbouring states, especially as fourth-generation cross-state insurgency groups like the IS are developing and taking hold.

Climate Change and state fragility

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The process of climate change points towards the direction of a relatively warmer climate, as well as an increase in carbon dioxide. This points towards a wetter and warmer climate in some regions, and drier and hotter climate in other regions. Traditionally, the population of the Earth has generally been concentrated in a belt from South-East and East Asia to Western Europe, the so-called temperate zones of Eurasia. Most of the great civilizations you’ve read about in history have been located there.

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The thing is, this region will become comparably less habitable for human  beings if climate change is accelerating, affecting glaciers in the Himalayas, droughts, changing monsoon patterns and affecting the sea level and habitability alongst the coastlines. Thus, resources would either need to be transported to these regions, or the population would have to adapt by either consuming less or shrinking (through emigration, or in the worst case-scenario, a population implosion due to epidemics, resource wars and genocides). Due to the relative poverty of many of the economies in the region, we can expect that the number of climate refugees grow to exceed the number of war refugees currently in the world, by several factors.

6m_Sea_Level_RiseAs you can see on this map, the regions most vulnerable to changed sea levels are also those regions that tend to be populated, especially Bangladesh, the Nile Valley Delta, the Niger Delta, the Yangtze Delta and other great cradles of civilization. This would not displace tens of millions of people, but hundreds of millions of people. Of course, there is the possibility to build great dams and walls to adapt to the changes – and that would most likely be done around large cities in the developed world (and possibly China). But impoverished countries like Bangladesh and poor countries like Nigeria have little resources to invest in such a transformation, and thus would most likely suffer collapse and near-total displacement into nearby regions, which themselves will be coping with their own problems.

This domino effect could risk an increase in armed conflicts and ethnic cleansings, leading to a situation where Syria-like civil wars burst up in fragile states all over the world, leading to anarchy and chaos.

How to address the refugee issues

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Everyone knows that our system for managing refugee crises today doesn’t work. It creates a culture of helplessness, dependency and vulnerability where it works. Where it doesn’t work, it subjects millions of people to lives short, nasty and brutish. Even though the entrepreneur Jason Buzi’s recent proposal to create a “country” for all refugees is – for all accounts – unrealistic and utopian (there needs to be significant aid to that country, it needs infrastructure and an educated population to manage that infrastructure), it still can be seen as a step in the right direction in terms of how we discuss these problems. As for the EOS perspective, it needs to be discussed amongst the EOS members, members of our affiliate organisations and of course within the Board – but these are my own personal notes in this regard.

  • Refugee camps and refugee shelters shall be standardised on a level that allows electricity, fresh-water and education, and shall primarily be run in a democratic manner by those who inhabit them, though with as much support as necessary from the organisation responsible for the sites.
  • Education, gymnastics and mental counseling should be available and of a high quality. There should also be a minimum of delineation between the camp/shelter and the surrounding areas, allowing the refugees considerable freedom under controlled forms.
  • Large refugee camps shall be counted as international subjects, thus giving stateless refugees a passport that can allow them to travel and set up residency in other places, or study in other places and return.
  • There must be a concerted effort to intervene in conflict zones and to predict where conflict zones can emerge. In terms of collapsed states, this means that the primary concern should be to end the conflict as soon as possible, and force through a settlement. If it is judged that there needs to be an external policing force there, they shall always be mandated by an organisation with global responsibilities and influence from actors representing as many human beings as possible. Such a global organisation can also delegate the mission to either one or several regional peace-keeping forces.
  • A larger share of all defence budgets should move towards international crises to reduce them, since they present the largest political threat against regional and global stability today.
  • All forces assigned with keeping or establishing peace should be subject to the IPCC or equivalent organisation.
  • Instead of trying to build or support dysfunctional nation-states, the forms of government established should be fitted towards 1) the will of the local population, 2) the complex needs of the region, 3) the need to protect human rights, through distributing power in a de-centralised manner.
  • When a state or territory has collapsed, there must be efforts to rebuild it and engage displaced people in the reconstruction efforts.
  • If there is a need to relocate a large population a long way, it must be met as a logistical issue and treated holistically, which means that it must be taken into consideration  how the relocation will affect both the region where people are leaving and the region where they are entering, in relation to how large groups we are talking about and the ecological, social and economic factors in both regions.
  • There must be created legal and safe ways of people to move, acclimatise and settle.
  • When looking at refugee crises and refugees to relocate, there must be efforts to ensure that vulnerable groups such as children and females (in often very patriarchal social contexts) are given extra focus.

Regarding the for every day increasing risk that the entire population distribution of this planet will shift from the temperate to the sub-arctic regions, that would need to be addressed by establishing “regions of settlement” in the sub-arctic and sub-antarctic areas – especially then areas with low population density given the damaging effects that mega-cities have on the environment. Thus, Canada, parts of Oceania, southern South America and eastern Siberia would probably need to be transformed into regions of settlement, to absorb at least a part of the problem.

Ultimately, what has caused the refugee crisis that millions of people currently are suffering is an inadequate nation-state system imposed by a “one-size-fits-all” view on human organisation. If we want to avoid collapsing states or lawless black-hole territories, we would need to focus on more inclusive, communitarian and localised solutions for distributing control and guaranteeing civil rights.

A 48 hours recipe for suicide

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

Recently, I had the opportunity to read this article published on the Qetema website. I found it both interesting and unnerving, as it clearly defines one of the persisting problems with “the RBE spectrum”. I struggled with myself regarding whether or not I should reply to the article in question – but have decided positively so after voicing my concerns with the young people I have talked with inside the Qetema group. They asked me to write this article, and since I’ve already criticised the notion that Greece could become “the world’s first RBE nation”, I thought it would be fair to provide a more elaborate and formal criticism of the idea.

The Short notes (TL;DR)

On Resource Based Economics

~ We do not know whether a RBE would work or not.

~ Many RBE followers seem to believe that their proposed system is a sort of console cheat mode for economics.

~ RBE;ism ultimately bears an uncanny resemblance to pre-marxian forms of communism.

On Greece

~ For many reasons, Greece is ill-suited to become a Resource Based Economy.

~ For many reasons, turning a country into a RBE in 48 hours is insane.

~ Examples of autarkies

On Resource Based Economics

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The Earth Organisation for Sustainability does not and have never identified itself as an organisation promoting what Jacque Fresco coined as a “Resource Based Economy” (RBE). What our goal is, is to investigate the opportunities for how to establish sustainable management of the Earth’s resources, and we are curious on the long-term prospects for the application of a transition to post-monetary socio-economic systems. You can read about our research and transitioning proposals here.

The main difference between us and the majority of the organisations promoting what they call “RBE”, is that we remain very skeptical of any claims and want everything to be measured, verified, applied, tested and criticised. Many of the organisations promoting the RBE concept are however claiming that the world can be switched to a RBE almost instantaneously and with little to none negative effects.

Also, a RBE would not only solve all sustainability problems and social problems, but would prevent most accidents from happen, eliminate most diseases, make most people happy and create an abundance for everyone, so high that resources almost wouldn’t have to be measured.

Much of this heralds from Mr. Fresco himself, who generally promotes his concept through focusing on the many claimed positive effects of a post-transition society. It should be noted that Fresco – before he promoted the Resource Based Economy concept – pioneered a concept called Sociocyberneering, and there he used more technical and narrow terms (which I personally find more agreeable since it makes it easier to understand what his organisation wanted to achieve, but which I understand do not serve to attract as many followers).

What then is a RBE?

If you ask a dozen or so RBE followers, you will know less of what a RBE is than before you asked. You will probably hear

The Venus Project

The Venus Project

about it being “the right thing since the Earth belongs to everyone, not a select few”, and be presented Gimp-rendered image files with quotes by old Native American chieftains. You will hear about Tesla and free energy from vacuum. You may hear of spirituality and Yoga. You may hear of living in communes and veganism, and of banking conspiracies. You may even hear that Jesus did not exist and that RBE is a return to the faith in the pagan mother goddess. You may hear of the flower of life, of promoting arts and poetry and culture.

However, one thing which soon comes clear when it comes to RBE followers (who mostly are young people with idealistically glowing eyes), is that they truly view the RBE concept as a manifestation of everything that is good, righteous and expresses their identity. RBE can be three different things to three different indivduals, but needless to say it will solve all the problems of the Earth, all injustices and do away with them within a few months (Jacque Fresco said something akin to a decade in his Stockholm lecture).

So the main issue is, what does Jacque Fresco claim that a RBE is?

The answer can be shortly summarised as: A computer-administered planned economy.

The system would work in a manner that there is a global computerised system that monitors the total amount of resources on Earth. From that, Fresco assumes that there would be more than enough resources for everyone to live like a millionaire today (surveys by organisations such as the Club of Rome, the Footprint Network and other environmental organisations beg to differ), and that all that is lacking is sufficient planning. The Venus Project has to my knowledge never conducted a planetary survey, which makes me curious on how they have established that the level of resources is sufficient to establish a RBE.

Needless to say, the EOS agrees with TVP that a global planetary survey of resources is necessary, but we believe the way in which TVP messages their concept has created several unintended problems. By focusing on attractive 1950’s style retrofuturism and on inventions rather than the surveys and the physical information, TVP has ensured that they will not for the foreseeable future be accepted in academia. On the other hand, they (and TZM, which in many ways are making themselves even more problematic) gain followers within the precariat – young people from developed nations or from middle class background who have a trouble entering the more and more perilous and uncertain environment of the labour market. The RBE concept provides escapism and a vision of an alternative world.

In many ways, the RBE movement cluster is a cybernetic-age equivalent of the Utopian Socialist movement of the first half of the 19th century. The similarities are too many for it to be a co-incidence, and can be listed below here:

* An emphasis on the vision of a society where all problems are solved.

* A belief in philosopher kings (Tesla posthumously, a cult of personality around leading RBE figures).

* A mixture between pseudo-scientism (a fetischisation of science) and beliefs in alternative science (while Fresco has never claimed to support free energy, PJ Merola of The Zeitgeist Movement has purged high-ranking TZM members who’ve contested alternative cancer treatments).

* A willingness to move away from established society and form communes.

* An unwillingness to organise stable movements or commit full-heartedly to the projects, inside emphasising liquid organisation and positive emotions.

* A belief in that RBE:ism is a recipe to create a society where all ills are immediately cured, and that we under a RBE could both live in an earthly paradise but also provide everyone with basically everything they want.

With this, I am not saying that RBE:ism as a concept is doomed, but that these six features inside the RBE movement are the main things that hampers it and virtually ensures that it continues to see much noise but little actual activity. An emphasis on positive emotions, arrogance and the deification of individuals serves to limit the scope of followers and make them ineffectual.

Greece

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If you have read the article published on Qetema detailing Greece, they claim that Greece has a third choice apart from the knife and the gun seen in the picture above, and that is to switch towards a post-monetary system immediately, claiming that any adverse effects will be smaller than the false choice exemplified. This would mean that Greece totally would forego money and instead move towards a RBE where all resources are administered directly and managed in a rational scientific manner. The author of said article claims that this would create a better life for the Greek people and also showcase exactly how well a RBE would work.

I would counter these claims by pointing out the main problems here below, starting with a historical argument, moving towards a structural one and finishing with providing examples of economies with roughly the same level of natural resources as modern-day Greece, which either by ideological reasons or by economic reality have undergone a transition towards an autarchic, self-sustainable management of their resources.

Greek History for the last 3000 years

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The earliest civilizations emerged around the Eastern Mediterranean. During the Bronze Age, Crete was a centre of trade and commerce in the Mediterranean, providing a hub where resources could be traded. In many ways, civilizations such as Crete, Egypt and the Sumerian states where resource-based economies, in that food and raw material management was centrally planned by theocratic governments. However, due to human overexploitation of fragile East Mediterranean eco-systems and probably natural disasters as well, a collapse occurred during the end of the Bronze Age, leading to depopulation and a massive loss of complexity.

The Greeks did eventually recover enough to create the civilization of Classical Greece. This recovery did not occur because that Greece as a region recovered economically. It was largely deforested, with eroding soils and unable to feed its own population (which for obvious reasons was smaller than today’s Greek population). Thence, from the 8th century BCE and onward to Alexander the Great, the Greeks colonised the shores of the Mediterranean sea, competing with the Phoenician trade networks and acted as middlemen between the various cultures populating the coastlines. If the Greeks had been land-bound and utilised their own resources, their population would have shrunk, and we would today not have known of Athenian philosophy and culture.

During the 15th century, Greece was overrun by the Ottoman Empire, and was ruthlessly exploited. The Greek cities turned into villages, the peninsula was plagued both by tax collectors and highwaymen (who were considered, and often were to an extent, Greek patriots fighting for the liberty of the Greek farmers, reduced to serfs under Turkish rule).

When Greece emerged as an independent nation in 1830, it found itself with a very poor economy and little in terms of infrastructure. The country almost immediately went bankcrupt, and has suffered several more defaults during the relatively short history since the Battle of Navarino guaranteed Greek independence. Left on its own and without any externa support, modern-day Greece would have resembled neighbouring Albania in wealth. What guaranteed that Greece would develop into the 40th largest or so economy of the world was largely the interests first of Great Britain and France, which saw the geostrategically important position of Greece visavi Turkey and Russia, and then of the United States, which largely subsidised Greece during the Cold War.

While Greece undoubtly has resources, it does not have enough resources to supply its current population within its borders. The article claims that the oceans, in this case the Aegean, contains “abundant resources”. The truth is that the eco-systems of the sea are on their way to collapse faster than the eco-systems on land, and most of them are in a state of terminal decay. Now the article writers can claim that Greece can supply itself in terms of aquaponics, kelp farms and solar energy, but to create such facilities require technology and knowledge which would make Greece dependent upon trade, and thus exporting the food they have to obtain technology. Otherwise, they would have to produce the technology internally, but that would reduce their ability to produce food which is needed to sustain the population (I advise the RBE:rs to play the excellent text-based game Stalin’s Dilemma).

RBE if applied on a national level.

If a RBE would be applied on a national level, it would mean that all food production, industrial production and infrastructure would have to be centrally managed, at least during the transitional time. Since Greece lacks the computational power to move towards a cybernated system, that would mean that the current Greek bureaucracy (and the Greek political leaders) will be tasked with managing the economy and making decisions on guesstimates. This would create bottlenecks of inefficiency and also mean that a lot of people will lose the control and/or ownership of resources – leading either to emigration or to political resistance.

Also, Greece is very much a service-based economy (tourism), which is not accounted for (or as much needed) in a RBE. Therefore, a large part of the Greek economy will cease to exist.

Current examples.

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There are currently several economies of the world which to a lesser or larger degree are managing their national economies according to principles where they measure resources and needs, and where the state rather than taxing off the population are making their revenue by exporting resources.

The two best examples of the current day world are North Korea and Cuba. I will focus on Cuba, since North Korea is largely directed towards using their resources to feed a bloated conventional military force, thus neglecting food production (in a country already ill-suited to produce food) and thus causing repeated famines.

It could be said that Cuba, on the other hand, is not aiming to embargo itself, but have partially been victimised by a recently lifted embargo by the United States. On the other hand, many aspects of the Cuban economy are not functioning overtly well, and the country lacks access to spare parts and modern technology. On the other hand, however, Cuba is today self-sustaining when it comes to food production, though ordinary Cubans do not experience an abundance of food.

If a Greek transition towards an autarchic economy with focus on self-sustaining food production is established, and we say that it is “successful” in regards with providing people with food, housing, power, medicine and other necessities, it would most likely resemble Cuba – which has a living standard that is considerably lower than modern Greece (even post-crisis), but on the other hand offers people more social security (on a considerably lower level).

Summary

The problem with RBE:ism

The problem with RBE:ism

It is theoretically possible to create a cybernated society managing its own resources within a limited geograhic territory on the planet. However, claiming that a “RBE” can violate the laws of physics and be applied with the same results in Greece as in the United States is populism at best and delusions at worst. Countries are of different size, have different environmental and geographic characteristics. It can be claimed that the larger a country is, the more educated its population is, and the smaller it is, the more resources would be available for every citizen.

That of course ignores the fundamental truth that we – as humans – cannot separate our countries from the planet. We are all into this together, and we all must transition together.

However, the EOS strongly discourages any at all attempt to convert a state into a cybernated economy tomorrow.

Firstly, we have not tested cybernated economics on any grand scale yet, or be able to attest to the positive and adverse effects of the implementation.

Secondly, we believe that the best road towards transition is an organic one, characterised by the emergence of holonic networks that share their successes and failures according to Open Source-principles and with a broad variety of different methodologies that allow us to access why experiments succeed and fail.

The RBE:ists currently are generally delving into a state where they choose to ignore relevant studies regarding history, the world’s resource base and problems encountered in transitions and with human reactions, instead preferring to draw a blank slate over all our experiences and listen to the encouraging words of gurus and visionaries.

It is my conviction as one of the founders of EOS and the organisation’s current director that our road must be one where the burden of proof lies on our shoulders that our transition models work, that we must meticulously test our alternatives on local settings and with computer simulations, that we must seek and find compromises and that the best road forward is one that is inclusive but also transparent and firmly rooted in empirical science.

Currently, RBE:ism is sorely lacking in all these regards, and that is but one of the reasons why we do not call ourselves a RBE:ist movement.

The implications of Brexit

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By Enrique Lescure

Introduction

From the global perspective, this British election was of profound geo-strategic importance. For many years, a lot of Britons have not felt that membership in the European Union is a part of their cultural identity, and fears of federalism has created a Euroskeptic movement which is larger than in most other large European countries. While this euroskeptic opinion has grown, the United Kingdom has played an important role within the European Union, especially in terms of limiting the federal outreach.

This was especially clear during Blair’s administration, when the United Kingdom could be said to be one of the poles of European cooperation, and the “leader” of both the Northern and Central European member states of the European Union. During the leadership of the Brown and especially Cameron cabinets, the United Kingdom has moved more towards domestic issues, while the Franco-German federalist leadership has been subsumed by a growing German hegemony over the continent.

This shift, caused by the Financial Crisis of 2008, could determine the outcome of the first half of the 21st century, in terms of geopolitics, economics and actually a wide range of other issues, including environmental ones. To return to the subject at hand, Britain is voting on whether or not it should remain a member state of the European Union.

The subject of this article is not so much on the British election as on the effects of a potential no to continued membership in the European community, how it would affect the Trans-atlantic link and the future for treaties like the TTIP, the sovereignty and security of European nations and the future of European federalism, and I will also explore the negative and positive implications of this, and whether what is weighing over.

The Early History of the European Community

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Already during the early 17th century, some scholars proposed the idea of a European Union (as an alternative to the Catholic-dominated and perpetually declining Holy Roman Empire). First in the early 20th century a stable intellectual and meta-political movement formed for the eventual unification of Europe. This “Pan-Europa Movement” was composed of members of the European elites, both conservatives and liberals, nobility and intellectuals, who were concerned both with the current horrors of the First World War, the rise of Soviet Communism and the vision of world peace and a unified Europe. There were also connections to the Esperanto movement and to cultural and literary personalities throughout the European continent.

After the First World War, three things stood clear. While European Imperialism was still secure in Africa, the Middle East and the regions around the Indian Ocean, a big hole had been shot into European identity, which had been connected with the idea of progress. The slaughter of the trenches had demoralized European culture and created a void where many movements competed – sometimes violently – to fill that void.

Pan-Europa did never as a movement penetrate into the working classes of Europe, probably due to being a movement which attracted mainly eccentric nobles, conservative anti-communists, representatives of the liberal intelligentsia (there was an overlap between Pan-Europa and the Esperanto movement for example). I will also briefly note that there was an overlap too many movements which were more or less… odd in their approach, for example Sörgel’s Atlantropa project.

While the Pan-Europa movement certainly did exist, it did not have any lasting impact on any large European political party. And soon, the seeds sown by the First World War erupted in the Second, and Europe thoroughly destroyed itself as a civilization.

In the ruins of the war, the seeds of the Pan-Europa ideas found nourishing soil, as it stood clear that if Europe instead of consisting of mutually antagonistic nation-states, had been organised in a federal super-structure, the Second World War could have been averted. Also, Western Europe had – as a cultural sphere – been reduced to its smallest size since the 9th century, when Charlemagne had ruled.

In 1949-1951, the first steps towards European integration were taken with a very pragmatic approach, the formation of a common steel-and-coal community between six European countries, comprising the approximate extent of Charlemagne’s Empire. In May 1957, the European Economic Community was initiated, between France, West Germany, Italy and the Three Low Countries.

Power struggle: Gaullism vs Euro-atlanticism

Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle

In 1958, France was deeply embroiled in the Algerian Liberation War, and the French Fourth Republic was on the verge of a political collapse. During that crisis, the constitutionally legitime leaders of the country called on de Gaulle to take power and end the war in Algeria. De Gaulle did more than that. He ended the weak Fourth Republic and instituted a Fifth Republic, with stronger presidential powers. He could not turn back the winds of change however, and by 1961, most of the French Colonial Empire had been lost.

To compensate for this loss of direct influence in Africa (it should be noted that France still keeps significant influence in most West African countries), France turned towards Europe in order to strengthen this influence. In this regard, de Gaulle strived to strengthen the EEC, not primarily as an economic but as a political entity, imagining it as a bloc with the potential to challenge both the United States and the Soviet Union. A key part of this continentalist approach was to keep the United Kingdom outside of the EEC, since de Gaulle suspected that the UK would try to reduce the political clout of the EEC and prevent France from dominating the cooperation or to further European integration towards greater federalism. Also, he feared more American influence on the EEC.

De Gaulle’s vision was a Europe “from the Atlantic Ocean to the Urals”, including the Russians but excluding both the Americans and the British. This ran totally counter to the American strategy for a future Europe that could be both complacent and stable, namely “keep the British in, the Germans down and the Russians out”. De Gaulle’s federalism did however end where French nationalism began, and he could not accept the idea of a common European army as a counter-weight to NATO, fearful of losing (control of) the French armed forces the French nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom (which itself had a sagging economy, while being a western country during the greatest growth period in human history) repeatedly sought membership in the EEC, but was repeatedly blocked by de Gaulle. To counter this, and also to create a more liberal form of free trade arrangement, Britain joined up with the Scandinavian countries and Switzerland to form the European Free Trade Arrangement, a structure which never became too influential and which eventually was dissolved in the 1990’s, when half of the EFTA members had joined the EEC.

Britain itself joined the EEC in 1971, after de Gaulle’s death. What blocked French dominance in the EEC of 1971-1993 was not so much American influence through Britain as American influence through West Germany, which was becoming the largest economy of Western Europe. Despite that the Germans accepted to play a subservient role to the French within Europe, they could not rely on France for their strategic defence against the Soviet Union (one cornerstone of French nuclear strategy in the event of a Global Thermonuclear War/Soviet invasion of Western Europe was to nuke the Russians in West Germany as they passed through it). Also, French presidents following De Gaulle were less consistent and in many ways had a weaker position domestically, and could therefore not increase their level of dominance within the EEC or the WEU (an “alternative military alliance to NATO”).

The Third Gulf War and effects on European Federalism

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Institutionally, the 90’s and 00’s strengthened the newly born European Union in a significant manner, from the Maastricht Treaty to the implementation of the common currency to the Lisbon Treaty of 2009. However, politically the Union was immensely damaged by the failure of the common foreign policy during the initiation of the Third Gulf War in 2003, also known as the Iraq War.

During the late 1990’s, there were many strong visionaries in the three major European powers at the time, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Chirac (the then French President) desired European federalism and French elites saw the idea of moving towards a “United States of Europe” as inevitable. Schröeder, the German Chancellor, wanted to establish closer economic ties with the Russian Federation (which at that point still was very weak), while the British Prime Minister Blair desired a “Europe a’la Carte”, where European states themselves could decide on what arrangements they wanted to opt-in or opt-out from.

Chirac’s motivations were political (European federalism to create a Non-American western superpower), Schröeder’s were financial (benefit the German economy by having better trade relations with Moscow, and also probably due to his own personal growing interests in Russia), while Blair’s interests were based partially on protecting his position (Euroskepticism was greater in Britain than on the continent), and maybe also on preventing the foundation of a European Federation or any other arrangement which included the Russians but excluded the Americans. Britain’s interests in this case co-incided with the interests of many smaller North and Central European nation-states, which did not desire French or German hegemony on the European continent.

It is possible that had there been no war, or had Britain not joined the war, there would be (for better or worse) a different EU today. But Britain joined the war against Saddam’s Iraq, together with countries like Poland, Romania, Italy and Denmark, I.E countries which were peripheral in the European Union or which desired less federalism, contra countries like France, Belgium and Germany, which for different reasons saw increased amounts of Federalism as a solution for what they identified as their geopolitical and economic challenges.

The intensity of the propagation for or against the Third Gulf War led to such outrages as the French stating that Poland and the Baltic States “had missed a good opportunity to shut up”, and the US Congress officially renamed French Fries into “Freedom Fries”.

What we tend to forget is that even if the Third Gulf War today is seen as a folly which the US and “the Coalition of the Willing” chose to engage in, by 2007 Schröeder and Chirac were both gone and replaced by more Pro-US-leaning administration. For all what it was worth “New Europe” had triumphed over “Old Europe”, geopolitically-wise, and the result of the Third Gulf War for Euro-American relations was that it was shown that France and Germany had weaker capacity to draw support for their foreign policy within the European Union than the United States. For all what it was worth, Europe had truly become a Europe á la carte, and Blair’s policy had (perhaps through unintentional means) largely become successful.

British Euroskepticism

Euroscepticism-EU

Euroskepticism has been growing at a steady rate in the United Kingdom since the EEC “imposed” the Metric system on the country. Nowadays, those who desire to leave the European Union are leading with 15-20% above those who want to stay.

Blair’s successors, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, have been unwilling or unable to focus as much on the issue of the European Union as their predecessor, and British influence is low (despite the conflict in Ukraine, where Poland, Romania and the Baltic States can rely more on Britain than for example Germany, because Britain has consistently been more skeptical to the resurgence of Russia than continental powers).

Also, the events of the early 00’s are forgotten today, at least in Europe, due to the events of 2008-2010. The Eurozone Debt Crisis left the United Kingdom untouched, due to the UK not being a part of the common currency. The role the UK could or wanted to assume in this crisis was already from the start limited, and having their own economical problems to think of, the United Kingdom became insular and unable to assert the situation in Europe.

The Debt Crisis saw Germany rise up as the main creditor of bankcrupt European states. While this has neither been popular amongst the Greeks or the southern Europeans, it has cemented a financial power-base and thrown more power into the hands of the German chancellor any-time since 1942. I would reject on the strongest the Stratfor notion that the European Union is dead. Rather, the crisis has signified that continental Europe is dependent on Germany, but also that Germany is dependent on the economy of Europe as a whole. This necessitates German management.

The public opinion of the United Kingdom is not noticing the full extent of what is happening, namely that the Eurozone today is forming into what it was designed to prevent, namely German hegemony on the European Continent. The British opinion is too hammered by domestic conflicts today, and it remains a risk that Scotland can leave the United Kingdom.

If the British opinion even exists on the Eurozone debt crisis, it mostly galvanizes around viewing Greece, Italy and Spain as countries with historically irresponsible governments, and the Germans as doing what they could to save the day (most likely, people are also grateful they are not a part of the Eurozone).

Within a few years (if Britain manages to move itself together), there will be political voices that would object on the strongest towards the emergent German hegemony on Europe. Nevertheless, no matter what German, American or British decision-makers want, the German hegemony is an economic reality, and could eventually serve as the basis for a Federal Europe arranged after German geostrategic interests (which ultimately was what Germany intended to achieve in 1914-1918 and 1939-1945).

If Britain remains inside the European Union, they can serve as a counter-weight and stall this development, but if the British public are voting yes to a “Brexit”, they will have rejected all ability to influence the continued process. This does however not move in line with American or British interests, since the American interest has been to prevent or stall the rise of rising powers, while the British interests since the reign of Elizabeth I has been to prevent any single European power from emerging on the continent.

Therefore, unlike what some people are proposing, Britain has an immense role for geo-strategy in the near future.

Positive or negative

archdaily.com

archdaily.com

Only three powers have the potential to dominate the European continent today and achieve hegemony. Those are The United States, Russia and Germany. Out of these three, Germany has the best geographical position in terms of potential economic and political influence (though the worst militarily). A Europe that is in peace and with a low risk for war, will naturally tend to favour a power located where Germany rests.

Right now, the economic crisis of 2008-2010 has shifted Europe a step closer to German hegemony, at the expense of smaller states and Non-Eurozone members. If the United Kingdom chooses to leave the European Union, it would be very difficult for any constellation of powers to prevent a German hegemony. Therefore (my estimation is) David Cameron and Angela Merkel would do their outmost to prevent the Brexit.

Firstly, the United Kingdom would – outside of the EU – naturally gravitate towards the Anglo-American and Anglo-Oceanian powers, and would have a position on par with Canada and Australia visavi the United States.  It would also be isolated from the European continent, and unable to stop the rise of an eventual European Federation under German financial and political control.

Germany, on the other hand – at least under the Merkel chancellorship (and probably within the entire German political establishment) does not want to dominate Europe, and would want to anchor their power in the consent of at least major economies like France and the United Kingdom. A Brexit would move Europe closer to a state which they for political and emotional reasons are finding abhorring.

Ultimately, we must ask ourselves, how would a European Federation under German suzerainty look like and constitute itself?

It is impossible to say. Today’s Germany is not Hitler’s Third Reich, but a democratic federal republic with broad autonomy for the länder (states). One thing which could be said apart from that which is positive, is that Germany (while sadly still being dependent on coal) has a positive track record on energy, and there is a large environmental movement in the country.

Another positive thing with a more multipolar world is that different types of models can be tested through the imposition of differing values on large-societies. A European Federation, free from the more Smithian and Lockean heritage of Anglo-American political values, could value other factors above the free market and above the interests of mega-corporations (which are the top beneficiaries of today’s form of globalisation). One such factor is the environment.

As you know, EOS believes that de-centralization is an essential thing for the establishment of a sustainable civilization. But perfect worlds do not exist, and we must work with models that are realistic should they be imposed on us, and try to find the positive things in the development that we can work through. Therefore, the risk for a Brexit does also signal a trend where Europa and the United States are diverging from one another, which isn’t necessarily an inherently negative thing – at least not from an environmental perspective.

Iraq should be dissolved

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by Enrique Lescure

Introduction

We all have seen the news from Iraq and Syria from the last year. Beheadings, immolations, persecutions of ethnic and religious minorities. This dramaturgy has something as unusual in today’s world as a clear villain. The Islamic State. The Caliphate. Daesh.

That sinister group has killed tens of thousands of people in both Iraq and Syria, have plans of world conquest that makes Adolf Hitler’s Lebensraum look modest, and have even tried to acquire weapons of mass destruction to perpetuate Holocausts against Christians, Jews and Shi’ites.

Right now, a counter-offensive consisting of an unlikely alliance of the US airforce, the Iraqi Army and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias are now engaged in an offensive against Tikrit, the childhood city of Saddam Hussein and an important Sunni town. The IS are not growing any more in Iraq and Syria, and are fighting on three or four fronts against their enemies – united by nothing but their common hatred of IS.

So, does this mean that it is likely there will be peace soon in the Middle East?

Will the Middle East know peace the day the Islamic State lies crushed?

No, if it only was so simple. Truth is, that the IS are not a cause of the current war. And the underlying causes for the current war will still persist even after the collapse of the IS.

The formation of Iraq and Syria

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The area between the highlands of Turkey and Iran, and the deserts of Arabia is known as the Fertile Crescent, a largely flat plain (with the exception of the hills of Caanan and the mountains of Lebanon). This area is where agricultural civilization was born, 12.000 years ago, and where the first cities and states emerged. Syria, Israel, Palestine and Iraq are boasting some of the oldest archeological remains known to humankind.

Despite this, the modern states of Iraq and Syria are pretty recent inventions. While partially drawn from ancient geographic delineations (I am surprised the British did not christen Iraq into Mesopotamia), what decided the border between Iraq and Syria was primarily an old WW1 agreement between Britain and France, dividing the possessions of the decaying Ottoman Empire in the Middle East.

Following the war, Iraq and Syria became mandates for the League of Nations (the predecessor to the UN), administered by Britain and France respectively. One modern analogy would be the status of Kosovo between 1999 and 2008, when it was formally a Serb autonomous province administered by the UN with NATO as those responsible for order on the ground.

Britain and France did however not desire truly independent states, and instead favoured dependency and weak local administrations. Copying their methodologies in Africa, these colonial powers imposed systems were ethnic and sectarian minority groups were favoured as administrators and officer cadres. In Iraq, the Sunni minority were favoured, while in Syria and Lebanon the French favoured Christians and Alevites.

This strategy failed to ensure European hegemony over the Fertile Crescent, partially because of the Second World War, and partially because many educated Arabs were rejecting their sectarian identities during this era, instead striving towards Pan-Arabism.

Syria – which was a republic – saw the political power move into the hands of nationalists during the 1950’s, but political instability led first to a short-lived Union with Egypt, and in 1970 towards the Assad dictatorship, which came to draw its security staff and officer cadres from the Alevite minority.

In Iraq, the British had imposed a constitutional monarchy consisting of the Hedjazi Hashemite royal family (which still controls the throne in Jordan). In 1958, a violent revolution supported by Moscow led to the deaths of the Hashemite king and the Pro-western prime minister Nuri as-Said. The military regime was in its turn toppled in 1968 by the Ba’ath Party, then headed by Saddam Hussein. The Saddam regime saw challenges in the form of increasing Kurdish national sentiments and the rise of Shi’ite islamist ideology in the south. Instead of choosing to include these groups into the national project, Saddam instituted brutal repression, both through military means and through his security service, the Mukhabarat.

The preparations of the current drama

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

We should not herein describe the US reasons for the Iraqi intervention – it would take too much space. What we can say is that decision-makers in America decided to opt for a strategy inspired by the successful management of Post-war Germany, which meant a combination of “denazification” and introduction of democratic institutions. In Iraq’s case, this meant that the Ba’ath Party was banned and that all Ba’ath Party members were purged from positions of public responsibility.

This would maybe not have been so problematic if it wasn’t so that most public officials were members of the Ba’ath Party, not because of conviction but because it was a must in Saddam’s Iraq. Thus, large segments of Iraq’s managerial class were banned from their professions. This included the Iraqi army, which meant that the US had to sponsor and direct the build-up of a new army.

Introducing parliamentary democracy to Iraq (luckily, the US did not introduce a US-style presidential system, which would probably have caused the current situation to explode far earlier), the US unintentionally handed over power to Iraq’s Shi’ite majority. Since most active Shi’ite politicians previously either had led lives in exile in neighbouring Iran (an ideological adversary to America and Israel) or had been parts of underground anti-Saddam groups, professing their religious identity and being at least morally backed by Iran.

Leaving aside the rivalry between Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the immediate cause for the meteoric rise of the Islamic State in Iraq in 2013-2014 was – apart from the civil war in neighbouring Syria – the fact that many Sunni professionals, officers and ordinary citizens supported the IS when they moved into Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit. This was not primarily because the IS was popular, but because the Shia-dominated Al-Maliki government was loathed amongst the Sunni minority, and also had began to repress the Sunnis, by purging Sunni politicians and bureaucrats within their own government.

Caspian Report goes into this with more detail, as does the War Nerd.

Iraq should be dissolved

Right now, Iraq’s Shia-dominated army is, together with the US airforce and Iranian-supported militias, striving to retake

theatlantic.com

theatlantic.com

Tikrit and Mosul from the Islamic State. This offensive has proven to be slow and grinding, and still the Islamic State are holding out in parts of Tikrit. More controversially, there are signs that the Shi’ite militias are committing violations against the Sunni civilian population, perpetuating the grievances that led to the support of the Islamic State in the first place.

There was a time when Iraq (and to a larger extent, Syria) was a potential nation-state, not only geographically but also socially. However, oppression, exclusion, multiple wars and institutional damage beyond repair have blasted such a progress beyond oblivion.

For example, one of the reasons that the Islamic State has not moved into Baghdad is that Baghdad is no longer a religiously mixed city, but rather has become overwhelmingly Shia-dominated, following the Iraqi civil war of 2005 – 2009 (which in itself is but an earlier phase of this war).

With the lack of stable institutions and a country divided in ethnic and sectarian lines, politics in Iraq becomes less about policies and ideologies, and more about what ethnic or sectarian group you are belonging to. The perpetuation of Iraq as a (under-theory) unified state will serve to perpetuate the very instability that it is meant to counter.

One proposal for a Post-Iraqi future is an Iraq divided along ethnic and sectarian lines, as seen as this map up to the right. This solution however is sub-optimal. It will solve the issue of who should control Iraq in a winner-takes-it-all-gamble, by ending the very game that allows for such a situation to fester. It would not however serve to protect minorities such as Christians, Yezidis, Druzes and Alevites from hostile majority populations. Such a situation, which aims for more but smaller nation-states, will not serve the aims of secularism, or protect the objective interests of the Middle East in the long term.

A confederational solution

A solution could be to establish a general armistice and then hold a joint peace conference for Syria and Iraq. This mashreqconference would establish two border changes. Firstly, an independent Kurdish nation-state should be formed, composed of Kurdish-majority regions in Iraq and Syria. This Kurdistan will be a “kleinkurdistan“, which won’t be politically adjoined to Kurdish-majority regions of Turkey and Iran. There should therefore be a necessity to include Turkey and Iran in the process and ensure a solution that can be acceptable to all parties.

As for Iraq and Syria, both states should be abolished and replaced not with a multum of nation-states (Most of Syria is impossible to divide into minor states), but with a Mashriqi Confederation stretching from Aleppo to Basrah. This confederation would out of necessity be very de-centralised, and consist of self-governing cantones which might be arranged after ethnic and sectarian lines. The Confederation would have a strong, pluralist constitution, affirming the equal rights of all citizens no matter their professed faith. The confederational government should – like in Lebanon – have legislated it so that representation is guaranteed for all groups (and yes, I know Lebanon had a bloody civil war in 1973-1990).

For the first decade or so, this confederation would probably need to be under a UN mandate, until a new generation of leaders could grow up and assume the reins of government.

Summary

Right now, the Middle East is moving towards its own version of the Thirty Years War, as Saudi Arabia and Iran are clashing over Yemen, and the Turkish-Saudi-Iranian rivalry is left unresolved by the collapse of the Islamic State. After the fall of the Islamic State, it would probably be a good idea to scrap the Sykes-Picot agreement and have a regional conference that delineates a new order.

Any new order that aspires to be stable and guarantee the human rights of all citizens – religious minorities included – must however also entail an institutional and cultural transformation. In a situation where defined collectives with a winner-takes-it-all-mentality are clashing over the control of the state and are the foundations for the political movements, it is impossible to establish a fair bureaucracy and good governance. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that the growing generations should learn lessons about communication and conflict resolution from this bloody war.

Or else, it will be truly meaningless.

What will 2015 bring forth?

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By Enrique Lescure

2014 in hindsight, what now?

2014 was a year dominated by social entropy.

The Syrian civil war spread into Iraq, making the Islamic State a new unrecognised government in the heart of the Middle East, spreading atrocities from Aleppo in the west to Baghdad in the east, and contributing even more to the tragedy that the destruction of Syria represents.

In eastern Ukraine, a similar type of conflict has emerged, this time with indirect and direct involvement from both the West and the Russian Federation. This war is centered around nationalism and competing geo-political interests, and those suffering the most are the civilians.

In Africa, the Central African Republic and South Sudan were both fraught with sudden outbursts of civil wars, in the case of the former temporarily turning the CAR into a failed state, leading to ethnic clashes between groups professing to Islam and Christianity. Boko Haram, the despicable terror group of northern Nigeria, have intensified their campaign against the Nigerian state.

The year was however – also – characterised by a continued green revolution in energy generation, a continued automatisation process and a growth in 3D printing, the nano-revolution and engineering pursuits, which can prove interesting in shaping the outlook of the world until the 2020’s and beyond.

So what interesting things can happen in 2015?

The Greek Elections; or “the collapse of the European Union intensifies”

grexit_477701130Greece is holding their elections on Sunday the 25th of January 2015, ahead of schedule, caused by the failure of the Greek parliament to elect a (ceremonial) president.

Meanwhile, Switzerland has disconnected it’s currency from the Euro.

Are those two events connected?

Yes, there is a very serious reason why Switzerland has moved towards a floating Franc. In 2010, following the world financial crisis, Greece was forced to borrow money to pay debt to the banks to which they owed money, de-facto entering a state bankcruptcy.

State bankcruptcies are nothing new for Greece. During the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, Greece has suffered debt defaults five times. This would have been the sixth. The reason why I write would is that the Greeks have not been allowed to default on their debt, because that would damage the credibility of the entire Eurozone, and result in a chain reaction where speculators would move against the Euro.

In 2010, Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel de-facto became the EU president, as she moved towards sanitizing the debts of the southern European states (amongst which Greece was the worst), in return for massive austerity packages from these countries, which unsurprisingly led to increasing unemployment and dissatisfaction. In the last Greek election, in 2012, the left-leaning party SYRIZA (an amalgamation of many parties to the left of the Greek social democratic party PASOK) became the second largest party of the Greek Parliament.

This time, on the 25th, SYRIZA can very well win the elections and form a government. The party has threatened that if Greece is not allowed to move away from the austerity package and have the debt renegotiated, they will move away from the Eurozone.

How would cash-strapped Greece leaving the Eurozone and declaring default hurt Europe?

Firstly, those affected will be the banks that Greece owes money to, and the governments will probably make up for their losses by even more austerity, since banks are considered “too big to fail”. This will most likely add fuel to the sentiments that the established parties and governments in Europe are more identifying themselves with financial institutions and the wealthy elite, than with ordinary middle and working class people – which could create more room for dissatisfaction, dissent and even violent reaction…

Secondly, the Eurozone is not primarily an economic project, but a part of a political process. The European Union is formed according to a functionalist principle, where the founding fathers of Europe realised that there was little popular support amongst the masses for European federalism.

David Mitrany

David Mitrany

Functionalism as a model, envisioned and described by amongst other people the Romanian-born social scientist David Mitrany, establishes that European integration should take the easiest possible route, much like how water is moving around rocks to flow down to the sea.

The European Union began as the Coal & Steel Community of 1946 – 1957, upgraded itself to the European Economic Community of 1957 – 1993, and became the European Union by the Maastricht Treaty of 1993. Each of these changes brought a deeper economic integration. The European Monetary Union is a complement to the European Union, which is aiming at harmonising monetary policies. The next logical step would be integrated financial and taxation policies, but this has failed to materialise, mostly because the political capital of the European Union was exhausted after the introduction of the EURO and the expansion from 15 to 27 member states in 2004-2007.

The European electorate was not that keen on the increased political influence of the European Union, illustrated by the failed referendums in France, the Netherlands and Eire during the 00’s. When the crisis of 2008 hit, there was no identification with the European Union amongst the masses, and when the economy failed, the European leaders quickly moved to access the interests of their own economies. So the European integration project is rapidly losing momentum, and will continue to stay weak so long a new stable equilibrium is not reached.

It is very possible that Tsipras (SYRIZA’s leader) is going to be far more moderate than the worst doomsday sayers predict, but his electorate wants results, and if the current malaise trods on in Greece, people will become increasingly radicalised and maybe either move to the far left or to the far right Golden Dawn.

Alexis TSIPRAS

In the case of “the worst scenario”, a Greek expulsion/resignation from the Eurozone, Greece’s economy will probably default, leading to an intensification of the crisis. However, such a deep dip will probably on the medium term be good for the Greek economy, as it will rationalise and prices will lower to the level that the tourism industry starts to generate growth for the overall economy.

Maybe the Greeks would prefer a very painful fall and impact to rock bottom before decades of stagnation.

For the Eurozone, it will mean a definite break from the idea that the Euro as a currency regime is stable, and can lead to a new crisis. Therefore, I expect Merkel to actually try to listen to Mr Tsipras’ demands and try to reach some kind of compromise with a SYRIZA-led government. The question is what the German and Greek peoples would think of such a renegotiation?

Given that, the Tory-led government in the United Kingdom has woved to hold a referendum on continued membership in the EU if they are not reaching a deal regarding free mobility with the European Union. The reasons for this referendum are domestic and populist, and it is not unlikely – if the situation permits – that Cameron would draw back the referendum a few years before it (if he wins the elections in May). However, it signals that the consercatives are now trying to gain (back) the support of the plurality (perhaps majority) of Britons that see the European Union as a problem

The Russian Crisis, the Donbass War and Saudi Arabia

While there are still open hostilities in the East of Ukraine, the Russian actions since the autumn indicates that Russia isnovorussia_map_by_grdgryphonranger-d7ks806 aiming for a d’etente with the West, with a situation where Russia has “lost” the Ukraine as a Pro-Russian state, but the West won’t see Ukraine as a member of the EU or NATO. Meanwhile, the West has sought to punish Russia for their violations of the international order by the means of sanctions. Many European leaders, including the French president and German industrial leaders, are increasingly skeptical to the sanctions as they serve to hurt European growth forecasts as well, while the Americans are more hardline.

The Russian economy on the other hand is quickly draining its capital reserves and is seeing cuts in the civilian sector. The reason behind this is not only tied to the western sanctions, but also to the Saudi oil production figures. Saudi Arabia is involved in an own proxy war versus Iran and Russia inside Syria, and given the current volatile situation, they are ready to use their oil weapon to lowering the price of oil and thereby hurting Russia and Iran (and also the growing shale oil industry in the United States).

It will take eighteen months to deplete the Russian currency reserves, and by then Russia will be reliant on debt, with an 20141018_gdc875awful credit rating at their disposal. This can lead to political destabilisation inside of Russia and create the foundations for regime change there. However, the regime change may not be the desired from the western perspective. If Putin for example would withdraw from Crimea and Donbass and leave the separatists to their fate, he could very well face an uprising from the nationalist right.

More likely, I expect that Russia and Iran could see this as a hostile action by Saudi Arabia, and could use whatever tools they have within their disposal (short of outright military actions) to try to hurt Saudi Arabia in return.

The fall of the Islamic State?

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It won’t end the crisis in Iraq and Syria, but it will mark the introduction of a number of regional powers into the fray. It is likely that Turkey, Iran and perhaps even Saudi Arabia and Jordan can to some degree intervene militarily with ground forces into the theatre. Such an intervention will quickly overwhelm the IS and push them back into armed insurrection and guerilla and terrorist activities, much like how the Vietnamese pushed the Khmer Rogue back into the jungles.

The intervention of Turkey or another major Sunni power would almost certainly force an Iranian counterreaction, perhaps in the form of more regular Iranian troops and revolutionary guards being sent into Syria (and perhaps Iraq). In the worst case scenario, this could mean a regular war between Iran and one or two Sunni Powers, but more likely new armed groups will emerge under the wings of Turkish, Iranian and Saudi base territories and engage in continued fighting in the region. Nevertheless, Syria and large parts of Iraq will continue to turn into failed states for 2015, with an immeasureable humanitarian cost.

Social Entropy

apocalypse-615x345

The truth in evolution is that the more complex an organism is, the more vulnerable it becomes to disturbances in the eco-systems it is dependent on. The human civilization today, with its largely integrated world economy, is an increasingly complex web of structures, arrangements, institutions and interlinked human communities. What is happening in the Middle East and in Europe are not only the results of long-term social and socio-economic trends, but also parts of the very same trends.

These parts of the world are experiencing socio-economic and social realignments which has been working for a long time, and exploded in the Debt Crisis of 2010 and the 2011 Arab Spring. During 2015, there is a high risk that the escalation of these trends will continue on and drive through the realignment. Since many key players are trying to use this alignment to come up on top, they will serve to intensify the crises in matters that they believe could benefit them.

At least in the Middle East, we are seeing a massive loss of social complexity, throughout a large part of the Fertile Crescent, and it is possible that Syria can turn into a new Somalia, situated into the heartlands of the Middle East. This will ultimately work against Saudi Arabia, which now also faces the prospects of a collapsing Yemen on its southern border.

Ultimately, this realignment is part of a wider realignment, where the issue is whether the Unipolar “New World Order” (the American-led world) can come to terms with the BRICS about how power should be distributed internationally, and whether or not the BRICS can survive the oil crisis and China’s dampening growth forecasts.

Enrique

The issue of identity (II), Nationalism & Separatism

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Introduction

This article will discuss the concrete and practical issues regarding identities. In the last article, as you may remember, we searched for a definition of identities, and how we can define identities as institutional projects which people keep alive by active and passive participation. In this article, we will delve into a controversial subject, namely nationalism and separatism, and how such sentiments can be addressed in a Type-1 society.

Confederalism & the Technate

EOS envisions a world where the economy is integrated, within the form of something which we call a technate. A technate is a technical administrative area, and we are envisioning it as a confederate structure in itself, which is a transparent network of information nodes about the status of the planet. The technate would not handle democratic or political issues.

Parallel to the technate, we imagine a confederate system consisting of a world confederation of voluntarily accessed democratic municipalities. These municipalities would form subject confederations which would handle their own issues but cooperate on issues they have in common. These confederacies are responsible for legislation, but a founding principle of such a system is subsidiarity (which at least formally is an ideal of the European Union).

Here is an old article which I wrote several years ago on the subject. It might contain spelling errors, so bear with it. It delves deeper into the subject.

Nation States and Ethnicities

Usually, ethnicities are defined by linguistics (though there are exceptions, like former Yugoslavia where several ethnicities share languages so similar they can be considered dialects of the same language, Italy where the Italian ethnicity is semi-divided in a north and south, and languages in the north are varying even between villages close to one another, and lastly Switzerland, where four languages are spoken but co-existing with a strong Swiss sense of common identity). Linguistics are not the only thing which defines an ethnicity. An ethnicity can be defined by common origin, religion, historical experiences and/or cultural traditions.

The shortest definition of an ethnicity is that it is an identity connected to a particular cosmology, which creates itself because people belonging to that particular ethnicity are believing that it exists and are feeling that they have a shared cultural space. To a certain extent, that is true, since ethnicities are the kind of meta-identities that can survive through generations and which often share particular cultures and habits.

I would focus on European Nation-states, since they are generally seen as the strongest and oldest nation-states on the planet, where the dominant ethnicities are often directly identifying with the state itself and some states even can be defined as largely mono-cultural (the inversion of Europe would be Africa, where the nation-states are new and weak and consisting of several ethnicities which often share nothing but a second language like English and French, and possibly a religion which a plurality of the population is embracing).

It should be noted that the nation-states preceded modern nationalism in Europe with 100-200 years, and that most European nationalisms have been formed either by partial design from nation state governments, or through opposition against said nation-state due to the oppression of national minorities.

The nation-state is ultimately working as most other states have historically done, no matter whether we talk about a democratic context, or an authoritarian. The state is a hierarchical structure administered by a management, which usually exists under the conditions of wealth and power disparity between centre and regions, and between the upper percentiles and the lower percentiles of the socio-economic distribution.

Even in democratic states, such as Sweden, there is an inherent conflict of interests between the capitol and the provinces, and even during the 20th century, northern Sweden has been treated in an almost colonial manner by Stockholm. It has not been seen as a region with unique cultures (apart from the Sámi minority) and unique conditions, but as a natural resource extraction zone which gives state-owned companies revenues which are invested mostly in the south. Since only 10% of the population of Sweden lives in the north, this can be approved by southern voters while the north slowly is depopulating due to the lack of employment opportunities and the increasing difficulty to make a living in this remote region.

In the worst cases of nation-state formation, nation states have been expanding the territory of one particular ethnicity by the forced expulsion and forced assimilation of other ethnic groups, and have even engaged in systematic murders and massacres to acquire the land and property of minorities (for example, the father of the Swedish state, Gustav I, massacred the people of Smaland for their insistence on trading directly with Europe). In at least one particular occasion, two nascent nation-states (Greece and Turkey) agreed to exchange tens of thousands of Greeks and Turks between one another, to create more ethnic homogenity.

Due to colonialism and the 1960’s de-colonisation, the European model for nation-states have become universal, and been applied to regions with different circumstances. This has created volatile, partially or wholly artificial states which the population often do no identify with. This has most recently caused the partial implosion of Syria and Iraq, which were created as League of Nations Mandates following WW1 and which do not correspond to any historical nation-states.

The rise and fall of globalization

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As globalization is turning the planet into a linear resource extraction system, the economic need for nation-states have vanished since there is a growing trans-national elite that stands above and partially beside the nation-state system. Treaties such as TTIP, MAI and ACTA is removing economic sovereignty from the nation-states and placing it in the hands of supranational actors or even megacorporations.

Thus, the nation-state in the early 21st century, as the elite sees it, is increasingly working as a tool to further the aims of economic globalization. The state should make laws that protects the rights of trans-national corporations, prevent theft of intellectual copyrights and patents, and should also provide police forces and protection of the property of trans-national corporations. Economic democracy, in the form of welfare states, should be transformed in a direction which brings more responsibility and control to the trans-nationals and to the international financial system.

This process is partially aided by technological and economic progress, which strives to maximise outcomes and streamline and effectivise production factors. However, it is also a conscious process driven by actors who envision that this kind of system will bring about world peace and possibly end in a world government. It is a general belief that since exponential growth took speed in the 19th century, that it will continue indefinetly, making us all more prosperous and enlightened and bring about a bright future for humanity.

This conscious globalization project is decaying now, with the Euro-zone being ripped apart with southern Europe in a state of depression, and with a China that is slowing down. The financial crisis of 2008 was solved by stimulus, that has failed to yield the expected growth forecasts and have merely slowed down the decaying of  a system which cannot sustain its growth.

If a relatively minor failure in the system (the collapse of an American bank due to subprime mortgages) produces the partial collapse of a currency union and several years of financial chaos, then imagine what effects the inevitable and worsening ecological collapse will cause?

Less than a decade ago, it was assumed that there would be eternal growth and that globalization would continue unabated, and that we would see a vibrant world dominated by mega-cities. That image of the future is turning less and less obvious for every passing year.

Collapse

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It can be said that the risk of collapse is ever-existing within any form of advanced social system. Vandalism, violence, crime, corruption and inequality are all serving to reduce faith in society and to make its cogs work less effectively. That is why most societies are trying to reduce these aspects of human existence in order to make life predictable so we can plan our lives for both medium- and long-term periods.

Ecological crises, induced by changing climate or over-exploitation, leads to a subsequent series of losses of complexity, meaning that advanced societies generate less resources to keep the population compliant and thus need to devote a larger share of the output to security (which means raising the taxes to increase the weight of the defensive capabilities of the elite).

What we can expect if our ecological system starts to deteriorate is an increase in support and activity amongst extremist groups, who could then rally mass support for revolution. These groups will be formed around religious, ethnic and social groups, and be fuelled both by a desire for basic human safety, as well as a chain of real and imagined injustices endured from other groups. There will also be a risk of refugee crises which would make the current displacement crises appear as mere drips. For example, one of the most sensitive countries to climate change – Bangladesh – hosts above 150 million people.

There is thus a profound risk that the primary challenge of the system will not be the ecological collapse itself, but the reaction of billions of disinherited, who – striving to survive – will threaten to overwhelm the system. This will cause a fragmentisation of humanity into smaller and smaller units which will be in a struggle for the remaining resources.

The globalized system envisioned by the elite clubs is not sustainable, and some of them know it. Yet they are so trapped within their own system that they cannot imagine an alternative.

Towards a Type-1

future-city

If we want to move forward, we must dare to imagine a unified Earth, but not the kind of “new world order” envisioned by George H.W Bush. Instead, we must think of our species as an organism which has a profound impact on the biosphere. We must co-exist with the biosphere globally, and we can only do that through a form of global governance.

However, no kind of centralised or authoritarian system can unify the Earth, and neither can a system that accumulates all the wealth and productive forces in the hands of a super-oligarchy.

The future constitutional framework of a Terra United must be confederalistic and allow for regional variations. There should be no colonies, mandates or occupied territories.

The basis for confederalism – Voluntaryism

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I – Constitutionalism. The constitution is not established to regulate forms, but to tell what basic human rights and duties there are within the Confederation. Municipalities who want to join the Confederation must follow the tenets of the Constitution. As EOS envisions such a constitution, it would consist of individual human rights (values) and the general broad aims of society (to support and strengthen the conditions for life to flourish on Earth). One of these conditions can not be used to legally motivate the violation of the other.

II – Subsidiarity. The Confederation would only be responsible for the Constitution, as well for social issues that require global coordination, in cooperation with the Technate. Issues which are regional or local will be handled on their respective levels, which the goal being that decisions should be made as close to those affected by them as possible.

III – Voluntaryism. Municipalities must voluntarily accede to the Confederation for the association to be legitime. Those who do not want to be a part of the Confederation would not be forced to partake, and are free to form relationships with confederate municipalities. The only exception to that are entities which are violating the Constitution. If a municipality inside the Confederation is violating the Constitution, and is not heeding calls to stop with it, its status as a part of the Confederation will become null and it will be excluded.

IV – Sub-confederacies formed on voluntary basis. Instead of forming sub-confederacies primarily on an ethnic, geographic or historical basis, they will be formed and dissolved on a continuous voluntary basis. The current nation-state system is based around the Westphalian idea that borders should not be changed. As we have seen numerous examples of groups not being happy with their political units (for example Catalonia, Flanders or parts of northern Italy) and wanting to join other political units or form new ones, we have seen that this often leads to conflicts with the central government – which for the most part is concerned with self-preservation.

Our proposal means a liquid form of political border delineation, where borders are changed peacefully when the people of a region sees it that they want change. This would mean that if parts of Northern Sweden wants to change affiliation to Finland, it should be able to be arranged relatively quickly. The same for infected border issues such as Crimea, but also of nations like Chechnya and Tatarstan.

It also means that groups that strictly speaking are not ethnicities, like for example retirees, students, members of subcultures or supporters of ideologies can have their own municipalities and even break free and form their own confederations. Ethnicity is just one of the meta-identities that people generally adhere to, and we must allow for new cultures to emerge peacefully and strive for their own fulfillment.

V – Non-geographical political entities. Not all entities within the Confederation would have territory. Some of them would simply be associations of people who make political decisions for themselves while they physically are living in a geographic entity to which they do not belong politically. This would allow fourth world peoples, and small minorities to have representation and be heard.

Potential downsides

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One thing that can be interpreted as a downside of this change in how political entities are structured is that people would likely opt more often for border changes and forming confederations, which can be confederations that stand on a loose ground institutionally and have a low sense of legitimacy, especially since we have several generations of disconnected, rootless humans that might form confederations dedicated to beverages, comic book figures or funny hats.

Another potential problem is that this can actually increase conflicts, especially in border territories or in multi-cultural entities where the people have been used to live under states with a low sense of legitimacy but with enough firepower to keep emotions sober. This would especially be a risk if the system utilised is direct or participatory democracy.

Therefore, it is advisable that a change towards such a confederate system envisioned in this article is gradual and happens during a long time. Human civilization wouldn’t collapse if this proposed system – or something akin to it – is not introduced immediately. Unluckily, the same cannot be said of the ecological situation.

Enrique Lescure, Sequence Director of Relations, the Earth Organisation for Sustainability

WW3?

By Enrique Lescure, Relations Director of EOS.

The recent developments in Syria are very troubling for the prospects of world peace. Both Iran and Russia have signalled that they will respond directly by an US strike, while the USA has stated that retaliation will be taken as a reason to expand the conflict.

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While the recent gas attack in Ghouta was a horrific atrocity, the proposed US intervention is even officially resting on several reasons, one of which is “US national interest”. One could only recall the horrendous Central African wars of the 1990s, which did neither engage a foreign intervention or even much attention from western media and governments.

It is estimated that 10 million people have been killed in these separate wars. Yet they produced no international intervention. It is probably necessary that we in the future find a way to allow a neutral and general way of conducting interventions, without affecting the “precious balance of power”.

Given that, the Syrian Civil War is probably the most intensive conflict in the world today, and there is an acute humanitarian crisis.

The main issue for the involved parties can be said to be “The Great Game”, an underlying conflict between the Anglo-Saxon powers and the Russian Empire, which can be said to be over two centuries old.

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The Great Game is basically a centuries old conflict of interests regarding Central Asia and the Middle East. In its modern incarnation, it is basically an issue of oil and gas reserves.

On one side, there is Russia, which is heavily dependent on its virtual monopoly on Central Asian oil and gas, which it exports to Europe. This has come to fund Putin’s military and security apparatus, and anything which would upset this monopoly would harm Russia’s economy – perhaps leading to an economic crisis and the collapse of the Russian Federation.

On the other hand, there is America, a heavily indebted superpower which is suffering from sluggish growth prospects, a crumbling infrastructure, a social security system which would be bankcrupted in a few decades if not years. If the United States would get an inroad into the Central Asian oil and gas market, it could theoretically be used both to bolster the United States’ fading superpower status and serve to cripple their Russian rivals.

This is probably why Russia consider the prospects for a US intervention in Syria as a mortal threat, and show readiness to use military force in order to try to intimidate the United States. During these last two months, it stands evidently clear that we all are living in the middle of a Second Cold War.

This is a very dangerous situation.

Syria is an ally of Iran, and Iran is an Anti-American power that blocks western access to Central Asia from the south. Since 2003, the geopolitical situation of Iran has steadily improved, due to both the toppling of the Sunni Minority regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel War and the increasing participation in the Putin-led “multipolar bloc”.

Syria allows both Iran and Russia access to the Mediterranean Sea.

In the same time, Saudi Arabia and Qatar both desire to contain Iran and if possible weaken it, as they both fear the prospects of Iranian hegemony over the Middle East, and both have desired to shoulder the leadership of the muslim nations of the Middle East.

Many analysts believe that the toppling of the Assad regime in Syria and the subsequent weakening of the Hezbollah militia that must follow would pave the road for a war with Iran, aiming at destabilising it so a pro-western regime could take power. This would then (according to Russian analysts) probably lead to increased western influence over Central Asia.

This “new great game” is a very dangerous game, since it touches the core interests of two great powers and several regional powers. The question is whether we collectively as a species are willing to risk a great war, possibly a global conflict with nukes involved, for the issue of Syria.

The solution must be to openly discuss the great game, and for all the great and regional powers to take a step back and realise that others don’t want to the exposed to what they themselves don’t want to be exposed to. “Do not do unto others, what you don’t what others to do to you.”

The impeding resource crisis is a serious challenge for all powers. We should not primarily think of how to hurt Russia, America, China, Africa or the EU, but how to help everyone adjust to the future.

If we can separate the Syrian Civil War from the corporate and political interests to gain geo-strategic footholds and hurt competitors, we can solve it tomorrow. And the only way forward is if all assorted parties sacrifice their offensive interests visavi one another, and realise that sometimes we might need to allow odd to be even.

I also suggest that you all who read this are signing this petition. It would not mean much, but the more of us that are signing this, the clearer it would be that the peoples of the world do not desire a war.