Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On Dark Power

The Corsair has been intrigued for some time about Charles S. Maier's essay Dark Power: Globalization, Inequality, and Conflict in the Harvard Review of International Relations (Spring 2007). As Al Quaeda becomes increasingly allied with the anti-concept of the failed state and tailors their military strategies to make the most of long and short term advantages in that chaotic arena (for further reference see: West Bank and Somalia), the West must rethink our entrenched notions from the efficacy of balance-of-power politics to, most recently, the Rumsfeldian tech-heavy defense stance. From the essay:

"... I believe the very premise of this debate reflects a view of world politics that is rapidly becoming obsolete. Indeed, the notion of a balance of power, no matter how tough-minded and realistic it may seem, will come to make much less sense for mid-21st century international politics. The important issue will not be whether some international association such as the European Union or some new powerful contender such as China will rise to constrain current US dominance. The issue will be whether states, or associations of states, will be effective international actors in the face of such forces as religious militance, mass migration, nuclear proliferation, global warming, and the new economic inequalities emerging from market-driven globalization.

"...There are, moreover, other arenas for contestations of power, which we might think of as infrapolitical—the family realm, the spiritual realm, and the economic realm. Often we discuss these spheres of social life as if they were devoid of power. But if we think of power as a form of potential constraint designed to ensure desired collective behavior—whether through enthusiasm, obedience, or labor—then most people experience power within non-state institutions, whether these be families, religious communities, or economic structures. Indeed, to most people in the world, the power exerted through families and markets is far more pressing and immediate than power exerted between or within states. Just as physicists postulate dark matter to explain the full strength of gravitation in the universe, we might term this often overlooked capacity to compel outcomes as 'dark power.'"

The growing obsolescence of states and the rise of globalism may, sadly, validate the Moynihan-Glazer theory of ethnicity as the ultimate fallback option -- the ground of being -- of those who do not benefit from the world's "flattening." It is not inconceiveable that Al Quaeda's strategy of expanding the geographical reach of chaos is calculated to undermine the societal structures that would enable a society to benefit from the flat earth -- in distribution of wealth and in a liberal, science-based education. A a liberal, science-based education is like Kryptonite to the madrassas, which exist to indoctrinate and grow the ranks for the long war, which is the long-term goal of Al Quaeda.

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