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Just say Novus Ordo Seclorum
October 25, 2012 9:57 AM   Subscribe

In 1990, George Bush Senior had inaugurated a New World Order, based on uncontested US military supremacy and western economic dominance. This was to be a unipolar world without rivals. Regional powers would bend the knee to the new worldwide imperium. History itself, it was said, had come to an end. But between the attack on the Twin Towers and the fall of Lehman Brothers, that global order had crumbled. Two factors were crucial. By the end of a decade of continuous warfare, the US had succeeded in exposing the limits, rather than the extent, of its military power. And the neoliberal capitalist model that had reigned supreme for a generation had crashed. The End Of The New World Order and the Search for a Way Forward.
posted by philip-random (24 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
also, from the end of Guardian article:

This is an edited extract from The Revenge of History: the Battle for the 21st Century by Seumas Milne, published by Verso.
posted by philip-random at 10:09 AM on October 25, 2012


It was commonly objected that after the implosion of communism and traditional social democracy, the left had no systemic alternative to offer. But no model ever came pre-cooked. All of them, from Soviet power and the Keynesian welfare state to Thatcherite-Reaganite neoliberalism, grew out of ideologically driven improvisation in specific historical circumstances.

This. Not new orders, not old orders, not US empire, not British empire, not 3rd Reich, not Stalinism, not the end of history.

Just this: humans making it up as they bumble along.
posted by chavenet at 10:10 AM on October 25, 2012 [16 favorites]


Novus Ordo Seclorum is "New Order of the Ages" not "New World Order".
posted by Talez at 10:15 AM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


But between the attack on the Twin Towers and the fall of Lehman Brothers, that global order had crumbled.

The chronology is way off here. King Bush the 41st announced his new world order in 1985. Bill Clinton (and Ross Perot) denied him re-election in 1988 and Clinton did not pursue the New Word Order for his two terms. King Bush Junior came into office on a domestic agenda - no nation building - and it was 9/11 that breathed life into the neo-con dream. The collapse of Lehmen Brothers has had no impact on America's foreign policy and today the talk about war on Iran coming from the new world order crowd is as loud and as bellicose as before the invasion of Iraq.

There never was any global order to the new world order, only a new vision of global domination that appears far from breathing its last.
posted by three blind mice at 10:20 AM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


GHWB aka Bush Senior is given more credit than is due for being less idiotic than his son. The decision to go to war with Iraq the first time was never thought through as evidenced by the fact that as soon as they realized they actually would have to occupy Iraq after a victory, they balked and headed home... could have thought about that before drawing that line in the sand, huh?

No one won the cold war, the Americans are just taking a longer time to lose.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:20 AM on October 25, 2012 [16 favorites]


Clinton did not pursue the New Word Order for his two terms.

He did... he just had the sense to keep things relatively stable on the domestic economic front while he did it.
posted by Rykey at 10:27 AM on October 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


The chronology is way off here. King Bush the 41st announced his new world order in 1985. Bill Clinton (and Ross Perot) denied him re-election in 1988 and Clinton did not pursue the New Word Order for his two terms.

You EEDIOTS. Your chronology is WAY OFF. Bush was voted out in 1988!!! (????)
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:27 AM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


three blind mice, it seems your chronology is off as well. Bush I was vice president to Reagan in 1985, and lost reelection in 1992, not 1988.
posted by postel's law at 10:28 AM on October 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


No one won the cold war, the Americans are just taking a longer time to lose

Well, that's like World War One. I've heard it said that everybody lost that, except Germany was first to run out of resources to keep fighting.

There's also the line that international borders mark those points where two opposing armies got exhausted and stopped killing each other.

As I understand it, with the Cold War, the Soviets stopped unilaterally with the events of 1989 (collapse of the Iron Curtain etc), which left it up to various other interests to pretty much do what they wanted for a while. In Eastern Europe, this got us the horrors of the Balkan conflicts. On a broader scale, this got us America more or less unrestrained. Which quickly led to the first Gulf War, an enormous pile of shit in which all manner of sloppy rah-rah-rah rhetoric got spewed around in the interests of securing access to Kuwaiti (and other) mid-east oil ... and a hundred or so thousand people got killed in the process (just during the conflict itself). And so on.
posted by philip-random at 10:35 AM on October 25, 2012


The new world order requires some successful opposition. Otherwise it is like selling car insurance in a world where there are no car accidents.
posted by srboisvert at 10:43 AM on October 25, 2012


And while neoliberalism had been discredited, western governments used the crisis to try to entrench it. Not only were jobs, pay and benefits cut as never before, but privatisation was extended still further. Being right was, of course, never going to be enough. What was needed was political and social pressure strong enough to turn the tables of power.

Revulsion against a discredited elite and its failed social and economic project steadily deepened after 2008. As the burden of the crisis was loaded on to the majority, the spread of protests, strikes and electoral upheavals demonstrated that pressure for real change had only just begun. Rejection of corporate power and greed had become the common sense of the age.

The historian Eric Hobsbawm described the crash of 2008 as a "sort of right-wing equivalent to the fall of the Berlin wall". It was commonly objected that after the implosion of communism and traditional social democracy, the left had no systemic alternative to offer. But no model ever came pre-cooked. All of them, from Soviet power and the Keynesian welfare state to Thatcherite-Reaganite neoliberalism, grew out of ideologically driven improvisation in specific historical circumstances.

The same would be true in the aftermath of the crisis of the neoliberal order, as the need to reconstruct a broken economy on a more democratic, egalitarian and rational basis began to dictate the shape of a sustainable alternative. Both the economic and ecological crisis demanded social ownership, public intervention and a shift of wealth and power. Real life was pushing in the direction of progressive solutions.

He writes as if the future has already happened. There are some tense problems in that last paragraph. I haven't seen it here in America, and I certainly haven't seen it in China. He throws out claims like:

Across the continent, socialist and social-democratic governments were propelled to power, attacking economic and racial injustice, building regional independence and taking back resources from corporate control. Two decades after we had been assured there could be no alternatives to neoliberal capitalism, Latin Americans were creating them.

Without naming specific circumstances. He seems to be trying to throw a victory party for game that's at half time. And I'm always suspicious of people cheering for an inevitability that nicely dovetails with the reality they want to see.
posted by zabuni at 10:48 AM on October 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


In 1992, Ministry had inaugurated a New World Order, based on uncontested RAWK.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:58 AM on October 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


... but even that was a band already past its prime.
posted by philip-random at 11:00 AM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


> But between the attack on the Twin Towers and the fall of Lehman Brothers, that global order had crumbled.

And yet somehow the new boss still seems to be the same as the old boss.
posted by jfuller at 11:04 AM on October 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bill Clinton (and Ross Perot) denied him re-election in 1988

Well, I know who I'm not taking seriously about politics anymore.
posted by Aquaman at 11:31 AM on October 25, 2012


The collapse of Lehmen Brothers has had no impact on America's foreign policy

Maybe not directly... but it is a significant touchstone. International finance, much of it run out of NYC(at least nominally) is a key force in understanding the power structures of today, plenty of people argue that it is the defining force, here's some discussion of it, but anyone trying to define or understand the "NWO" of today would be foolish not to discuss the 2008 financial crisis -- the GDP hit it caused the US was enough in-of-itself to warrant a deeper look at our war funding, but it also impacts reserve currencies, bond rates, all of which suggest there are very deep and complex structural problems with US (and by extension global) capitalism.

One thing many Americans seem to have forgotten was that the 2008 financial crisis caused a fairly short and intense commodities bubble (as people fled one market for another) which cause food shortages / price spikes and numerous food riots. I don't have the data to prove this, but food rioting surely has an impact on the Arab Spring, it is certainly one more stress on those populations to make them willing to engage in the chaos that is Libya, Syria, etc.

There was an FPP on Adam Curtis yesterday and while he writes on a different sort of scale, the conclusions I think are similar and both are close to my own heart: no one is really running the fun house anymore, and it was/has been somewhat illusionary to believe that there ever was much of a time when a few actors (like the "US") could exert significant and controlling influence.

Demographics, the next ~60 years, aren't looking pretty, that force alone (not to even begin a discussion of climate change) is going to destroy and recreate many, many of today's power structures.
posted by Shit Parade at 11:36 AM on October 25, 2012


the GDP hit it caused the US was enough in-of-itself to warrant a deeper look at our war funding

...which Future President Romney pledged in the last debate to totally ignore in his plans to pump up the Military and the Deficit/TaxRateForNon-Millionaires.

But with America's economic power on the wane (and Romneyites heading for the door to export it), military power is the only way to ensure that the U.S. does not fade into obscurity becoming just another nation.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:44 AM on October 25, 2012


Most popular link on the Guardian: "- Obama moves to make the War on Terror permanent" - "Complete with a newly coined, creepy Orwellian euphemism – 'disposition matrix' – the administration institutionalizes the most extremist powers a government can claim" - by Glenn Greenwald.

And the NWO is over? I like Milne, but just no way.
posted by marienbad at 12:16 PM on October 25, 2012


I think it's been posted before, but this article is relevant:

The Waning of the Modern Ages: Time to Abolish the American Dream

the NWO is over?

I don't know. I sort of agree with the article. August 2008 demonstrated that Russia doesn't give a fuck what the U.S. says or does.

If there's any sort of NWO, it will be based around copyright protections and/or drug laws.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:27 PM on October 25, 2012


And the NWO is over?

The New World Order (as an explicitly American thing declared by George Bush Sr) is over, I think. That doesn't mean that America has no power anymore. It just doesn't have THE power. It doesn't mean that all manner of nasty shit won't be perpetrated in the name of American interests. It just means that now (versus 1989), there will be other players and if America is smart (ie: not being led by a moron like Bush Jr) it will figure out how to partner up with some of these other players, share the risks and the plunder, maybe bend a little, not be so driven by (and believing in) Manifest Destiny. Because that's the thing that's really dead now, I think, that was waxing most profoundly around the time Bush Jr slithered into the White House ... and it's been on a terminal wane ever since.
posted by philip-random at 12:35 PM on October 25, 2012


So, not that I'm a fan of imperialism by any stretch, but I'd argue that we haven't really seen the limits of America's military capacity. We've only seen its limits under very poor management combined with shaky buy-in from its people. Get the whole nation mobilized for a genuine threat and there'd be a whole new level of magnitude.

But oh, if only we could find a way to convince this country that we really don't need to throw our military might around and/or pretend we're the boss of everyone. The fact that we can lose four Americans in an attack in Libya (which, granted, was tragic and criminal) and have that spun into a show of how the sitting President doesn't control everything everywhere and is therefore weak and incompetent says a lot about the mindset of at least half of my big dumb country. :/
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:16 PM on October 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


We humans sure do want there to be one single thing that explains everything that goes on in the world.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:17 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Really interesting and well-written article. I can't say I agree or disagree because I'm still thinking it over, but at first blush I think he gives too much credit to the success of change on Latin America, when he writes: Two decades after we had been assured there could be no alternatives to neoliberal capitalism, Latin Americans were creating them.

Perhaps there is truth there, but it's too soon, too little has been done, and the corruption of the state at this point is not yet looking like it's delivering for its people much better than the corruption of the previous elites. Would love to be wrong.
posted by cell divide at 2:34 PM on October 25, 2012


Since the end of the Cold War 16 years ago, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have been running an experiment with U.S. grand strategy. The theory to be tested has been this: Very good intentions, plus very great power, plus action can transform both international politics and the domestic politics of other states in ways that are advantageous to the United States, and at costs it can afford. The evidence is in: The experiment has failed. Transformation is unachievable, and costs are high.

The United States needs now to test a different grand strategy: It should conceive its security interests narrowly, use its military power stingily, pursue its enemies quietly but persistently, share responsibilities and costs more equitably, watch and wait more patiently. Let’s do this for 16 years and see if the outcomes aren’t better.
Barry Posen, "The Case For Restraint"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:33 PM on October 25, 2012


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