In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

The Need for Global Leadership- Part 2

Posted by seumasach on February 21, 2009

Cailean Bochanan

22nd February, 2009

The latest GEAB report poses in the sharpest possible terms the crisis of global leadership. Indeed, it concludes that the chances of effective global counter-crisis action are now negligible and that we are near to entering a phase of “global dislocation” at the end of which “the world will look more like Europe in 1913 rather than our world in 2007.”


This analysis is right if we assume the following : Washington and London and their allies continue to see the crisis and an opportunity to extend their power and to reassert themselves as global leaders. And we have no reason whatever to suppose that assumption is wrong. Kissinger has called on Obama to use this opportunity to create a New World Order(another one)and Obama has never, at any point, looked as if he needed much persuasion to move in this direction. Brown has been sending a similar message out from London. In other words, world leadership is to remain the monopoly of the Anglosphere, to be exercised through  the institutions which effectively ratified their predominance after WW2, most notably the IMF. All the signs are that they are incapable of realizing these rather grandiose plans, but equally are unable to redefine themselves as nations amongst others. They are, therefore, in the words of one of their most prominent spokepersons, “not for turning” and seem to sense that their ultimate goal,the enslavement of humanity, as the silver lining to the dark clouds on the horizon.


Whatever else they are succeeding in doing, they are preventing anyone else from taking the lead and pushing everyone else onto the defensive; they are also giving the very notion of global leadership a bad name. Each and every attempt to resolve things at a global level will be tarred with the brush of NWOism. It would seem, then, that a logical condition for the emergence of any global leadership is that the complete collapse of the current US/UK agenda.



The GEAB perspective  that the”most monolithic, the most « imperialistic » political entities (5) will suffer the most from this fifth phase of the crisis.” and of the “quick disintegration of the current international system altogether” point inexorably to this outcome.We can see this in the likely collapse of the dollar, the failure of the WTO according to its own misguided criteria and in the bankruptcy of the IMF. We can also anticipate the fracturing of NATO and the complete failure of the ICC and , indeed, the whole system of international law, Western style, which has particularly blotted the last twenty years. On the ideological level “neo-liberalism”, the “war on terror” and the right of the West  to be regarded as democracies no matter how anti-democratic their behaviour, are on the way out. In sum, this is the whole end of empire scenario which we have been outlining for some time. This is destined to take the form of an implosion rather than a seamless  transition to a happier and juster state of affairs. In other words, we cannot go straight from a global order which is an imperium to one based on multipolarity, on a variety of mutually balancing power centres, without a whole series of bumps along the way, without dislocation.


But this isn’t in itself grounds for losing site of that goal. Recent years have seen a striking process a regional integration in South America and Asia as well as the growth of bilateral cooperation on a global scale. It is true that this has been a response to the growing Anglo-American threat but it is also something likely to outlast the coming imperial collapse and who can doubt that it will be needed more than ever given the difficulties which will be felt everywhere. We will need a means of international trade, programmes of support against emergencies including complete economic collapse, means of settling disputes, forums in which people can seek defence against corporate power and which haven’t been subordinated to such power like the WHO, collective action against piracy and fraud.In short, a whole series of measures needed to clean up the mess on a global scale. We also need a forum for ideas which can help to define a new way of doing things,as new paradigm. Since this will certainly not be done under a Pax Americana, I fail to see how it can be done but through global institutions, a NWO if you like but not as envisaged by Kissinger and his like, and one which it appears increasingly, will have to be built afresh.


That the UN has been a failure is beyond dispute. Just as the League of nations failed to to prevent war and was helpless in the face of  Nazi aggression, so the UN has been impotent in the face the latter day axis powers, namely, Britain the USA and Israel. For all its pieties, the UN has not been able to prevent the rampages in Palestine, Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan and has been, at times, complicit in the them. There are reasons why the UN may have had its day. It was never, in reality, a truly global organisation, representing as it did the triumph of the West under the leadership of the USA in the post-war period, a state of affairs reinforced by the collapse of the communist block. That this was the case is shown by the formation and enduring existence of the Non-aligned Movement(NAM) which has replaced the Soviet block as a counterpole to the West. The term United Nations is itself a misnomer: the world’s nations are not united but, rather, increasingly differentiated. The unity was presumably to stem from the Pax Americana and the universalization of the US model.


In other words, there is a whiff of world government about the UN which reflects a deep historic error; that the world will be united through subordination  to a single power centre and that the nation state will be buried by the course of social evolution. In fact, the opposite is the case. The failure of imperialism, which is now manifest, provides the conditions for the fulfillment of the idea of the  nation state  as the sphere of social, political and cultural belonging, of democracy in a deeper sense, which hitherto has only fully found its expression, at least as an ideal, in the Greek city state. The neo-conservative movement emerged as a kind of synthesis of all the manifold elements of Western political thought, from Plato to Marx, which could be reconciled with their dream of a global empire and the crushing of national sovereignty.  Global resistance to this project by those who understand the primacy of the nation state in advancing their own futures has buried it. New transnational ideologies such as Shia Islam have not negated the national movements of Lebanon or Iran, which have reasserted themselves dramatically.


We are witnessing a whole series of attempts to reform the UN and the IMF, always with  the likes of Tony Blair of Gordon Brown to the fore. This looks very much like an attempt to salvage institutions which are inherently, skewered towards the agendas of such people. I believe that is precisely what it is and that, instead of being lured into seemingly benign changes, we should  start to think in terms of completely new global institutions. These gentleman are right about just one thing: the need for global leadership. But not their leadership. We need new institutions for the multipolar, post-imperial world; changes which reflect the shift of the centre of civilization away from the west and towards the East and the South. The NAM may provide something of a  model for this new global leadership. I will return to this theme in a later article.

One Response to “The Need for Global Leadership- Part 2”

  1. […] credibility some other nations must be given a place in the inner circle. This not the kind of refoundation of global organisations we need for the new multipolar […]

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