Latest News
A+ A A-

The New World Disorder

Tariq Ali
Three decades ago, with the end of the Cold War and the dismantling of the South American dictatorships, many hoped that the much talked about ‘peace dividend’ promised by Bush senior and Thatcher would actually materialise. No such luck. Instead, we have experienced continuous wars, upheavals, intolerance and fundamentalisms of every sort – religious, ethnic and imperial.

The exposure of the Western world’s surveillance networks has heightened the feeling that democratic institutions aren’t functioning as they should, that, like it or not, we are living in the twilight period of democracy itself.

The twilight began in the early 1990s with the implosion of the former Soviet Union and the takeover of Russia, Central Asia and much of Eastern Europe by visionless former Communist Party bureaucrats, many of whom rapidly became billionaires. The oligarchs who bought up some of the most expensive property in the world, including in London, may once have been members of the Communist Party, but they were also opportunists with no commitment to anything other than power and lining their own pockets. The vacuum created by the collapse of the party system has been filled by different things in different parts of the world, among them religion – and not just Islam. The statistics on the growth of religion in the Western world are dramatic – just look at France. And we have also seen the rise of a global empire of unprecedented power. The United States is now unchallengeable militarily and it dominates global politics, even the politics of the countries it treats as its enemies.

If you compare the recent demonisation of Putin to the way Yeltsin was treated at a time when he was committing many more shocking atrocities – destroying the entire city of Grozny, for example – you see that what is at stake is not principle, but the interests of the world’s predominant power. There hasn’t been such an empire before, and it’s unlikely that there will be one again. The United States is the site of the most remarkable economic development of recent times, the emergence on the West Coast of the IT revolution. Yet despite these advances in capitalist technology, the political structure of the United States has barely changed for a hundred and fifty years. It may be militarily, economically and even culturally in command – its soft power dominates the world – but there is as yet no sign of political change from within. Can this contradiction last?

There is ongoing debate around the world on the question of whether the American empire is in decline. And there is a vast literature of declinism, all arguing that this decline has begun and is irreversible. I see this as wishful thinking. The American empire has had setbacks – which empire doesn’t? It had setbacks in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s: many thought the defeat it suffered in Vietnam in 1975 was definitive. It wasn’t, and the United States hasn’t suffered another setback on that scale since. But unless we know and understand how this empire functions globally, it’s very difficult to propose any set of strategies to combat or contain it – or, as the realist theorists like the late Chalmers Johnson and John Mearsheimer demand, to make the United States dismantle its bases, get out of the rest of the world, and operate at a global level only if it is actually threatened as a country. Many realists in the United States argue that such a withdrawal is necessary, but they are arguing from a position of weakness in the sense that setbacks which they regard as irreversible aren’t. There are very few reversals from which imperial states can’t recover. Some of the declinist arguments are simplistic – that, for example, all empires have eventually collapsed. This is of course true, but there are contingent reasons for those collapses, and at the present moment the United States remains unassailable: it exerts its soft power all over the world, including in the heartlands of its economic rivals; its hard power is still dominant, enabling it to occupy countries it sees as its enemies; and its ideological power is still overwhelming in Europe and beyond.

The US has, however, suffered setbacks on a semi-continental scale in South America. And these setbacks have been political and ideological rather than economic. The chain of electoral victories for left political parties in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia showed that there was a possible alternative within capitalism. None of these governments, though, is challenging the capitalist system, and this is equally true of the radical parties that have recently emerged in Europe. Neither Syriza in Greece nor Podemos in Spain is mounting a systemic challenge; the reforms being proposed are better compared to the policies pushed through by Attlee in Britain after 1945. Like the leftist parties in South America, they have essentially social democratic programmes, combined with mass mobilisation.

But social democratic reforms have become intolerable for the neoliberal economic system imposed by global capital. If you argue, as those in power do (if not explicitly, implicitly), that it’s necessary to have a political structure in which no challenge to the system is permitted, then we’re living in dangerous times. Elevating terrorism into a threat that is held to be the equivalent of the communist threat of old is bizarre. The use of the very word ‘terrorism’, the bills pushed through Parliament and Congress to stop people speaking up, the vetting of people invited to give talks at universities, the idea that outside speakers have to be asked what they are going to say before they are allowed into the country: all these seem minor things, but they are emblematic of the age in which we live. And the ease with which it’s all accepted is frightening. If what we’re being told is that change isn’t possible, that the only conceivable system is the present one, we’re going to be in trouble. Ultimately, it won’t be accepted. And if you prevent people from speaking or thinking or developing political alternatives, it won’t just be Marx’s work that is relegated to the graveyard. Karl Polanyi, the most gifted of the social democratic theorists, has suffered the same fate.
---The London Review of Books

BOOKS

Prev Next

The New World Disorder

Tariq AliThree decades ago, with the end of the Cold War and the dismantling of the South American dictatorships, many hoped that the much talked about ‘peace dividend’ promised by Bush senior and Thatcher would actually materialise. No such luck. Instead, we have experienced continuous wars, upheavals, intolerance and fundamentalisms...

25-11-2016 BOOKS

Read more

World’s New Indispensable Powers?

World’s New Indispensable Powers?

Reviewed by Wajahat QaziIn a world defined by fluidity, flux and uncertainty, where there is no dearth of Cassandras with their doom laden scenarios and even gloomy prescriptions to deal with these, or wildly optimistic aficionados offering rose colored scenarios, one analyst and writer, offers a sober and abstemious analysis...

05-07-2016 BOOKS

Read more

Unveiling the Shroud of Partition in Punjab

Unveiling the Shroud of Partition in Punjab

Reviewed by Dr Kusum Gopal  SINCE 9/11 the wars in Afghanistan, engagements with ‘terrorism’, the state of affairs between India and Pakistan occupy global dialogues à niveauélevé de politique, as they do, nationally. Unfortunately, there remain formidable misunderstandings as flaky interpretations continue to prevail. Thus, scholarship on this sensitive subject is...

17-04-2016 BOOKS

Read more

Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris: A Review

Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris: A Review

BY WAJAHAT QAZI “As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't...

20-01-2016 BOOKS

Read more

Anuradha Roy wins DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

Anuradha Roy wins DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

TRANS ASIA NEWS India’s Anuradha Roy has won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016 for her novel, Sleeping on Jupiter, which deals with the subject of violence against women.

17-01-2016 BOOKS

Read more

Kashmir, India: Who Holds Who?

Kashmir, India: Who Holds Who?

Book Review: Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years SANJAY KUMAR IN one of his famous essays Sir Francis Bacon says “some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but...

31-08-2015 BOOKS

Read more

'Neither a Hawk nor a Dove'

'Neither a Hawk nor a Dove'

Now Pakistani book with an insider's account on Kashmir IN the first ever insider's comprehensive account of the most promising dialogue between Pakistan and India since Independence, the book titled, 'Neither a Hawk nor a Dove,' authored by Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan will be published by Penguin...

31-08-2015 BOOKS

Read more

Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror

Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror

Review by Gary Corseri When I received this book in the mail, about a week ago, the first thing that struck me was the amazing cover photo. Now, I think I’m as wary of judging a book by its cover as the next read-er/reviewer; and I read through the entire book...

09-08-2015 BOOKS

Read more

Exposing Lies, Telling The Truth

Exposing Lies, Telling The Truth

Robert J. BurrowesI have just read Andre Vltchek's new book 'Exposing Lies of the Empire'. Let me tell you something about this book of 800 pages.Vltchek writes with passion and poetry, describing the true horror experienced by the world at large, living at the gunpoint of the imperial powers, while...

11-06-2015 BOOKS

Read more

The Rise Of The Islamic State - ISIS And The New Sunni Revol…

The Rise Of The Islamic State - ISIS And The New Sunni Revolution

Review By Jim Miles The Rise of the Islamic State - ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution Patrick Cockburn. Verso, London/New York, 2014/2015. When observed from the mainstream media perspective, the rise of ISIS was an apparent ‘out of nowhere’ phenomenon. It only found prominence when they approached Irbil, the Kurdish ‘oil’...

10-02-2015 BOOKS

Read more

The Geo-Strategic Curse

The Geo-Strategic Curse

Sarwat Ali T.V. Paul attempts to examine why did Pakistan become such an intense warrior state Why has Pakistan become a garrison state or a heavily militarised warrior state with an intense focus on narrowly-defined national security concerns, while several erstwhile military-ruled countries in Asia and Africa have become democratic and reaped...

10-02-2015 BOOKS

Read more

Science and religion partners: Dan Brown

Science and religion partners: Dan Brown

TRANS ASIA NEWS NEW DELHI: Celebrated author Dan Brown- whose novels are published in 52 languages around the world with 200 million copies in print was in New Delhi to deliver the Penguin Annual Lecture on Monday, 10 November, at the Siri Fort auditorium. He received a rousing welcome from a...

12-11-2014 BOOKS

Read more

'Uncles, Aunts and Elephants: Tales from Your Favourite Stor…

'Uncles, Aunts and Elephants: Tales from Your Favourite Storyteller'- a book about Ruskin Bond

TRANS ASIA NEWS New Delhi: One of India’s best loved writers- Ruskin Bond was not a bookworm entirely, growing up. In his youth, Bond donned several hats- from being a football goalkeeper to a hockey player, an athlete, a debater and even a boxer.

24-09-2014 BOOKS

Read more

Gulzar’s novelette Ghalib published in Pakistan

Gulzar’s novelette Ghalib published in Pakistan

TRANS ASIA NEWS ISLAMABAD: One of the greatest living poets of out times- who has penned exquisite works in both Urdu and Hindi, whose repertoire is spread widely covering a range of areas from film screenplays and scripts for televised serials, to offbeat lyrics, dialogues, books and poetry- Gulzar is the...

21-09-2014 BOOKS

Read more

New book opens a window to a vibrant India inside Pakistan

New book opens a window to a vibrant India inside Pakistan

TRANS ASIA NEWS MUMBAI: Reema Abbasi and Madiha Aijaz have managed to capture the soul of certain pockets within Pakistan behind the lens and document the facts about the lives of minority Hindus as they celebrate their religion through festivals with the same fervour and excitement as across the border in...

03-08-2014 BOOKS

Read more

Book claims Rahul stopped Sonia Gandhi from becoming PM in 2…

Book claims Rahul stopped Sonia Gandhi from becoming PM in 2004

TRANS ASIA NEWS NEW DELHI: A day after K Natwar Singh- India’s former Minister of External Affairs, and one-time confidant of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, went public, to reveal a series of facets of her personality, and leadership of the Congress party, unraveling for the first time that the real reason for...

31-07-2014 BOOKS

Read more

Afkaar-e-shugufta: A dispassionate reflection on ‘touchy’ i…

 Afkaar-e-shugufta: A dispassionate reflection on ‘touchy’ issues in Islam

TRANS ASIA NEWS ISLAMABAD: Dr Muhammad Shakeel Auj’s new book Afkaar-e-shugufta, is reported to offer a refreshing new approach at viewing sensitive issues in Islam, hitherto considered no-go zones, opening them up for analysis, interpretation, evaluation and assessment from multiple perspectives in an effort to dispel the notion of Islam being...

08-07-2014 BOOKS

Read more

A comprehensive biography of Faiz released

A comprehensive biography of Faiz released

TRANS ASIA NEWS KARACHI: Zikr-e-Faiz- the latest literary tribute to one of the greatest poets of out times- Faiz Ahmed Faiz by the illustrious author Syed Mazhar Jamil has come in for all round praise for its meticulous research, expert and original treatment and inclusiveness. 

25-06-2014 BOOKS

Read more

Hillary Clinton’s book shows deep distrust of Pakistan

Hillary Clinton’s book shows deep distrust of Pakistan

TRANS ASIA NEWS BANGALORE: Hillary Clinton’s new book- Hard Choices makes it clear that while the United States may be heavily invested in making Pakistan its ally in fighting the dreaded al-Qaeda, at the moment of truth, both the American President- Barack Obama and the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in...

19-06-2014 BOOKS

Read more

MH370 Disappearance was 'Deliberate and Calculated' Claims N…

MH370 Disappearance was 'Deliberate and Calculated' Claims New Book

TRANS ASIA NEWS KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 has been missing for 100 long days now. Even as Malaysian authorities renewed their resolve to continue their search for the plane and its 239 passengers, two authors from New Zealand who are set to publish a book about the mysterious disappearance...

16-06-2014 BOOKS

Read more

Secularism is not anti-religion: ‘Vision for a Secular Pakis…

Secularism is not anti-religion: ‘Vision for a Secular Pakistan’ by Dr Moonis Ahmar

TRANS ASIA NEWS KARACHI: How would Pakistan be as an Islamic state? How would it be in a more liberal version with both parliament as well as religion? And how would one envision a Pakistan with neither? A book that explores these possibilities while comparing Muslim models of secularism in Turkey...

31-05-2014 BOOKS

Read more

Reliance Secretly Pushed Indo-Pak Truce: Book

Reliance Secretly Pushed Indo-Pak Truce: Book

SRINAGAR: Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's former advisor Sanjaya Baru's controversial book has been hectically debated over TV screens and newspaper pages.  But a startling claims lie buried in Baru's book titled "The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh". 

24-05-2014 BOOKS

Read more

Punjabi poetry now in English

Punjabi poetry now in English

LAHORE: Almost all Punjabi poetry written till date by eminent writer Fakhar Zaman and rendered into English in one single book ‘Hour of Decline’ was published today.

19-04-2014 BOOKS

Read more

Veteran Pak writers exalt Urdu poetry as the ‘river of the m…

Veteran Pak writers exalt Urdu poetry as the ‘river of the mind’

TRANS ASIA NEWS KARACHI: Urdu writer Arfa Sayeda Zehra and poet Zehra Nigah’s dialogue at the Sixth Sense Forum, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) on Thursday, 3rd April, held the attendees spellbound and mesmerised as the veterans took the listeners through a journey of time, poetry and politics in the most...

05-04-2014 BOOKS

Read more

News by Countries

Editor's Picks

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Uri attack and Doval Doctrine:South Asian …

Uri attack and Doval Doctrine:South Asian politics on the cusp of change?

BY WAJAHAT QAZIWhile controversy rages on over the nature of the “surgical... Read more

Oil, Drugs and Militants:Controlling Turke…

Oil, Drugs and Militants:Controlling Turkey's Syrian Border

By Luke Rodeheffer The recent spate of ISIS-inspired terror attacks in Turkey a... Read more

Lost Opportunities:Why Vajpayee-Musharraf’…

Lost Opportunities:Why Vajpayee-Musharraf’s Era Was Indeed a Golden Era

BY JAVED NABI Ever since 1947 partition of British India, Kashmir has always do... Read more

Our Indefensible War in Yemen

Our Indefensible War in Yemen

DANIEL LARISON Bruce Riedel reviews the situation in Yemen: The lo... Read more

'There is no shortcut to ending the Afghan…

'There is no shortcut to ending the Afghan conflict'

"There is no likelihood of a peaceful outcome in Afghanistan without a cooperati... Read more

newsletter

Video Channel

Loading Player...
Watching: HH Dalai Lama Interview with Trans Asia News Service (41:37)
Loading...

Developed in conjunction with Ext-Joom.com

MOST READ

Visit the best review site bbetting.co.uk for Bet365 site.

© 2016 Trans Asia News Service. All Rights Reserved.