GLOBAL POLITICAL EVOLUTION, LONG CYCLES, AND K-WAVES

 

 

George Modelski

University of Washington

 

 

Abstract

 

This paper is about the inter-relation of global politics (world security) and the global economy (K-waves).   It reviews the current and prospective state of two major processes of global politics:  the long cycle (of the rise and decline of world powers), and global political evolution (global level institutional change), and then ask: how they are related to the current Kondratieff (or K-) wave of the rise of the computer-internet industries (as the global leading industrial sectors).  

 The evolution of global politics that is in the long-term period of forming planetary-level organization now offers opportunities for building a global democratic community but also suffers from the structural weaknesses of the institution of global leadership (in the long cycle), and runs into dangers of large-scale warfare two-three decades ahead.     Both these processes interact strongly with the current (1975-2026) K-wave that diffuses information technology, lays the information bases of democratization, and enables world-wide cooperation but also diffuses power in the world at large, and to likely competitors.

These are not forecasts but rather elements of a framework of orientation for the discussion of the next several decades of some crucial global processes.                      

        

 

1.   Some preliminaries

 

The context of this discussion is a set of ideas known originally as the theory of long cycles and more recently described as “evolutionary world politics”.   Accounting for that shift was the dawning realization that “long cycles” in fact are evolutionary processes. .  They are a pattern of regularity in global politics but as an evolutionary process they chart change rather than exact repetition. [1,2] 

 

                   Evolutionary world politics (EWP) is the employment of evolutionary theory in the study of long-tem changes in planetary political arrangements.   The approach is holistic – in that the basic unit of analysis is planetary; it is diachronic in that it is about processes (rather than structures) in world system time; it is evolutionary because the key to it are learning processes centered on variation and selection; and in its methodology it is social-scientific in that it confronts observational data with theory and then tests and retests it.  It is not a “general theory” of world politics but it is an account of certain critical global processes.

 

                   Two such self-similar processes lie at the heart of this argument:  long cycles, and global political evolution.  [3,4].   Long cycles have in the past half-millennium taken the form of the rise and decline of world powers, of which the most recent instances have been the global leadership role of Britain in the 19th century and of the United States in the 20th.   This has been an agent-level process involving global political competition centered on priority global problems.  Global political evolution is an institutional-level process of millennial proportions activated by the long cycle and animating the search for new forms of collective organization and the transformation of world-wide structures away from traditional 9classical) empire and toward global governance.   It is the process of political globalization, each period of which comprises (in a nested, self-similar process) four long cycles.

 

          We have here two processes that are underway, and the question is: what stage have these processes reached in 2005, where might they be heading in the next generation or so, and how do they relate to K-waves?   Begin with some conceptual items.   We conceive of world system time not as continuous or flowing but as discrete or grainy, reckoned in generations, and unfolding in distinct periods.  The long cycle has a characteristic period of some 120 years (four generations), that in turn nests within global political evolution (with a period of some 500 years).     Each period is a four-phased learning process: an event sequence embodying a built-in program that consist of the four evolutionary phases the generic names of which are variation, cooperation, selection, and amplification.

 

Each long cycle and each period of global political evolution (as well as each K-wave) are programmed by the same learning algorithm (that is, the enhanced Lewontin-Campbell heuristic: g-c-t-r: generate-cooperate-test-regenerate) [2]  Each such period is given focus by a (higher-level) problem of political organization, and by the innovations that are proposed and explored for dealing with that problem.   The agenda of the long cycle is in part the function of its place in global political evolution.  The periodicity is hardly what we are accustomed to expect e.g. from moon phases, but it is there, confirmed by both by empirical evidence and theoretical considerations and reinforced i.a. by synchronization.

 

                   Table 1: Political and economic globalization 1850-2080 is a partial representation of these processes that is in effect a calendar of recent global politics and economics, calibrated in terms of generations.   It summarizes a century and a half of the past, and opens a window on the remainder of this, 21st, century.

 

Table 1:   Political and economic globalization, 1850-2080

 

 

 

Evolution of global politics

 

Long cycles of global politics

K-waves

(IT Revolution)

1850

3.  Global organization

Inter-government.

LC9   USA

 Agenda-setting

 

K17 Electric-steel

 Take-off

1878

 

                          

 Coalition-building

 

               

  High growth

1914

 

 

                         

 Macro-decision:

 World Wars I, II

K18 Electronic-auto-aero

  Take-off

1945

 

                        

 Execution

 

                    

  High growth

1975

Democratic    transition.        

LC10

  Agenda-setting

 

K19 Computer-internet

  Take-off

2000

 

                         

 Coalition-building

 

                      

   High growth

2026

 

 

  Macro-decision

 

K20   Digital-networks?

2050

 

               

  Execution

 

 

2080

Global  governance

LC11

 

 

 

Periods (of learning process) in bold letters,      George Modelski  2005

phases in smaller print.

Each column represents one process; each row represents one generation.

 

 

          The table shows the phase-structure of two long cycles (LC 9 and 10), that in turn synchronize with the first two (hence preparatory) phases of “Global Organization” (that in turn is a period of global political evolution). These preparatory phases are those of (formation of) inter-governmental organizations, and the democratic transition.   They run parallel to LC9 as the base-laying, informational phase of that process, and LC10 that establishes the democratic matrix (or framework) within which a form of global governance might be selected in LC11 (to reach its peak in the 22nd century). All three processes (part of an entire “cascade’) are related in a manner governed by a power law.

 

          It is the conjecture underlying this argument that these learning processes reveal a program (or set of rules) that actuates the social evolution of the human species, via a process of extended group selection. The following principles derive from the theoretical analysis [in 4]: the human species is capable of self-organization at multiple levels (including also at the species-hierarchical level), over time, in a cascade of (autocatalytic) learning algorithms, and in such a manner as to give rise to interactors and replicators, and constitute a lineage, assuring continuity (for general context see [5,6]).

 

          One other point.   The processes in Table 1 are learning experiments, accounting for the rise if world powers, and of global institutions.   That is why each such “rise” comprises two preliminary phases that ready the ground for, and lead up to, the third one that activates the selectional mechanisms of collective decision and, in the fourth, achieves the completion of the process and “full tenure”.  We reckon the US (learning) long cycle as extending from 1850 to 1975, with its preparatory phases lasting up to 1914-45, laying down the foundations for global leadership that was fully established only after 1940.   But the United States’ (lightly institutionalized) “term of office”, then started, extends beyond 1975, until another selection is achieved (on our timetable, after 2026).  Thus in respect of that US cycle, the learning sequence ends in 1975, but the “term of office” lasts longer, on this accounting, until 2026, but might also appear as a “lame duck” season, in which the global political system (as though in an election campaign mode), sets up the conditions for “macrodecision”, that is for a new selection, or re-selection.

 

                   We shall now examine in some more detail problems raised by these two processes.   We begin with the long cycle and follow up with global political evolution.    For each we shall ask: where in its trajectory is global politics located at the present time, and what might be the prognosis for the future, up to a generation ahead.   We shall then review the relationship of thee political processes to the K-wave in the global economy, another global process.

 

2.     LC 10: from agenda-setting to coalition-building

 

                   The concept of long (or ‘hegemonic’) cycles of the ‘rise and decline of world powers’ is basically familiar to students of world politics; its principal role is to highlight the several leading states that shaped global structures, and of the imperial challengers that squared off against them.   (This, and the next section draws on  [7].   We keep in mind that the long cycle has assumed the ‘global leadership’ (or ‘hegemonic’) form only in the second period of global political evolution, in the “long” sixteenth century, that is, midway in its (so far) millennial trajectory,   

 

At this point in time, in the first decade of the 21st century, the new long cycle (LC10) has moved, as shown in Table 1,  from the initial phase of Agenda-setting (1975-2000) to that of Coalition-building.   Agenda-setting shook up the comforts and certainties of the post-World War II world, and placed new problems on the list of world priorities.     The information revolution created nuclear threats to human survival, and the success of the industrial revolution brought in its train environmental problems.  The collapse of the Soviet bloc cleared the way for the possibility of a majority-community of world democracies, to be acted upon in the next phase of Coalition-building.   Even while the United States is still filling its role of leadership assumed in 1945, the system of global politics is now in the preparatory phases of a new “macro-decision” (selection).  On the analogy of a four-year electoral cycle, global leadership is moving into the lame duck season, anticipating an approaching (s)electoral test.  In the current phase, the principal question is:  how will the key players of the global political system line up in view of the approaching problem of re-selection?

 

2.1   Alliance systems, or democratic community?

 

                   The Coalition-building that on this particular calendar began in 2000 highlights this period of alignments, and realignments.  In previous cycles this has been the time when blocs were starting to form that then squared off in generation-long global wars.   The “balance of power” of the two-three decades  prior to 1914, when the European system of states, after a period of uncertainty, came to line up into two opposing camps that ultimately faced off in World Wars I and II, is a classic example of such a formation.   The current phase is equally likely to be increasingly influenced by the selection process of competition for leadership, one that is likely to set in the third decade of this century:  This may take the form of a desire to oppose the sitting, status quo, power or else the need to line up a winning coalition that would sustain renewed global leadership that will emerge from that process if and when it prevails over the inevitable challengers, or coalitions of challengers.   In the next two decades, the respective positions of i.a. China, India, Russia, and the European Union, in relation to these issues will be closely watched and their geopolitical positioning carefully monitored.  The general tendency is toward deconcentration, most clearly economic and also political.

 

It is our conjecture, too, that a similarly strong focus of contemporary coalitioning will be the tendency for increased cooperation among democracies.   Indeed that latter process may have had one beginning of sorts actually in June of 2000, when an international conference of ministers from 107 countries met in Warsaw, Poland, and (with minimal media coverage) laid down the foundations for a “Community of Democracies” as an inter-governmental organization (together with a number of associated non-governmental bodies).  The “Warsaw Declaration” proclaimed a number of common principles and a follow-up meeting was held in Seoul in 2002, with a third planned for Santiago, Chile in 2005.   One of the recommendations of the Warsaw conference was the formation of “democracy caucuses” at the United Nations that could become a notable adaptation of the institution of parliamentary diplomacy.

 

Five years onward, that Community can hardly be said to be a majorfeature of international organization, and the “caucus”

 proposal is yet to be implemented.  Some view it as a potential competitor to the United Nations.    A late initiative of the Clinton presidency, it languished until it was recently revived by the Bush administration, when “global democracy” is in the air again.   But its future shape and governance is as yet uncertain because the Iraq war has led to much friction and loss of momentum.

 

The main alternative vision has been, since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the concept of “multipolarity” That is a notion

advocated prominently by President Chirac of France, but also one that at various times was also espoused by leaders in i.a. Moscow, Beijing and New Delhi. It harks back to late-19th century conceptions of balance of power just mentioned and lacks in specificity but some concrete developments may be underway i.a. in East Asia, involving e.g. the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  At bottom, and in present conditions, multipolarity is a product of deconcentration, and is a counter to unipolarity that is seen to have arisen from the predominance that the United States’ had achieved in the aftermath of the Cold-War.

 

          Do world developments of the coming decade or two trend toward multipolarity?   Measured in terms of raw power, military force distributions  at the global level (nuclear-missile-space and air-naval) suggest unipolarity but at the regional and national levels the situation is far less clear.  On the other hand, the distribution of economic power (in GNP terms) indicates, with the anticipated rise of China and India, a situation that is increasingly multi-polar.   In terms of institutional power (that is the power to influence the decisions of international organizations, in summits, UN bodies, global financial institutions, world trade talks) the situation appears even more fluid, and is currently marked by ad hoc coalitions.   In other words, the strategic option of multipolarity may not be easily dismissed.

                  

          But it is also a hallmark of this current, Coalition-building, phase that, accounting for over one-half of the world’s population, democracies have  (for the first time ever) acquired a majority position, a condition that favors cooperation and makes war less likely among a large portion of the world’s peoples.   That is why arguably the other strategic option, that of democracy, has a good chance of gaining ground, and why the odds for the long term may lie on the side of democratic institutions, even at the global level.   A democratic ‘lineage’ (the sequence of democratic-leaning world powers) runs through a millennium of global political evolution and is closely linked to democratization (the world-wide spread of democratic practices).

 

          All in all, we are still early in the Coalition-building phase, with some two more decades to go, and much is yet to happen.   Our framework suggests that the major institutional innovation of the current long cycle will be the consolidation of the transition to a majority-democratic world as the basis for enhanced global governance, but that it is unlikely to be fully in effect until after it had been fully “selected”, say after 2050.  

 

2.2   Imperial detour?

 

          A rounded conception of the two preparatory phases of the long cycle would also draws attention to the “lame duck” feature of that season of world politics.   At a time when the sitting world power is past the phase of executing its primary agenda, that whose execution placed it in office in the first place, and whose major achievements involved the defense of clusters of autonomous states from the designs of imperial powers, friction and uncertainty arise, powered by hubris, that tend to prompt projects that amount to an “imperial detour”. (A similar pattern can be observed in the “lame duck” seasons following each one of the four earlier cycles of global politics).

 

         A case in point, and a significant current example, is the Iraq war of 2003-.   For in the moment of transition away from one completed (learning) cycle of global leadership, world politics is poised uneasily between the historically familiar form of large-scale political rule that is “empire”, on the one side, and “global organization”, as the wave of the future, on the other.  The incumbents of the office of global leadership are torn between the “traditional” pull of empire and the beckoning but uncertain promises of global organization.  Their primary agenda will have tackled the then urgent global problems (that included the defeat of earlier imperial challengers) but as these problems have been met, they then tend to slip into a routine, and yield to imperial temptation. 

          Those in positions of global leadership who succumb to the lure of empire ignore one of the main rules of their “tradecraft”.   For the essence of that role is ‘global network control’ that consists of a skillful employment of forces of global reach for constructing, and maintaining, a world-wide disposition of fleets, bases, and alliances that has in the past yielded ‘command of the seas’, and may now extend to ‘space control’.  But a specialization in network control also implies abstention from territorial conquests at regional and national levels.   Those who engage in colonial wars, ‘nation-building’, land campaigns on the “Asian mainland”, for instance, risk wasteful expenditure, and a dilution of legitimacy.

 

 Past its second (learning) cycle (1750-1850), Britain offers an illuminating example of this structural problem.  In 1899 a Conservative government authorized a war against two small Boer Republics in Southern Africa that brought early reverses and substantial casualties, and gave rise to a guerilla insurgency that was met by the deployment of large Imperial forces,  all at great cost to Britain’s international standing.   Historians now minimize the official pretexts for that war, and stress the determination of Alfred Milner (high commissioner for South Africa) and Joseph Chamberlain (Colonial Secretary) to assume political control of the Transvaal, so as to demonstrate the strength of the Empire and to prevent trouble elsewhere in Southern Africa (in 1884-90 Germany had established colonies in Southwest Africa, and Tanganyika).  Milner and Chamberlain and those associated with them came to be known as “Liberal Imperialists”.  Transvaal and the Orange Free State were annexed in 1902 but as early as 1910, under a Liberal government in London, all of South Africa became self-governing, soon to be led by the former leaders of the Boer commandos.   One British historian summed up the lessons of that war as follows:  “It put an end to the somewhat boastful type of Imperialism, which dominated the last years of the Nineteenth century, a spirit which … would have made trouble in the dangerous epoch now approaching”.

 

          The Boer war was hardly an isolated incident in the period that followed Britain’s second (learning) cycle.  The prevailing foreign policy orientation of Conservative governments under Lord Salisbury was one of going it alone, of shunning alliances, and a free hand.   By 1858 Britain government was ruling over the entire Indian subcontinent, and in 1877 Queen Victoria was declared Empress of India.   The other great powers each had their own imperial designs: i.a. France in North and West Africa, Russia in Central Asia, Italy in the Horn of Africa, Japan in Korea and China.  But for Britain the Boer war had revealed the dangers of its isolation that some had earlier called “splendid”.   The war’s ending was followed, in short order, by the Anglo-Japanese alliance (1902), the Entente Cordiale (1904), and the Anglo-Russian agreement (1907).

 

          The South African war experience suggests, in an optimistic scenario,  that ‘imperial detour’ is a structural problem of the ‘lame duck’ phases of the ‘global leadership’ period of the long cycle that is troublesome but not beyond remedy.

 

2.3   What shape macrodecision:  global war, or democratic process?

 

          A 2005 US intelligence analysis asserts that “the likelihood of great power conflict escalating into total war in the next 15 years is lower than in any other time in the past century”.  [10]    But looking beyond 2020 we come to the next phase of the current long cycle, its “selection” phase of Macrodecision (2026-2050).   In the four-five earlier cycles this was the phase that generated global wars, and as their product, new leadership. A consensus of world system history scholars judges this to be a period fraught with dangers of large-scale warfare [8].  In fact, such a “worst case scenario” cannot be excluded from an assessment of world security two-three decades ahead.   But our long-standing argument has been that in principle there is no reason why in this case the process should not assume a new form, in that the global polity could arrive at a collective decision about leadership and global priorities without resort to large-scale violence because substitutes for global war can arise from within an emerging democratic base.   For it is the chief characteristic of democratic procedures that they are explicit substitutes for civic or internal violence and civil warwar [3].

 

          We might consider two scenarios:  in the first, an emerging global democratic community, comprising not only the majority of the world’s population, but also the preponderance of its military, economic, and technological resources, and forming a majority “party’ within international bodies, in fact guarantees world peace.   This arrangement might present such unassailable strength that a direct military challenge would obviously be unproductive, if not utterly disastrous.  But such position calls for constructive initiatives and some structural innovation in the institution of global leadership.

 

          The second, multipolar, scenario, is more “traditional” and allows for the possibility of alliances between the several poles of that system, and within the United Nations, hence also between democratic and non-democratic states. This alternative could cut the chances of a polarizing divide but is basically opportunistic and courts the dangers of large-scale military confrontation possibly leading up to a nuclear catastrophe.

 

          So much for the form that a contested macrodecision might take two-three decades from now.  We need additional information to answer about its substance.

 

3.   Evolution of global politics is political globalization

 

                   As we noted in the introduction, the basis of this approach to world politics is evolutionary.   Since we know that in the past millennium politics at the global level has undeniably undergone dramatic change, such structural transformation is best explicable with the help of evolutionary concepts.   From what we know of that millennium we can tell that such change has been regular, and that an evolutionary explanation makes sense.   What slowly but in its own time is evolving through processes of innovation and selection is global-level organization that is a necessary condition of on ordered world society, and that organization evolves via the mechanism of evolutionary learning.  We can call that process political globalization.

 

The evolution of global politics is a higher-order learning process than the long cycle just reviewed.   It is a process of globalization because it is creative of political institutions of world-wide scope albeit in periods spanning half-a-millennium.   It is one of political globalization because it accounts for the formation of political structures that weave together several strands of relationships of world-wide range.  Where earlier, in the classical era, political interaction was mainly either local or regional, at about the year 1000 interactors (conquerors, traders, explorers) began to emerge at the planetary level and they set in motion a process of global political evolution.  Driving that process at the agent level are long cycles of political competition but at the higher, institutional, level this adds up to global political evolution   That is creative of globally-active rules, agents, and organizations.

 

Since the start of the modern era, about 1000, global political evolution has established, in its first period, the technical preconditions of global order, in part by defeating the project of the Mongol world empire.   The second period (say 1430 to 1850) created the (oceanic) nucleus of global organization by defeating (continental) imperial challengers, in a process that fashioned the institution of global leadership.   The two British cycles were the mature form of that structure as it moved from selection to amplification.   The third, current, period, is shown in Table 1, from 1850 onward as “Global Organization”, that is to be completed in about two-three centuries.   If the first period was one of no (or failed), and the second one of minimal organization, the third is one of selecting an adequate structure (to be completed in the fourth period).   By adequate structure I mean one that has the capacity to master the problems of human survival, especially those posed by threats that are nuclear and environmental.   

          Where in this scheme do we stand at the beginning of the 21st century?    The third period of major institutional innovation that takes the form of “global organization” that we have now entered is certainly critical.   That period is currently in the second (hence integrative, community-building) of its preparatory phases, and it lends an agenda to LC10 that, as we have earlier noted, centers on the democratic transition.   That in turn lays the ground – the sub-structure of solidarity – that will serve as the foundation for significant institutional change in the next (selectional) phase of that process, a century from now. Table 1 shows that since about 1975 we have been in that second, cooperation-oriented, phase of “democratic transition”, and that phase might extend to the last quarter of 21st century.  

                  

The prognosis is this:  global politics has been, since 1850, in transition to a presumptively democratic global organization (facing off challengers that offered anarchic, Nazi, Communist, and now Islamist, substitutes), and that means that the US cycle has been no mere repetition of the British experience, but was shaped by that very fact.    But at the start of the 21st century we are still in the second, cooperative, or transitional, phase of that process that is unlikely to be completed until mid-21st century   This will establish the solidarity matrix within which future global organization will take shape.    It is less likely to emerge from within a system of multipolarity.  As political globalization gains additional strength, the control of world organizations, e.g. via majority voting blocs or veto power, (hence institutional power) will increasingly become the condition of organizational leadership.  Such a context will favor a functioning democratic community; it is less likely to encourage multipolarity.

 

          To recapitulate, global politics is now approaching end of the “term of office” of sitting global leadership, say in two-three decades time but the procedures of renewing its mandate remain uncertain.   In even longer perspective, we are now in the process of evolving new organization to tackle global problems.   How are economic forces likely to interact with these developments?

 

 

  4.   Global political processes, and economic globalization

 

          Long cycles have a close affinity to K-waves (just as global political evolution parallels the evolution of the global economy).   The rise and decline of world powers runs in tandem with the rise and decline of leading industrial sectors (except that to every one long cycle correspond two K-waves).   Both are evolutionary processes in that they exhibit, at the minimum, variation (innovation) and selection (power or market competition).   They are therefore self-similar (symmetric across scale), nested, in that K-waves, initially locate in world powers, and synchronized.   They are also in the first place global, processes viewed primarily in a qualitative fashion [9]

 

          The computer-internet K-wave (or K19, see Table 1) took off in the United States, and more precisely in California’s Silicon Valley at about 1973-75 (Intel microprocessors), and around 2000, after experiencing a (selectional) shake-out, entered upon high growth likely to last some two-three decades.   While shaping and reshaping the global economy this has been a burst of innovative energy spearheaded principally by American enterprise.  Its significance lies primarily in the qualitative changes it has wrought in the world economy.

 

As such K19 serves as a productive platform that, overall, couldsupport a bid for a second “term” of global leadership.   For the United States, it has renewed its status as a “lead economy” and boosted the productivity of American enterprises, and that in turn helped to generate resources in support of global action.   Just as K17 and K18 provided the sinews of American power in World Wars I and II, K19 has induced a “military revolution” in equipping US forces with high precision-guided weapons earlier than others, and enhancing their capacity for global reach.

 

          A principal world-wide impact of K19 has been a dramatic increase in global connectivity.   Most prominently, the information revolution favors networks.   In the past several decades, instantaneous communication became not just possible (as it has been since the 1860s) but user-friendly, widely-available, and virtually costless.  By the end of K19, the majority of the world population is likely to be connected to the internet.   Critical events (such as a war, or a catastrophic tsunami) can now be observed, and assessed, world-wide, from day one.   This creates conditions favorable to community-formation, even on a planetary scale, and makes a global democratic community conceivable, as well as practical, for the first time ever.   The community of democracies is just one instance of possible global networks.   More generally, it creates increasingly well-grounded opportunities for collective and cooperative action.

                  

          However, past 2000, K19 is now in the phases of high growth, and the advantage now increasingly shifts from early to late adopters.   Producers outside the United Stats have mastered the manufacture of computers and the writing of software, and joining the internet-cell phone explosion.  The relative advantage of US producers and users of the new technology is declining, competition rises, and new productive centers, as in China, India, or Brazil, emerge, while older centers, as in Europe or Japan, retool.  Such trends reinforce multipolarity.

 

The internet favors the emergence of a democratic community but (if it  survives as a planetary infrastructure) it also helps to promote a wide variety of other global networks.  It has been argued that for Muslims in non-Muslim countries it helps create a virtual community, serving to make concrete the abstract concept of the Islamic umma.   Global networks such as al-Qaeda, can use it to address pronouncements to international publics, encrypt messages, raise and move funds, and plan and conduct operations from remote locations.  For insurgents, especially in urban contexts, it is one instrument for conducting asymmetric warfare.

 

          K19 is in the high growth phase that will take us into the 2020s.   What is next?   We do not know for sure because the set of innovations that will define K20 are yet to surface.   We might speculate, though, that they could extend, and complete, via the process of economic globalization, the entire series of four information-bearing waves, by responding to the global problems now on the horizon.   They might firm up the democratic transition of the world system, by making it world-wide, and war-proof, and furthermore, both on the very small scale – possibly nano- and bio-, and at the very large, in geo, and possibly space-technology, and might make the world system capable of meeting the emerging threats to the environment (such as, for instance, the climate-changing effects of rapid urbanization via large cities, sources of heat, and of carbon dioxide).

                                     

5.  Summing-up

 

1.   Coalition-building:   “the shape and nature of international alignments is in a state of flux” [10].   Looming ahead (through our theoretical lenses) is the approaching expiration of the current “term of office” of global leadership.  Rival coalitions are beginning to form around that issue.

 

2.   Democratic Community: is in the process of emergence, strongly aided by the diffusion of democratic practices aided by the information revolution.  Such a “democratic transition” to a majority-democratic world system is the principal innovation on the agenda of the current phase of global political evolution.

 

3.   Macrodecision – global war?  Democratization makes it possible to argue that the evolution of democratic procedures at the global level might facilitate the avoidance of global war as a mechanism of selection of new leadership, and of global policies responding to new challenges.

 

4.    The United States’ status as lead economy in the Information Revolution, as well as their position as open democratic society, are at this time two of the factors making probable American re-selection to a second term of global leadership in an evolving global democratic polity.

 

 

 

References

 

[1]   Modelski, G. (2002), “Long Cycles in Global Politics” Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (eolss.net) (1.35.1.8).   

[2]   The Evolutionary World Politics Home Page, at http://faculty.washington.edu/modelski/

[3]   Modelski, G.  (1999)   “From Leadership to Organization: The Evolution of Global Politics at pp 11-39 of  V. Bornschier and Ch. Chase-Dunn eds. The Future of Global Conflict, London:  Sage Studies in International Sociology.

[4]   Modelski, G. (2004).  “Beyond Analogy” on “The Evolutionary World Politics Home

Pagehttp://faculty.washington.edu/modelski/index/html

[5]   Modelski, G. (2000)   “World System Evolution” in  R. Denemark et al. eds.  World System History: The social science of long-term change, New York:  Routledge.

[6]   Devezas, T. and Modelski, G. (2003)    “Power law behavior and world system evolution”   Technological Forecasting and Social Change, November,

[7]   Modelski, G. (2005) “Long-term trends in world politics” in M. Herkenrath et al. eds The Future of World Society, Zurich: University of Zurich.

[8] Denemark, R.   (1999)   World System History, International Studies Review, Vol.1(1), 43-76.

[9]   Modelski, G. and W. R. Thompson   (1996)   Leading Sectors and World Powers:  Co-evolution of global economics and politics,   Columbia:  South Carolina University Press.

[10]  Mapping the Global Future”, report by the National Intelligence Council, summarized in Washington Post, January 14, 2005:A1,4.

 

Based on paper presented at the NATO Advanced Research Workshop on “Kondratieff Waves and World Security”, at the University of Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal, in March 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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