Donald Trump likes to pretend he's shaking everything up. In fact he's tearing everything down and what he can't tear down his instinct is to bog it down. You could say that he's the first poster boy for the Age of Entropy.
Yesterday I reviewed an article by political scientist and historian R.L. Schweller published in the June, 2014 volume of Foreign Affairs.
International politics is transforming from a system anchored in predictable, and relatively constant, principles to a system that is, if not inherently unknowable, far more erratic, unsettled, and devoid of behavioral regularities. In terms of geopolitics, we have moved from an age of order to an age of entropy.
...How did we get here? The shift began in the twentieth century, with the advent of nuclear weapons and the spread of economic globalization, which together have made war among the great powers unthinkable. ...The absence of cataclysmic wars among great powers has obviously been a great boon. But it has also come at a real cost.
In their absence [wars of major power ascension], we no longer have a force of “creative destruction” capable of resetting the world. And just as seas become foul without the blowing of the winds, prolonged peace allows inertia and decay to set in.Too much peace. Too little war. Mutually assured destruction. Neoliberalism. Stagnation. Failure of the world order. Chaos. In this Age of Entropy, Schweller thinks Trump is all America needs. Many would disagree.
Merkel, Macron, Trudeau and Abe are trying to bolster the international order but they've been virtually powerless to arrest the decline of liberal democracy and the rise of authoritarianism - Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Austria and even America. It seems chaos is indeed overtaking the world order. Authoritarianism has not only taken hold in these countries, it is a rising force in most others - Germany, France, the Netherlands, Britain and, yes, even our own Canada.
The longer leaders like Trudeau obsessively cling to globalism, the greater the appeal of authoritarian voices. People lose faith in their central governments as being under the sway of corporate interests and not in service to the public interest. If that was a crime you could convict every prime minister going back all the way to and including Mulroney. Democracy stagnated with the adoption of the neoliberal model and now democracy has succumbed to "inertia and decay."
As long as Trudeau's focus is on expanding trade and perpetual, exponential growth in the GDP he cannot focus on what ails us. He needs to be putting all his efforts into restoration of progressive democracy and there's an enormous amount of work that needs to be done in a shrinking window of opportunity. We have seen how other countries have succumbed or are at the cusp of illiberal democracy and worse. Doug Ford's victory yesterday is a wake up call. The election of Stephen Harper was a wake up call. Yet we sail into this becalmed, stagnant and foul sea and pretend nothing is wrong.