The New Axes of Conflict

In Prospect magazine (UK):

We asked 100 writers and thinkers to answer the following question: Left and right defined the 20th century. What’s next? The pessimism of their responses is striking: almost nobody expects the world to get better in the coming decades, and many think it will get worse.

Bruce Ackerman, political writer

Cosmos vs patriots. Cosmopolitans come in two varieties: for left cosmos, the pressing need is to deal with world problems—global warming, nuclear proliferation, and the unjust distribution of wealth and income. For right cosmos, it is to break down barriers to world trade. Cosmos of all stripes demand a big build-up in the powers of world institutions, and a cutback on state sovereignty. For local patriots, the cosmos represent a new imperialism of Davos-man and his do-good hangers-on. Left pats insist on protecting local workers from foreign competition and local cultures from McDonaldisation. Right pats want to protect the natives from strange ethnics and engage in pre-emptive strikes against threatening foreign powers. Pats of all varieties insist that the nation state remains the best last hope of democracy against the meritocratic pretensions of cosmo-elitists.

Pervez Hoodbhoy’s was truly depressing, despite the last sentence.

Pervez Hoodbhoy, scientist

Global and national politics will turn simple and Hobbesian in 50-70 years. In the interim, energy hunger will drive the US and European countries to squeeze out, and steal, the last drops of oil from under Muslim sands. As bridges between Islam and the west collapse, expect global civil war and triumphant neo-Talibanic movements circling the globe. Should a few western capitals be levelled, Muslim capitals will be randomly nuked in retaliation. The old planetary order is condemned to die. But the human spirit may yet prevail, and a new and better one may emerge.