We Live in Interesting Times

... on long held cultural perceptions of China being the centre of the world (hence the name "the Middle Kingdom") but only having briefly and temporarily run into a spot of trouble.
...
I will briefly mention India ... would be a third pole of power with a self generated sense of destiny.
I found reading some of the works on grand strategies and geography fascinating; some conflicts are prohibited by mountains, rivers, deserts and some are almost pre-ordained to take place.

Of course things do change, the US can no longer rely on protection from attack by the Atlantic and Pacific but both still remain a hell of an obstacle to move significant land forces across.
 
Well I have to say this is a very interesting discussion to date. A lot of interesting topics, and many points that I agreed with and those I didn't agree with but understood and accepted.

My congratulations to you Condotierre on the birth of your child, I wish your son health wealth and happiness.

As to the topic in general, I'll add a couple of my personal opinions but restrict my attention to the US, UK, and to a small extent Australia. It has struck me over the last few years that the US (if you watch the media) is ripe for not so much a civil war as civil unrest. A civil war implies two sides fighting in a structured fashion, giving and taking ground in an attempt to overthrow the other but what I think may well happen in the US is spontaneous outbreaks of violence across certain parts of the country drawn along racial or religous lines. Again, if you watch the media, there is the impression that the police forces in certain areas appear to have a rather blase approach to engaging coloured suspects and will almost without provocation shoot first and ask questions later. There have been a number of instances over the last couple of years where minor riots (and in at least one case major riots) have erupted. It hasn't quite led to running gun battles yet, but as tensions rise I have a concern that at some point the police response will not be enough and the ground swell of anger will boil over.

Of course, and again it's "according to the media", there are other groups who would respond almost in a "well they're doing it, I feel threatened so I'm going to defend myself" mood as if they just wanted an excuse to take up arms. The fundamental christians are one group I suspect would respond, but there are probably others in more local scenarios so you end up with a general civil unrest with no-go areas and armed gangs. Of course the police forces and national guard now find themselves with more than one target to deal with, so where do they direct their resources without annoying someone or other by making it look as if they are "giving one group priority over others". A no win situation.

While I don't suspect that a similar armed conflict would happen in the UK or Aus, the concept of multiple groups of pi$$ed off citizens, each clinging to their own banner and demanding they get their "rights" is prevalent in both countries.

I've watched the rise of Feminists, LGBTQ and other groups with interest recently, and the one thing they all share is a visceral anger and loud demand that they get what they want. Between Jordan Petterson being harrassed for quite correctly protesting that the Canadian government should not pass laws directing the speech that peole should use, to the protests this week over the advice to "take responsibility for your own safety" from an Australian police force after a woman was raped and killed on her way home through an unlit park, the underlying message from them all is "I want something and the rest of the world must change so I can get it".

I agree wholeheartedly with the comment someone made about feelings over facts, the way to win an argument now would appear to be go onto some form of media, make a case based on "if we do this someone or something will suffer" and wait for the bandwagon of angry finger pointers to come along. The ability for someone with a grudge or perceived complaint to instantly find others world wide who feel the same is staggering, and has raised so many groups that 20 years ago would not have existed beyond you and your local mates. What is that one that cropped up recently, "Incel" or "involuntary celibate"? When I was growing up meant you couldn't get a girlfriend so you had to amuse yourself other ways, you didn't form a dark net group that planned to commit mass murder.

The media (and in that I include the self published media) has I think a lot to answer for. The drive to get the sensational story first has missed reporting the truth, the urge to get responses from readers has forgotten that the facts may be misrepresented or ommitted. The desire to be seen protesting about something that will gain you followers or give you kudos has carefully ignored the fact that some people will believe what you say without checking the veracity of the argument. How many Hollywood celebs have jumped on the MeToo bandwagon, or stood up at lavish ceremonies and shouted vulgarities at the President and been rewarded handsomely with praise and "likes"?

Back in the late 70's early 80's they did a TV six-parter with John Mills as Professor Quatermass. It started in a somewhat distopian London where street gangs roamed around and society in the UK was reduced to squalor with armed police, petrol rationing and power cuts a daily occurence. We all looked at it and went "I hope that doesn't happen", but the question now could be "when will it"?

As a white, middle aged heterosexual male, I keep getting told that it's "all" my fault. But I think what I'll do is stock up on been and popcorn and let the rest of the shouty brigades fight it out between themselves until they have exhausted their powder. By that point they will probably need someone to make the trains run, or empty the bins, or stock the shelves. You know the sort of jobs that they won't do because it's their right not to.

I must dig out my copy of animal farm, it seems particularly relevant at the moment.....
I would agree that atomisation or balkanisation is more likely in the US than all out civil war like the last time.
As that was primarily centered around one issue (slavery as a catalyst for secession with lots of add on exacerbating factors), it would be difficult to replicate nowadays given the multiplicity of religious, ethnic and political divides.

Globalisation at the moment is a great leveller, so anything that disrupts or restricts access to technology and it's use will become significant players/factors - basically governments and tech-giants.

I think governments will become less effective. As tax bases shrink, more services will be privatised and when those firms start taking the tax direct, government and the public sector is pretty much finished.
Militaries will stagger on, however legacy equipment management and cost of recruiting /training will be continue to degrade their critical mass/effect.

Modern Condottiere or mercenary companies have been growing in recent years, but haven't tipped over into major use at a national level. The acquisition or M&A by the likes of BAE, LM etc will be the next generation of warfare tipping point.
 
I am a Brit in my mid-fifties, essentially at the tail end of the baby-boomer generation with a reasonable level of education, both formal and informal and I am quite widely read. I have a keen interest in history, current affairs and geopolitics and try to keep abreast of scientific advances.

My personal politics are socially liberal but economically conservative balancing individual rights against collective responsibilities (at various levels). I am a product of "Western" civilisation and culture and a believer in "the Rule of Law" and the in the way "western" democracy is organised. I suppose I could summarise my position by the statement that I am a great fan of "The Economist" newspaper and that in general my views are mostly in consensus with those of its editorial board.

The Rennaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Discovery and the Industrial Revolution all pointed inexorable rise of the West. The 20th Century, despite the carnage of the two world wars gave rise to the dominance of the Western system across the globe. This appeared to be cemented by the end of the century by collapse of communism and what Francis Fukuyama prematurely called "The End of History" as it seemed that the world order which had been progressively erected since the end of WW2 was here to stay. Europe was slowly uniting around common values and goals. America appeared to be the confident torchbearer of a prosperous future. The Chinese quietly abandoned the communist economic model in all but name. Free trade across the globe was increasing and increasingly making the "global village" concept a reality.

Then everything began to unravel.

China has shown that democracy is unneccesary to challenge for world status and is busy expanding its reach and influence.
Russia has regressed to revanchist autocracy and appears to be paralleling the trajectory of 1930's Germany.
Europe is infighting with nation states being increasingly introspective.
America has lost the mainly consensus politics it had enjoyed since WW2 and has become polarised and bitter.
Extreme interpretations of Islam have radicalised many across the Muslim lands
Climate change, population growth and economic malaise are causing mass migration from poorer to richer countries.
Technology advances, particularly in IT, automation and digitisation are engendendering Luddite responses.
Populism and national exceptionalism are winning converts across the globe with concomitant rising tensions.

Looking ahead - what are we likely to see in the rest of the 21st century?
A second US civil war and the disintegration of the United States of America into several entities?
An expansionist Russia re-establishing a Eurasian Empire and re-instating a Tsar? Russian domination of the Arctic?
Chinese hegemony over East and South-East Asia with various economically vassal states across Asia, Africa and South America?
A fractured EU and a fractured UK. Europe reduced to squabbling mini-states dominated by Russia?
Rising sea-levels, greater desertification, global pandemics.

I believe that the "West" needs a wake-up call. We won the wars of the 20th Century, but we are losing the peace of the 21st.
Beijing has a plan and a strategy (the resetablishment of the hegemony of the Middle Kingdom).
Moscow has a plan and a strategy (the same one it has had since it became the tax collector of the Great Khan).
What have we got?
Infighting and introspection in Washington as US democracy is wrecked from the inside.
Infighting and introspection in London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, etc. as European unity is wrecked by national selfishness.

I have just become a dad again. What sort of world is my son going to be living in when he is in his mid-fifties?
mid-fifties? congratulations you mad b******; all the best to you and the family, it is a wonderful thing.

the parallels with the great global unrest seen in the 20th century seem clear but i do think we must consider the difference The Bomb has made to these situations. You old duffers will know better than my generation that this is all that stopped the cold war from going hot and this was a period where countries were firmly opposed to one another. the threat of nuclear war wont disappear and the deterrent it brings shall remain, if so, what does a future where conflict is to be expected look like? for me i think that potentially we'll see states competing through proxy wars in efforts to curtail the ambitions and resources of rivals, this will also resemble a move a way from the international rules based order to something which might more resemble the old balance of power setup which we saw in europe between the then great powers during the 19th-early 20th centuries.

there's a good chance this has been covered in the last 15 pages and if so, my apologies. if i'm right though it'll mean your boy should be able to see out his life without having to join some sort of Mad Max style reever gang but the places to go on holiday options list might be thinned out a bit.

shares in companies who export "Agricultural Equipment" might also be a good investment for his future.
 
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