Michael H Goldhaber on Sun, 7 Mar 2010 09:42:30 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> A scenario for World War III

Hi Keith,

With all due respect, though many of your premises make good sense, and one should never underestimate the stupidity of those in power (especially not today or in the near future, with the US govt basically adrift) I don't think your WWIII scenario ( to the limited extent it even is one) holds much water. It's true that financial manipulations could be considered war by other means, but that hardly implies they would turn to actual war. Neither China, Russia nor the US orEurope has the  number of large families willing to surrender a substantial proportion of their children as cannon fodder, which was not the case a few generations ago. countries are far more interdependent now, and so anything approaching full-scale war between advanced countries including the BRIC ones seems pretty self-defeeating. 

Of course, in  away we are already in sort of World War, what with the ongoing Congo crisis, Sudan, Somailia the Iraq and Afghan wars, the still hot Islamic south of Russia, and the looming crisis over Iran. But these are wars fought  substantially by proxy and in very poor places, for the most part. The dangers of either nuclear war or even full-scale conventional war between well-armed rivals are so obvious tht even the current crop of leaders are far toointellignet to risk any such adventure. After all, the whole reason for sabre rattling against Iran is that  they may get nukes, but that does not mean that even India or Pakistan would be foolish enough to start a nuclear war against one another. the US  has still more constraint on it, and will for sometime to come.So do Russia and China. 

WWII did plenty to help lift the industrialized world out of the Depression, through rampant, and not so creative destruction. The equivalent no w though is hardly thinkable, even by a Hitler, should one arise. that leaves the question of how to increase worldwide aggregate demand, and I generally agree there is no simple answer, but China  and India are certainly doing their best to find such a way, through rapidly expanding their own growth. I don't happen to think that will be enough, but that is partly because I think the new post-capitalist attention economy is growing much faster, and the future will be more in that direction. This will lessen the importance of states even further, and with that lessening, war will be even more useless. Terrorism is till a fair wart y to attract attention, but not to hold it, so I don't see that mode of warfare as having much future either. Cultures will compete in something more akin to a global version of American Idol. 

But of course, even if that is all true, the cataclysm to fear still will be global warming,a bout which not much, it would appear will be done in time. 


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