Daniel W. Drezner

It’s an entropic day in the neighborhood

Well, I’m in a fine mood this AM.  Ahead of schedule on grading, lots of interesting stuff to blog about later this week.  Yep, it’s going to be a pretty good day. Hey, I see that my friend Randy Schweller has an article in The National Interest.  I wonder what it’s about: Contempoary international relations is ...

Well, I'm in a fine mood this AM.  Ahead of schedule on grading, lots of interesting stuff to blog about later this week.  Yep, it's going to be a pretty good day.

Hey, I see that my friend Randy Schweller has an article in The National Interest.  I wonder what it's about:

Contempoary international relations is moving toward a state of entropy. Chaos and randomness abound. Now, the story of world politics unfolds without coherence, unfettered by classic balance-of-power politics, a plotless postmodern work starring a menagerie of wildly incongruent themes and protagonists, as if divinely plucked from different historical ages and placed in a time machine set for the third millennium. We live in an era in which unprecedented globalization and economic interdependence, liberal-democratic hegemony, nanotechnology, robotic warfare, the “infosphere,” nuclear proliferation and geoengineering solutions to climate change coexist with the return of powerful autocratic-capitalist states, of a new Great Game in Central Asia, of imperialism in the Middle East, of piracy on the high seas, of rivalry in the Indian Ocean, of a 1929-like market crash, of 1914-style hypernationalism and ethnic conflict in the Balkans, of warlords and failed states, of genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur, and of a new holy war waged by radical Islamists complete with caliphates and beheadings reminiscent of medieval times. In short, we live in a Thomas Pynchon novel.

Well, I’m in a fine mood this AM.  Ahead of schedule on grading, lots of interesting stuff to blog about later this week.  Yep, it’s going to be a pretty good day.

Hey, I see that my friend Randy Schweller has an article in The National Interest.  I wonder what it’s about:

Contempoary international relations is moving toward a state of entropy. Chaos and randomness abound. Now, the story of world politics unfolds without coherence, unfettered by classic balance-of-power politics, a plotless postmodern work starring a menagerie of wildly incongruent themes and protagonists, as if divinely plucked from different historical ages and placed in a time machine set for the third millennium. We live in an era in which unprecedented globalization and economic interdependence, liberal-democratic hegemony, nanotechnology, robotic warfare, the “infosphere,” nuclear proliferation and geoengineering solutions to climate change coexist with the return of powerful autocratic-capitalist states, of a new Great Game in Central Asia, of imperialism in the Middle East, of piracy on the high seas, of rivalry in the Indian Ocean, of a 1929-like market crash, of 1914-style hypernationalism and ethnic conflict in the Balkans, of warlords and failed states, of genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur, and of a new holy war waged by radical Islamists complete with caliphates and beheadings reminiscent of medieval times. In short, we live in a Thomas Pynchon novel.

The increasing disorder of our world will lead eventually to a sort of global ennui mixed with a disturbingly large dose of individual extremism and dogmatic posturing by states. It is the result of the unstemmable tide of entropy. A world subsumed by the inexorable forces of randomness, tipped off its axis, swirling in a cloud of information overload.

Blackness…. aimlessness…. nothingness…. all of us are alone, spinning out of control…. depression…. resisting desperate urge to wear black, listen to Coldplay

Seriously, the article is worth a read.  I do think Schweller is a bit gloomier than myself.  Some of what he characterizes as "entropy" I would characterize as "complexity" — and complex entities still can create powerful forms of structures and constraint.  Some of what he’s talking about is, I suspect, more ephemeral than not. 

Still, I’m in a slightly less good mood than I was a few minutes ago. 

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

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