A long-term process of social integration and expansion – driven by population growth and shaped by physical laws that apply to the System’s dynamics – shapes the world we live in: To avoid self-destruction, we better start controlling this process.
Over a period of about 400 years, European states acquired political control over 84 percent of earth’s land and over a period of less than 50 years, the political control of European states was reduced to its own original 7 percent (the landmass of Europe is about 7 percent of the earth’s total land mass); see below figure.
This spectacular process of expansion of Europe – of the core of the System during the period 1495-1945 – ‘unfolded’ with a simultaneous and closely related process of integration in Europe: During the same period, Europe evolved from a diverse collection of circa 300 sparsely connected ‘units, with a population of circa 83 million, into a tightly connected (anarchistic) System of circa 25 highly standardized states, with a total population of 544 million.
These are the two closely related – mutually reinforcing components – of a long-term process of social integration and expansion of the System. This process is still unfolding.
As I explained in my research and several articles on this blog, four accelerating war cycles during the same period, contributed to this process. By means of four systemic wars, the order of the anarchistic System was periodically upgraded to ensure a certain balance and the survival of competing populations.
In 1939, the core of the System – Europe – reached a critical connectivity threshold and consequently produced infinite amounts of tensions: this development resulted in the fourth systemic war (what would become the Second World War, 1939-1945) and an ‘unavoidable’ phase transition towards an (‘almost) fully integrated and non-anarchistic Europe. The alternative would have been collective self-destruction.
The globalization of the System was the other effect of the fourth systemic war.
Following the fourth systemic war European states lost control of the System, and erstwhile colonies achieved independence.
The impact of Europe’s expansion – and collapse – reverberates through the System until today, and will in the future.
In a number of respects this (European) dynamic has shaped the System, including its rules, direction of development, the distribution of states (political units) in the System, and a series of challenges we now confront.
The state has become the only legitimized organizational structure in the System, and is embedded as such in the global order: Only state-structure are accepted.
However, it should be reminded that the state is an European invention, forged by continuous war, competition and strife in Europe during the period 1495-1945. It is a highly customized European invention, for European conditions.
On the long term, the state (as we know it now) will only be temporary solution; it is not an optimal solution in the current – increasingly interdependent – system. The state is too small in Europe – to be able to fully benefit from economies of scale and scope that can be exploited – and too large in Africa and the Middle East to (for example) adequately manage diversity. Collapse is the consequence.
If we do not take control of these dynamics of integration and fragmentation – of which population growth is the driver – the System will through emergent (self-organized behavior) ‘take control’, and again – as was the case during the period 1495-1945 at a European scale – produce war cycles to regulate tensions, and shape the process of further integration.State structures and there insufficiencies are at the heart of most challenges we now confront.