In my research, I showed that during the period 1495-1945, Europe – the core of the System – produced four accelerating war cycles; each cycle consisting of a relatively stable period – when the status quo could be maintained – followed by a critical period – a systemic war – when the order (the status quo) was upgraded (again).
This figure shows the remarkably regular non-systemic war dynamics of the System that were instrumental in maintaining the status quo during the first relatively stable period (1495-1618). War dynamics obey physical laws. The dynamics qualify as a damped oscillator; the war dynamics decreased once the network effect ‘kicked’ in. This effect then pushed the System into criticality and the first systemic war (the Thirty Years’ War, 1618-1648) became unavoidable.
The last war cycle started in 1918 – following the third systemic war (the First World War, 1914-1918) – and ended in 1945, after completion of the fourth systemic war (the Second World War, 1939-1945).
The fourth systemic war (the Second World War, 1939-1945) had (contrary to its three predecessors) two effects: It marked (1) the collapse of Europe (until then the core of the System) and the emergence of a fundament for a non-anarchistic Europe, and (2) the globalization of the System (the merging of the core (Europe) and non-core (rest of the world) of the System).
The United Nations is the first global order, that was implemented/imposed by means of the Second World War.
Typically, during relative stable periods, the status quo is maintained by means of non-systemic wars, that are relatively small and ‘local’ wars.
We now still are in the relatively stable period that followed the fourth systemic war (the Second World War, 1939-1945): The United Nations is instrumental in maintaining the status quo; that is its stated purpose.
The wars the System produced since 1945, all qualify as non-systemic wars, that had the purpose to restore and maintain the status quo.
Especially the Great Powers that emerged as ‘winners’ – the dominant powers – from the preceding systemic war that have an interest in maintaining the order – the status quo – that was established. In case of the current – United Nations – order, these dominant Great Powers are: The United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom. They have used their positions of power and influence to award themselves with privileges, including: a veto right in the Security Council, and a legitimate right to possess nuclear weapons capabilities.
These Great Powers have special interests (their privileges) in maintaining the status quo: These special interests provide (temporary) stability to the System, it can be argued.
Consequently, it should not come as a surprise that when the nuclear deal was negotiated with Iran (2015), the privileged Great Powers were unanimous in their objective: To contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, to ensure that a serious challenge to the status quo – to their privileges – could not manifest itself.
Because of various factors a relatively stable period – the order that is implemented (including the United Nations order) – has a limited life span: The status quo – the order – is undermined by a number of unavoidable and related developments, including:
- Population growth.
- Differentiated growth of states and Great Powers; typically Great Powers rise (like Iran) and decline (like the United Kingdom).
- The intensification of rivalries between states and Great Powers.
- A network-effect that impacts on the ability of the order to regulate tensions and issues that emerge during relatively stable periods.
Because the System is a dynamical non-equilibrium system, a constant effort is required to maintain a certain balance (homeostasis), an efforts that is – because of the developments just mentioned – ‘constantly undermined.
The network effect determines the war activity of the System and the order’s ability to maintain a certain balance (the status quo). The network effect – which at a certain point ‘kicks in’ – reduces the ability of the System to regulate tensions and to solve issues that emerge in the System. Instead of tensions being released and issues being solved, they start accumulating.
Data-analysis suggest that the current order (relatively stable period) reached its tipping point in 2011.
The increasing inability of the System to regulate tensions and issues, explains the System’s current volatile dynamics, within states and between states. The accumulating tensions cause fear and non-rational behavior.
But as is the case with other systems, the System (we are integral ‘parts’ of) will at a certain point – the critical point – put the the accumulated energy (‘free energy‘) to use to ‘find’ and implement a new order that again allows for a lower energy state of the System and ‘new’ stability; a ‘UN 2.0’.
It is just a matter of time, before the accumulating tensions cause the System to become critical. When the System reaches the critical point (around 2020, calculations suggest), all issues in the System have become connected and even a small distortion (incident or event) will reverberate through the System and cause a systemic war.
This typical dynamic of the (anarchistic) System can only be prevented if we are able to design and implement a new order – a UN 2.0 – by means of consultation. Time is running out fast.