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The Changing Global Order
Edited by Nathan Gardels
  Table of Contents

  Table of Contents


The defrosting of the Cold War order has left behind a skewed world in which the American presence is uniquely global. As the century ends, the United States remains not only the sole superpower that can fly its B-52 bombers 19,000 miles from Guam to attack Iraq on a moment's notice; through the likes of Hollywood, Microsoft, and CNN it also dominates the metaworld of images, icons, and information. Where once there was containment, now there is entertainment. MTV has gone where the CIA could never penetrate.

Though the embers of the empire's wounded nations continue to smolder, the Soviet Union itself is no longer even on the map. Europe has stalled in self absorption as it labors to thread its diversity through the needle eye of a single state. Triumphant for now, in the twenty first century the ideal of Anglo Saxon free markets will surely face the same challenge of social Justice that gave rise to Marxism in the first place. The inequality is too vast to last: In 1995, 538 billionaires possessed as much wealth as 45 percent of the planet's population combined, some 2.3 billion people.

The legacy of the other great episode of the second half of the twentieth century, decolonization, has also unfolded in vastly different ways for different regions of the planet. East Asia is realizing its aspirations to the point of arrogance. Most of Africa, on the other hand, Suffers a fate worse than imperialism. While Internet usage is already overloading phone lines in California, scientific reason has yet to meet Allah in the Arab world, which everyday seems to be sinking further into the defensive ideology of political Islam. Latin America has so far not escaped the backdraft of corruption and the tremendous weight of poverty.

To be sure, patches of order are appearing here and there like zen gardens in the crush of Tokyo but, mainly, swaths of pandemonium will cover the world in the times to come. Loose nukes and refugees, migrants and megacities, Aum Shinrikyos and Hezbollahs are rapidly occupying center stage. Over it all, the bondmarket arbitrates.

This book, compiled from essays and interviews first published in New Perspectives Quarterly (NPQ) and distributed to newspapers worldwide through the Global Viewpoint service of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, traces these transformations of the last part of the twentieth century. From Singapore to the Sudan, from Moscow to Havana, key political players and thinkers of the period put their voices on record for NPQ - one of the only truly global publications in an age where there is plenty of data spinning around the planet, but precious little meaningful communication.

This book is not a compendium, but a collage. It is a sum of fragments of what Hegel would have called the unfolding "world mind" that, together, speaks more than the parts. No one perspective can possibly be authoritative or broad enough to capture the essence of the autumnal decades of our century.

If you haven't known NPQ or Global Viewpoint, this collection is the best introduction. If you do know them, it is valuable in itself to have the enduring thoughts presented in these essays and interviews under one cover, all wrapped up and ready for that rare moment when you can sit down beneath the reading lamp to contemplate the numbing rush of events taking us to the brink of the new millennium.

Nathan Gardels
Los Angeles California