Lesson 4, Topic 4
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What comes next? The future of the global order.

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What comes next? Everything has a beginning and an end, and given the speed with which the world is changing today, and the ever increasing complexity of the world, it seems unlikely that any world order, or any system of national organisation will continue more or less unchanged for centuries on end. But how could things change?

We will briefly explore three of the main features of our current system that could change over the coming century, but these are by know means the only parts of our current system that could change.

1. The nation state

The nation state could be undermined by climate change which is likely to significantly increase the number of border crossings as parts of the world simply become uninhabitable, this could cause one of the key features of the nation state, a defined territory, to weaken.

Big tech companies could begin to have more power to exert their influence over the nation state, than the nation state has to exert over big tech. This power could be economic power, but it could also be information power as these companies gain increasing amounts of highly valuable data. This could undermine the authority of the nation state.

Cities could begin to become micro hubs within nation states. Major cities could begin to gain increasing autonomy, using places like Singapore or Monaco as a model. If these cities begin to develop faster than the nation state they are in, the soveriengty of the nation state could begin to be undermined by these city-states.

If you are interested in the future of cities, feel free to watch this National Geographic Documentary about Singapore. It is 45 minutes long, and by no means a compulsory part of this course.

2. The hegemons of the global order

We have already discussed the US/China predicament. It is now inevitable that China will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy, but it is unclear how this will effect the United States’ influence, and the nature of the network of alliances that have built up across the world. The US and China could clash, possibly violently, but this is in nobody’s interest. There could be a growth in Chinese style undemocratic, authoritarian, technocratic government as Chinese influence grows. It is hard to tell what will happen, but the leaders of the global order have significant influence, so whatever happens is likely to have major effects on the world order, even if that major effect is continuation of the norm.

3. The role of private corporations

As discussed in the first point, the rapid growth of multinational corporations, and especially the tech giants, has meant that some of these organisations now have more influence than medium-sized countries do, and more wealth than medium sized countries. It is very possible that new international organisations become established with the soul purpose of coordinating these organisation in a similar way to how the UN coordinates countries. There may be new mechanisms of accountability that arise to try and keep tabs on the power these corporations have. The wealthiest multinational corporations could become increasingly serious actors in international relations to the point where they are treated in similar ways to states, this would alter the nature of the global order.

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