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Foreword - Global “Perestroika”. Transformations of the World Order.

Global “Perestroika”. Transformations of the World Order.
Edited by Alexander A. Dynkin, Natalya I. Ivanova
2015 г.
490 Р

… any genuinely new trend is a knight’s move,
 a change of shadows,
a shift that displaces the mirror.

V. Nabokov. The Gift

This book is an attempt to make sense of a changing world around us. Stationary state and evolution are interrelated variables of historical process. At times, however, evolution speeds up, ceases to be gradual and turns into a revolution (social, technological or scientific). The global economic crisis of 2007–2009, also referred to as “The Great Recession”, has brought the need for change into foreground.

The global world order is amid sweeping changes. A single generation saw a bipolar world of the Cold War fall apart and the illusions and excesses of a unipolar world shatter. Now, according to one view, we are witnessing the emergence of a hierarchical polycentricity or, in another view, a world without poles or a dominant model. Are these views relevant? A new multi-factor tandem of the USA and China is arising. Will their relations stabilize or destabilize global development?

What new conceptual economic models will replace Keynesianism and a tight Chicago-style monetary policy that dominated the pre-globalization world of the 20th century? When will it be safe to say the crisis is a thing of the past, especially in the European Union? Evidently, welfare market economy in its traditional incarnation has ground to a halt, due to, in particular, demographic trends. What comes next: an individual responsibility society? What shape will a new social compromise take?

The twentieth century saw a vigorous leap to democracy through the yawning tragedies of authoritarian and totalitarian experiments with their expansionism and aggression. Can one assume that market economies will become, over a foreseeable span of the 21st century, a universal goal and vehicle of development all around the globe?

The “Arab Spring” is a hasty label coined by journalists. What seasons are yet to come in the vast conflict-torn region of the Middle East and Northern Africa? Will new failed states – a source of instability and terrorism – spring up on the region’s map? Can the Sunni and the Shia be reconciled, how will the Syrian regional “Cold War”, at times breaking out into a hot phase, end? What will be the outcome of the struggle for leadership between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

What hazards lurk in the atomization and dispersion of contemporary developed world societies? An identity crisis and a crisis of multiculturalism against the background of mass migration, terrorism, closed foreign-culture communities: can these challenges be addressed by legal adjustments of tolerance under a “safe tolerance” policy without spinning into xenophobia and intolerance?

Economic turbulence and a stalemate of negotiations within the World Trade Organization (WTO) have accelerated the formation of new regional economic areas in the Northern hemisphere: the Trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership, the Trans-Pacific partnership. These partnerships envisage not only the abolition of trade duties and investment barriers, but also unification of standards for goods and services, uniform government procurement bidding rules, etc. Stimulation of economic growth and competition is expected to be driven by de-bureaucratization and non-tariff constraints, as well as harmonization of legislation. Can these help achieve a Trans-Atlantic “renaissance” and curb the expansion of Chinese manufacturers?

Finally, the currently subsiding economic crisis brought forth, as many times before, a new wave of innovations, primarily in the production of hydrocarbons and information technologies (IT) In energy industry this is exemplified by the production of shale gas by horizontal drilling and formation fracturing, as well as the production of shale oil and bituminous sand oil. Energy innovations already have a strong impact on the regionalization of energy markets, altering the directions of goods flows and shifting the positions of key global players, both producers and consumers of hydrocarbons.

In IT, a surge of innovation is represented by a new generation of mobile devices, tablet computers, cloud programming and databases, social networks. IT innovations have an even more profound impact, including changes in lifestyle, localization or global integration of business. The dynamics of IT innovation has far-reaching implications for education, medicine, society, politics, international and military-strategy, including new equipment for intelligence and warfare operations. It is highly likely that whole professional areas will transform, many mass professions disappear, and a high and stable structural unemployment arise, melting the middle class down and, consequently, driving income polarization. How will these breakthrough innovations change the hierarchy of key global players? What challenges do they pose for national political systems and the nature of international relations?

Evidently, issues on the agenda are numerous. Researchers and politicians of the leading countries are engaged in an active search for answers to these questions, which dominate global professional, public and political debates. Making sense of a new reality and a search for a post-crisis “new normal” state is the theme that inspired this book, created by a team of authors from the Institute of Global Economy and International Relations. What makes this book special is its interdisciplinary span, multi-factor angle, and an ensemble of economic, sociological and political science approaches. This, I hope, will help give more dimensions to a picture of the contemporary world outlined in the book.

Alexander A. DYNKIN