The Context for Strategy: A World of Entropy
I re-read today one of the most provocative articles of recent years on global politics, and was reminded to add it to the required reading list page. It’s Randall Schweller’s Ennui Becomes Us from The National Interest of 2010. If you haven’t yet seen it, have a look. It will challenge you, worry you, confuse you, make you think, and ultimately improve your strategic vision for the effort.
Schweller, one of the most insightful IR scholars writing since the mid-90s, looks to the concept of entropy to describe a world of declining major power warmaking, growing social boredom and ennui, rising corporate and sub-state competition, and generalized confusion and disorder. The piece mixes political science, psychology, media trends, and other disciplines into a stark, dystopian, and mostly persuasive (but on this view 20 percent too pessimistic) account whose upshot is that “No one will know where authority resides because it will not reside anywhere; and without authority, there can be no governance of any kind. … [T]he specter of international cooperation, if it was ever anything more than an apparition, will die a slow but sure death.”
Bracing stuff. Brilliant stuff. The environment for strategy in twenty years is going to look dramatically different, and we need people willing to get out of the “shore up the West and deter China” box and think anew.