Randall Schweller of Ohio State has an ambitious and compelling essay in the latest National Interest. I’m far too tired to dissect it, but the basic idea goes: the international system is in a state of entropy–that is, chaos upon which no order can be imposed–and that the consequence of this increasingly chaotic world is the individualization of politics–meaning that as states lose power, individuals become the centre of politics, and they are radicalized. The essay is ambitious because, in explaining the coming ennui and individualization of politics, it covers the rise of Islamic extremism, our youtube-social media age, the preference for cable opinion over cable news, the decline of the unipolar world, and the economic competition between the rising powers. It definitely has the seeds of a bestseller.

Of course, it has its flaws, the most apparent being the failure to adequately explain why we’re at “the end of history,” so to speak–why we’re at the ultimate point of chaos? Aren’t international systems always anarchic and in flux? He argues that we’re now in a “closed system,” in which we’ve reached the limits of knowledge and expanse. Globalization over the past hundred years created “a closed system susceptible to increasing entropy when it subsumed the entire earth, such that nothing remained outside of it.” Maybe.

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