I’m only on page 18 and historian Alfred McCoy has me excited inside a nonfiction tome as if I’m reading a fiction epic:
Born of war and conquest, empires are unstable, even volatile forms of governance that often exhibit contradict attributes — they are constant yet changing, idealistic but barbaric, and powerful yet fragile.… When a ruling political party retreats from rationality into delusional politics, that nation forfeits both its claim to and capacity for global leadership.
Alfred W. McCoy. To Govern the Globe: World Orders & Catastrophic Change. Haymarket Books. 2021. page 18.
The writing synthesizes disparate stimuli and phenomena that I’ve witnessed and bundled them in ways that better explain for me what’s happening. How what is occurring right now is not unique, as I’ve know it isn’t. McCoy is unsparing in his analysis and descriptions of the arrogance and corruption that constitute delusion. This is most refreshing when the common self-congratulatory statements tend to be “how America’s greatest days are ahead.” We know they are not.
The sooner the people decouple their sense of self from their nationality and the nationalist tendencies in state building, the clearer we will be about meaning, vitality, and who’s decline this is.
“the concept of geopolitics has proved more useful for those who prefer to analyze empires rather than build them.” (24)
geopolitics is essentially a method for the management of empire through the use of geography (air, land, and sea) to maximize military and economic advantage. (19)
an exploration of world orders requires an understanding of the term “empire,” which has carried an ideological taint that long barred its serious study in the United States. (15)
lacking the boundaries of a nation-state or the powerful, visible presence of an empire, world orders might seem intangible or even imagined. (15)
world orders are much more deeply rooted, resilient global systems created by a convergence of economic, ideological and geopolitical forces…. Lacking the sovereignty of nations and the raw power of empires, world orders are essentially broad agreements about relations among nation-states and their people’s, lending them an amorphous, even elusive quality. (9)