Quotable (#227)

The end of the Universalist nightmare will be intrinsically perplexing:

Whether the emerging global system becomes multipolar or a-polar remains unclear, but universalist and messianic ideology is on the wane. The Western-led world order is in crisis, but no messianic ideology has yet offered an alternative. Instead, a drift towards regionalism has increased the influence of small powers amidst the chaos of a profound geopolitical transformation. The post-Western world looks to become post-ideological, too. Even Donald Trump’s administration has embraced a form of American exceptionalism shorn of globalizing and messianic goals. […] A century after their birth, Wilson’s and Lenin’s messianic geopolitical visions have passed into history, but their disappearance has also greatly complicated making sense of a world in the process of rapid fragmentation.

Thinking in pieces and patches begins.

Malthus was Right

The global wealth distribution is predictably spiky. That’s mostly because scarcely anyone owns anything:

… it does not take that much to get into the top 1% of wealth holders. Once debts have been subtracted, a person needs only $3,650 to be among the wealthiest half of the world’s citizens. However, about $77,000 is required to be a member of the top 10% of global wealth holders and $798,000 to belong to the top 1%. So if you own a home in any major city in the rich North on your own and without a mortgage, you are part of the top 1%.

This looks like what you’d expect if population — at the global level — expanded approximately to the resource limit. (There are no doubt cuddlier interpretations out there.)

World Economic Freedom

The Fraser Institute annual report, 2016 (up to 2014).

Hong Kong and Singapore, once again, occupy the top two positions. The other nations in the top 10 are New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Georgia, Ireland, Mauritius, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia and the United Kingdom, tied for 10th. […] … The rankings of some other major countries: the United States (16th), Germany (30th), Japan (40th), South Korea (42nd), France (57th), Italy (69th), Mexico (88th), Russia (102nd), India (112th), China (113th) and Brazil (124th). […] … The 10 lowest-rated countries are: Iran, Algeria, Chad, Guinea, Angola, the Central African Republic, Argentina, the Republic of the Congo, Libya and, lastly, Venezuela.

Quotable (#175)

Stephen M. Walt on ‘The Collapse of the Liberal World Order’:

As you’ve probably noticed, the heady optimism of the 1990s has given way to a growing sense of pessimism — even alarm — about the existing liberal order. The New York Times’s Roger Cohen, a thoughtful and committed liberal, believes that “the forces of disintegration are on the march” and “the foundations of the postwar world … are trembling.”

(UF emphasis.)