Tom Barnett Against Connectivity Fundamentalists

Note: This is part of a series of reviews for Blueprint for Action. The introduction and table of contents are also available.

You Wanted More,” by Tonic, American Pie: Music from the Motion Picture, 29 June 1999, [buy the cd].

Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating,” by Thomas Barnett, 20 October 2005, [author blog].

The Gaps in ‘Globalism,'” by Curtis Gale Weeks, Phatic Communion, 15 November 2005, (featured on ZenPundit).

Essentially, then, the “connectivity” is really the building of cheesecloth,” by Curtis Gale Weeks, tdaxp, 16 November 2005,

I don’t know when I got bitter
Love is surely better when it’s gone
Because you wanted more
More than I could handle
And a life that I can’t live”

– Tonic, “You Wanted More”

“The train’s engine can’t travel any faster than the caboose.”
– Thomas PM Barnett, “Blueprint for Action”

My previous reviews of Dr. TPM Barnett’s have been negative. I have criticized him for questionable statements on the ICC and his blindness to the consequences of highlighting the socially liberal parts of his philosophy. It is this last review that CGW objects to

As he comments at tdaxp

As long as gaps are built in the process of globalization, it will not be globalization — even if the gaps are made diffuse throughout the world rather than allowed to follow the “old borders” of the “old, unglobalized world” as they now do.

More technically, Curtis writes on his own blog that

A lack of connectivity, of feeling equal relevance within a system, produces opponents to that system; and, self-destructive behaviors by individuals within a system — such as drug abuse and financial insolvency — inhibit the overall economic success of the entire system.

Specifically, he is referring to homosexualists:

Dan’s reasoning is, in a nutshell, this: We can’t reasonably expect to entice homophobic nations into increased connectivity with the U.S. if we list “homosexual rights” as one of our core values.

for gay men and lesbians and their families, the concern is not at all petty; but the globalist designs of some would disregard it for the sake of expediency

By “homophobic nations” Curtis seems to mean “political societies without substantial pro-homosexualist elements.” His prescription, while very well written, is wrong and dangerous.
First, and most worrying for Mr. Weeks, would be who such homosexualist policies would encourage in the Gap, the Seam, and the New Core. In Dr. Barnett writes of a general male preference for religious parties, and a general female preference for order parties:

While men tend to vote according to religion and ethnicity in such situations, women tend to vote for those candidates who represent law and order. (258)

But as elections in Egypt


and Iraq show, women will support religious parties in large numbers. And they will vote for reactionary parties.

You want fast, efficient, and popular “law and order” Sharia? Push homosexualism.

The danger is, of course, that the stronger forms of connectivity (economic, technological [and cultural! — tdaxp]) will trigger disagreements and crises that overwhelm the two sides’ ability to handle them, given their limited political understanding and security bonds. Here, mistakes can be made, because perceptions different greatly, no matter ow compelling the underlying economic rationales. (238)

You want the forces of good to win the Muslim Civil War? Be patient.,

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it wasn’t built as a democracy [and certainly not as a “progressive” society! — tdaxp]. (236)

at home:

There are plenty of political leaders in the Core who understand all too well that the real struggle is not between Islam and the West but with Islam regarding its convergence with the West and the historical forces of globalization. Nonetheless, plenty of these same politicians cannot exhibit the same patient at home that they might demand of American or European foreign policy in the Middle East… but again, can we show the necessary patience to let Muslims [and traditionalists generally — tdaxp] living the West make these necessary changes on their own schedule, or must we force confrontations and showdowns? (293-294)

and abroad

The one danger that all advocates of globalization recognize as threatening its existence is merely the divergence between winners and losers, both within states and among them.
What can prevent these splits from overwhelming globalization’s progress? Rules. The most important are rules within states that mandate — in my phrase — that the train’s engine (globalization’s winners) can’t travel any faster than the caboose (globalization’s losers). (255)

You want to win the Global War on Terrorism? Acknowledge that the world isn’t perfectly built to suit your desires, and work with the powers that are, both in the New Core

[Wrong reactions to 9/11] also decrease a lot of useful social, economic, and political connectivity with New Core pillars right now when we should be drawing them closer. (231)

and the Gap

Is [the Islamic world] a civilization that just wants to be left alone or fears being left behind?

I believe it is the latter, and that, as many experts on the region point out, the revival of religiosity throughout the Gulf area reflects a population’s desire not simply to resist our cultural “pollution” but to find some way to deal with undesired influences while adapting to much-needed and greatly desired economic connectivity that virtually all citizens there hope will lead to political pluralism over time. (270)

… not the imaginary homosexualist street that you might wish exists

My rage is not the type of rage that will seek outlet in instigating riots, or committing murder or acts of terrorism, or, now, in self-destructive behavior. Yet many in this American Gap might do these things, particularly self-destruct. A lack of connectivity, of feeling equal relevance within a system, produces opponents to that system; and, self-destructive behaviors by individuals within a system — such as drug abuse and financial insolvency — inhibit the overall economic success of the entire system. Current moves to ban gay marriage and continuing efforts to allow the discrimination against gays in the workforce are moves to institutionalize long-sustained gaps — a reaction against the greater connectivity of gays within American society — and are thus not terribly different in motive from the isolationist reactions of some state leaders or the terrorist groups who seek world dominance in order to avert the influences which come with globalization. They are the establishment of an exclusionary status quo which benefits most those who support that status quo. (Weeks)

Criticizing the “globalist plan that seeks increased international connectivity while disregarding internal gaps,” Curtis Gale Weeks would ignore the “expediency” of disregarding homosexualist concerns in order to focus on other things. But it’s not “expediency”: it’s the economy-of-force. Our enemy wants to alienate potential friends from us. The Weeks plan plays into that. We should stand up to al Qaeda and forge cultural connectivity.

If we eventually lose the Global War on Terrorism, an active policy homosexualism will join our support for the Saudi Tyranny and and the Drug War as…

… just another one of those crazy American obsessions that generate a lot of suffering and death distant from our shores… (Barnett 242)

Indeed, Dr. Barnett writes that the war of ideas is so problematic as to be a fight wort avoiding

Second, we should abandon efforts to create a U.S. Government-wide “strategic communication policy” designed to win the “hearts and minds” of young males inside the Gap who are perceived to be at risk for becoming terrorists. Such an approach only references the notion that somehow globalization is really all about Americanization, when it isn’t. We have no more need to explain ourselves culturally or politically to the Gap than do the citizens of Brazil, China, or India, three countries whose competitive rise in the global economy increasingly presents more challenges to Gap states than do the policies of an established Core power like America. (231-232)

Attacking traditional cultures with the homosexualism is especially disastrous because, while attempts to export progressivism will fail, alienating those cultures that CGW calls “homophobic” destroys the visceral attraction that globalization should have

That sense of globalism, or a belief in the inherent goodness of connectivity, is what drives globalization’s advance far more than either technology or the rare instances where military power is exerted. (254)

If homosexualists want to “connect” the world into their beliefs, they should wait as Barnett suggests…

So when a country has achieved a fairly broadband economic connectivity for its population, the discussion shifts from the quantity of connectivity (How much globalization?) to the quality of that connectivity (What mix of globalization?). (194)

Especially as efficient legal codes such as Sharia are enticing anyway…

Connectivity with the outside world generates higher transaction rates between the local economy and the global one. Those higher transaction rates demand a more efficient response from the government’s legal system over time, forcing reform and maturation of the economic rule set, with the most important ones being property rights and contract law. (260)

.. as a means of society glue: connecting a society with itself.

Well, we shouldn’t be surprised that an era that demands a grand strategy of shrinking the Gap would go hand in hand with a renewed focus on proselytizing global faiths.

Yesterday’s Protestant work ethic defined capitalism’s rise in the Core, providing what political scientist Robert Putnam calls “bonding social capital” that knits an existing community together, but today’s Protestant evangelicalism may well define capitalism’s ultimate triumph in the Gap, providing the “bridging social capital” that links faith-based communities throughout the Core to similar ones inside the Gap. So not only will the twenty-first century’s religiosity far outpace that of the twentieth, to the amazement of social scientists the world over, the ultimate impact of more religion will not be sectarian violence designed to drive religious communities apart, but rather increased social and political connectivity between Core and Gap that will definitely speed up the convergence of civilizations and — by doing so — facilitate globalization’s spread around the planet. (298-299)

Curtis Gale Weeks is concerned about international and intranational connectivity, but he focuses on secular-social-sexual connectivity. Political Religion has a real shot at being central to the new globalization, and provoking reactionaries by trying to go too fast could create a world many would not enjoy.

So perhaps all social liberals have to do is wait a generation or so before they can safely export their ideology to the Gap

If a Gap state simply hasn’t developed to the point where it can handle the onslaught of connectivity that globalization provides, a Go Slow ideology makes sense; otherwise we’re talking about the high likelihood that outside forces will take advantage of the lack of sufficient rule sets within a society to lock in unfair transactions [such as strict Islamic Law — tdaxp]… (195)

and that once a country is rich, all the dreams of a progressive politics will be realized

It’s only when the bulk of a society’s economic development reaches a certain plateau, typically between $5,000 and $10,000 per capita GDP, that you begin to see the public start becoming more demanding of pluralism and openness from its government. (195)

Well, maybe


While I have criticized parts of Blueprint for Action before, Barnett is right that we can’t expect everything now. Connectivity-fundamentalism — forcing every society to be as “open” as every other — isn’t just a false definition of connectivity and globalization..

Should [globalization] be feared by the world for its homogenization of culture? I guess that would depend on whether you think California is a carbon copy of Alabama or that Texas and Massachusettes are indistinguishable. Convergence does not result in homogenity, but in a superficial of external similarities, much like that light brown face that will someday define the bulk of the American population. (289)

… it’s a dangerous one. The Blueprint for Action is a plan for “winning” over decades, not years. Attempts to speed up the world victory of one’s pet political projects are likely to end in tears. The Phatic Communion apologetic for homosexualist agitation is exactly what is not needed…

… except for the enemies of freedom, like al Qaeda, “state leaders or the terrorist groups who seek world dominance in order to avert the influences which come with globalization.” They’d love us to go 200 km / h. And it would be as deadly for us as driving in the wrong lane.

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