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The New Rules: The State Strikes Back

Monday, April 4, 2011

The rampant globalization meme of the 1990s was that the state would wither away, leaving nonstate actors to rule -- or ruin -- the world. The terror attacks of Sept. 11 seemed to confirm this notion, triggering all manner of academic fantasies that a proliferation of super-empowered individuals would overwhelm the world's declining and failing states. But when globalization's alleged coup de grĂ¢ce arrived in the form of the 2008 global financial crisis, not only did the world not slide into widespread conflict, as so many anti-globalization hysterics predicted, but the state made quite the comeback.

Nowadays, if globalization suffers a dominant meme, it's that states and not markets rule -- Mad Max has once again been replaced by Big Brother. Paranoid conspiracy theories of "socialist-communist" plots have made a comeback, animating a new generation of American demagogues who imagine that our Cold War victory has been subversively sabotaged from within. The latest example is the just-released "Homefront" video game that posits America's rapid decline and subsequent occupation by -- get this -- a "Greater Korean Republic" led by Kim Jong Eun!  All good fun until you realize how easily our young people internalize these scenarios. ...

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