The Outwards Spiral was written by Vladimir and published in the Francoist Papers on the 12th of November 2008 alongside articles by Z'ha'dum and Cortath. Billed as "A materialist look at the stability of the world today and the reasons for it," The Outwards Spiral examines the development of history through its various epochs and attempts to find the distinguishing feature that has made it progressively more peaceful.
The Outwards SpiralEdit
Every epoch is defined by a dominant faction or factions: the pre-Great Patriotic War epoch was defined by the Order's dominance, the pre-War of Retribution epoch was defined by the dominance of the CoaLUEtion, and the pre-Unjust War epoch was defined by the dominance of the Initiative. These factions are in effect epochal hegemonies that define each period, not through design, but through their prominent place in the world system. Our current epoch is no different in this, having been dominated by the Continuum, One Vision, and their allies, since the end of the Unjust War. But there is an elephant in the current epoch: it's unprecedented stability. Prior to the recent NpO war there were eleven solid months of relative peace and stability, with little to no overt conflict between the major parties. With previous epochs lasting only around half this time it is no surprise that it gained significant attention.
Many theories have been advanced to explain this peculiarity, usually basing themselves on non-existent cultural changes, inventing concepts like 'total victory', 'playing to win' or 'global despots'; but these ideas are based on flawed or incomplete views of history. The tell-tale signs advanced for the idea of moral decay have been present throughout every epoch, and culturally alliances have not changed significantly – survival remains central, causing treaty-webs to build up and threats to be removed as efficiently as possible. The cultural changes that can be documented have been primarily superficial in nature, and while a handful may have had some effect, they cannot be said to be the salient cause of the current peace – culture alone does not keep peace for such a significant length of time.
So what is the salient factor? What is it that kept great wars from breaking out and behemoth coalitions from pitting against one another? In order to answer this we must first recognise what happens immediately prior to a great war. The obvious prerequisite is that there are two opposing sides, so the question then becomes: how do these form? History teaches us that while great war events are in the building for a long time, often without notice, they move extremely quickly when the sides are chosen. The CoaLUEtion, for example, actually formed during the Great Patriotic War itself, having been unable to do so beforehand due to the skill of the New Pacific Order. The Initiative formed just three weeks prior to the War of Retribution, and the League just two weeks prior. The Unjust Path formed just a couple of weeks prior to the Unjust War. We can therefore surmise that the creation of a counter-hegemonic bloc, whether explicit or implicit, is both a prerequisite and an accelerant of a great war event. This is explained by the world's inability to handle dual power – dual hegemony – for a prolonged period. Hegemonic blocs naturally gather up all of the influence and power that they can in order to consolidate their position; thus when there are two hegemonic blocs they inevitably end up competing for these resources, leading a contradiction which can only be resolved through the removal of one – whether that be by it simply dissolving as in the case of the Independence Council [a pre-GPW bloc that found itself in contradiction with the ruling hegemony, leading to a series of political manoeuvres by said hegemony that ended in the Council's obsolescence] or by its destruction as in the case of Aegis.
The question therefore becomes: what has prevented a counter-hegemonic bloc from forming in our current epoch? This is of particular interest because this epoch is marked apart as being the only epoch where different powerful blocs have coexisted peacefully for a prolonged period, with the smaller blocs complementing the power of the hegemonic blocs instead of competing for it. Where in other epochs blocs have immediately turned against one another (and indeed, in some (but far from all) cases been created solely for that purpose), this has not occurred here. This too must be explained.
The answer resides in the question: the number of powerful blocs is hinting at something different in this epoch, a significant change in the material make-up of Planet Bob that has not been an issue in the past. This change is the sheer number of alliances that exist. As of the time of writing (mid-November) there are 17 alliances over 5 million strength, 85 over 1 million strength, and more than 100 over 750 thousand strength, with these numbers growing every day (the numbers were 15, 73 and 96 respectively in mid September 2008). The relative strength of the top alliances has never been so small when looked at in relation to the world. In previous epochs these sorts of numbers were unthinkable, with only a handful of core alliances really worth strategic consideration – though we can see the first instance of this change in the Unjust War, as the Unjust Pact underestimated the growing value of smaller alliances, causing them to enter the war with significantly less strength and lose in fantastic fashion.
So why is this important? In the past we saw counter-hegemonic blocs form with just a handful of alliances involved – the Independence Council originally formed with four members; the Initiative with nine (slightly larger due to the lack of a vigilant hegemony); the Unjust Pact with six. These counter-hegemonic blocs were relatively simple to organise and launch, being too powerful to pre-empt by the time they had announced. The larger the numbers involved, the more difficult it is to organise a counter-hegemonic bloc under common and stable rules and ideals; and with a vigilant hegemonic bloc, the harder it is to do so without coming into conflict before the counter-hegemonic bloc is ready. Due to this not only are alliances less likely to succeed in forming a counter-hegemonic bloc today, as they have to incorporate a much broader strength base, but they are less likely to try. We have seen this difficulty demonstrated in the overt attempts that have occurred, with them invariably ending in the would-be counter-hegemonic bloc's destruction due to these problems; the most famous recent examples of which was the League of Free Nations.
But this proliferation of alliances and deconcentration of strength affects the world system much deeper than this cursory look suggests. The driving force behind alliance policy is security – survival. In a world where there are literally hundreds of smaller but significant alliances, often hostile to the larger alliances, and all with the desire to rise to the top, it makes strategic sense for the larger alliances to stick together – there is an outside threat, and isolating yourself would inevitably prove dangerous. As a result much of the day-to-day friction that would otherwise exist between large alliances is smoothed over as the wider strategic situation is taken into account. The larger alliances that have traditionally been looked at to form a counter-hegemonic bloc have not experienced a social or cultural change (and are controlled by a central conspiracy, as some of the more emotive critics have shouted from the gallery), but rather they are following the exact the same model as the alliances of old did, taking the natural strategic option and doing what is best for their own prosperity – what is best has simply changed. Indeed, attempts to form a counter-hegemonic bloc in these time would be strategic folly to the extreme.
Another important affect that is of particular importance is the degree to which power can be centralised within the framework of the world system. While we can look back to the pre-Great Patriotic War epoch and see power was centralised in the hands of a single alliance and its hierarchy, the number of individuals and alliances involved has increased exponentially since then, and this has led to a subsequent deconcentration of power parallel to the deconcentration of strength. Once again this is important in explaining the prolonged peace and stability, as no longer can one alliance, or even one man, shape world events on a whim; instead they must rely on a catalogue of friends, allies and diplomatic networks to bring together sufficient strength and power to advance their interests – if this is not forthcoming then the stability remains undisturbed. In this way treaties and friendships have become more important than ever before, and the politiking of individual alliances have become correspondingly less so – far from one or a group or alliances ruling the field, mutuality has risen to prominence.
None of this is to say that a counter-hegemonic bloc will not form – given the multi-polar tendencies of our world it is only a matter of time. It is to say that the more deconcentrated global strength is the less motivation – the less strategic interest – there is to try: and the more motivation there is for the stronger alliances to stick together. Far from being a question of some grand cultural change as the idealists and mystics would have us believe, this is the simple material-strategic basis for the prolonged period of peace and stability that has gripped out world.
|Important People||Francos Spain - Vladimir - Sir Paul - Cortath - RedCommunist|
|Important Events||August Revolution|
|Alliances||New Pacific Order - New Polar Order|
|Literary Works||Proper Francoist Thought - The Meaning of Freedom - Five Days that Shook the World - Francoist Papers
An Introduction to Francoism - The Sage and the Student - Principles of Pacifica Weekly Address Series