The FourthGenerationWar people are starting to get a really good discussion about the nature of connectivity.

I mentioned this on the ThomasBarnett page, but here it is again with its own page.

The debate comes from a disagreement between Barnett and JohnRobb :

On the surface you could see it as superficially about Barnett as being a connectivity optimist, Robb being a connectivity pragmatista (and maybe WilliamLind being a connectivity pessimist).

In fact Barnett recognises good and bad connectivity, but thinks it's mainly about the speed of transition.

In the comments ZenPundit chips in a neat characterization :

More connectivity = increase in velocity of CreativeDestruction in a society.

Weak/failed states cannot enforce (or create) rule-sets for new connectivity.

(Here we can bring in a lot of issues about when states have sufficient institutions for capitalism to be healthy. Maybe even JosephStiglitz on GlobalizationAndItsDiscontents )

I, of course, am more suspicious of capitalism in general. Maybe the capitalist destruction of damaged Iraq (see the NaomiKlein story on AfterAmericanWarOnIraq ) is simply a speeded-up version of the destruction capitalism wreaks on all cultures : (Counter : SecondLawOfThermoDynamics tells us entropy is inevitable, anyway. The secret is to build pleasant DissipativeStructures)

Anyway, ZenPundit links some good stuff :

  • we we get to "Coming Anarchy"'s posts on neo-medievalism and connectedness in Europe (Compare JaredDiamond's explanation of diversity in Europe due to geography and disconnectedness)


: which might be contrasted with the my discussions of FeudalismCapitalismInformationalism or perhaps we're seeing an informationalist or networkist reduction of capitalism and feudalism to networks. (And follow through to WorkArticulationTopologies)

Welcome to TheEraOfTheGraph :-)


Barnett is complaining about the blogosphere. PhaticCommunion draws out the parallels with 4GW :

As I said here ( ) ) one of Robb's strengths is that he sees the importance of the blogosphere as IntuitionPump.

I find something else interesting in this debate :

Robb characterizes Barnett as saying "disconnectedness is driving discontent" which is undoubtedly an oversimplification.

Perhaps it's false, in the sense that TB doesn't think disconnectedness is driving the current discontent in Iraq?

He explicitly gives as an alternative theory : Then we screwed the postwar and now there is a load of civil strife that keeps any meaningful economic connectedness from emerging.

which suggests he thinks the failure is merely one of executional incompetence of a good strategic plan. While Robb thinks the entire idea [of applying rapid connectivity by force to disconnected states] was flawed and doomed to failure from the outset.

But let's chuck in something else. NaomiKlein's very compelling :

Here she's arguing that a lot of the "mistakes" in post-war reconstruction were not arbitrary lapses of judgement, but deliberate steps in an ideological program to impose free-market shock-therapy on Iraq. And that this led directly to the rise of the insurgency (ie. a huge pool of disgruntled unemployed with no stake in the reconstruction, available for recruitment by the malign networks.)

Now, I can imagine TB taking this on board as mismanaged "sequencing". But Barnett and the neocons probably share a worldview that says economic connections must be maximized, as a priority, before political considerations.

See also :