The U.S. secretary of defense just gave a speech stating
that a “new world order” is forming. This phrase usually
provokes many on the far right and far left with paranoic
anxieties, since it is often part of their views that the world
is always being controlled by some dark and demonic forces.
It can also create unease among folks more in the political
center if they know their history, and recall the phrase
being used almost a century ago as totalitarian fascist and
communist regimes arose intending to impose themselves
on their particular nations and on the world.
President George H.W. Bush used the phrase during his
presidency with the rational purpose of attempting to create
a stable and humane democratic world order as he assembled
a broad coalition to conduct the brief Persian Gulf War, and
restore the small nation of Kuwait to the sovereignty it lost
when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein overran it, and was also
threatening other neighbor states.
The concept, if not the phrase, goes back centuries as the
evolving primitive tribes of the human species began to form
countries, and were constantly invading or being invaded by
neighboring countries or forces. The first modern “new world
order” was probably created at the 1815 Congress of Vienna in
the aftermath of Napoleon’s conquest of much of Europe when
Austrian Prince Metternich and others fashioned the “chandelier
balance of power” in Europe with the purpose of bringing some
stability and peace to the hostile myriad of rival kingdoms,
duchies, nations, factions, religions and regions of that continent.
(Not coincidentally, the modern industrial revolution had just
Since that time, each attempt to create stability and peace in
the world has ultimately failed, and been replaced with new
treaties and organizations which, in turn, failed and were
replaced. The United Nations (U.N.) is the current global form
of these structures, and in smaller form, numerous regional
economic and military alliances. While some of the smaller
organizations are holding their own, the U.N. has become
overall an ineffective debacle in which radical and totalitarian
member states have made its founding principle of human
rights and non-violent global relationships a caricature.
The essential point is that the world is in a permanent state of
economic development and political evolution, and that the
condition known popularly as a “new world order” is a
constant global process (as is, incidentally, global climate).
The recent economic emergence of the world’s largest nations
(in population), including China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and
Russia, hitherto undeveloped large consumer markets because
of totalitarian rule or colonial suppression, clearly signals a
major adjustment of the world order.
Earlier powers such as Europe (now as the European Union) and
the United States, remain as dominating economic nations for
the time being, but global economic change is clearly coming.
It is entirely understandable that the 20th century democratic
inheritors of the old, ornate aristocratic “chandelier” world order
would be profoundly concerned as they try to anticipate and
prepare for another “new world order” created by the ceaseless
energy of history and the brooding and relentless “revolt of the
masses” so prophetically described by the Spanish philosopher
Ortega y Gasset almost a century ago.
Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.