I found a prophetic quote in The Economist's “Year in 2011” supplement, which came out at the end of 2010.
And behold, he was right. The ball is in play in the post-globalization zero-sum game, and it's not fun to watch, but it's interesting.
Example: this crazy thing that keeps happening around countries in the Middle East where all the poor people in oil-rich nations keep rising up against the royal families that have been economically sucking their countries dry like vampires for generations. (But it's not like we're witnessing a post-globalization class war or anything. We're still not calling it a class war, anyway, especially because the plutocrats over here aren't done clubbing teacher's unions to death like baby harp seals, and we wouldn't want the poor oppressed folks over here to get the idea that America's problems might be anything like those of the weird brown yodeling religious nuts over in those creepy countries way over there somewhere.)
But this really isn't post-globalization, we're watching. It's post-Empire, imperial overreach.
Bret Easton Ellis made a case that Charlie Sheen is the poster child, defining what he called a “post-Empire” style of celebrity, in the Daily Beast:
“It's a different brand of narcissism than Empire narcissism. … Sheen blows open the myth that men will outgrow the adolescent pursuit of pleasure, the dream of a life without rules or responsibilities. … Charlie Sheen is the new reality, bitch, and anyone who's a hater can go back and hang out with the rest of the trolls in the Empire's dank graveyard.”
Anyway, for some reason, the news story that really piqued my interest this week was the story of Saudi Arabia's invasion and bitchslapping of the kingdom of Bahrain — this miniscule little whelp of an archipelago that hangs around right between Saudi Arabia and Qatar — a strategic little position.
The (elite, Sunni) Al Khalifa tribe came to power in Bahrain in 1820, due to a treaty with Great Britain. Today, the King of Bahrain, the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister of Bahrain are still all Al Khalifas. Remember, Great Britain was the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf, for a long time. Treaties with the British helped install hereditary “constitutional” monarchies with royal members of the Sunni elite in quite a few areas of the Middle East. (The British, as you may remember, always had a kinky little thing for constitutional monarchies.)
Then, round about the late '50s, when all the oil reserves were found underneath the Persian Gulf, the U.K. finally had to more or less skulk away and admit it had caught its dick in the zipper of imperial overreach. But the seeds of discord today were sown back in the early days of their interference (i.e. installing hereditary monarchies to form a malleable elite class, overseas). It was all fine when the British Empire was still functional, but Britain lost control of Bahrain in 1970.
But the monarchs are still there, and more Charlie Sheenish than ever.
Britain was in charge of Jordan after WWII, but handed it off to King Abdullah in 1946 — Abdullah being their chosen son of a bitch. Now Jordan, under King Abdullah II (son of King Hussein) is on the ropes.
The U.K. withdrew from Yemen in 1967 — Yemen is now well on its way to flunking into failed state status.
Obama is actually kind of doing a Post-Empire Empire, or Empire-ex-Empire. Empire with none of the Democratic reasonable parts left in, and Imperial overreach being the only way to roll and stay relevant. But the libido of Imperial Overreach — like Charlie Sheen — just can't keep its gun in its pants. Who needs Congress to bomb Libya? It's a zero-sum, post-globalization game, bitch. It's how men, and empires, explode.