Immanuel Wallerstein, senior research scholar at Yale University, USA. Co-founder of the world-systems analysis. From 1994-1998 president of the International Sociological Association. Author of numerous books, including "The Modern World-System".
The increase of political and economic turmoils - from Ukraine, the Middle East and North Africa to the Euro crisis - are symptoms of a worldwide systemic crisis, says Immanuel Wallerstein. The global capitalist system reaches its limits, as its engine, the endless accumulation of capital, has started stuttering. One of the root causes of this process is the fact that more and more jobs even in the service sector of the middle class are being replaced by machines. Thus fewer and fewer people have the means to buy up the produced goods, investments do not pay off anymore, speculation is soaring. The system itself cannot solve this problem. The solution can only evolve after the current chaotic phase of transition to a new system.
Despite its military power the global dominance of the US is in decline. Afghanistan and Iraq are cases in point, says Wallerstein. As grand invasions with boots on the ground are politically not feasible anymore, the US military is constraint to only dropping bombs. This produces ever more people in the world seeing the only superpower as an enemy. At the same time, US allies are more and more reluctant to send troops for US interests. Hence the biggest military machinery in the world is useless to the United States. The US is trying to strengthen its position with investment and free trade agreements like TTIP and TPP, but according to Wallerstein these agreements surely will fail because of massive resistance in the US as well as in Europe.
The main goal of Russia in the Ukraine crisis is to block a NATO and EU membership of the country, says Wallerstein. If this condition was realized Russia would be satisfied. But there are powerful forces in the US trying to sabotage such a solution. At the same time nobody is willing to pay for the costs of the economic collapse of the Ukraine. With lip services, France and Germany support the US positon; however, they actually do not want a membership of the Ukraine, because they see their close relationships with Russia threatened. Since the conflict cannot be solved militarily, given nuclear armement of Russia, there is only one way foreward: a "Finlandization" or neurality of Ukraine.
Given the structural crisis of the capatalist world-system, fighting for a new society is already taking place - although most people are still not aware of this. In the chaos of the transitional phase every action carries weight - like the famous butterfly effect, where a flap can cause a storm, says Wallerstein. The "Davos group" aims for a new system in which the privileges of the elites and the negative effects of capitalism could be preserved: hierachy, exploitation, inequality. On the other side, the "group of Porto Alegre" fights for a relatively egalitarian and democratic world. But movements have to learn from the mistakes of the old left. Instead of opting for centralization and internal hierachy which lead to endless frictions, they should develop horizontal network structures.