Significant changes are underway in world affairs.
Nationalism is on the rise, while global freedom is declining. Authoritarian leaders are consolidating power, some while holding onto the visual and verbal trappings of democracy. As is so often the case, the ramping up of nationalist sentiment is constructed upon a deeply internalized foundation of militarism – particularly in the most powerful states.
Several flashpoints create ripe conditions for an onset of the first major war that the world has seen since 1945. From Northeast Asia to the Middle East, and even to Europe, echos of past shifts toward such war abound.
Rules that have guided international relations since the end of World War II are being pushed aside or more sparsely adhered to, including by the self-proclaimed leader of the liberal international order. Indeed, the answer to whether or not this post-World War II order continues to effectively guide and restrain world politics is not at all clear.
Climate change promises to dramatically alter the parameters within which humanity operates; yet powerful leaders continue to deny its significance and refuse to take necessary actions to address it. Undeniable evidence regarding the environmental threats that we face and our role in creating and perpetuating them is dismissed by leaders and large segments of populations.
Scientific and technological advancements are transforming the way in which human beings relate to each other and how they think about themselves and the world in which they operate. While this profound ideational shift plays a significant role in triggering reactionary identity-based conflicts, it also calls into question the continued viability of existing economic, political, social, and security structures.
For many of us, these and other existential challenges create a sense of unease and anxiety. It is hard not to be confused by the range and complexity of the issues that we collectively confront. It is easy to become disheartened and pessimistic.
Within this environment, long-established standards of evidence, logic, and expertise are more important than ever. Yet, they are being actively assaulted by power entrepreneurs who poke at and feed upon base human impulses rooted in fear, insularity, and frustration. While highly effective, these strategies feed the problems that we face.
The significance of this range of challenges cries out for accurate information, rigorous analysis, and critical examination. Yet, much of what is presented by ‘the media’–both right and left leaning–is sensationalist, shallow, dishonest, and uncritical. The same is true for what is presented by our political ‘leaders’ and ‘issue-area experts’. Too many of our sources of information have become absolute farcical caricatures of themselves, and this only serves to perpetuate the confusion, cynicism, and fatalism that most of us feel.
A major gap exists for anyone who wants to really understand the events and trends that are underway, to place them into broader context and perspective, and to think strategically about ways to create a more secure, prosperous, compassionate, and sustainable world.
RSI Global minds this gap! The gap is troubling and requires ‘minding’, and that is one of the key motivations for this site. It seeks to provide information, analysis, and commentary on these subjects. It seeks to provide readers with tools to better help them put events into perspective. Finally, it seeks to do so in a way that strikes a balance between rigor and accessibility. This project is very much a calling, and I thank you for joining me on the journey!