Ceteris paribus is an economical term meaning we examine a system with all variables fixed except one. I use it in a sense describing the contemporary official, and public opinion, or espirit du temps, which has a deep and commonly shared conviction that nothing changes and even if it does the change is gradual or negligible and no significant unforeseeable variations are present or even imaginable. The above is especially true in international relations, brexit notwithstanding. A recent exchange of comments here in this blog gave me the idea to write about this serious conceptional flaw. But to really examine it we have dig a bit deeper.
They say history is like a giant stream. It goes on her own way, it is very difficult to influence it, and has some nasty surprises even for those who claim to know her. But giant streams do not pop up out of nowhere. They have a point of origin, they collect the water of many smaller rivers even subterranean creeks, and while everybody can see where they flow tracing back where they really come from is much more difficult. Same is true for history. You cannot really predict what is going to happen since many (most) factors are unmeasurable, invisible. Of course those who scientify everything might claim otherwise, but Nate Silver's magic works only with the most simple binary variable. (democrat or republican, 0 or 1).
It is very convenient to think that nothing really changes since it has not really changed in the last 70 years, not to mention the last 25. The last major quake -the collapse of the USSR- happened with no serious consequences to the western world so business is as usual ever since. The feeling, perception -call it whatever you would like to- is deeply rooted in the minds of the western-European and American elite is that the supremacy of their neoliberal culture is universal, timeless and progressive. To challenge that notion is heresy, betrayal and treason. Every single opinion is to be tolerated to the most extreme except the one which questions the 'end of history'. Those who dare to deviate from the official, but flexibly and ambiguously put ideology are to be excommunicated, and labeled as criminals. Who dares to speak against the widespread and sophisticated homosexual propaganda is labeled homophobic meaning a hater. Those who dare to raise the issue of migration are labeled racists. This non-sense goes as far as one of my friends -who works for a giant German company as deputy chief of security tasked with securing the uninterrupted production (preparing for the unforeseeable that is)- was called in many occasions paranoid by his superiors for doing his job he is paid for!
Even though the majority digs his/her head in the sand 'facts are stubborn things' to quote John Adams. Those who care to look see the gigantic shift coming. According to Didier Sornier as the central banks' efforts will prove to be ineffective to cover the huge gap between the real and financial sector by the mid 2020's latest. The crisis which has been boiling since 1980 when the developed world spent significantly more for the first time in history than it has earned. As other similar system level crises raise their ugly heads they will come together to form a perfect storm in around ten to fifteen years.
Like their American counterpart the Borg the Eurocrats are unable to change, or even see the necessity of change. Even if Trump does not win in November 2016 the factors leading to his rise will only be intensified by the Borg Queen's rule, creating a granted victorious second coming for him or a person with similar charisma and/or personality. If this does not happen in 2020 or latest 2024 American Civil War v2.0 is almost sure to erupt. But by that time there won't be an EU either. Even if there probably wont be a Grexit, Auxit, or a Huxit the EU cannot remain the same as the recent Visegrad 4 meeting has demonstrated. The pacifist Germans -while conveniently blaming all international fiascos they have been involved in on the Americans- wont be able to continue building their Fourth Reich in the disguise of the EU. Even though the Fourth's ideology is the complete opposite of the attempted Third Reich's yet it is still carried out with the tempo, the unforgiveness, the arrogance and the iron hand of its predecessor. On the other hand our American friends wont be able to continue to siphon off the cream of other countries' work through the globalized, but firmly american controlled financial system, and the dollar. How convenient that a regulation free international environment favors mostly, almost exclusively the monopolistic giant American multinational companies? Don't get me wrong I would not like to see a third German attempt on a forceful European unification, nor a chaotic international order with no rules and no number one player. But we are about to see a sea of change, this or that way. A change which is incomprehensible for most westerners.
With the decay of the last existing ideological heir of the French Revolution – liberalism, the other two being nationalism and communism- we are left with no ideological base. As the hypocrisy, the hollowness, and the aggression of '(neo)liberalism' becomes more and more apparent the search for a new ideology begins, or has already begun. With all values relativized, all knowledge questioned, all groundbreaking scientific findings twisted to achieve insignificant political or financial gains there is little left. These are superstition, and religion. Both of which is outside the realm of the mind, and therefore that of reason. Let me ask the rhetorical question what was before the Age of Reason?
If you start to compare the features of the late roman age, say late 4th, early 5th century AD, with the symptoms of the contemporary world you will see remarkable similarities. Slow but visible crackdown of the financial system. Gradual disappearance of (central) control over territory, business processes and beliefs. Emerging civilian disobedience for various reasons. Lack of commonly accepted values. 'Barbarians' on, and within the borders in the old and the new meaning alike (barbaros originally meant 'not one of us'). Still superior, but dwindling efficiency of the armed forces (see socii, auxiliarii, numeri, foederati). Emerging competing powers capable of achieving parity. And the list goes on.
We only can hope that the next Dark Ages will not last for hundreds of years, before a new system emerges.