Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Global Viewpoint

A new global political order

For the first time in human history, the entire world is now politically awakened. Democratic participation and global cooperation are the best guarantees of social progress and stability. The world must take concrete steps in this direction.

By Zbigniew Brzezinski / September 19, 2011


A common challenge to all of us is inherent in the ongoing transformation of global politics.

Skip to next paragraph

Let me begin with three broad assertions, then briefly elaborate on each of them, and conclude by making a modest proposal.

• First, global peace is threatened not by utopian fanaticism, as was the case during the 20th century, but by the turbulent complexity inherent in the volatile phenomenon of global political awakening;

• Second, comprehensive and enduring social progress is more attainable by democratic participation than by authoritarian mobilization;

• Third, in our time, global stability can be promoted only by larger-scale cooperation, and not through imperial domination.

The 20th century was dominated by fanatical ideological efforts to recreate societies by brutal totalitarian methods on the basis of utopian blueprints. Twentieth century Europe knows best the human costs of such simplistic and arrogant ideological fanaticism. Fortunately, today, with the exception of some highly isolated cases, such as North Korea, it is unlikely that a new attempt at large-scale utopian social engineering could arise.

That is largely so because in the 21st century, for the first time in human history, the entire world is now politically awakened. The peoples of the world are restless, they are interconnected, they are resentful of their relative social deprivations, and they increasingly reject authoritarian political mobilization. It follows that democratic participation is in the longer run the best guarantee both of social progress and political stability.

In the global arena, however, the combination of rising populist aspirations and the inherent difficulties of shaping common global responses to political and economic crises poses the danger of international disorder to which neither Germany alone, nor Russia alone, nor Turkey alone, nor China alone, nor America alone can provide an effective response. Indeed, potential global turmoil – coincidental with the appearance of novel threats to universal well-being and even to human survival – can be effectively addressed only within a larger cooperative framework based on more widely shared democratic values.

The basic fact is that interdependence is not a slogan but a description of an increasingly imperative reality. America realizes that it needs Europe as a global ally, that its cooperation with Russia is of mutual and expanding benefit, that its economic and financial interdependence with rapidly rising China has a special political sensitivity, that its ties with Japan are important not only mutually but to the well-being of the Pacific region. Germany is committed to a more united Europe within the European Union and to close links across the Atlantic with America, and in that context it can safely nurture mutually beneficial economic and political cooperation with Russia.

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story