The G20 and the global dead end

Published 21.11.2014 02:07

The G20 summit in Australia facilitated yet another debate on the global agenda whose items have long remained unaltered. At this point, the global organizations and various crises on the global agenda, which essentially render the G20 relevant, represent a vicious circle. Over a decade ago, the G20, whose presidency Turkey will assume in 2015, was established to create a more participatory platform than the U.N. Security Council. The global shortage of leadership and vision, however, pushed the organization to a similar dead end. As a matter of fact, a series of elections in G20 member states had led to sarcastic remarks about the rise of "G-Zero."

At the global level, we have been experiencing a transition period at least since the beginning of the current millennium. The political and economic ruptures that give rise to this assessment have become entirely visible. After the 1990s, which marked the best years of capitalism in the Global North, the world witnessed the rise of a cycle of structural crises in various disguises. Today, there are at least two factors that could break this vicious circle. The first relates to the undeclared economic tensions between the Global North and Global South as well as their impact on the future costs that the modern world order will have to bear. The second deals with updating the supposedly global institutions built into the post-World War II order.

To be fair, both issues have been on the global agenda for quite some time now. After 2001, however, rapid political and economic ruptures triggered fears about the depth of the crisis. Particularly the political repercussions of the post-9/11 invasions and the transformation of the 2008 fiscal crisis into full-blown global recession led to major revisions about the observers' expectations of the 21st century. At this point, the world is experiencing a shortage of global institutions able to show economic and political leadership to push the global vision forward and step in at times of crisis. The driving force behind this phenomenon, of course, is that the post-World War II order, which reflects the circumstances of a bygone century, has ceased to be credible. In order to overcome the present challenges, the Global North first needs to make its peace with the build-up of capital in the Global South, which has caused tensions in previous years. This, in turn, means that we will witness a diversification of actors in the 20th century capitalist world system and, subsequently, major geopolitical impacts thereof.

This is not merely a projection but a realistic assessment whose validity is re-affirmed each passing year. In order to alter this course, certain actors who have thus far been reluctant to say anything but "no boots on the ground" will have to be willing to bear huge costs. After all, stopping the Global South's capitalist expansion won't be possible unless the current network of global dependencies is fundamentally challenged. This, in turn, would mean the end of all present connections between production and financing - which does not look viable in the foreseeable future.

The current system, which created balance between global disparities, simply remains unsustainable. Meanwhile, neither a radical change of the world order nor a World War II style intervention seems likely at this point. The potential solution can only occur if global actors with a positive balance sheet attain greater political influence in a gradual manner. In other words, the Global South will pursue a more balanced arrangement within the global production network as well as global institutions. If Turkey can transform the G20 into a platform to facilitate a third way along these lines during its presidency, it could be able to trigger a serious debate on the global level.

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