The New Map: Terrorism in a Post-Cartesian World
The fundamental problem of political philosophy is still precisely the one that Spinoza saw so clearly (and that Wilhelm Reich rediscovered): Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation? (1)
- Gilles Deleuze
The Long War, Philip Bobbitt’s concept of the 20th century conflicts from World War I through the end of the Cold War, provided a consistent conceptual framework through which to view our world.(2) In this conflict, the struggle by Nation-States to legitimate one of a variety of theories of domestic political order was played out on the international stage. This century-long conflict ensured the continuity of the Nation-State framework until the world system could be unified behind a single, victorious theory of how to internally organize that state.(3)The eventual victory of the democratic-capitalist approach has resulted in the confirmation and acceleration of the trend towards globalization of the world’s economic activity. But, as with the conclusion of prior epochal conflicts,(4) the close of the Long War opened the door for a host of new threats to the Nation-State status quo. Chief among these threats, international terrorism poses a direct challenge to the very fabric of the Nation-State system.(5) Having spent the past nine years in the intelligence and counter-terrorism community, I am forced to conclude that our increasing failure to effectively combat terrorism is not merely the failure of programs and policies, but rather the fundamental failure of our paradigm. In order to understand and effectively confront terrorism, we must replace the current international paradigm of the Nation-State system with a New Map of our world: globalization and multiculturalism are invalidating the Cartesian geography of the Nation-State system, laying the framework for the coming epochal conflict embodied by the paradigm of hierarchy versus rhizome.
A paradigm shift is not a trivial affair.(6) In order to define and utilize this new paradigm it is first necessary to understand the old paradigm of the Nation-State system. Building upon this foundation, I will explain how globalization and multiculturalism led to the breakdown of Cartesian order, and with it the Nation-State. From there I will demonstrate that in the absence of a Cartesian world order it is not discrete state actors, but rather conflicting organizational principles such as hierarchy and rhizome that define our world.(7)These principles, and the inherent conflict between them, provide the paradigm for the New Map. I will conclude by examining how this new paradigm views counterterrorism in a manner that is fundamentally inconceivable to the Nation-State.
I. The Nation-State System
Our international system is founded upon the Nation-State paradigm that has gradually evolved out of developments among Italian city-states during the Renaissance.(8) Within the Nation-State paradigm, the state’s legitimacy is grounded upon its ability to provide security and welfare to a homogenous constituent nation.(9) This legitimacy is measured by the ability of the state to provide continuous, absolute, and relative gains in the standard of living of its nation. Despite the need to create gains relative to other nations, and especially to create gains relative to competing theories of Nation-State during the Long War, it was also necessary for the Nation-State to preserve at least the pretense of internal equality in order to maintain a unified national base. At least in first-world nations, a “[w]elfare ideology had…fostered the nationalist myth of a raceless, classless society."(10) It is the redistributive policies and entitlement programs that resulted from this need for internal equality that are today making the Nation-State so vulnerable to the processes of globalization.(11)
One of the defining features of the Nation-State system is its Cartesian sense of space.(12) National groups are assumed to conform to the exclusive territories and physical borders of the Nation-State. This is a critical assumption, as the legitimacy of a Nation-State is based upon its ability to provide for its nation, something that it can only do effectively if that nation is contained entirely within the borders of its sovereignty. The validity of a Nation-State on the international stage is in turn demonstrated by its ability to exert complete sovereignty over its territory. As long as all states conform to the notions of exclusive territory and total sovereignty, the system is stable. Since the end of the Cold War, most theorists have been attempting to shove the square peg of reality into the round hole of the Nation-State paradigm, but these efforts are “no more than the work of early cartographers . . . [t]hey are products of illusion, and they are faithful to their roots.”(13) In actuality, any process or phenomena that threatens to blur the exclusivity of the Cartesian system, that exhibits multiple and overlapping affinity groups, poses a mortal challenge to the Nation-State system.
II. The Eroding Foundation of the Nation-State
In the latter half of the 20th century, multiculturalism has spread throughout “Western” democracies,(14) with the notable exception of
Globalization, the process of seeking international economies of place and scale, is another assault on the territorial barriers of the Nation-State system.(19) It creates a positive feedback cycle by both benefiting from and causing the destruction of the territorial exclusivity of the Nation-State. While the dissolution of Cartesian limitations facilitates the necessary further intensification of hierarchal structure, it also facilitates the emergence of the competing, co-spatial, contemporaneous paradigm of rhizome that is currently embodied by the phenomena of international terrorism.(20)
The rise in trans-national terrorism is perhaps the final straw that, when combined with the influences of multiculturalism and globalization, destroys the legitimacy of the Nation-State. The Nation-State system is predicated upon the twin principles of sovereignty: a domestic monopoly on the use of violence, and a singular focus for inter-state violence.(21) Terrorism invalidates both claims. Exacerbated by reactionary ideologies (22) and the expanding economic inequality brought by globalization,(23) terrorism undermines the state’s role of security provider.(24) Additionally, as independent international actors, both terrorist organizations and multinational corporations represent their own interests, unconstrained by either a Cartesian notion of Nation-State borders or the prevailing interests of a national constituency. In a world freed of the rigid delineation of the Nation-State system, and with the substantial, overlapping web of affiliation and connectivity created by, among other things, terrorism and multinational corporations, the stage is set for a defining conflict that will replace the last vestiges of the Nation-State with the New Map.(25)
III. Beyond the Nation-State, Beyond Cartesian Order
Fueled by the breakdown of Cartesian order, the spread of multiculturalism, and technological advancements in communication and transportation, the hierarchal process of globalization is forcing the Nation-State to evolve or die.(26) Those states that are evolving to maintain viability are gradually taking the form of the Market-State,(27) an awkward and unfinished formulation where the actors of globalization exert their influence on the state to leverage the remnant allegiances of national populations in their favor.(28) But in the face of the growth of globalization, a rhizome(29) countermovement is emerging.
It may have been Nietzsche who best captured the emergence of rhizome with his famous question. “Problem: where are the barbarians? Obviously they will come into view and consolidate themselves only after tremendous socialist crises."(30) The social crises created by globalization, multiculturalism, and the decline of the Nation-State system has opened the door to a fundamentally new kind of “barbarian” in rhizome’s structural opposition to hierarchy. Hierarchy, an unstable organizational pattern(31) that is constantly evolving toward a more intense, centralized, and interdependent form, is the organizing principle behind globalization. Rhizome, the opposing constitutional system of a network of stable-state, independent but interacting nodes is the animating principle behind both terrorism and the more benign economic processes of localization and self-sufficiency that stand in opposition to globalization.(32) The interaction of hierarchy and rhizome inherently generates conflict as hierarchy’s attempts to create economic dependency through economies of place and scale are mutually exclusive of rhizome’s tendency to devolve economic structures towards localized independence and parity.
In a world largely stuck in the mindset of the Nation-State and oblivious to the emerging conflict of hierarchy versus rhizome, terrorism is the vanguard of a rhizome movement that sits on the cusp of a dawning, non-Cartesian reality. It is what Antonio Negri has called a “diagonal” that opposes hierarchy by confronting its weaknesses, rather than its strengths.(33) Rhizome is out of phase with hierarchy while simultaneously occupying the same point in history. It is emergent, analogous to the emergent intelligence of the human brain(34) compared to the machine intelligence of hierarchy.(35) This emergent nature manifests itself in the unconsciously coordinated action of ideologically linked rhizome nodes, affinity groups that jump the boundaries of Nation-State borders. One example is the complex web of interaction between Middle-Eastern Islamic extremism, South American populism, the struggle of indigenous groups to control hydrocarbon resources, and cross-border drug-trafficking. It is this kind of emergent “nation”—the networked affiliation between groups as diverse as al-Qa’ida, Hugo Chavez and Salvadoran Maras(36)—that is replacing the Cartesian “nation” of the Nation-State system. While the fringes of the
IV. Navigating the New Map
New paradigms present opportunities and demand actions that are inconceivable to the preceding paradigm. Mutually Assured Destruction is an example, a strategy that, while rational to the Nation-State, was entirely incomprehensible to the preceding paradigm of the State-Nation.(40) Similarly, the New Map presents the opportunity to address the fundamental causes of terrorism, but only in a manner that is inconceivable to the Nation-State: defeating terrorism by co-opting its organizational principle of rhizome. This sounds irrational and completely “un-American.”(41) It is. Those within the Nation-State paradigm praise as “American” those things which are fundamental to the constitutional nature of the American Nation-State. Similarly, the principles of the French and American Revolutions were antithetical to the fundamental basis of the kingly states of
Within the New Map there are two choices. Existing Nation-States can embrace hierarchy, and transition to the market-state model, as envisioned by constitutional law professor Phillip Bobbitt,(43) or they can embrace rhizome and embark upon the same bold adventure of constitutional invention that created
The New Map brings the uncomfortable situation of treading in new and unfamiliar territory, with its fundamental departure from the historical establishments upon which our cultural identities are founded. But it may also provide a source of hope for the future. The absurdity and injustice of national borders that elevate the economic well-being of select groups based mainly upon their race or ethnicity may recede or fade away.(44) Absent the Nation-State bastions of ethnic and racial division, multiculturalism may finally fulfill its promise of tolerance and equality among humans. Similarly, the promise of rhizome structure to reduce social stratification, wealth disparity, and motivation for conflict may create a stable, just basis for international society—a basis that is impossible within the strict confines of sovereignty and territory that define the Nation-State system. With an understanding of the New Map, it becomes self-evident that clinging to the remnants of the Nation-State will only serve to fuel reactionary ideologies and terrorist tactics. It is by accepting the potential of the New Map and fostering the development of rhizome structure that we can hope to disarm terrorism, eliminating the very division and disparity that is its raison d’être.
1. Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus 29 (Brian Massumi trans., U. Minn. Press 1983) (1980).
2. See Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History 7 (2002).
3. The chief theories of Nation-State organization are the democratic-capitalist model, embodied by the
4. For example, the close of the era of kingly states with the Napoleonic Wars unleashed the forces of national sentiment on the largely unprepared aristocracy of
5. Kenichi Ohmae, The End of the Nation State 7 (1995).
6. See Denise Breton & Christopher Largent, The Paradigm Conspiracy: Why Our Social Systems Violate Human Potential – And How We Can Change Them 7 (1996).
7. James Rosenau also sees a global conflict, but rather than juxtapose the concepts of hierarchy and rhizome, he uses the term “fragmegration” to denote the opposing tendency of hierarchy to integrate and centralize while rhizome fragments the world through decentralization and localization. See James Rosenau, Distant Proximities: Dynamics Beyond Globalization 2003.
8. The development of absolute sovereignty contained in a discrete state stems from the rejection of Papal authority by Italian city-states, and culminates in the treaties that ended the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), commonly known in their collective form as the Peace of Westphalia. See Treaty of peace of Münster, Fr.-Holy Roman Empire, Oct. 24, 1648, 1 Parry 271 and Treaty of Osnabrück, Swed.-Holy Roman Empire, Oct 24, 1648, 1 Parry 119. The association of a single state with a single nation, forming the modern Nation-State concept, was most significantly advanced at the Congress of Vienna, which laid the foundation for Bismark’s unification of the German nation under the Prussian state. See Final Act (General Treaty) of the Congress of
9. See Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History 468 (2002).
10. Jane Kelsey, Restructuring the Nation: The Decline of the Colonial Nation-State and Competing Nationalisms in Aotearoa/New
11. See Peer Zumbansen, Quod Omnes Tangit: Globalization, Welfare Regimes and Entitlement, in The Welfare State, Globalization, and International Law 135 (Eyal Benvenisti and Georg Nolte eds., 2004).
12. Cartesian space refers to the contiguous, exclusive territories of Nation-States laid out on a Cartesian plane, as proposed by Rene Descartes.
13. Kenichi Ohmae, The End of the Nation State 8 (1995).
15. See Wilhelm Heitmeyer, Xenophobia: Modernization's Curse, 5 European Affairs 51-57 (1991).
16. See Gerard Delanty, Beyond the Nation-State: National Identity and Citizenship in a Multicultural Society, 3 Sociological Research Online (1996), http://www.socresonline.org.uk/1/3/1.html.
17. See Gerard Delanty, Inventing
18. See Peter J. Pitts, Tossed Salad for the Holiday ,The One Republic, Dec. 22, 2004, http://www.californiarepublic.org/archives/Columns/Guest/20041222PittsTossed.html.
19. See Thomas L. Friedman, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century (2005).
20. See Jeff Vail, Rhizome, Guerrilla Media, Swarming and Asymmetric Politics in the 21st Century, in Politics To-Go: A Guide to Using
21. See Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History 206 (2002).
22. See Robert Wright, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny 232 (2000).
23. See Anuradha Mittal, The South in the North, in Views from the South: The Effects of Globalization and the WTO on Third World Countires 164 (Sarah Anderson ed., 2000).
24. See John Robb, Primary Loyalties, Global Guerrillas, Jan. 5, 2005, http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2005/01/primary_loyalti.html.
25. See, e.g., Nico Schrijver, Sovereignty versus Human Rights? A Tale of UN Security Council Resolution 688 (1991) on the Protection of the Kurdish People, in The Role of the Nation-State in the 21st Century: Human Rights, International Organizations and Foreign Policy 347 (Monique Castermans-Holleman, et al. eds., 1998).
26. Where the Nation-State has refused to abandon its national roots, as in
27. See Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History (2002).
28. See John Breuilly, Nationalism and the State 94 (1982).
29. See Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia 506(Brian Massumi trans., U. Minn. Press, 1987) (1980).
30. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power 465 (Walter Kaufman trans., Vintage Press, 1968) (1888).
31. Any pattern that is predicated upon continuous growth must eventually exceed its resource base and collapse. See Joseph A. Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988).
32. For a detailed account of rhizome as the animus for economic localization efforts by marginalized groups in opposition to the perceived threat of globalization, see Jeff Vail, A Theory of Power (2004), available at http://top.anthropik.net/.
33. Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Empire (2000).
34. Rhizomatic intelligence is similar to human intelligence in that uncontrolled, non-hierarchal interaction leads to the emergence of directed action, the direction for which cannot be sourced from the interaction. See, e.g., Howard Bloom, The Global Brain (2000) and John H. Holland, Emergence: From Chaos to Order (1998).
35. For a discussion of the information processing capabilities of Hierarchy and Rhizome, see Robert Anton Wilson, Quantum Psychology (1990).
37. See, e.g., Jeff Vail, Keynote Address at the Summer 2005 Interagency Forum on Infrastructure Protection: The Global Threat Puzzle: Understanding the Rhizome Threat (Jul. 8, 2005).
38. For an in-depth examination of the potential for rhizome structure to better meet the demands of human ontogeny, see Jeff Vail, A Theory of Power (2004), available at http://top.anthropik.com/.
39. See Jeff Vail, Defending Pala: Rhizome as a Mode of Military Operations, Sep. 6, 2005, http://www.jeffvail.net/2005/09/defending-pala-rhizome-as-mode-of.html.
40. Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kenedy, conceived of the concept of Mutually assured destruction, but had a difficult time convincing Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin of the concept, as he was stuck in the mentality of the State-Nation (while Russia is known for nationalist semtiment, the U.S.S.R. was a state that was a diverse collection of nations, and suffered from ‘early-onset fractionalism’ as a result—perhaps the first example of the failure of a self-defining Nation-State). See Mad is not Bad, 17 New Perspective Quarterly, Sep. 25, 2005, http://www.digitalnpq.org/archive/2000_summer/mad_not_bad.html.
41. For example, in President Bush’s address of , he noted that “We will defend the values of our country…we will persevere in this struggle no matter how long it takes to prevail.” George W. Bush, President of the
42. See Caroline Thomas, New States, Sovereignty and Intervention 4 (1998).
43. See Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History 283 (2002).
44. See Paul Treanor, Why Destroy the Nation-State, http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/nationstate.html.