The October Thing #2 – August 27, 2011

Singularities and Discontinuities

Generally a singularity is regarded as a good thing and a discontinuity as a bad thing but it depends on how you look at it. I’m going to call them all discontinuities, events that bring about sudden changes that don’t fit the trend lines, like the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The Wall Fall not only united Germany, but precipitated the breakup of the Soviet Union which allowed the U.S.S.R.’s Islamic republics not only to break away from Russia but also to make common cause with other Islamic states. It also showed that a superpower could crack. Much of the history of the last 20 years is determined by this one event. Saddam Hussein, knowing how fragile the U.S.S.R. was, immediately invaded Kuwait, thinking that the U.S. was fragile also. The last 20 years of Mid-East wars are beginning to demonstrate that fragility and it’s launching what looks like a new discontinuity, Arab Spring. Since the first time since the Arabs were driven out of Europe in the 15th century, the idea of a Caliphate—a worldwide Nation of Islam—is rising. They have the most powerful form of wealth available today—oil—but not much else. They are a threat to Hindu-Buddhist India, Confucian-Communist China, and the secular-Capitalistic NATO countries. In some ways, the world-power-blocs are more balanced than ever. The question is: What discontinuity will shatter this balance? Comments?