Two worlds cracking up

So the E.U. today has many citizens, but no single supranational nation state to which everyone is ready to cede economic authority. And the Arab world has many national states, but few citizens. In Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Bahrain, you have one sect or tribe ruling others by force — not because they forged a voluntary social contract with one another. In Egypt and Tunisia, you have more homogeneous societies and a stronger sense of citizenship, which is why they have a better chance at transitioning to more consensual politics…

One question historians will puzzle over is why both great geopolitical systems fractured at once? The answer, I believe, is the intensifying merger of globalization and the information technology revolution, which made the world dramatically flatter in the last five years, as we went from connected to hyperconnected. In the Arab world, this hyper-connectivity simultaneously left youths better able to see how far behind they were — with all the anxiety that induced — and enabled them to communicate and collaborate to do something about it, cracking open their ossified states.

In Europe, hyperconnectedness both exposed just how uncompetitive some of their economies were, but also how interdependent they had become. It was a deadly combination. When countries with such different cultures become this interconnected and interdependent — when they share the same currency but not the same work ethics, retirement ages or budget discipline — you end up with German savers seething at Greek workers, and vice versa.

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