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The new world order and war of ideologies

Jan 24,2019 - Last updated at Jan 24,2019

Since the beginning of the 1950s until the early 1990s, the world order witnessed a cold war between the Eastern and Western blocs. It was divided between two different ideologies: the Marxist socialist ideology and the Western capitalist democracy. The latter dominated the new world order when the United States became the sole superpower after the demise of the Soviet Union. When the world experienced a global economic downturn in 2008/2009, a talk about multipolarity had spread worldwide, with the aim of distributing roles among the G8 to alleviate the burdens on the US economy.

In the meantime, the world order has also witnessed the rise of China and the Russian Federation as major political and economic powers. It is difficult to say that the world system is unipolar or multipolar because the aggregate overall power factors were not at the disposal of one country per se, but rather distributed among more than one country: The US has led the world economically and militarily, giving Washington the upper hand worldwide, Russia has broken its communist cuffs to become an economic and military power and China has surprised the world by being a giant beyond all expectations, economically and militarily; competing with both the US and Russia.

The question is how did China manage to lead the world and compete with two powers in a short period of time? This can be attributed to many reasons. Since the advent of the Arab Spring, the impact of technology, especially social communication applications and programmes, started to impact public opinion, mobilise people and overthrow regimes. This has opened the gate wide open for a technological race for superiority in artificial intelligence at the international level.


The new world order and digital media


There has been a lot of talk about the nature of the global system, oscillating between the unipolar, as seen by the US, and the multipolar as seen by China, Russia and the European Union. The claimed Russian interventions in the results of US elections in favour of President Donald Trump in 2016, in the UK referendum on the Brexit from the EU and in the French presidential elections forced observers to consider that the nature of the new world order will be determined by the extent to which the great powers have the upper hand in technology that helps them control their citizens and political behaviour and influence citizens of other countries.

Thus, the world will witness a competition between major world powers to control other countries, their decision-making processes and individuals through artificial intelligence techniques that can be used by governments. Some world powers overtly announce that their citizens have freedom of expression, however, such key players tacitly do otherwise through hacking and intercepting applications that spy on the privacy of others. This would limit the number of individuals opposing certain world regimes. Such applications are mainly used to spy on foreign countries, in order to help people revolt against authoritarianism, seeking individual freedoms. This pushes the world powers into conflict in terms of Western ethics to boost democracy and liberalism, which other countries, mainly Russia and China, consider as interference in their internal affairs.


Digital tyranny and liberal democracies 


The next ideological war in the new world order will be a digital clash with liberal democracy between the West on one hand, and the East on the other. Governments will be able to monitor data and behaviours selectively, while ensuring that online political debates and deliberations that will damage the country’s system are minimised. This can only be achieved through artificial intelligence designed for social control, allowing data to be extracted from the devices that people use in their daily life.

In 2017, China's internal security budget was $196 billion, an increase by 12 per cent compared with 2016. Increased spending on artificial intelligence would have a negative impact on spending on economic and defence programmes. It is expected that developed and developing countries will spend more money to have their own monitoring and surveillance programmes, to influence political opposition and to reduce the influence of external factors.

In conclusion, it can be said that the global system will witness a new technological competition through digital despotism that world powers will resort to in order to spread their own ideologies, starting from liberal democracies, to neo-liberalism, free thinking and laissez-faire ideologies. Each major power will attract others to its orbit or camp, causing conflict of ideologies to turn into an arms race based on the development of artificial intelligence, which will enable the major powers to acquire weapons that are difficult to defeat.


The writer is a consultant, senior political and media adviser and the executive director of Geostrategic Media Centre-USA. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times

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