In This Review

Maxwell's Demon and the Golden Apple: Global Discord in the New Millennium
Maxwell's Demon and the Golden Apple: Global Discord in the New Millennium
By Randall L. Schweller
216 pp, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014
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This is the most original and thought-provoking forecast of the future of world politics to be published in recent years. Schweller sees the global system breaking down, moving from an American-led era of order to chaotic disorder. Borrowing from the field of thermodynamics, Schweller foresees a sort of global entropy, in which the diffusion of power slowly reduces the amount of energy in the international system. In the absence of a preponderant power, global politics will become a decentralized and disorganized affair in which there are no leaders, no followers, and no states capable of generating cooperation. This is not a pleasant future to contemplate: atomized, unpredictable, ungovernable. A proliferating array of groups and individuals will pursue their own narrow interests and visions, but no one will have the power to foster collective action or look out for the common good. One hopes that Schweller is wrong, and that a decentralized, networked world will be capable of tackling global problems and that shared governance will replace or supplement hegemonic leadership.