It is quite common for people to say that the world is more complex now than it has ever been. Talk of global economic disasters, health crises, terrorism, military coups, cyber attacks and shadowy international organisations stalks the front pages of the internet, newspapers and ‘high-level symposia’ every day, all around the world. Certainly it would seem at first glance that the argument about a new historic peak in complexity makes sense. But my contention is otherwise.
I assert that the world has, in fact, always been complex, but it simply now the case that this complexity is now more obvious, more inescapable and more relevant to more people than ever before in history. The laundry list of evidence for ever-accelerating Globalisation of economics, culture, politics and society, has been covered rather comprehensively in every possible media outlet over the last decade, and so does not need repeating here. Suffice it to say that we are living now in the most global era of human history, both quantitatively and qualitatively speaking. What happens on the other side of the globe can affect you quickly and powerfully.
This has profound implications for how we need to understand the dynamics of politics, economics and society. Rather than let ourselves be caught by whatever events happen to break through the surface at any given time, we need to understand deeply the forces and the angles of influence and powerful structures and connections among the people and institutions and ideas that drive these events and affect decisions all over the world, every year, every day, all the time. This is a step beyond the news; it’s often called Political Risk Analysis. Governments, who have used it for decades, call it Intelligence.
Now we all need it. To do this, we need a system, a mechanism, a model that can comprehend all this information, make it useful to us, and allow us to act on it. We need a full and complete map of the territory that is Global Politics, Economics and Society.
We need the Global Narratives System.
Welcome to the first entry of the Global Narratives Chronicle. My name is Peter Marino. I am a political economist from the London School of Economics, and the founder of Quaternion, a digital media startup in New York City and London that is working on developing and implementing new types, formats and systems for media to help people understand political and economic information more quickly, effectively and powerfully – to achieve the kind of change in thinking I outlined in the prelude. The Global Narratives system is the foundation for doing this, and this Chronicle how I am going to start to introduce it to people who can use it, comment on it, and perhaps collaborate with me on it.
In these entries across the months (and perhaps years) to come, I have a few objectives. The first is to introduce and explain what the Global Narratives System is: How did it come to be? What does it try to achieve? How far has it come? And, what do I want it to become in the future? The second objective is to start to demonstrate how we might use the Global Narratives System by covering and analysing world events through it. I’ll seek to cover and explicate many of the major events, and some of the minor events, of global affairs. This should not only show, in a mechanistic fashion, how to apply the Narratives, but, with luck, should also provide you with some useful insight and analysis on international affairs more broadly.
The third objective will be to integrate both of the first two with the work that my startup is doing in developing software engines to manage and organise the System, as well as new media formats to communicate the information it contains. These efforts will necessarily grow, expand and deepen as time goes on, and the system itself becomes more comprehensive and robust. Who knows where we will be with the project in a year’s time? That said, I hope you will find even the early efforts elucidating. At the outset, I will try to provide new entries once per week on Sunday. If possible, I will try to accelerate that schedule. To conclude this first entry, I’d like to look briefly into the recent past, and then turn some attention to the possibilities of the future.
When I began assembling the first efforts at Global Narratives in 2013, it was just an idle exercise, a way to pass a few hours here and there. But it quickly became clear to me that it was actually much more than that; it was a way to systematise, organise and codify the entire mass of information that makes up what happens to people, institutions, nations and states, every day, all across the world. The implications of this are simply enormous: better planning, less risk, more informed decisions for more people in more places than ever before. That sounds pretty good to me.