A senior European Commission economist has warned that a Third World War is an extremely “high probability” in coming years due to the disintegration of global capitalism.
These trends, some of which were visible before the previous world wars, are reappearing in new forms. Hanappi argues that the defining feature of the current period is a transition from an older form of “integrating capitalism” to a new form of “disintegrating capitalism”, whose features most clearly emerged after the 2008 financial crisis.
This system is now entering a period of disintegration. Previously, fractures within the system between rich and poor were overcome “by distributing a bit of the gains of the tremendous increase of the fruits of the global division of labour to the richer working classes in these nations.” Similarly, international tensions were diffused through transnational governance frameworks and agreements for the regulation of capitalism.
But since the 2008 financial crisis, wealth distribution has worsened, with purchasing power for the middle and working classes declining as wealth becomes even more greatly concentrated.
Great power conflict
There are growing signs of heightened great power tensions which could erupt entirely by accident or unanticipated provocation into a global conflict that nobody wants.
The US-China trade war is escalating, while both powers tussle over technology secrets and argue over China’s growing military footprint in the South China Sea. Meanwhile Trump’s massive expansion of the US Navy and Air Force point to preparations for a major potential conflict with either China or Russsia.