What did the domino tile say to its neighbor?
“Don’t worry, it is happening far away!” and they both happily continued to stare at their ‘white dots’, ignoring the collapsing carnage down the line. Dominoes aren’t very smart; they are, after all, inanimate objects!
People, however, are supposed to have brains and are expected to be cognizant of what’s happening around them and able to assess its implications on their well-being. Unfortunately, this rarely is the case, which may add credence to theory that by settling into early agrarian communities, humans became more caring and supportive of each other, thus undermining the successful natural selection process by retaining idiot genes!
It is not as though the concept of danger is a new phenomenon. Ever since humans got over the fear of carnivorous beasts and learnt how to kill them, they have concentrated on killing each other. Hegemonic tendencies have existed for thousands of years; as early as the Sumerians and Assyrians and continued through to the colonization monsters of the past few hundred years.
Status of Hegemony
Hegemonies come in different sizes; small, medium and big; an amusing “pecking order” whose interaction can be observed on the daily news broadcasts. It also comes in different styles; softly spoken but treacherous, generous with economic assistance but containing hidden strings to hang you, belligerent with a viscous warmongering streak and lastly, schizophrenic; oscillating between all the previous styles. There are also the would-be-hegemons if given half a chance.
More recently, the hegemony arena has, though knock-out matches, been narrowed down to one grand hegemon and a couple runners-up, and the heat is now rising as the final tournament approaches – Let us hope it will not be too bloody and Armageddon-ish.
Despite that, many nations continue to dream of becoming hegemons. But at the same time, they continue to concentrate on their ‘white dots’ and disregard the likelihood that they are already in the cross hairs of a bigger hegemon. They seem oblivious to the hegemonic ploys that undermine their political and economic structures through unending sanctions, onerous trade or military treaties, contemptuous disregard for local and international laws, negative and false news reporting, regime change tactics, false flag incidences, scaremongering, and outright threats that are occasionally translated into destructive military action. Like the proverbial deer, they are frozen in the headlights of the oncoming speeding car and wait until it is too late to save themselves.
What happened in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, Lebanon, Somalia, Grenada, Venezuela, Argentine, Brazil, Cuba, Greece, Iran, North Korea and many other places are only the tip of the iceberg. What is likely to happen elsewhere is still being baked in the oven and will come out once done and ready. What is surprising is that, not only were the signs written on all the walls, but again, the victims failed to comprehend the messages and continued to stare at their ‘white dots’!
Southeast Asia, South China Sea, Ex-Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South & Central America and Africa are all candidates for destabilization and possible splintering into smaller pieces – especially those that exhibit economic weakness or cracks in their demographic, ethnic, religious makeup and are rife with internal dis-harmony. Even the European EU is now beginning to feel the brunt of the hegemon pressure of tariff and sanctions threats. Japan, Mexico, India and Canada too, have just got a taste of an ear pinching to remind them to dance to the grand hegemon’s tune. Who is left? Not even Timbuktu!
What about the runner-up hegemons? What about the smaller hegemons? Well, all hegemons have the same strain of nasty genes. However, they are dormant and only begin to grow as their host’s power increases. This, most likely, is a genetic relic from the early human hunters-gatherers’ need for viciousness to survive. Maybe natural selection and/or wisdom will eventually weed out those nasty genes, but don’t bet your farm or country on it.
Is All Lost?
Not necessarily, because all hegemons (big and small) also suffer from the same weaknesses and dis-harmonies that beset their victims, although they cunningly keep them secret. Powerful mass media and propaganda are used extensively to camouflage all the ills that would otherwise stumble their seemingly confident and steady footsteps. This means that they are as also vulnerable to the same ploys that they have repeatedly used on others.
Also, history confirms that all empires eventually collapse and disappear, regardless of how long they last. Some lasted over a thousand years, which may sound too long, but in the modern world of technology, digital communications, social media and financialized economies, the average lifespan of hegemons has been drastically cut short.
Empires and hegemons generally start with a strategic vision of expansion and moderate usurpation of other nations’ resources; then, gluttony takes over at a rapidly increase pace. But as the world and its resources are limited, they sooner or later bump into and clash with other hegemons; and are forced to change their tactics. As matters heat up, their tactics not only become shorter and shorter-term, but become ad hoc not fully thought through and, even haphazard – until they begin to shoot themselves in the foot. This usually is an early sign of their demise (compare this to the Roman/Byzantine, Safavid Iran and Ottoman empires and their confusion with multi-front wars – in addition to their poor governance systems and economic mismanagement).
What to Do?
In all events, we cannot wait out the hegemons to die out as the dinosaurs did; it would take far too long.
More realistically, we can address the modern hegemonic world threat via a two-pronged approach. The first is individual effort and the second is collective action.
Individual effort means to treat the sources of weakness and internal disharmony that make individual countries susceptible to hegemonic ploys. This requires the recreation of the governance systems to tackle all the maladies that drag nations down, including poor economic policies, corruption, inequality, ineffective representative systems, etc. In short, seal the cracks that invite enemies to destabilize a country. It is not easy but is certainly better than being sucked dry off your freedom, resources and future.
As for collective action, this means getting together with other small and medium nations to form groups/alliances that can stand up to hegemons and resist, at least, their economic sanctions and threats. The Non-Aligned Movement was, and still is a good idea, but needs more teeth. Alternatively, new and more practical types of groupings could be envisaged and created – always conditional that no one nation, big or small, is allowed to become the group’s hegemon.
Dominoes may be flimsy and unstable, but if laid in parallel rows and columns and closely bonded (zero-spaced), they become much more difficult to topple. So, don’t be a lone domino dumbly staring at your ‘white dots’!