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Introducing the World System

By Christopher Sandbatch,

Sorry for the technical delay, folks.

A lot has happened since we last tuned in…we think the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. People have also been talking about nationalism and imperialism as though these things are somehow opposed. Sometimes they are, but they are totally different units of analysis. We are following along loosely with The Prudentialist, Academic Agent, and Charlemagne over on the RubeTube, but not hewing too closely.1

To figure out the relationship between these two terms may not even be important. We can characterize them on their own just fine— that’s how unrelated they are. But if we wanted to, we need to zoom out to do it. You know, to get our bearings and figure out what we are looking at. This is probably gonna be another running series.

Now, in the words of Bob Weir:

Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free…

Yea, you guessed it. Dats da urf. Our new unit of analysis is something called the Modern World System. This is important.

This Modern World System is a lot like a map, except it isn’t a map— it’s the whole world, and maybe a bit of outer space. Think of those weird globe lights at hippy stores. When you touch one part of it, little lightning bolts cluster around it, and redirect energy flows from around the whole thing in only vaguely predictable ways. None of this is really controversial; to people born since 1990, it is the only world they have ever known. Is it likely to change soon? Probably not. So who cares?

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