@ miguel cervantes:
Wasn't familiar with Cohen's book. It reminds me of Van Creveld's dissolving sovereignty scenario outlined in THE TRANSFORMATION OF WAR, but may have been a generation or so ahead of its time. It kind of relates to the discussion about standing armies and the question of the real "power in the land." For now the real power in the land remains general popular ethical consensus - symbolized as one theorist put it a long time ago by the decision to stop at a red light even in the middle of nowhere. Presumably, once people start plowing on through whatever red lights, then it's all (revealed as) a power struggle, but it's presumably a very uneven process, marked by a gradual rise in low level warfare even with the borders of disintegrating nation-states, or, as Hegel at one point suggests might be a better term, culture-states. It becomes increasingly a question of viewing angle in attempting to determine how far along in the process of cultural-political disintegration anyone happens to be at any given time.
@ Rex Caruthers:
Hmmmmm... well I agree that, as things currently stand, Obama is still a favorite for re-election, but things never stand still. It's interesting to consider that he's young enough to try again in 2016 or even later, but that's a true rarity in American presidential politics, and anyone trying that would have other disadvantages as well.
You, Stockman, Farrell, and Kotlikoff may all be right, but these days I'm looking for evidence, so far without much luck, that we're not locked into the two different strategies - 1/ managed relative decline (liberalism) and 2/ less-managed relative decline (conservatism). I'm not convinced it will get as exciting as Farrel and Kotlikoff each predict, but more and more these days I see the potential.. Failing a near-term crack-up, I do think that option 2 will be tried, but that the underlying tendencies favor option 1 over the long term, with the black swan/class war scenarios tending to accelerate option 1.
But who knows? And - even if we did - it probably wouldn't do us any good. This one made me laugh out loud from my Hegel reading:
"Rulers, statesmen, and nations are often advised to learn the lesson of historical experience. But what experience and history teach is this - that nations and governments have never learned anything from history..."
Many of the apparent contradictions of this principle consist of people mistakenly thinking they were learning from historical experience, or claiming that they were doing so, when they were really just acting under the exigencies of the moment, or soon (in the historical sense) to be overwhelmed by them anyway.