Sometime around the age of five, most middle class Americans learn by heart the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty, having no idea what it means and probably never truly understanding what it is about.
But today one can make an easy analogy between Humpty Dumpty and the global political/economic situation.
For the leaders of autocratic states in the age of technology and social media who won't open their societies are Humpty Dumpty. Once technology and social media upturn a society, all the king's horses and all the king's men can't put the old society back together again.
In America and Europe these same forces have created a new governing paradox. In this paradox the old rules of political leadership and coalition building have changed. The technology that drives market integration/contagion and Globalization demands more centralized political leadership to deal with the socioeconomic changes created by Globalization. While at the same time technology gives individuals and groups more power to question leadership. This paradox has magnified our famous political gridlock. What saves America of course is democracy with its built in ability for citizens to vent and thus alleviate pressure on the system.
In societies that don't have the constitutional abilities to vent technology is destroying the proverbial kingdom. So we go from Egypt to Libya, to Syria to maybe Russia and if Russia then even China can be threatened.
We are not only living at a time in global relations where the paradigms of what constitutes power and action among states has shifted but where the speed of change has not allowed new strategies to evolve to deal with these changes. A world where some states such as Russia, with its UN veto on Syria, don't even realize that the game has changed. We are in a time when markets, technology and social media carry equal weight as armies. While the international system of safe guards and response mechanism to international crisis relies primarily on World War II concepts of aggression and state power. Even the few economic safeguards set up after World War II such as the IMF and the World Bank were established not to deal with problems of mass economic contagion but with payment imbalance primarily among weaker economies and the elimination of poverty.
Compounding the question of what constitutes power among states is the re-birth of state capitalism; a corporate construct that has the ability to combine the power of the state with that of the corporation.
Governor Romney proudly announced at the CPAC meeting that he was for capitalism. But to blindly be for capitalism in today's world implies that one still lives in a world where Marxism is the competition. A world where Nikita Khrushchev's words that our grandchildren will live under Marxist Socialism still resonates.
The issue is not whether one is a capitalist or not, most of the world today would say they follow some variety of capitalism. The issue is how do America's private companies compete in a Globalized world against the growing strength of companies that are capitalist but have the state as a shareholder. A hybrid that often enjoys the advantages of state financing, state support and state protection. The real question is what should the role of Washington be to level this playing field so that American companies have a competitive advantage?
We are in a world where globalized markets can be severely destructive, where technology can destroy kings, and where new forms of capitalism pervert the competitive advantages of the capitalist system to innovate and create growth. Yet at the same time the age-old problems of nationalism, and ethnic and religious rivalry still percolate.
But strangely with the world in this period of extreme flux, when traditional views are as secure as Humpty Dumpty, the Republican Presidential candidates are not focusing on how these issues affect the United States, or what strategies the United States should develop to be able to safely prosper in this new environment. They don't even appear to comprehend that in a globalized world there is little separation between domestic and international issues and initiatives. Instead they are busy acting like medieval philosophers; slightly changing the argument however from how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, to what is the difference between Romneycare and Obamacare?