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The global chaos fear has been bubbling for quite some time. Robert Kaplan wrote about it 15 years ago in the Atlantic (, well before the financial crisis.

The world hasn't unraveled yet, but there have been mitigating circumstances like a rapidly growing global economy. Unfortunately, the arguments about complex systems point out that things become more specialized and correlated when systems become more complex. So when the going's good, there is less to worry about because everyone one is seeing some sort of improvement (very broadly speaking). It is when something upsets the cart and you have the downside that Kaplan's vision gains some credence, although how much depends on your your level of scepticism.

Another good read to supplement both Robb's and Kaplan's articles would be Margaret MacMillan's Paris 1919 ( which discusses the dicing up of the world map by the BIG POWERS after WWI. This bit of background on how the bulk of the world's borders were drawn up provides some insight into today's conflicts between smaller-than-nation-state groups.
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