The Hexagon map of the multipolar world

By Johan Galtung

How do we come to grips, intellectually, with today’s world?

Some time ago the geopolitical map was based on the direct East-West conflict, the two superpowers USA/USSR with alliances, and the neutral-nonaligned treated as a residual category. The world was Bipolar. The implosion of the USSR made it Unipolar, “the only surviving superpower”, 2-1 = 1. Or so we were told.

Today we have four huge states: the three largest in population, China-India-USA, and the largest in area, Russia. And the EU, a region with five middle-range states: UK-France-Germany-Italy-Spain.

But there is one more pole on the geopolitical map: Islam.

The Organization for Islamic Cooperation, OIC, is less crystallized but is the largest of all the poles, with 57 countries from Morocco to Mindanao. In the Middle, between West and East, like Russia in the North, OIC is a Southern belt between the two.

The emergence of Islam on the geopolitical map relates to the end of the Cold War, which created a vacancy in the position of enemy, of the West in general, and of the US in particular. The Evil USSR was related to the Good USA like Satan to God. Islam, like China, had adequate credentials and the bipolar construction could restart. This also served to crystallize China geopolitically, and will do so for the OIC; short term and long term, pure dialectics.

A giant change in only two decades, 1989-2008, from the end of the Cold War in Leipzig to the Great Recession from Wall Street. There is no denial that the USA with its Western and some other allies possess considerable naked destructive, including killing, power. But the superpowers had empires, with local, loyal elites doing much of the job for them. The USSR lost its empire in the early 1990s; the same seems now to be happening to the USA.

What has been said so far gives us a Multi-polar world, more particularly a Hexagon, with six poles: two West, two Middle, two East:


USA China

EU India


And that leads us to two crucial questions:

* What is the best that each of the six poles has to offer for peace?

* What is the worst that each of the six poles has to offer for peace?

The answers are debatable, to say the least, but let us try:

The Best they offer
USA New Beginnings
EU Peace Community
Russia De-imperializing
China Daoism Capi-communism
India Linguistic federalism
OIC Togetherness Sharing

The Worst they offer
USA Plutocracy Geo-fascism
EU Technocracy
Russia Autocracy
China China-centrism
India Caste system
OIC Terrorism

The positive column; not that bad. US creativity, the New Beginnings individually and collectively; EU as a peace community of old enemies; Russia de-imperializing with grace; Chinese capi-communism combining growth with lifting the bottom up; India with its linguistic federalism; and Islam with We-cultures and sharing.

The negative column; rather bad. A USA ruled by money for killing everywhere; an EU run by technocrats; Russia by autocrats; China too China-centric; India clinging to caste; Islam to terror.

Let this serve as an introduction to the six poles in the global drama; the dramatis personae. The TRANSCEND Hexagon project will be in the diagnosis-prognosis-therapy tradition of analysis, forecasts and proposals. Some examples of themes:

The political significance of the diasporas—5 percent of the total, Islam by far the largest, as communication, as power, as hostages, in terms of how they behave, and how they are treated. The Western diasporas will be seen as numbers of Christians and Jews in the others. Separate studies will be made for each, starting with the largest, Islam, in the West, Europe and the USA.

The six will be analyzed in terms of their messages for peace and development, strengths, weaknesses and limitations, their ups and downs, and in terms of their best and worst aspects; productive or counter-productive, to peace and development.

The 15 bilateral relations will be seen in a macro-historical perspective. Example: the relations between China and the Ummah from 500 to 1500 AD, the “silk road” on sea, and of both of them to the Portuguese-English conquest of Macao-Hong Kong. Can Islam, an Abrahamic religion, serve as a Southern bridge to the Orient also today? And can Russia, orthodox Christian, serve as a Northern bridge?

The 15 pairs will be explored for past traumas and reconciliation, and for present contradictions and resolutions, also using the worst aspects. Only five are predominantly negative; but there is much prejudice–like anti-Semitism against Jews and Muslims and anti-Westernism–and discrimination to be overcome.

The 15 pairs will be explored in terms of latent cooperation and harmony; including what they could learn from each other, also using their best aspects.

The Hexagon synergy of actors and relations produces positive and negative trends for different types of globalization, holistically and dialectically, with non-Hexagon parts like BRICS.

This New Beginning for TRANSCEND will give rise to a flow of Working Papers as the project proceeds. They will be reported in the TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS and on the TPC-TRANSCEND Peace Channel. Watch out!

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