I had to come out of hiding for the Barnett vs. Robb friction (good posts at Zenpundit and Phatic Communion -which is back on the blogroll) with a quote from Kevin Kelly’s older book “New Rules for the New Economy” (Kelly is a cofounder/editor of Wired and someone who really gets the new world of networks – his great book is available online through that link ):
There are two elementary kinds of loops: Self-negating loops such as thermostats and toilet bowl valves, which create feedback loops that regulate themselves, and self-reinforcing loops, which are loops that foster runaway growth such as increasing returns and network effects.
Bottom line is Barnett is looking for self reinforcing feedback loops and Robb keeps a finger on the negative feedback loops regulating the international system.
As is nature – the negative will outweigh and dictate the positive. Things get worse (and will) before they get better. There is a larger framework at play shaping the international system, but it’s not Barnett’s vision. Disruptive innovation overcomes sustaining innovation.