A lot has been said about the transition to a “multipolar world order” in recent times. But what defines multipolarity? – and what is our framework for understanding this transition?

Multipolarity is multiple independent “poles” of power, trade, and culture. These are also called “cells” as there may not be a pole, in the traditional sense of unipolar or bipolar structures, but rather, a collection of nations which mutually operate within a cell to establish their independence, eg ASEAN and EU. Multipolarity focuses on regionalism in contrast to the typical globalist vision of unipolar and bipolar systems. Further, these approaches (due to smaller poles) tend to focus on consensus and mutual respect as the means of conducting diplomacy.

Elon Musk laid out the core reason to move away from a unipolar system: the risk of catastrophic failure when nations collaborate under a single authority. Multipolarity focuses on addressing that concern by cellularizing economics and politics. This regionalization solves the problem that the modern world is too complex for either tightly coupled systems or centralized control. Both of these are prone to issues with alignment (eg, a far off ruler acting ignorantly) and clericalism (eg, governing to a metric).

Cellular architectures akin to multipolarity are commonplace: in biology, multicellular life led to the explosion of diversity and complex life; in technology, cellularization enabled scaling to global systems; in argiculture, crop diversification avoided the struggles of monoculture collapse.

There are however challenges that remain in the transition to multipolarity:

  • how do we avoid the collapse of multipolarity via institutional capture?
  • how do we address transregional issues, such as pollution and overfishing?
  • how do we prvent bloc conflict as nations and blocs pursue their own power?
  • how do we define regions and prevent overlapping alliances, such as those prior to WW1?

All of these are challenges which the nascent multipolar world order will need to address. However, by facing these challenges we can solve the systemic ones caused by the present implementation, which is overly clerical and misaligned to human flourishing. This has become a pressing necessity as rogue bureaucratics in the former unipolar bloc are busily deconstructing their societies based on delusional beliefs – bringing great suffering not just to their own people, but the global population.

Implementing this change will be difficult, but there are guiding principles that we can use: a focus on regional trade groups; a focus on open collaboration in science and technology; a focus on respect for regional culture, traditions, and independence; and an alignment of smaller nations into regional blocs, eg ASEAN or EU.

Our guiding light must always be the pursuit of greater harmony: what are you building for humanity? …what makes your section of the garden beautiful and vibrant? …how do you support and enrich your neighbors?