The ‘Cogwheel’ Conception of Global Communisms

One idea I am working on at the moment is that, rather than as a monolith or even a hierarchical pyramid emanating downwards and outwards from Moscow, global communisms may be seen as cogwheels which together formed a decentralised and multipolar ‘machine’ (at least during the Cold War). In place of the traditional conceptualisation of information and leadership flows as hierarchical and linear (or, in a more sophisticated sense, multilinear), the interaction of these ‘global communisms’ worked more like a series of inter-related cogs of varying sizes. Sometimes these cogs were driven from the centre, sometimes from the periphery, and sometimes a breakdown in the system would see a single cog (Yugoslavia, for example) or an entire sub-system (the Chinese-dominated variants of communism) spin off and form a new ‘machine’. To extend the metaphor: sometimes external ‘spanners’ were thrown into the works; sometimes the cogs worked against one another; sometimes the teeth of the cogs simply wore down.

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