The New World Order is a phrase that became popular at the end of The Cold War. In 1989 there was hope that after 45 years of world stalemate, some leader or group could devise a way to manage world affairs that promoted peace, justice, and prosperity. Instead we’ve had endless wars, environmental degradation, climate change, poverty, the growth of dictators, racism, and anti-semitism. What the hell happened?

A feature of seemingly unresolved conflict within and between individuals is zero-sum thinking. That is, when there is a belief that there are only two, mutually exclusive decisional options. In the Cold War, the two options were seen as capitalism or communism. There was no middle ground. The novelist Philip Roth said: “In capitalism everything goes, and nothing matters. In communism nothing goes, and everything matters”. People feel secure if they can put their faith in one, all-encompassing belief system. If one thinks everything goes and nothing matters (unmitigated lust); or nothing goes and everything matters (absolute suppression of instincts), then there is no anxiety causing conflict.

Full adherence to capitalist or communist beliefs can both be considered Onethingisms. Onethingisms are a defense against insecurity. There can be no anxiety causing conflict if only one idea is in mind. This sort of denial of the existence of competing explanations for things is what makes radical conspiracy theories are so seductive. Nazis and Trump followers imagine that various out-groups (Jews, blacks, immigrants) are responsible for all their problems. That they are the conspirators. But those who believe in conspiracies are just projecting their self-hate onto those whom they think are conspiring against them. It is one paranoid idea: “They are out to get me!”

So, when there was a chance for a new world order, few were able to imagine anything others than capitalism or communism. So, the world needed new mutually exclusive, zero-sum Onethingisms. These are represented by far right and far left conspiracy theorists. The truth of things is extraordinarily complex. To understand enough of reality is impossible when anxiety is too high. When truth is frightening, lunacy prevails in psychological and social life. Truth is less important than having one, reality denying belief system.

The new world order is psychologically and socially like the old-world order. Except with overpopulation, climate change, deluded leaders, social media, and the availability of guns for individuals and nuclear weapons for nations, the new old-world order is much more dangerous than the old-world order. I am not hopeful. If Trump is re-elected, I imagine the human race will self-destruct in about five years.