Online Workshop Part 4: Whose 21st Century? The Retreat of the Western OrderThe workshop part 3, about identifying the weaknesses of Islam and of ourselves, is still going on, but it's time to launch a few other topics. How will the 21st century be like, and who will be the leading powers/civilizations? Is it possible to make any predictions about this at all?
Samuel P. Huntington's now almost legendary essay about The Clash of Civilizations has generated a lot of discussion, and some justified criticism. Some would claim that there is no clash of civilizations, just a clash between a global, universal civilization and Islamic neo-barbarism. But Huntington does have some points. The West is still the leading civilization on the planet, but it is in decline. Both because we constitute an ever-shrinking part of global demography, and because we have lost confidence in our own culture. The beginning of the 21st century could perhaps be labelled "the retreat of the Western order", as the Islamic world is challenging us ideologically and China in particular is challenging us economically.
Let us debate the likelihood of a few different scenarios for the first half of the 21st century.
1. Another Atlantic/Western century
The intra-Western, Atlantic ties between Europe and North America will still be the most important and defining global axis. Although not impossible, this is probably not the most likely alternative at this point, given the economic and cultural weakness of Europe in particular.
2. Another American century
The USA, more than Europe and Asia, will continue to be the world's unchallenged superpower. The 21st century will be a continuation of the American Age that started in the 20th century.
3. The Asian/Chinese century
The world will return to the Asia-centric world we had before the rise of Europe and the West. Will this be a world dominated by China, or by Asia as a whole, including India? Will the rise of Asian economies trigger nationalistic rivalries and devastating intra-Asian wars such as WW1 in Europe, or will they cooperate peacefully?
4. The Pacific century
The USA may remain the world's leading power, but Europe fades off the global scene and leaves her spot open for Asia. Global affairs will be shaped by the twin pillars of the USA and East Asia, mainly China.
5. The Anglosphere - Indian century
I believe this is what has been predicted by Mark Steyn, among others. The USA and the UK, the major powers of the previous 3 centuries, will be at the centre of this one, too. But they will share the spot with India and maybe some other countries such as Japan, "honorary members" of the Anglosphere. This alliance will try to contain China, and will have hostile relations with the Islamic world.
6. The Islamic century - Neo-Barbarism and Chaos, the new Dark Ages
Islam manages to derail the West, both Europe and later North America. This disrupts global trade, and the ripples create chaos in other parts of the world, including East Asia. India will be drawn directly into the conflict with Islam, as will Russia and Israel.
In most of the above scenarios, I take it for granted that the USA will remain a major global player, and find it likely that Asia will increase its share of global BNP (although not necessarily to the point of dominance). The big question mark here is Europe. Will Europe become Eurabia, and be crushed by the other infidel powers? Will she slowly decline into third world status and irrelevance, or will she have the strength to expel Islam and forge a new beginning for herself, after generations of decline?