Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Online Workshop Part 4: Whose 21st Century? The Retreat of the Western Order

The 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?


At December 07, 2005 7:26 PM, Blogger Cosmophant said...

President Wilson said in 1917 about the world:
There must be, not a balance of power, but a community of power; not organized rivalries, but an organized common peace.

This has defined the age we are now seeing the end of, the age of the US and the UN. We will now go back to the "old rules" of "balance of power" again. And in that sense it is the end of the American Age. America will remain the most powerful nation, however, for most of this century.

The world and its power-balance will remind of 19th century. Samuel Huntington is right. Think of it as a larger-scale Europe of the 19th century, with many powerful competing powers -- with civilizations as agents rather than nations -- and no world order; only power balance.

So out of your six alternatives I would not pick any. None of the powers will get the upperhand in this century. The next century though will probably be shaped in one of those ways. Hard so say which now.

And as for Europe. We will have to learn to fight for our existence. And we will learn that, and we will do it well. But first we'll have to go through hell.

At December 07, 2005 10:54 PM, Blogger Heloise said...

The economies of the East and West depend on oil. No one really knows when the major oil fields will run out but predictions range to from 20 years to the end of the century. What does this mean for the world? We must put aside our denial of the future and coldly and courageously attack this problem now!

China is a hard one to call. They are very inscrutable, just ask me about my Chinese uncle.
India can progress only as much as it contains islam.
Europe has dhimmified and unfortunately, seldom in history have the dhimmis been able to beat back the barbarians.

Major concerns about the U.S.- political correctness, moral relativism and, the ridiculous idea of multiculturalism. And the "compassionate" idiots of leftist liberalism.

At December 08, 2005 12:58 AM, Blogger heather said...

My vote would go for option number 5. Bear in mind I have no expertise whatsoever in this field. My observations are that India has a highly intelligent/well-educated workforce--and something that China doesn't have, a relatively free country.

I would also have to agree with Heloise:
"Major concerns about the U.S.- political correctness, moral relativism and, the ridiculous idea of multiculturalism. And the "compassionate" idiots of leftist liberalism."

Given that, I would say the US will still be a major influence in the world well into the next century unless some type of catastrophic attack(s) occur.

My outlook on Europe is much more pessimistic--unless there is a major awakening and an immediate change of course. Parts of Eastern Europe may survive, but only because decades of brutality/oppression are very fresh in their collective memories.

At December 09, 2005 9:07 PM, Blogger heather said...

CDR Salamander has a couple of good posts about the future of Europe that tie in nicely to this discussion. This one in particular says it much better than I could:

Will Poland have to save Europe again?

At December 09, 2005 10:38 PM, Blogger Rick Darby said...

Which scenario comes to pass depends on (1) a technical-economic question — as Heloise notes, the problem of dependence on imported oil must be solved, and soon — and (2) on whether the Anglosphere nations can overcome the political correctness/multi-culti ideology they've bathed in for longer than many of its younger citizens have been alive.

I actually think solving the first problem is more likely: we're good at technical fixes, they fit in with our value system, and I can see no serious domestic opposition to energy self-sufficiency. Big Oil can adapt to other sources of oil and other forms of power; they'd be happy to invest without the political risks of digging in places like Russia and Saudi Arabia.

It's the second issue I'm less optimistic about. There is a valiant "underground" of resisters to the dominant multi-culturalist, one-world ideology (Fjordman is a good example), but let's face it: the other side controls all the mass media except the Web, plus legislative and especially bureaucratic/regulatory/judicial offices in every Western country. Not very good odds.

Still, change is the rule of life. Maybe the youngest generation will trash the old attitudes that got us into this situation. Certainly they have access to a virtually infinite number of sources of information and ideas on line. That's one reason that sites like Fjordman's soon-to-be-missed blog are crucially important.


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