The West in the 21st CenturySamuel 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.
There are many possible 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, or will she have the strength to expel Islam and forge a new beginning for herself, after generations of decline?
The West needs to reinvent itself, but it should also form a strategic alliance with India. Bush has already adopted a policy designed to draw India closer to the United States in a strategic alliance. This is a good move. Bush has arranged for India to receive some of the very high tech weapons that America's allows only its closest allies to have. Both the U.S. and India were British colonies and have that British influence in common. This helps Americans and Indians communicate even though their religion and cultures are very different. Given that Islam is an enemy to both India and the United States, the combination is a natural one.
It is also my firm conviction that we need to get rid of both the European Union and the United Nations. At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama pronounced that we had arrived at "The End of History", and that capitalism and liberal democracy would now be the only global system left. But when I look at Europe today, I see democracies under threat because of an elaborate Eurabian bureaucracy and Islamic fanaticism. I see countries unwilling or unable to defend themselves against massive immigration/colonization, and the possible dawn of neo-barbarism. Has democracy become too soft to function? Have we arrived at "the End of Democracy" instead of "the End of History?" What does it take for a democracy to work? Can you still retain a democracy with massive illegal immigration going on? Is Multiculturalism inherently anti-democratic? Some people claim that the nation state is a redundant concept in a globalized world, but I can't see many democratic societies not based on a nation state. Can you? To me, the EU is the perfect example of how democracy becomes weakened when you try to make an organization above the nation state. And the UN is unacceptable because it allows dictatorships and corrupt non-democratic states to dictate democratic ones. Until we have something better, if ever, the nation state is the best way ever discovered of organizing society to provide the greatest good to the greatest number of people. The problem I think is that people get confused between democracy and human rights. Obviously you can't have pure democracy -- that is just mob rule. As some wag once wrote, "Two wolves voting to eat the sheep." That's why the famous concept of "checks and balances" were built into the US system of government -- to give some protection to the sheep. The framers of the US constitution thought long and hard about pure democracy and recognized its limitations.
The US system, with its separation of executive and legislative powers, isn't nearly as "democratic" as the European parliamentary system. Small parties have no influence there -- that's why special interest groups like feminists are often represented by lobbying organizations like NOW here rather than actual political parties as in Europe. But such a set-up mitigates against extremism -- in a Parliamentary system some extremist small party can exert influence beyond its numbers due to providing the swing vote in coalitions. Within the US system, there is a wide spectrum of political beliefs across the two parties. The Democrats have a liberal, centrist, and rightiest wing. Ditto the Republicans (although the liberal Republicans are a dying breed.) Under our system, Republicans are allowed to vote for Democratic proposals and Democrats are allowed to vote for Republican proposals. And representatives do frequently "cross party lines" to vote on issues that matter to their constituents. There is no such thing as "required vote" where you have to vote the way your party votes or else leave the party. Every vote on every issue to come up in the Congress is a "free vote." I think this is superior because it is voting on issues on an individual basis, not on a "group" basis. Of course the party in power does apply pressure, arm-twisting, etc. to get their members to vote "the Republican agenda" etc., but there is no legal requirement for them to vote so.
Ohmyrus: Bring back that Old Time Religion
Democracy is also a secular ideology and its proponents can be as intolerant as any religious fanatic. Other forms of government are viewed as illegitimate and ought to be converted into democracies. Many democrats cannot tolerate any kind of dictatorship – not the fascist kind nor the communist kind or the Islamist kind like what you see in Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Islamists think that the only legitimate form of government is an Islamic state and therefore oppose Bush's plans with suicide bombers. Thus two intolerant ideologies, one secular and the other religious are fighting it out in the sands of Iraq. However, I believe that democracy is not the end of history. Francis Fukuyama is wrong. Democracy will one day be replaced by something else. Perhaps, in a thousand years' time, people will view democrats of our present era as being intolerant of other forms of governments like people of our era view medieval Christians as intolerant of other religions.
Hugh Fitzgerald: Stop taking the UN seriously
Only a fool nowadays would use a phrase such as "international community," which attempts to treat Syria and Iceland as the same kind of members, or Costa Rica and Saudi Arabia, as similarly situated and behaving. What nonsense. There is no "international community." There is no "community" which contains Iceland and Libya, Italy and Saudi Arabia, the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Some of these are our enemies; they wish us ill, they do not wish us well. Infidels and Believers cannot -- according to Islam itself, according to everything about Islam -- form a community. There is only the umma al-islamiyya, the Community of Believers. All others must be kept at bay, inveigled, fooled, undermined, ultimately conquered, and conclusively subjugated. No other possible outcome, according to what is contained in Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira, is possible. The phrase "international community" is telling. Those who use it are telling us something about themselves. And what they are telling us isn't flattering.
There are no "united" nations. There is an organization that has been undermined from within. It is now an obstacle to the wellbeing of all those who wish to see clearly what is at stake in the worldwide Jihad, and to preserve themselves, in Europe, in America, in Russia, and in the Middle East, from the imposition of a belief-system -- through being overrun, slowly but surely, by adherents of that belief-system -- that has left every place it has conquered intellectually impoverished, and in every other way as well. Taking the U.N. seriously is by now as absurd as, in September 1939, going to the League of Nations (or as those incurable salon-habitués, the French, liked to call it, la Société des Nations, the "society or community of nations"), to ask it to please, please, please deal with Mr. Hitler -- he is behaving so badly.
Should the EU be Dismantled?
Should the entire European Union simply be dismantled? I've started to wonder whether the whole thing, just like Islam, coincidentally, is simply beyond reform and a threat to democracy. Critics claim that the Council of Ministers, the EU’s supreme law-making body, which decides two thirds of all Britain’s laws, is the only legislature outside the Communist dictatorships of North Korea and Cuba to pass laws in secret.