The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Monday, February 14, 2011
Current Affairs ... Foreign Relations/World Affairs ... History ...

I ran across this article today in “The Australian”, entitled “Why the West is on the Wane” by Michael Wesley. I highly recommend it! Back when I was a kid, the world was a battleground between two systems: our western mix of democracy, liberty, capitalism and open markets (with a twist of government regulation), versus the Communist world with its powerful doctrinal apparatus and a state institution that planned out and commanded as much as possible about economic, political and personal life. We all had faith that the west would win, but figured that the final victory would happen sometime well after the turn of the 21st Century.

So it was quite a surprise that the battle suddenly ended around 1990, with Communism the clear loser. Our system had clearly been vindicated, and it was just a question of mopping up until the whole world was a capitalist democracy. Well, who would have guessed that 20 years later it would become apparent that the sun is also setting on the West.

This is one of the most insightful articles on that topic that I’ve read. And who would be better poised to reflect on it than a commentator from Australia, an outpost of the western world jammed up against China and the rest of the “rising East”. Australia is on the front line, the bleeding edge between two worlds and two very different ways of life, two different philosophies of commerce, governance and social expectation.

The bottom line is that things are going to be quite different in 40 years for the kids you see today on their tricycles and scooters and X-boxes. The national strength that made for the many opportunities and comforts and entitlements that we Baby Boomers took for granted (now to our regret) may not be there for them. To some degree it was bad management and lack of foresight, but to a larger degree it’s just the wheel of history turning as it has for millenniums on end. Empires come and go, and as with our own bodies, we all hope that our situation will be granted an exception from decline. Sooner or later we realize that it won’t.

I’m glad I was there for the late afternoon and early evening of the American era, but it’s rather melancholy to grow old just as the system that we depended upon (and, in our better moments, believed in) also sinks into decline. The great ideas and projects for the world in the 21st and 22nd centuries will emanate from distant shores. The next man or woman on the moon may well not be an American. Let’s just hope that the emerging ‘new world’ will preserve what was good about the American Alliance, and learn from our many, many mistakes.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 9:23 pm      

  1. Jim, You have a point in being glad at being a part of America in its “hey day.” But change is inevitable in every regard of life.

    Being about 20 years older than you, I am here to say that after a certain point, one figures: Let the future to the “young ones.” They’ll manage one way or the other. We “old ones” managed one way or the other during our times. Why deprive those coming up of the chance to grow and learn?

    I like your take on things in this blog. Your point about learning from one’s own mistakes is well made. Would we all could/would do that. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — February 15, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

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