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Thursday, March 10, 2011
Current Affairs ... Foreign Relations/World Affairs ...

If you had to predict the major geopolitical trends for the rest of the 21st Century, the surest bet would be China’s rise to global empire-hood, and America’s decline from it. The major implication from such a view is that the Greek – Roman – Anglican – American heritage of personal freedom, human rights and representative democratic governance has finally run out of steam. Democracy, freedom and constitutions of and by the people were not the “light of humankind” after all; the sun seems to be setting on those ideals after 2,500 years of light (they didn’t call it en-light-tenment for nothing). The Chinese are setting an example for the rest of the developing world: that the better way to growth, prosperity and sustainability rests in a complex mix of personal economic incentive and collective “order-keeping”, combined with deference to authority (and perhaps even a desire for it). It’s all very Confucian, so I’ve read (despite the fact that my own readings of Master Confucians seem rather benign and even edifying).

OK to most of that, but before we write the eulogy for the Anglo-American ideal, we have to ask if there exists a people on the ascent who might pick up the torch presently in America’s faltering hands. I believe there is — India. Despite India’s relatively exotic history and cultural heritage, and despite its vigor to free itself from British domination in the 19th and early 20th centuries, there is evidence that India values the Anglo socio-political philosophies and intends to protect and promote them in the “brown-skin world” of the future. I just read an article in Forbes about India as a growing world power, and there was in incredible quote from an Indian scholar based at UCLA, Deepak Lal. Professor Lal said: “It is in India’s long term interest to recognize that the continuance of its liberal democratic open economy also requires it to support and, if necessary, take over the imperial burden from the U.S.”

India still has a way to go until it truly has the economic and military power to take on an “imperial burden”. It still needs much more infrastructure and many reforms from antiquated laws and social customs. But Indians have shown themselves to be very entrepreneurial; despite their other-worldly Hindu religious beliefs, they actualize the Protestant work ethic in their daily lives. They have made a lot of progress in modernizing and industrializing, and have a lot of momentum (including yearly economic growth in the 8% zone). Despite it’s independent foreign policies that haven’t always been sympathetic or cooperative with the Euro-American west, India seems to be sticking with the heritage brought to its shores and over its mountains by white traders back in the 17th Century, and forced down its throat by Victorian invaders in the mid 1800s. The bitter experiences of western colonialism did not completely blind it to what was good and remains good about western ideals. Our values thus will not be discarded despite the huge social, economic and political changes being wrought in the 21st Century.

India. Hey, you never know who your friends are!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:32 pm      
 
 


  1. Jim, Today the earthquake in Japan, the tsunami, etc. In the face of such things, it seems to me that trying to predict the future and what might happen, who might “take over” things in the future is simply useless. One just never knows what may happen as today’s events prove.

    I did wonder about the use of the word “imperial.” Does the world see the U.S. as “imperial”? One would hope not. And if the U.S. is actually seen as “imperial”, how terrible. I can see that the countries of the world may look to one country as a “leader”, but “imperial”? If the U.S. is seen that way because of its actions as a nation or because of the actions of its individuals, the country needs to take action to disabuse other nations of seeing it as such; being seen as a “leader” of the world, OK–but definitely not “imperial”, one would hope. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — March 11, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

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