Eve of Disaster
30/01/2013 Deja un comentario
(…..) Looking at the world of 1913 reminds us there is nothing immutable about continuity of globalization and certainly nothing immutable about Western-oriented globalization of the last few decades. There are plenty of distinct and plausible shocks to system could knock our expectations of future wildly off course, and plenty of surprises we can neither predict nor anticipate, but we can indirectly prepare for by attuning ourselves to the possibility of their occurrence. To take example of one of the more plausible shocks we now face, a miscalculation in the South China Sea could easily set off a chain of events not entirely dissimilar to a shot in Sarajevo 1914, with alliance structures, questions of prestige, escalation, credibility, military capability turning what should be marginal to global affairs into a central question of war and peace. In a general sense, while United States in 2013 may not be a perfect analogue for Britain in 1913 (nor China in 2013 a perfect analogue for Germany in 1913), it is certainly the case that the world we are now entering is more similar to that of 100 years ago, a world of competitive multipolarity, than that of a quarter-century ago. Just as in 1913, technology, trade, finance bind the world together now, and rational self-interest would suggest that integration these forces have brought about is irreversible. Yet, over the last few years, the world has witnessed a rise in trade protection, breakdown in global trade negotiations, totally inadequate progress on global climate discussions, moves to fragment the Internet. There is a corrosive and self-fulfilling sense that the dominance of the West, as the world’s rule-maker and pace-setter, is over. Humanity is forever condemned to live with uncertainty about future. Thinking historically equips us to better gauge uncertainty, to temper biases, question assumptions, stretch our imagination. By understanding history of other countries, particularly those are re-emerging to global eminence now, we might better understand their mindsets, hopes, and fears. And when we’ve done that, we might find we need to think again about how to build a future of our own making, rather than one decided for us by events. The world of 1913, a brilliant, dynamic, interdependent, offers a warning. The operating system of the world in that year was taken by many for granted. In 2013, at a time of similar global flux, the biggest mistake we could possibly make is to assume that the operating system of our own world will continue indefinitely, all we need to do is stroll into the future, future will inevitably be what we want it to be. Comforting times are over. We need to prepare ourselves for much rougher ride ahead.