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I think that the potential for real war is quite minimal. Actually, the US won against the old URSS by not engaging in a real war with blood and distruction, but by simply raising the bar of competition to a point that the URSS could not sustain.

My interpretation of what is happening todays is that China will rule the world as the US did after the Second World War. Ruling in terms of driving the directions on politics, on consensus, on economy and, finally, on culture. A big, undervalued power of the US after WW2 is certainly the cultural power that gets inside our houses through goods, music, movies, TVs etc. The homogeneization process that happened at cultural level is something that is actually binding people to the US, starting from the private heart and ending with political and economical decisions. As I say, this is an important ingredient in fostering the power of the economy of a country.

This happened in a homogeneous situation, where the driving forces in the US have been organic to the Western European culture (or to the European Culture that survived until 1939). For us, in Europe, the "messages" that came from the US were not that different from what we were used to. This "homogeneous culture" made it smoother the homgeneization of the economy, of the politics, of the "fundamental values", imho.

The effectiveness of cultural messages and models of "success" can be very high; it may take longer with a dis-homogeneous culture... but that is not the issue.

By the time democracy (as we "know and interpret it") will be established in China, I guess that this whole process will be well on its way.
And that the "Western world" will not be ruling as it did so far. Which means that we may "loose" the benefits of the driving seat.

In my humble opinion, the only real threat is this one, which may not be a threat at all at a global scale.

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