The West–Where Are You Heading?
EDITORIAL, 11 Sep 2017
A world map shows the West is big, from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, from the Arctic Ocean to the Mediterranean-Black Sea-Russian border; but not that big. However, that is only Europe. Add Anglo-America, USA-Canada, from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans, from the Arctic Ocean to Mexico. The West is huge, enormous.
It covers geographically the Northern Arctic and temperate zones.
It houses religiously the three Christianities, much of Judaism, but not Islam. Muslims and all others count as minorities, here and there.
It is the seat of another major faith, Enlightenment: humanism-liberalism-marxism-nationalism-statism-capitalism-regionalism.
It is the seat of the major IGOs, NGOs and TNCs in the world.
It identifies West as “developed”, and Rest as “developing”.
West has attacked, invaded, conquered, colonized almost all the Rest of the world (China only partly, Japan only recently, from 1945).
The overwhelming majority of wars are intra-West, or West-Rest.
It has converted successfully the direct violence of war into the structural violence of exploitation, justified by cultural violence, by using, importing, robbing resources, processing them, exporting the products, pocketing the value-added, patenting what they learnt.
And in spite of, or rather because of, all of this now declining relatively speaking, with the Rest headed by China-India taking over (not “emerging”, that was long time ago). But today this is old hat.
What, then, happens to the old West? That extremist West, fundamentalist under Trump, fights back, trying by military means to reconquer past economic and political leadership, exploiting-deciding over others, was to be expected. That extremist West tries to lead West against Rest defined as “barbarian” was also to be expected. Both efforts will fail. The Rest is sick and tired of Western “leadership”, and prefers China’s more even-headed win-win positive diplomacy.
The Rest was slow in getting the trick. Decolonization helped politically. But much more important was regionalization, first in ASEAN and Africa, coming in Latin America-Caribbean, slowly in Asia.
More important was economic self-reliance by processing their resources themselves rather than demanding better terms of trade; learning from Japan, not from Latin America in a misguided period.
Equally important was doing it all the Japanese way; the tigers-dragons learning from Japan; China from them without acknowledging; Africa-Latin America now learning from and soon overtaking China.
The wrong step was terrorism, however understandable given the enormous Western violence against the Islamic Rest. It backfires.
Most important: Rest drawing on all cultures: in Rest and in West.
A historical model is the fast decline of extremist West Rome and East Rome contracting, but surviving. West Rome fought back with Crusades also against East Rome, and came back in alliance with Germany, “The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation”.
Is this going to happen again? USA declining fast, returning to Anglo-America (poor Canada if USA keeps old habits), Europe hanging on to a softer imperialism, more self-reliant, ultimately with the strongest Europe, Germany relating to Washington? Not impossible, but if so with the speed of contemporary accelerated history.
And again at the expense of the huge Russian part of the huge European part of the huge West. Is this underlying the schizophrenic policy of EU countries, with a majority “refusing to fight US wars”, yet dehumanizing Russia through US-led sanctions, paving the ground for a neo-Napoleon, a neo-Hitler? Coming out of a recently reborn French-German EU, liberated through Brexit from Anglo-America?
Similar contexts may generate similar forces that may generate similar action, “history repeating itself”. Any reason that history should not? The West has repeated itself all the time. So may the Rest.
Let us explore another scenario, also inspired by what happened to the Roman Empire. West Rome contracted into small polities, counties, duchies &c, became more spiritual. USA may do the same, using Christianity-Humanism against expanding Islam. And then be reborn to its old expansionist Self, already exploring Moon, Mars, &c.
And East Rome, Europe? Not a neo-empire, but simply reaching out to Islam, China-India, South and East in general, aiming at equity and harmony. Much apology-work has to be done; Italy-Berlusconi showed the way. There is a lot to build on, like the positive aspects of the Commonwealth and the Communauté. Germany will have to redo its failed amateurish “reconciliation” with Namibia over the Prussian genocides in Southwest Africa in 1904. All it takes is a statesman, or -woman rather, of some format. They appear occasionally, also in the West.
That would give us a very divided West with the USA gradually settling in outer space, and Europe in equity and harmony with the Rest. With no German comeback in the cards–no Fourth Reich after the First, Second and Third–deeply regionalized and globalized, as the others.
This may inspire USA to change backyard policies in Latin America and Japan–and “foreyard” polices in Canada–in favor of equity and harmony and of an independent Japan. At the expense of divine chosen people, promised land exceptionalism yielding to normality, something new. This could happen sooner rather than later, defining a new and more important American Left, not only as old-fashioned socialism.
It would carry in its wake the individual level counterpart: there are no chosen individuals, with promised status. We are all chosen as humans by the precious gift of life, with guaranteed survival, wellness, freedom of options, identity. In a nature with guaranteed diversity and symbiosis; not vicious human attacks on both.
The future of the West? No West, forget about it. Together with the Rest in a world from regionalization to true, diverse globalization.
Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. Prof. Galtung has published more than 1500 articles and book chapters, over 470 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service, and more than 170 books on peace and related issues, of which more than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years – 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at transcend.org/galtung.
Tags: Colonization, Developed, Globalization, History, West
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 11 Sep 2017.
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