Tuesday, October 16, 2007

20 years after the collapse of communism (give or take a couple of years)

Check out this slate article, its about former East-block countries staring their past in the face and understanding what’s what. At one point the author, Anne Applebaum, compares Estonia in the 00’s to Germany in the 60’s. This got me to thinking about this wild trip that has engulfed most of my lifetime that some commentators are calling “the end of history.”
The world is still convulsing as it deals with the question of what now? What do we do with the vacuums created by the cutting of that great Iron curtain? Does Western Democracy and Capitalism inevitably insert itself into the rubble that America perceives as the dustbin or history? If yes, what are the effects? What will people say when they are given a voice? Will they parrot our talking-points? By no means! Globalization will not only change the globalized, but the globalizers as well. A multiplicity of claims couched in cultural conxtexts will clash. There will be localists wielding power in response to uncertainty. The back and forth of this new paradigm requires responsibility. No more can we simply say us/them, but instead us/us/us/them/us/them/them/them depending on individual incidents and issues. Look at Frances’ response to the USA leading up to the Iraq war, they were after their own interests. Look at Russia’s power-plays in the arctic, and cyber-attacks on Estonia. Look at the near toe to toe game of chicken America and China played before 9-11. Look at Iran’s audacity. It is like the Greeks, once they defeated the Persians they turned in on themselves. It’s like the end of World War Two, after the defeat of Nazism the allies turned in on themselves.
Perhaps the world is shifting in order to create a new Balance of Power. To do this many nations are drifting away from America to counter-balance the current un-evenness in things geo-political. What form will the opposition take? And as is always the case with dichotomies, how will the nature of this “other” shape our own perceptions of reality and ways of living? Or perhaps I am being too western-centric? When this all shakes out will American-ness and Westernness even be the defining feature of this new balance? Perhaps a North-South divide, as some people speak of. Or a division based on the rural and the urban, the religious and the secular, the mechanized and the industrial?
Or perhaps there shall be no ridged dichotomy (as if there ever is outside of textbooks). Perhaps there will be tiers, the post-industrial west will slumber in its multi-national glory while less developed countries play games of intrigue with one another, asserting their national identities now unfettered by international capitalist/communist paradigms.
I have very little clue of where we are headed, but it feels good to look at where we’ve been, and how that informs where we are.

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