It is a good thing I am not a journalist, since I often forget to write down the source of interesting comments I hear on, for instance, television. Come to think of it, this makes me a lousy blogger too. Anyway, recently my beloved Arte had an item on India as an emergent world power and a future engine of global economy.
One of the Indian interviewees, an economics professor if I am not mistaken, anticipated that Western, and notably European, power would decline and that Asia, notably India and China, would then take over control and impose their models on the world.
On Tuesday night, French economist Philippe Dessertine, invited to France 5 current events program C Dans Lâ€™Air, was particularly gloomy about the economic forecast, talking about an impending global shit storm. Actually, he simply said une tempÃªte qui sâ€™annonce, but his message was very clear. We are in for a rough ride. If you understand French you can watch part of the program here. Dessertine starts at 17.22.
Back to my Indian professor. Maybe it was my imagination, but this man seemed to take some pleasure in the fact that Asia, among others, is about to turn the tables on Western hegemony. Revenge of the formerly colonized or something like that. Fair enough, I suppose.
NaÃ¯ve as I may be, I do realize that things are never that easy. But what if he is right? What would that mean for us Europeans/Westerners?
We have grown accustomed to exporting our own grand visions of the world. A few centuries ago it was Christianity and now it is democracy (the US) and human rights (Europe). And when the economic conditions within our own societies became intolerable, we simply exported ourselves to newly discovered places, far away from our own misery. In other words, we and our values spread around the world like an enlightened plague. This blessing in disguise was not always appreciated by the recipients but our own societies fared pretty well as a consequence, some minor glitches (the failing Spanish empire, for instance) notwithstanding.
Now, for my question. What if other civilizations, by the brutal force of economic power and demographics, would start to do the same to us in a not too distant future? How would we cope with that intellectually, morally and economically?
I know this is just a silly mind-game, but it would be interesting to put ourselves in the place of the formerly colonized, if only for a minute, and see if our cherished values can really live up to that kind of a challenge. Besides, I do believe that we will be confronted with these questions, to some degree, sooner or later. Think about the recent Mittal issue in France. If you feel really philosophical you can debate the following question: Are our values merely driven by circumstance? Or, is our â€œenlightenmentâ€ just a luxury product?