Innumerable articles have been written of the debate regarding East vs West, yet the lead-up to the current war as well as the conflict itself have accelerated the change in world politics. This article will examine four of the key issues that will be instrumental in the way that events develop, the shift of power being both an action and reaction.
A World in Anguish.
Since the dawn of civilization, people, societies and lands have been in constant flux. Be it war, peace, famine or feast, as the ages have passed, humanity and those who it constitutes have brought us to where we are today. Today however, we are at what may be the most important juncture of our history. In spite of numerous leaders having wanted to conquer the world and eliminate their opponents through the wars that have made up the ages, to date no empire such has had the power as the West does today. Moreover, with a history of war and faced with crippling domestic issues, the states which have dominated our world for a millennium are in critical danger of being overtaken by new and dynamic powers from afar. The very matters which are causing the West the woes it is presently suffering are the same facets which are empowering its opponents, these being examined in this article.
Power(less) through People.
The core of any society are the people who make it, be that through culture or values. From the day that man climbed down from the trees to the day he uses an elevator to access his penthouse suite, it was the millions and is the billions that make up the nations of the world today. Over the course of the millennia, our understanding has allowed us to improve ourselves, a greater understanding making us the king of the beasts. Whilst one person does not make a country, as a race, our individual contribution, or more pointedly an absence of it shapes the course of our present as well as our future. And for the West at least, therein lies the rub. To see where things are going we must first look at where we were.
Powered by People.
The Industrial Revolution was a turning point for the western world, imperial powers acquiring riches and materials from afar, yet in order to maximize their potential, in most cases they needed some form of processing. As towns grew into cities, millions whose families had been on the land were drawn to the magnet of higher earnings and greater security. Previously quiet towns became a hive of activity, factories springing up and other industries coming into being in order to support them. The advent of canal and railway systems as well as a vast improvement of the road network also played a huge role in ensuring that goods could be transported in as expedient fashion as was then possible. With an exodus from the land, fewer agricultural workers needed to adopt more efficient methods to not only cover a shortfall of labor, but also feed a burgeoning population.
This for European nations at least was the biggest change seen ever in both demographics and lifestyle, the ways of life that had endured for thousands of years changing in a matter of decades. This however was only possible through the use and abuse of the available workforce. It was only the power of people that allowed the new industrial model to work, blood and sweat turning former cottage industries into industrial powerhouses which in turn formed the economic base of western empires.
A Great Leap Forward.
If we fast forward to post-war China, we see the same, a former peasant economy being rapidly transformed into an industrial behemoth in a few short years through great planning and even greater effort on the part of the workers who built it. When compared with India, which was in Asian terms at the sharp end of things as the British left in 1947, in just four decades, the difference between the two had been cut to nothing whilst today there is simply no likeness between these nations. The difference between the two industrial revolutions however is that whilst both gave huge gains to those who made the push, Beijing invested an enormous percentage of the profits in both the workplace and workforce. A hundred years ago, the West did see a large number of dwellings built to house workers, yet a new century brought a new business mentality, profit over people meaning that other than a job, the workforce was left to fend for itself. China, just like Russia however not only ensured that workers had affordable accommodation, but that as workers had families, an excellent system of both healthcare and education was made available, meaning that laborers had children that could become lawyers or doctors without any worry regarding the expenses faced in other nations. The East most certainly had sweatshops aplenty as it grew, yet today the laborer’s sweat of yesterday means a university degree for his son or daughter tomorrow.
Looking to the West however, there are two immense issues. The first is that healthcare is becoming increasingly strained in the light of persistent cutbacks by governments whilst university education is ever-more expensive when compared to earnings. The other problem is the new generation. For centuries people have spoken badly regarding ‘the youth of today’, yet today’s youngsters (and in many cases their parents) have no interest whatsoever in anything that involves hardship or a lack of instant gratification. Some would say that they are lost generations, yet the western world has seen many years without compulsory military service, genuine hardship or the need for people to do anything they do not agree with. Along with this, the social psyche has changed, too many people thinking that the world owes them a living rather than the other way round. Look at the workplace today and the starters at the bottom of the career ladder refuse to pull their weight or do the dirty jobs, the lowest of the low believing they are above anything that involves actually working hard for a living. Career benefits claimants and social justice warriors have spent their lives clamoring for everything whilst offering nothing in return, the accruing debt slowly dragging down both themselves and their society, an army of slackers in a race to the bottom.
A Nag and a Racehorse.
The Second Horse of the western apocalypse is finance. As previously mentioned, the last century has seen little or no investment from western powerhouses whilst the East has built both country and people. As the world approached the First World War it had become accepted that the rest of the world would serve the needs of western empires yet a mere forty years later in the aftermath of World War Two, colonial influence was crumbling, imperial powers seeing the economic model of the last two hundred years disappearing before their eyes. In its place, a new world was born, former slave states gaining independence and the Far East starting to grow rapidly under the efforts of their own people. Communist states grew in number, yet to counter a completely different form of governance, the former colonist nations which had lost their dependencies became subordinate to Washington, they coalescing into a new empire hellbent on dominating the globe. Now being bereft of the former riches of their empires, just like their master, their plans could only be realized through the accumulation of debt, this figure at first accumulating slowly before soaring unchecked. Today this has reached mind-boggling levels, yet for all the wealth created, it has only gone into the pockets of a very few, an absolute disparity of wealth causing both hardship and increasing bad feeling amongst a progressively more impoverished public.
In contrast, as earnings from industry slowly grew in the East, rather than going into the pockets of the speculators, funds were allocated to not only produce more of the same, but to ensure that the people who were key to the system also reaped the benefits. Poverty had crippled Asian nations since time immemorial, yet judicious use of the fruits of industry could be used to not only make life sweeter, but also to ensure that future generations could make even greater contributions to growing nations. Whilst the bête noire of western experts, state control was the key to ensuring that more people benefited less than a small group taking everything, education, hospitals and housing being prioritized over personal gain and the establishment of a social élite.
Horse number three is information. Look back a century and with libraries popping up in every town, this along with the literacy that was still a relative novelty, and the public was encouraged to absorb knowledge in order to produce a more civilized and knowledgeable society. The western world today is very different and whilst information is shoved under the noses of the public more than ever, it has to meet certain criteria. Just as in Stalin’s time, Europe and America not only ensure that their own version of events is on every front page, but make equal efforts to remove any information that may go against their narratives. Older people remember the freedom that was, but modern youngsters now live in a dream world, they not being able to learn of the nightmares that truly face them and others. This has enabled government and media alike to avoid accusations of hypocrisy, the doublespeak of today’s politics turning into a state-orchestrated monologue that most cannot even be bothered to question.
In the East things are markedly different. As has been discussed, education is available to all, yet it is only in the light of present-day politics that Moscow and Beijing have begun to clamp down on opposing opinions and even then as a reaction to the same from their western equivalents. The average Joe has access to what he wants to read whether his ruler wants him to or not. This means that as time goes by, there are ever better educated people, they eventually being the ones who assume the rein of power in the full knowledge of global happenings.
The fourth horse of the apocalypse in the West is its own establishment, this leading the other three to wherever they may go. Moreover, it is the changes to this that are pivotal to matters in the world today.
The profound importance of the western establishment through the ages is overlooked by most, yet as the order that has ruled for a millennium is facing the greatest ever threat to its existence, this also bringing unprecedented threats to the world as a whole. Time has seen power wax and wane in various nations across the western world, yet as one center of influence has faded, another has taken its place. The important fact here is that in spite of the seat of global power and wealth changing from time to time, it has always remained in the West. Be it the church or a number of notable capitals, in spite of warring factions causing misery and destruction across the globe, it has been an absolute priority that a unipolar world be maintained with its seat in the West. Therein lies another rub, and one that the West is making every effort to prevent at all costs.
When one looks at the world as a whole, it was always western empires which brought technology and development to other countries. The fact that the colonists required everything in return goes without saying, yet fifty years after the western colonial era finally died a death, we are now for the first time seeing that the East is helping other nations to move forward, albeit in a very different way. Rather than turning up with an army and a multitude of promises, China is turning up with the means for less-developed nations to improve their lot, be it through industry or infrastructure, therefore enabling them to better themselves rather than bettering the lot of faraway colonial powers. Much has been said of the loans and expertise being offered by Beijing, yet it is a world away from having someone else’s army turn up and being robbed at gunpoint as has happened in the past.
One Horse Race.
When looking at the four horses of the western apocalypse, it is not difficult to see the hurdles that they themselves have put before them. Compare this to the East and it is very easy indeed to see that as we move into the future, the powerplay across the divide will become a one-horse race. A high-flying East will come to surpass a West that has nobbled itself, a soaring Pegasus leaving increasingly puny western ponies as also-rans.
There is now true animosity across the divide, the West trying but failing to win a race of its own creation. The very things that gave it such power and wealth during its long history are now hanging like a millstone around its neck, it incapable of keeping up the pace it dictated and its threats no longer effective.
An overbearing and overexpensive western military has lost the leverage it once had, yet should another world war start, those required to fight it would not want to fight a war that they do not nor cannot understand. Moreover, in many cases, any get up and go that younger people ever had got up and left years ago, a poorly motivated public making an even worse army. Closer to home, the rapacious nature of the western model has left thousands living on the streets and millions more in poverty just to ensure that a very few live a life of luxury.
Saddled by both their past and present, the four horsemen of the western apocalypse are today little more than also-rans, yet with them being as desperate as they are, things may yet run out of control as they attempt to rein in today’s true global leaders…