I think I should explicitly present what I had rendered only implicit in my last post.
One thing that readily emerges from this pan-European existential crisis relating to the EU (far before Brexit even) is just how small Europe appears today. While in its economic and military might are still significant in real terms, while it still carries part of the banner of universalism – we still think of Europeans as the most people-like people – it is, to a degree, diminished in the face of a world which has learnt to live without Europe. Post-GFC, post Asian Financial Crisis and particularly in climate negotiations, Asian, African and American nations are realising that they have to conceive of a world without waiting for Europe to come to the table.
This is a rather uncomfortable truth, mainly because it is chiefly presented to us by economic elites, power-hungry politicians speaking of ‘Asian centuries’ and autocratic sycophants in newspapers columns. There is no better figure than The New York Times’ most buffoonish of columnists, Thomas Friedman, who best represents this mantra that ‘The World is Flat’ while simultaneously justifying American imperialism globally. Many cultural critics and left-of-centre commentators feel uneasy with this ready acquiescence to the rising power of particularly Asian nations for very real concerns about the nature in which these societies have developed: embracing liberal economic reforms, promoting nationalist culture and often emboldening authoritarian state structures. To extrapolate further, with the increasing cultural competition from non-Western sources – particularly the stratospheric rise of Korean culture within the core of Western metropoles – it is all too easy for a sympathetic Western critic to argue that Asian capitalism has taken the worst aspects of Western consumerist culture without the egalitarian promises of liberal democracy and social democracy which were necessary for it to thrive. Continue reading “Post-Europe: Lenin’s Abyss”