Shock, Horror, another good article in the Guardian.

#2
The titan holding the orb? Is that supposed to Atlas? He wasn't a titan was he?
 
#3
chocolate_frog said:
The titan holding the orb? Is that supposed to Atlas? He wasn't a titan was he?
Atlas was a Titan; one of that race of gods before the Olympians (Zeus, Athena, etc)

Alternately, Atlas was the child of Poseidon (an Olympian) and Cleito, a mortal woman. Greek mythology rarely permits for just one account to exist...

Back on topic: interesting article, although I think the parallel is overstretched. Commentators seem very fond of that - Iraq is the new Vietnam, America in 2005 is the new Britain in 1905, George Bush is the new King George etc.

I'd like to know more about the hints that were dropped in the final paragraph.

smithie
 
#4
you're absolutley right, very thought provoking, although saying another good article is probably pushing it, thats the first i've seen.

I must admit i'm marginally concerned that i've read a gaurdian article and agreed with it. I think I need a little lie down...
 
#5
If you're a discerning reader, all the broadsheets have some very good journalism (though The Times is fast becoming a redtop in disguise).

China will almost certainly be to the 21st century what the US was to the 20th and Britain was to the 19th. Although still an economic and military giant, the US is vulnerable to its own ageing population, which demands more and has the elactoral clout to get it, while the economy continues to strain under the burden.

Meanwhile, China is powering on, with an enterprising and hard working population, that aspires to Western standards of living. The long-term dangers of China's economic explosion are, the country's lack of natural resources (which could bring them in to conflict with the nations that hold the resources) and the contribution China's rapid industrialisation will have on climate change. When they can afford it, every family in China is going to want aircon, a car and all the other bells and whistles we take for granted in the West.
 
#6
I also find laboured historical comparisons a bit dull.

The British Empire had at it's core a stated sense of mission and values that were widely shared by it's architects and administrators. OTOH, the modern "Pax Americana" doesn't by virtue of the fact that the Americans fail to actually even acknowledge that they are an empire (if it walks like a duck and quacks etc).

As we have seen, the only people who try to articulate such sentiments are usually bellicose, deluded Neo-Cons like Gen. Vallely in the other thread. And they aren't very convincing and certainly don't have the average American four-square behind them.

America has technological and materiel advantages behind them that most other nations can only dream of. This will in my humble ensure their "full spectrum dominance" beyond the time frame suggested in that article. The Chinese economic "dragon" is overstated; it's hybrid of Communism and state-sponsored capitalism will eventually strain under it's inherent contradictions, hamstringing the country and undermining it's Top Nation aspirations.

V!
 
#7
I suppose historians would find themselves out of pocket if they simply said "it's a fcuk up like in (insert year here)". They must get paid by the word! :twisted:
 
#9
Silent_ell,

I am not a grat advocate of the Guardian and I would never buy it but read it on the net to get a bit of balance. The paper does occasionally produce some good analysis but its like finding a diamond in a bucket of poo.
 
#10
If you believe in world cyclical history then China is only returning to the dominant economic position that it enjoyed up and till the 18th century. It survived then as economic power despite suferring from acute internal tensions and problems and who is to say that it won't survive these problems now?
 
#12
castlereagh said:
If you believe in world cyclical history then China is only returning to the dominant economic position that it enjoyed up and till the 18th century. It survived then as economic power despite suferring from acute internal tensions and problems and who is to say that it won't survive these problems now?
In other words, the Chinese view of China - that for the past however many thousand years, China has always been a superpower - she's just had a couple of bad centuries.

Vegetius, I think you're right in some respects - China's economy isn't all it's cracked up to be, and the US does have a massive technological advantage. But like that article pointed out, the US economy also has massive structural flaws - like the complete lack of saving, and we could add the enormous national debt into it as well - and it's a land where, within three years, 75% of people will be overweight/obese. As societies go, that's not healthy - literally as well as sociologically.

Then again, who in 1971 was predicting that the Berlin Wall would be pulled down within twenty years? Entertaining though second-guessing the future is, we humans are pretty damn poor at it. I understand the CIA is still trying to confirm rumours that the USSR has collapsed through its contacts in the Moscow McDonald's.

smithie
 
#13
smithie said:
In other words, the Chinese view of China - that for the past however many thousand years, China has always been a superpower - she's just had a couple of bad centuries.
No its also a view held by some world systems historians - not saying its right not saying its wrong
Proponents of this thesis such as the Late Andre Gunder Frank argue that China was always at the centre of the world economy and the rise of the west is just a recent phenomenon.

The synopsis from his book ReOrient

Eurocentrism is abandoned in this text, as the author sees the rise of the West as a mere blip in what was, and is again becoming, an Asian-centred world. In a challenge to received historiography and social theory, the author discounts the world according to Marx, Weber and other theorists, and explains the rise of the West in world economic and demographic terms that relate it in a single historical sweep to the decline of the East around 1800. European states used the silver extracted from the American colonies to buy entry into an expanding Asian market that already flourished in the global economy. Resorting to import substitution and export promotion in the world market, they became newly industrialized economies and tipped the global economic balance to the West. This is what East Asia is doing today, the author points out, to recover its traditional dominance. As a result the "centre" of the world economy is once again moving to the "Middle Kingdom" of China.
A short article on Gunder-Frank and his thesis
 
#14
castlereagh said:
smithie said:
In other words, the Chinese view of China - that for the past however many thousand years, China has always been a superpower - she's just had a couple of bad centuries.
No its also a view held by some world systems historians - not saying its right not saying its wrong
Proponents of this thesis such as the Late Andre Gunder Frank argue that China was always at the centre of the world economy and the rise of the west is just a recent phenomenon.
I wasn't denying that it's held by some historians; my view on that particular question is that history may or may not repeat itself, but historians certainly repeat each other.

Frank's view seems to be centred on a desire/need to denigrate the European achievement. In contrast to that, I'd point out that it was in Europe that democratic states first developed (Athens) and in Europe/the West that democracy first emerged in the modern world (Britain; the USA; France). 'Westerners' (by his definition) have contributed most to modern philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Locke, Wittgenstein, Russell, to name but a few) and it was in the West/Europe that modern science was invented (Aristotle) and developed (Galileo, Copernicus, to the present day.) I can't deny the contribution of 'Easterners' to mathematics (our number system is Arabic, and Arabic and Chinese mathematicians contributed vastly to the basics of mathematics) but the first mathematicians were Euclid (we still study Euclidean geometry), Pythagoras (square of the hypoteneuse...) and Archimedes.

In literature, art and music the lines become far more blurred, and judgement more subjective, and I can see how our views might become highly Eurocentric - we value, say, the Sistine Chapel or Beethoven's symphonies for their cultural relevance and cultural synthesis (i.e., how they reflect their own culture - which is also ours), but aren't in a position to appreciate Chinese art. But I'd argue that the symphonies of Beethoven or the operas of Mozart are a greater cultural achievement than aboriginal Australian or African music - I don't know enough about Far Eastern music to compare. Perhaps I'm being a cultural imperialist.

In short, I can't agree with his hypothesis. If the world is Eurocentric (perhaps a better word would be occidentocentric, to include North America?), then I would argue that that's because the Occident has had a greater hand in shaping the world for most of the past two thousand years - and that includes the early modern period.

Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the economics to argue that point, other than to suggest that access to the silver and other minerals of North America must surely pale into insignificance compared to the resources of the Far East? If access to resources was what was key, why should Europe's North American/European hand trump the Orient's?

smithie
 
#15
China's great advantage now is it's massive, cheap, controled workforce.
No free unions in a communist state and THEY say they are communists.
As the workers get richer their expectations will increase and so will internal instability.
The Chinese ares Chinas biggest enemy.
The time scale is unpradictable.
john
 
#16
Having been in the army since 1979 and seen the fall of the GSFG or if you like WGF (if you need to ask !!) then any prediction of the future, particularly by academics - I treat with complete sceptisim. Various cold night in a trench somewhere north east of Hildesheim defending Queen and country from Mongolian and Siberian hordes which were promised and never turned up soon rob you of the belief in the inevitability of history.
 
#17
askar-perisikan said:
Having been in the army since 1979 and seen the fall of the GSFG or if you like WGF (if you need to ask !!) then any prediction of the future, particularly by academics - I treat with complete sceptisim. Various cold night in a trench somewhere north east of Hildesheim defending Queen and country from Mongolian and Siberian hordes which were promised and never turned up soon rob you of the belief in the inevitability of history.
Does restore faith in the inevitability of humans failing to predict the future though. Frankly, we might as well as Mystic Meg who the world superpower will be in twenty or fifty or a hundred years time. She's got as much chance of getting it right as the rest of us...

s.
 
#19
smithie said:
Frank's view seems to be centred on a desire/need to denigrate the European achievement.
No he just believed in a more globalist perspective, he argued that Eurocentric supremacy was incorrect and ignored the interaction that occurred between the occident and the Orient before the pre-modern period (1800). This supremacy he also argued has produced a false history of the world before 1800.

I would personally disagree that it has just been the occident which has shaped the world for the past 2000 years. I believe that the development of the world at least for the first 1800 years owed its success because of interaction between the Occident and the Orient or if not that parallel developments.

After all if wasn't for the Arab translations, medieval Europe would have not re-discovered the Greek philosophers. It was also scholars like Ibn Roshd - Averroes who gave us our modern understanding on the works of Aristotle through his commentaries. While it was scholars like Al Fabri who is credited for categorizing logic into two separate groups, the first one being idea and the second being proof and so expanding of Platonian concepts of logic. Medieval Europeans like Dante accepted their contribution after all isn't Averroes in Limbo only because of his great learning?

It is not only to mathematics that the 'easterners' contributed to but people like Al-Khwarizmi/ the father of algebra and al-Kindī made important contributions medicine, science and geography. These Arab philosophers often also combined the Greek works with earlier Indian and Chinese works.

The eastern philosophies also go back much further than so called 'western philosophy' and often produced basic tenants of philosophy even before the Greeks may have done take for example Plato's metaphysical division of 'forms?' and perception the Zoroastrians had already come up with a similar division which they labelled as the intelligence and perceptual worlds.
Also look to at Confusicious' work on government and ethics which I think predates similar works by the Greeks by some 300 years. I also think that Indians were coming up with concepts of logic the dame time or slightly before the Greeks.

The Orient probably has a richer history of complex government and bureaucracy and though ‘democracy’ is a western concept and our adherence to the modern concept of democracy is of course a recent phenomenon (If we are going to use 2000 years as a time span)

The widening technological and philosophical gap between the Orient and the West which allowed for the modern dominance of the West only began in the late 18th century as before this time. Europe had constantly feared invasion from the east, the Ottomans being a perfect example of this fear

I’d agree that art, music and literature is probably subjective and depends of preference as both the Orient and the Occident have artistic traditions that go back centuries.

On Gunder Frank’s I to have problems with some of his ideas on the beginnings of the modern global economic system but he is right to say that was always to the non-occident that the West looked for its riches.
 
#20
castlereagh said:
I would personally disagree that it has just been the occident which has shaped the world for the past 2000 years. I believe that the development of the world at least for the first 1800 years owed its success because of interaction between the Occident and the Orient or if not that parallel developments.
...
The Orient probably has a richer history of complex government and bureaucracy and though ‘democracy’ is a western concept and our adherence to the modern concept of democracy is of course a recent phenomenon (If we are going to use 2000 years as a time span)
Great, they're more experienced at bureaucracy than us!

I'm not saying that it was solely the West that drove human development since the year dot. You make an excellent point about progress being driven by interaction between east and west. But I would contend that in terms of the significant advances that have shaped modern humanity, Europe and Europeans (which include N. American colonists) come out on top.

Even our framework of thinking about this (in terms of 'East' and 'West') comes from Herodotos, a Greek author!

The widening technological and philosophical gap between the Orient and the West which allowed for the modern dominance of the West only began in the late 18th century as before this time. Europe had constantly feared invasion from the east, the Ottomans being a perfect example of this fear
Or, indeed, the Mongols.

Although when we look at some of the words for Eastern invaders - Mongols, Huns, Vandals - there's an interesting subtext. All of them now carry highly negative connotations (For Mongol, I'm thinking of Mongoloid). Part of that, no doubt, is cultural prejudice - the East to the Greeks and Romans was decadent and effeminate, or barbarous and uncivilised, as suited - but is part of it recognition that Europe had a greater cultural achievement which was threatened by the invasion of less civilised peoples? Is the reason that the West feared the invasion of the East so much because of what it stood to lose when the East came rolling through town?

That doesn't stand up in all cases, of course. The Moors contributed a great deal to the advancement of Spanish culture. Perhaps arguing in terms of 'East' and 'West', 'Orient' and 'Occident' is using a false dichotomy? After all, it immediately starts us down the road to generalisations and stereotypes.

s.
 

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