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Muscat: Friday 9th December, 2011

At breakfast I turned my attention to what I propose to write about in this Blog. It is one thing setting up a blog and posting a first entry, like a mission statement. But it seems likely that the content of the blog is more likely to be determined by subsequent steps.

So here it is, the first item of substance to which I turn my attention.

 

Why is it that the mainstays of the western life seem not to be universal?

 We all live in an age in which the assumptions and preconceptions of people such as me, from the west, require to be fundamentally altered: and I mean, fundamentally.

It is quite possible that the current Chinese bubble might burst, that the delicate balance between rural and urban considerations, between the populace east and the interior, between the rich and the poor of that country might prove too much for its government. China is not unified geographically. It’s vast rivers predominantly run west to East and do not interface closely with one another, ensuring that China suffers from considerable disparities of wealth across its land mass and determining that in many places, providing the necessary infrastructure to assist growth, comes at an astronomical opportunity cost.

Moreover, China’s economy requires to evolve beyond an export driven economy; a move that can test its population through increases in income disparity and rises in inflation.

Historically, China is not the first country to face economic transition and the written history of civilization has seen China as the world’s most dominant power for four fifths of that time. But China has yet to prove that it can manage this transition seamlessly.

Interestingly, China appears to have looked historically at the only two countries to have dominated the globe throughout its history and drawn lessons from both the British Empire and United States as it seeks to expand its influence and power in the 21st Century.

The adoption of western Economic practices and the increasing State sponsorship of Christianity appear to be but two symptoms of this, along with the maintenance of western modes of dress and tastes in food and films.

Yet China stops short of adopting wholesale,, Western practices. In some cases, such as the increased leisure time, enjoyed by Europeans and Americans, the Chinese are merely rejecting comparatively recent developments in the Western way of life. But in other aspects, the Chinese along with the Koreans, Japanese and East Asians, appear to have rejected westernization and in many cases, reversed it.

The chances of China adopting parliamentary Democracy, for example, seem remote and the Chinese, themselves have postulated the theory that The Western Model is not as well suited as the Chinese to cope with economic crisis.

And, yet, China is not yet the world’s Leading economy and is a long way short of becoming the world’s leading military power or exporter of soft culture. It has learned lessons from the British and American
models but China has a long way to go before it enjoys the Global dominance the British enjoyed 100 years ago and the Americans enjoy today.

China has recently acquired an aircraft carrier, but it could not hope to challenge American mastery of the Pacific, let alone look to compete with the Americans in the Indian or Atlantic Oceans. China is making moves that way, and is undeniably a Global Economic power, but arguably, China remains regional in terms of its military or soft power reach.

So just what are the characteristics which define the Anglo-American way of doing things? Well, I postulate the following:

  1. Individual freedom
  2. Free Market capitalism
  3. Regulatory authority
  4. A servant state infrastructure
  5. Democracy (IE: an elected legislature & Executive)
  6. An independent Judiciary
  7. Freedom of worship.
  8. A free press.
  9. Investment in education for all.
  10. Investment in healthcare (particularly in disease prevention) for all.

Of course, there may be others and of course, some of these are by no means unique to the west. But I think a country which exhibits all of these traits, might fairly be said to be western in outlook. Certainly, despite the so-called “Arab Spring” comparatively few countries beyond North America and Europe exhibit anything like this model.

The question is this:

“Why is it, that when the only two nations to have established Truly Global pre-eminence (The United Kingdom and the United States) have based their success on variations of the above, has it not proved to be self-evident to all nations that this model is worth copying?”

In my next posts I will look to explore this question more fully.

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