Saturday, October 08, 2011

Where are We Going?

The "We" in this blog title could of course mean me or matters pertaining to me and mine but its meaning is intended to be wider than that.

 The title question was initially prompted by England's international sporting endeavours being so tarnished not so much by the scorelines: 2-2 in the latest football international away to Montenegro and this morning's rugby world cup defeat by France 19-12 are of themselves no disgrace but rather by the lack of sportsmanship by some on (the red card in the football match last night seems well deserved) and off (certain English rugby team players in NZ have featured in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons) the pitch, reduces overall respect and enthusiasm for sport at that kind of level. Rugby and football are only games and I surmise that weeding out a few of the prima donnas although at the short term expense of poorer scorelines would in the longer term improve the national team sports.

 However the same question as in this blog post title applies to nations generally away from their sports' pitches and particularly Western nations and the  possible answers  are far more difficult to fathom.The UK has for many years been a country having to learn new values and accept new status following the sloughing off of its erstwhile huge empire. The learning process is slow and still  obviously ongoing. Previous British generations having for years essentially lived off the fat of other people's lands seem to have instilled in the current generations an innate feeling of entitlement to live off fat from others without regard to who the others may be or the origins of that wealth. To be fair I doubt that the empire was all negative or bad for the other countries - are the people of Zimbabwe today better off in any sense than those of the former Rhodesia? There were more checks and balances affecting the old colonial self seeking government than is  the case in many of today's post independence dictatorships. The UK too is having to learn to adjust to the massive influx of peoples from its former colonies and is doing so with difficulty.

 But this blog post's title goes well beyond England. Most European nations are also struggling to come to terms with their diminution of wealth and influence not to mention their own previous generation empire building and in some cases eg France, are rather more reluctant than the UK to let go. Greece is perhaps among the first to have perforce to grapple with the problem of how to adjust its spending based on other people's wealth when the other people's purse strings begin to tighten. Most of Europe is having to face  this hugely painful adjustment also or will soon wake up to the need to do so.

 As for the USA its position appears to be akin to that facing GB before WWI upon the decline of the days and wealth of the British Empire. The American Empire is far more subtle than the British Empire was. The latter was based on relatively straightforward ownership or at least possession of territory. The former is based on influence and power being wielded by sheer wealth, backed up with the possibility of the use of force as in the Cold War. Like the British Empire before it the American has much that is positive such as the protection of the freedom of the individual and the avoidance of repressive forces USSR-style but like the British before it the American Empire has its negatives (the quote "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely", has a kernal of truth for all empire leaders) and is begining to fall.

 So where are we going? The superficial answer is to be found  in another  quasi quotation; "East young Man". Yes China and other nations of the East are in the ascendancy if wealth power and influence are used as yardsticks against which to measure the success of  empire building  but the spirit of individual freedom, which is one of the great positive legacies of the empires of the West, will take mankind where it will in the years to come and I doubt that its destination will be subjugation. I hope too that its destination will not be in the template of EU type conglomerates of nations.

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