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The Decline and Fall of Europe

Francesco M Bongiovanni
We are the champions, my friend

Propelled by the Industrial Revolution and the ideals of free mar¬kets, imperialist Europe became the world's centre of gravity. Despite constant infighting, for centuries it came to control most of the world. About a hundred years ago it was replaced in this role by a young and dynamic America. Writing about Western civilization in general Sam Huntington said:

All civilizations go through similar processes of emergence, rise, and decline ... The West differs from other civilizations not in the way it has developed but in the distinctive character of its values and institutions. These include most notably its Christianity, pluralism, individualism, and rule of law, which made it possible for the West to invent modernity, expand throughout the world, and become the envy of other societies ... the West won the world not by the superi¬ority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence.3

We are currently witnessing another shift of the tectonic plates as China overtook Japan in 2010 to become the world's second largest economy and, according to some estimates, is bound to overtake that of the US to become number one within a couple of decades. The fall of the Soviet Union removed the clear and present danger that kept the West cohesive and unleashed the forces of globaliza¬tion that allowed China to triple its share of world GDP and bring about a immense shift of economic power in a very short time. It is easy to forget that a long time ago China was for centuries the world's foremost economic power, with a share of world GDP close to a third until as recently as 1820. Its recent return to the scene has had an impact on every sector of economy and industry the world over. Having caused Europe to lose many of its low value-added industries, China has been moving with just as much determination into higher value-added industries. In a not too distant future Euro¬peans may see Chinese cars on their streets and Chinese aeroplanes in their skies.