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Kishore Mahbubani4. Kishore Mahbubani
The Rest of the West
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Text of remarks by Kishore Mahbubanii to the RSA/BBC's "The World Lectures" on 1 June 2000 in London.

1 Let me begin with two Arab proverbs. One says, "he who speaks about the future lies, even when he tells the truth". Another says, "For every glance behind us, we have to look twice to the future". These two Arab proverbs capture well the challenge I face in this lecture. I am going to speak about the future, not the past, but all discussions of the future are inherently perilous.

2 My thesis today will I hope be a relatively simple one: that the 21st century will be fundamentally different from the 19th and 20th centuries. By the end of the century, we will return - in terms of balance of civilisations - to the world we saw somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 A.D. I don't know exactly when these great changes will manifest themselves clearly. I hope that they will emerge clearly in the next 25 years, while I have a chance to be around to witness them. But even if these changes do not happen in the next decade or two, I remain confident that these great changes will happen this century. I feel this deeply in my bones.

3 The underlying premise of my thesis is that the west has played an unusually dominant role in world history for the past two centuries or more. Many history books have made this point. One such classic is "The Rise of the West" by William H. McNeillii. But I am going to quote from another historian, J. M. Roberts, who says the following in his book: "The Triumph of the West":

"It seems reasonable to expect agreement that the course of 'modern' history ….. has been increasingly dominated by first the Europeans and then the western civilisation which was its successor. By 'dominated' I mean two things were going on. One was that the history of the rest of the globe then changed forever and irreversibly by the actions of the men of the west. The other was that it changed in a particular direction; it was overwhelmingly a matter of other cultures taking up western ideas, goals and values, not the reverse."iii

So, to summarise world history crudely, for most of the past 200 years, western populations have been subjects of world history while the rest of the world have been objects.

4 As a consequence of dominating the world for two centuries or more, the west has spun several layers around the world, which in one way or another continue its domination of the world. Curiously, most western minds cannot see the layers of western influence because they have spent most of their lives on top of these layers. Those who live under these layers know the scope and influence of these layers - and those, like me, who have travelled from beneath the layers to climb over them can perhaps see both sides of the picture. Only this unique transition that I have made in my life has emboldened me to make some of the outrageous claims I will make in this lecture.

5 A small personal anecdote may help explain to a British audience what life was like under the layers. Forty-six years ago, when I went to school for the first time in Singapore, then a British colony, I once asked my classmate, Morgan, where he wanted to be when he grew up. He replied "London, of course". I asked why. He replied, "Because in London the streets are paved with gold". This was how mighty and strong London appeared to be in our young minds. British colonial rule has long gone. That removed only one layer of western influence. Other layers remain.

6 The main conclusion of my lecture is that some time in the 21st century, we will see what I will call the rest of the west. There is a deliberate "double-entendre" in the use of the word "rest": to connote both passivity and remainder. (Incidentally, when I sent out the draft of my lecture to my western friends, they saw many other meanings.)

7 Having said that I am going to talk about the rest of the west, let me quickly add that I do not belong to the western school of declinists. I do not see the decline and fall of western civilisation. Indeed, the west will remain dynamic and active for the most of the 21st century and it may well remain the primary civilisation for a long time more. But what is likely to end is its domination of the world. I see this as neither a happy nor a sad conclusion. I have argued many times previously that for the past few centuries, the west has borne the primary burden of advancing human civilisation. The huge leaps in science and technology - which have resulted in huge increases in the standard and quality of life for much of mankind - as well as the significant new ideas in social and political philosophy - which have generated the revolutionary ideas of freedom and equality for all men - have all emerged from western societies. Mankind today would have been in a sorry state if the west had not transformed itself into the most dynamic civilisation. But having carried the burden of advancing mankind's fortunes for several centuries, perhaps it is time that we give the west a rest.

8 At the same time, I hope that my remarks will send a message of hope to the majority of the world's population, i.e. the five-sixths of the world's population who live outside the West. If my thesis is proven correct, then the two centuries during which they have essentially been passengers on the bus will end. In this coming century, if they learn the lessons of history well, they may finally get the opportunity to be co-drivers of the global bus. And, to be honest, the reason why I chose this topic is to send out this message of hope. Most living in the west do not appreciate or understand the feeling among many in the Third World that they are essentially second-class citizens of our globe. They need to believe that they too can become first-class citizens.

9 One key lesson of history is that change has never been easy or smooth. Often it has been difficult or turbulent. To capture some of the difficulties of the processes of change, I am going to borrow the Hegelian/Marxist dialectical concepts of change - that change takes place in a process of thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis. My thesis will be that even today the world continues to be dominated by the West. My anti-thesis will be about the forces bringing about the end of western domination and my synthesis will be about the Rest of the west. If you still retain the image I mentioned of a world still covered by layers of western influence that image will describe my thesis. My anti-thesis will describe how these layers will retreat from minds of the globe and my synthesis will hopefully gie a glimpse of the world to come when these layers retreat.

The Thesis

10 In the post-colonial era, any thesis of continual western domination does appear to be counter-intuitive. With the advent of the UN Charter, all nation states can claim to enjoy sovereign equality. This is the theory. In reality, nation states - like human beings in any society - do not enjoy equal power. What is remarkable is that today, in many significant ways, the architecture of power relationships in the beginning of the 21st century still resembles those of the 19th century.

11 Let me add a quick qualification. The means of using or exercising this power has changed significantly. With the disappearance of the colonial era, and especially after the end of World War II, we have not seen often the brutal use of military force to invade and occupy neighbouring countries, with rare exceptions like the invasions of Afghanistan and Cambodia a decade or so ago. But real power can be exercised in many different forms. And if one looks beneath the surface at the underlying architecture of power relationships in the world, it is remarkable how little things have changed since the 19th century.

12 It is impossible in a brief lecture like this to provide an encyclopaedic portrayal of power relationships around the world. But a few examples may help to illustrate. And I will move from examples of "hard" power to examples of "soft" power (to borrow a phrase created by Joseph Nye of Harvard University) and illustrate the continuing inequalities in the world.

13 First, look at the military dimension. In the 19th century, western military power could not be challenged. Today, this remains so. NATO remains the single most powerful military organisation in the world. Four out of the five (i.e. including Russia) official nuclear powers are western. Only the US has the ability to project its military power anywhere in the world. No non-Western power can dream of doing this. It is true that such military power is rarely used today. But, if required, it can be used. The citizens of Belgrade and Baghdad understand this well.

14 In the economic sphere, one could also argue that there have been no fundamental changes in the architecture of economic power. The relative share of the global GNP of US and western (and now eastern) Europe remain about the same as the 19th century. Accurate statistics are hard to come by. But it is clear that today the G7 countries (which include Japan, both an asian and western power) dominate global economic decisions. Most of the world's research and development is still being done in OECD countries (which remains essentially a Western club). Equally importantly, the most important multilateral economic agencies - the IMF, the World Bank, the BIS, the WTO, the Financial Stability Forum - are dominated by the western states. No non-western citizen - not even a Japanese - has a realistic prospect of heading the IMF or World Bank.

15 As we move into the political sphere, we move from the realm of "hard" power to "soft" power, partly because the exercise of political power has become more subtle. In the 19th century, during the colonial area, most of the countries of the world were mere pawns on a chessboard while the players were european. In the 21st century, with the creation of the UN, all countries are nominally equal. This nominal equality should not be dismissed. It has enhanced the sense of self-worth and dignity of many people around the world. But when it comes to making hard decisions on how and when the world's resources will be deployed, we should have no illusion that all capitals are equal. Just as in the 19th century, a handful of capitals make the big decisions. Today, the key capitals are Washington DC, Berlin, Paris, Moscow, London (and gradually Tokyo and Beijing). The 19th century list may not have been very different. And where the decisions are made makes a huge difference in the deployment of real resources. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, Amama Mbabazi, captured this reality vividly with this statement: "When it is Kosovo, you are there in one minute and spend billions. When it's East Timor you are there. When it is Africa, there are all sorts of excusesiv." This statement accurately captures the consequence of unequal political power.

16 As I speak of the continuation of old forms of power, I know that some of you must be puzzled. In your mind, you may be asking: "Isn't Kishore aware that the world has changed dramatically since the 19th century?" Yes, it has changed, and changed enormously. But the counter-intuitive point I want to leave in your mind is this: despite these important changes, the underlying architecture of power relationships has not changed significantly, both in the hard military and economic dimensions I have mentioned and the new soft dimensions of cultural and intellectual power.

17 Look, for example, at the fields of information and information-technology: two key dimensions of our world today. Those who control the flow of information determine what content enters into billion of minds who have access to radios, TV sets or even Internet access. Today, all the sources of information with a global reach - whether it be CNN or BBC, the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times, Time Magazine or Economist - are all Western-controlled. And it is Western minds who determine what news is significant and worth airing globally and what is not. This makes a crucial difference. To cite a simple example, if an Asian or African or Latin American princess were to pass away tomorrow, it will hardly be mentioned in the news. But when Princess Diana died - and it was truly a tragic and terrible loss - it became a global event because those who determined the control of global information flows decided that this was a global event. Let me stress that I am not passing judgement whether this is right or wrong. I am only trying to analyse realities dispassionately.

18 The west also dominates in many other areas: in universities, in research and development, in Nobel prizes for science, in release of new technology. Virtually all the cutting edge work in any field of science, perhaps even in social sciences, is done in the west. Equally important, in the important discussions of philosophy and human values, the great outpouring of writing and books are generated in the west. Hence, while we are not surprised that the United States should be passing moral judgement on the implementation of human rights instruments by China, a visitor from Mars may be surprised that a young 200-year old society of the world is passing judgement on a 5,000-old society. In short, what we take for granted in the world is a certain imbalance of power relationships which we take to be a normal and perhaps eternal feature of the human landscape. And this brings me to the second part of my lecture: what we take to be normal and eternal may be changing. The anti-thesis is surfacing. The world is changing, and changing dramatically.

The Anti-Thesis

19 One of the key insights Marx left with us was that one of main drivers of world is economic change. And if he were alive today, he would be amazed by the scope and speed of economic changes we are witnessing today. He would also be puzzled by the conventional wisdom that these rapid economic changes will not lead to historic shifts in the political, ideological or cultural landscapes of the world. Again when I showed my draft to my friends, they challenged my assertion that conventional wisdom in the West today states that nothing fundamental will change. To prove my point, let me cite two examples. Barely two weeks ago, the Financial Times carried a column by Michael Prowse where he said "I see the 21st century as belonging to Europe". v Another well-known writer, Robert Kaplan, used even more vivid imagery to describe the continuing western domination. He compared the world in the 21st century to a "stretch limo in the portholed streets of New York City, where homeless beggars live". Inside the limo "are the air-conditioned post-industrial regions of North America, Europe, the emerging Pacific Rim" [Note: Yes - this is a concession to a few outside the West]. Outside the limo "is the rest of mankind, going in a completely different direction." My vision of the future is sharply different from the perspectives of these two western writers.

20 The main engine of change in the 21st century will be the forces of globalisation. We are all aware that there is a raging debate going on about the virtue and vices of globalisation. The demonstrators at the recent Seattle WTO and the Washington IMF meetings are trying to generate a consensus that globalisation is bad. A recent column in the New York Times by Joseph Kahn seems to support this view with the observation that "Among both mainstream economists and their left-leaning critics, it has become axiomatic that globalisation leaves too many poor people behind." vi Personally, I agree with the view that the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, recently expressed: "The cure does not lie in protesting against globalization itself. I believe the poor are poor not because of too much globalization, but because of too little - because they are excluded."

21 Fortunately, for us this debate is irrelevant. Globalisation is an irreversible force. It has been unleashed by rapid technological change. We cannot turn the clock backwards. As a result of rapid technological change in many dimensions, the earth has shrunk. We have gone from being planet earth to spaceship earth. All of mankind has begun to be woven together in a complex web of interdependence. The consequences for the future of mankind are enormous.

22 The first consequence of interdependence is that we have a common stake in the economic well being of each other. The asian financial crisis demonstrated this vividly. When the Thai baht collapsed on 2 July 1997, barely three years ago, the major economic capitals paid little attention. The big global economic decision-makers of that time decided that this little crisis on the other side of globe could be ignored.

23 The Thai baht crisis spread to other countries in southeast asia. From there it shook Korea. This in turn affected Russia. From Russia, it leapt to Brazil and then, in an important leap, it began to rattle American markets. This recent episode demonstrates vividly how interdependent the world had become. The financial flows around the world - US$1.5 trillion a day - have become so large that no one can control them. With the global integration of all economies into one system, the strong economies now have to worry about the weaker economies because, as Claude Smadja has observed: "In an increasingly integrated world, the resilience of the global economy is only as strong as the weakest of its components."viii Another vivid example of global interdependence was demonstrated by the rapid spread of "I love you" virus from a single computer in the Philippines to the whole world in a matter of days.

24 The positive effects of globalisation should not be ignored. It provides a new economic tide which has already integrated millions in the Third World, especially in the two most populous nations of India and China, into the modern world. Although there remain huge numbers of poor people in India and China, globalisation has already had spectacular effects in the social and economic landscapes of both countries. The economic successes of China are well known. Few are aware that India too may experience explosive economic growth. The recent UN Millennium Summit report predicted that by 2008 - a mere 8 years away - the Indian computer industry would reach $85 billion, a spectacular sum by any standard. From the mid-1980s since the economic success of Japan and the four tigers (Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) became evident, it was clear that their success would spread to other asian societies. The asian financial crisis of 1997-98 was a major hiccup but it has not altered the upward economic trend. In the economic sphere, western domination will gradually but inevitably decrease. A more level playing field will emerge here.

25 The interdependence I have spoken about in the economic field is also becoming apparent in the environmental field. Chernobyl taught us a valuable lesson: environmental disasters don't respect borders. Neither do new infectious diseases, which can be immediately transported from one corner of the world to the other. All western populations, like the rest of the world, have an economic stake in the level of emissions that China and India produce as they industrialise and progress. I am not an expert in this field but if their per capita emissions reach half the per capita level of american emissions, the global environment will be seriously destabilised.

26 So far, I have only illustrated interdependence in the economic and environmental fields. But it will logically and inevitably spread to other fields. And as interdependence grows, a crucial change will take place in the relationship between the west and the rest: both sides will have to cooperate if they are to live together harmoniously on a shrinking planet. Interdependence removes crucial levers of domination and creates a more level playing field. For this reason, if for no other, the Third World should welcome the acceleration of globalisation.

27 But growing interdependence and changing economic realities will not be the only forces reducing western domination. Changing demographic relationships will have an equally profound effect. In previous centuries, western populations appeared to increase at the same pace as the rest of the world. For example, in the 19th century, when Britain dominated the world in many ways, its population rose almost four times from about 10 million in 1801 to 37 million in 1901. In the 20th century, it increased one and a half times only to about 60 million. In the 21st century, like most other European nations, the population of UK is likely to remain stagnant.

28 All this has created spectacular changes in demographic disparities. The developed world's share of the global population will shrink from 24 per cent in 1950 to 10 per cent in 2050. In 1950, six of the twelve most populous nations in the world were Western. By 2050, there will be one: the United States. In 1950, Africa's population was less than half of Europe's (including Russia's). Today, it is roughly the same. By 2050, Africa's population will be three times larger.ix It is hard to believe that such huge demographic shifts will have no serious social and political consequences.

29 Partly as a result of these demographic changes, partly as a result of economic and technological needs for new brainpower, partly as a result of TV images now informing the world's poor that a better life exists within reach, there have been increasing flows of non-western immigrants into Western societies. The most spectacular and successful example of this is to be found in Silicon Valley, where one reason for the Valley's success is said to be the IC factor. "IC" refers not to "Integrated Circuits" but to Indian and Chinese. Huge numbers of Indians and Chinese have provided the brainpower needed for new software and hardware developments. Incidentally, I should mention here that while the economic benefits from their brainpower may flow mainly into California, their spectacular performance significantly increases the cultural confidence as well as self-esteem of their native countries.

30 The US, however, has been used to receiving new flows of immigrants. Europe has not been. But in the 21st century, this will change. The Economist (6-12 May 2000) carried a lengthy article on immigration into Europe. As a result of both aging as well as declining populations, most european nations will need more immigrants. Let me quote The Economist: "To keep the ratio of workers to pensioners steady, the flow would need to swell to 3.6 million a year in Germany, 1.8 million a year in France and a staggering 13.5 million a year in the EU as a whole."x

The Meaning of This Anti-Thesis

31 At this stage, some of you may be puzzled by this emphasis I am putting on demographic trends. But if you are puzzled, let me remind you of my initial image of the globe surrounded by Western layers. Let us also remind ourselves how these layers began. First, look at how the world looked at the beginning of the 19th century. Here I will quote William H. McNeill from "The Rise of the West" [Note: All my friends who saw my draft text strongly advised me not to read out these long quotes. So, I will paraphrase them in the oral version of this lecture.]:

"At the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, the geographical boundaries of western civilization could still be defined with reasonable precision (i.e. within Europe) ….. (But) within a few decades settlers of european origin or descent were able to occupy central and western North America, the pampas and adjacent regions of South America, and substantial parts of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa."xi

32 These population movements have had an enormous impact on nature and character of civilisations. In his book "The Triumph of the West", J. M. Roberts notes that for most of the last five thousand years, there have been several distinct civilisations living in the same world but apart, side by side. He also adds:

"Even when in direct geographical contact, or locked in open conflict, they seem always to have been separated by invisible membranes which, though permeable enough to permit some cross fertilisation, have proved immensely tough and enduring. Civilisations have co-existed for centuries, even sharing land frontiers, but still passing little to one another which led to any essential change in either. Their own unique natures remained intact."xii

At this point, try to imagine if you can the world preceding western expansion to be one where different civilisations survived as distinct and intact billiard balls, unaffected by other civilisations. J. M. Roberts starts his book with this world as his starting point and then he describes in great detail how all other civilisations of the world have been changed, transformed, affected by the explosion of western civilisations over the past two centuries.

33 The process of change that he described was a one-way street: the impact of the west upon the rest. These are my words, not his. Indeed, in his concluding chapter, entitled "A Post-Western World", he speculates on how the world will turn out with the end of western expansionary phase. But he remains confident that western civilisation will provide the standards upon which all other civilisations or societies would measure themselves. As he states:

"Here lies the deepest irony of post-western history: it is so often in the name of western values that the west is rejected and it is always with its skills and tools that its grasp is shaken off. western values and assumptions have been internalized to a remarkable degree in almost every other major culture."xiii

Indeed, his implicit assumption that western civilisation represents the apex of human civilisation is a deeply held belief in western minds. And this belief has also entered non-western minds. V. S. Naipaul demonstrated this with his classic essay that western civilisation represents the only universal civilisation.

The Synthesis

34 My conclusion is a remarkably simple one. Historians such as William McNeill and John Roberts have been correct in describing the central flow of history for the past two hundred years as a one-way street. William McNeill confirms this point in his book "The Rise of the West":

"But the west's expansion helped to precipitate decisive breakthrough of older styles of civilized life in Asia about the middle of the nineteenth century. For a full hundred years thereafter, the non-western world struggled to adjust local cultural inheritances in all their variety and richness to ideas and techniques originating in the European nineteenth century."xiv

I agree that this how world history has flowed for the past two centuries. It has been a one-way street.

35 My prediction for the 21st century is an equally simple one: for the first time in centuries, we will have a two-way street in the flow of ideas, values and people. This notion of a two-way street of ideas is something very difficult for many western intellectuals to conceive, partly because many believe that they have created the world in their own image. Please allow me to quote John Roberts one more time: "Paradoxically, we may now be entering the era of its greatest triumph, not over state structures and economic relationships, but over the minds and hearts of all men. Perhaps they are westerners now."xv

36 The simple reality that J. M. Roberts did not grasp - and I must stress that in his book Roberts comes across as a wise and modest man, not as arrogant or closed mind - is that while western ideas and best practices have found their way into the minds of all men, the hearts and souls of other civilisations remain intact. There are deep reservoirs of spiritual and cultural strengths which have not been affected by the western veneer that has been spread over many other societies. This is why I began this lecture by referring to the layers that the west has spun around the globe. The retreat of these layers will reveal rich new human landscapes as we move into the 21st century.

37 Only someone who has lived outside the west - as I have - can see both how powerful the impact of the west has been upon the rest of the world and at the same time how limited its impact has been on the souls of other peoples. The real paradox, contrary to John Roberts, is not that western culture has taken over the hearts and minds of all men - the real paradox is that western ideas and technology will over time enable other societies to accumulate enough affluence and luxury to discover their real cultural roots.

38 Initially, when asian populations acquired TV sets they watched western dramas out of Hollywood. Many still do. But just as many Americans found the programme "Roots" riveting as it described a past they were vaguely aware of, other non-western societies have discovered their own roots from which they have been effectively cut off for centuries. So in Asia, for example, each asian society is beginning to re-connect with its past. Many in the west have heard in passing about the Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. These epics have been absorbed heart and soul by young Indians with their mothers' milk. But most of the time it has been handed down orally or in print. When these epics were finally converted into TV dramas, hundred of millions of Indians stopped whatever they were doing to watch the recreation of their cultural legacy through western TV boxes. The same is happening or will happen in other Asian societies. All this will, to put it simply again, generate a renaissance of asian cultures not seen in centuries.

39 I know that I am providing only a few examples of a changed world. Several readers of this draft lecture complained to me that they could not imagine fully the world I was trying to predict. Neither can I. But let me suggest one area where we can look for leading indicators of the new world to come: the Internet Universe. Today, I am told, 90% of the websites are in English. But the content of the Internet is driven not just by the producers but also by the consumers. If my predictions are right, the proportion of English websites will fall steadily and be replaced by a huge variety of languages. Let me add that there is one key structural reason why I have chosen the Internet as a leading indicator. Unlike the Hollywood films, the western TV dramas, the CNN and BBC reportage of the world that enters the eyes and minds of the rest of the world in a one-way flow, the Internet is unique in generating a two-way flow. And if my thesis of a coming two-way street of ideas and values is correct, the first evidence of this may also surface in the Internet universe.

40 All these great changes do not mean that all the western layers that now envelope the world will disappear. John Roberts is correct in saying that many western ideas have proven to be utilitarian for both western and non-western societies. Good technology is race blind and colour blind. It works for all men. Medical advances in the west have benefited all mankind. So too will many western social and political concepts. For example, if the rule of law (rather than rule by law) becomes entrenched in asian societies, it may well be the crucial variable that enables them to lift themselves from their feudal practices, which continue to plague asian societies. If meritocracy, rather than nepotism, became the norm of asian societies, it would mean a tremendous unleashing of the brainpower found there. The real challenge non-western societies will face in the 21st century will be in deciding which western layers to retain and which to unravel.

41 The end of the era of western domination will therefore not be a smooth or easy one for non-western societies. If they reject all the western legacy left in their societies, they may throw the baby out with the bath water. Each non-western society, whether it be China or India, Indonesia or Iran, will have to carefully decide which aspects of western systems and culture can be retained and absorbed in their societies and which systems cannot. I can tell you from my own observations that there is an ongoing monumental struggle within the souls of many asians to decide what kind of identity they want for their future. And I can tell you they are trying to find the best from their own cultural roots and the best from the west. This monumental struggle of souls is another reason why the next chapter of history is going to be an exciting one for the world.

42 At the same time, the success of Silicon Valley shows that there is a natural "fit" between the brain food (now generated in the west) and the deep wealth of asian brain power (that remains untapped). Economic forces - unless interrupted by political or military disasters - will draw western technology, capital and exports closer to asian workers and markets. If trade flows across the Pacific once again begin to grow faster than trans-Atlantic flows, the US links with Asia will again deepen.

43 All this could lead to another new significant development in world history. Geography, some say, is destiny. Hitherto, the common historical and cultural roots of US and Europe have kept them close together despite the vast Atlantic Ocean that separates them. But over time, their geographical and economic as well as political needs could pull them in different directions. It is conceivable that the United States and Europe will march to a different drumbeat in the next century. So far, all the trade and economic disputes between the US and Europe have always been resolved harmoniously in the end. But if strains emerge, we should not be surprised.

44 All this brings me to my final paradoxical conclusion. Writers such as William McNeill and J. M. Roberts who documented the brilliant and magnificent contributions of the west for the past two centuries shared a deep conviction that the west would remain dynamic and vibrant. But as part of this continuing dynamism, the west will increasingly absorb good minds from other cultures. And, as it does so, the west itself will undergo a major transformation: it will become within itself a microcosm of the new interdependent world with many thriving cultures and ideas. The west may finally live up to its highest ideals and become a truly cosmopolitan society.

45 Again, when I speak about such a cosmopolitan destiny for the west, my friends frown and state that they cannot visualise it. Fortunately for me, this month's issue of National Geographic has a wonderful article on London. London, it says, may well have become the most cosmopolitan city in the world. As the article said:

"The whole world lives in London. Walk down Oxford Street and you will see Indians and Colombians, Bangladeshis and Ethiopians, Pakistanis and Russians, Melanesians and Malaysians. Fifty nationalities with communities of more than 5,000 make their home in the city, and on any given day 300 languages are spoken. It is estimated that by 2010 the population will be almost 30 percent ethnic minorities, the majority born in the U.K."xvi

I began my lecture by describing the central role London plays in the former phase of western history, when its streets appeared to be paved with gold. The transformation of London into a truly cosmopolitan city may indeed a harbinger to things to come, not only for the UK but perhaps for most of the western world.

46 The rest of the west may therefore see the creation of a new civilisation which will truly integrate the best from all streams of mankind. I hope that my friends in the west will see this as an optimistic, rather than pessimistic, conclusion.

i) Kishore Mahbubani, a Singapore diplomat, has delivered these remarks in his personal capacity. They are solely his personal views.

ii) "The Rise of the West - History of the Human Community" by William H. McNeill, The University of Chicago Press, 1963, 1991.
iii) Page 287, "The Triumph of the West" by J. M. Roberts, Little Brown & Co., 1985.
iv) Page 3 of "Week In Review" section, New York Times, Sunday, 7 May 2000.
v) Page XXVII of Financial Times Weekend, May 13/May 14, 2000.
vi) Page 4, Section 3, New York Times, Sunday, 7 May 2000
vii) Speech by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Millennium Forum on 22 May 2000 in New York.
viii) Essay entitled "The End of Complacency" by Claude Smadja, page 67, Foreign Policy, Winter 1998-99.
ix) Page 52-55, "Gray Dawn" by Peter G. Peterson, Random House, 1999.
x) Article entitled "Europe's Immigrants", page 25, The Economist, 6-12 May 2000.
xi) Page 730-731, "The Rise of the West - History of the Human Community" by William H. McNeill.
xii) Page 730-731, "The Rise of the West - History of the Human Community" by William H. McNeill.
xiii) Ibid, page 278.
xiv) Ibid, page 730
xv) J. M. Roberts, ibid, page 289.

xvi) Article entitled "London on a Roll" by Simon Worral, National Geographic, June 2000, page 10.