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Mahbubani argues that the 21st century will be fundamentally different
from the 19th and 20th centuries, that 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 AD. ie. that......in the past two centuries the
west has played an unusually dominant role in World History resulting
in other cultures taking up western ideas, goals and values. He predicts
that while the west will remain dynamic and active for most of the 21st
century and may even remain the primary civilisation, its DOMINANCE of
the world will end.
The main engine
of change will be globalisation. It's an irreversible force, he says,
which has been unleashed by rapid technological change. As a result, the
planet has shrunk and mankind has become woven together in a complex web
of interdependence -- the emerging global economy is an example. Global
demographic disparities, which will result in the developed world's share
of the population shrinking to just 10 per cent by 2050, will also have
serious social and political consequences. Immigration to Europe, for
instance, is likely to increase dramatically, he predicts.
For the last
two hundred years, the process of change in the world has been a "one-way
street" as western civilisation has made its impact on a passive "rest
of the world". Mahbubani believes that as a result of the changes happening
now, there will be a two-way street in the flow of ideas, values and people.
This may be hard to believe but 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. The deep reservoirs of spiritual and
cultural strengths in other cultures have not been affected by the western
veneer. It won't be a smooth transition but the west will undergo a transformation
which will see it become a microcosm of a new interdependent world containing
many thriving cultures and ideas.