WHAT LIES AHEAD?
It has always been my intention to steer clear from international affairs, not because it demands a certain kind of academic knowledge but due to the sheer complexity that is global diplomacy! However, as historians we tend to assess, analyze and draw our attention to moments that appear historic; moments that have the potential to shake hitherto established political and social systems, ideologies and even mighty empires. The historic circumstance of 2016 accentuates the relevance of international relations and directs this historian to interpret current global political situations. For it is in the prevalent times that we seek answers to the future.
Not many decades ago, a wall was pulled down. This action represented the beginnings of a new world order governed by free trade, dwindling boundaries and the intermingling of varied cultures. The wall was in Berlin and the year was 1989. The end of the Cold War ushered in the age of ‘Global Empire’. It was an empire whose physical expanse was infinite and defied territorial norms; its peoples adhering to many a religions, cultures, customs and traditions. The Global Empire was the final culmination of a process that had infact begun as early as the fifteenth century, also termed as the ‘Age of Discovery’. It, however, traced its ‘immediate’ origins to the end of the Second World War, wherein an attempt was made to create a global system that created economic dependence within nations, thereby reducing the risk of yet another bloody catastrophe.
As the world shrunk, the Global Empire flourished. When an individual, more often than not, married to or in love with someone outside his/her nationality, led a life determined by a career that was global in nature, in a country that was not his/her own, surviving on clothes, gadgets, and sometimes even food that was manufactured by a global community created a newer identity for himself/herself and became a part of this glorious empire. Amidst this economic reliance, feelings of nationalism and patriotism were redefined. The Global Empire softened nationalistic fervor – of a jingoist kind – and thrived on the principles of ‘acceptance’ and ‘tolerance’.
Revelling in the spoils of the Global Empire, many of us were oblivious to history’s devious plans. “If lessons of history teach us anything it is that nobody learns the lessons that history teaches us”, says an anonymous writer. History tells us that in every success lies failure, in every rise a fall and no matter how strong an empire it will one day concede to the vestiges of time.
That the Global Empire was treading the path of decadence was unknown until someone – a significant citizen of a western democracy and also a beneficiary of the empire’s economic success – clamoured for building walls; walls that would stall the empire’s distinctive cultural amalgamation. It was also when yet another bustling democracy voted for an exit that the flaws of the empire became more evident. Suspicion, mistrust and disturbing forms of nationalism became the empire’s saddening byproducts.
We mercilessly destroy what we create, over ideologies chosen out of convenience. Dutifully following these principles of history, we have, unfortunately, initiated the collapse of the Global Empire.What is to be ascertained now is the outcome of this inevitable downfall? And what is the future of this ‘uncertain’ present?
Every collapse is followed by tumult. The two world wars were a consequence of the disintegration of the ‘Age of Imperialism’. Are we also looking at warring times? Perhaps we are. However, like its predecessors, this war will also be unique. No, there won’t be innumerous theatres of war or blitzkriegs. Instead, there will be a ‘self-inflicted chaos led collapse’.
This chaos will be characterized by the crumbling of global ties leading to the creation of xenophobic societies and cultures. The global citizen will not only be rendered unemployed but will struggle with his/her now uncertain identity. As ‘great’ the hope of a (reclusive) ‘self-sustained’ economic prosperity promises to be, it will perhaps only lead to an unprecedented economic decay. The ongoing war of religious fundamentalism will only accelerate the collapse.
And like every collapse this collapse too will be steered not by referendums or screeching individuals. On the contrary, at the helm of this collapse will be someone waiting to take over the reins of this displaced political system and laying the foundations of yet another empire; a discreet albeit a potent adversary – a Czar like figure may be?