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November 30, 2018

A world divided


November 30, 2018

A spread view of the world’s map is most revealing and may help understand better how the new world is turning out. The Pacific Ocean acts as the divider of sorts. The east and west are truly separated by its hugeness – and President Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement only seals its vastness by engendering the other-worldliness of the land beyond. Furthermost on its eastern limits in the Pacific lies the Western world, while the East begins at its most western extremities. That’s conflictual in itself.

But that is where the new world is taking shape. From the west coast of the Americas to the eastern boundaries of Turkey lies the Western world; a mix of largely Caucasian whites with numerous sub-divisions of both races and tribes, now amalgamated into a culture and society which has subsumed all variations under the larger emblem of the ‘Western civilisation’ marked mostly for unmatched progress and prosperity. Most now embody the value system of representative democracies even though hues change with each sub-set. Nationalism, at times the ultra-right kind, establishes its exceptionalism just as a uniform belief that the West represents the most developed form of human race and civilisation ever known is universally accepted.

The post-war world evolved to become greatly more globalised, interdependent and hyper-connected, with a common culture. The Western world achieved that over decades of democratic and economic development which fostered common values of exceptional economic progress and social development. Flashpoints and failings aside, this society now sits at the cusp of the next stage of progression that is more appropriately termed the post-prosperity or post-modern era.

The vast swathe of similar social and political expanse may have Russia as an exception but that hardly ruptures the uniformity. Trump’s America considers Asian China its bigger threat. That is how proximity and distance and the stock to which one belongs impact the subconscious repose in grading human perception. Crimea and Ukraine are irritants but the gas pipelines within Europe link Russia well with its racial stock and should help the West negotiate its way out of inconvenient truths. Brexit and all are minor variations – political plays within to carve better relative conditions for profit in a capitalist world. The West in its next iteration shall be characterised by super-prosperity, around absence of disease and poverty, enabling a more fulfilling and happier society; this is utopian but achievable as technology inducts as society’s inalienable component.

Hop across to the western Pacific; and there begins the land of Asia containing within it East and South-East Asia pulling along in its wake of increasing prosperity lands even deeper almost bordering India and parts of it, as well as largely Indo-China. Yes there are legacy fault-lines in this geo-polity, the elephant being the South China Sea but that is what the US has brought into eminence to find reason to keep its presence in foreign lands. What used to a be a region of wars is now increasingly on the march with big and small engines of economic growth acting as the nodal points of carving a better and increasingly more prosperous future for the people of this region. The Western world may be in its post-prosperity zone but this is a region of ensuing prosperity, a work in progress.

True, there is a Taiwan problem, as indeed the Koreas – and a tenuousness around the control of some rocks and islands. But all this hasn’t dampened the centrality of production and trade. Growth continues to ensue and push the region into trading its surpluses. The open lanes of the South China Sea are critical to China’s growth and economic strategy but aspersions to the contrary are deliberately meant to proffer an environment of speculative fear of a conflict. It is meant to slow the economic surge prevalent in the region. But, with two economic powerhouses like China and India in the mix, the chances of this momentum being eclipsed are short. There are some laggards in relative terms yet the economically progressive thrust in the region keeps all to stay the course.

That leaves the region from the western coast of Turkey to the western borders of India – some parts of India may be included, especially the North-West – where a different kind of uniformity reigns, one embroiled in war, strife and perpetual conflict. Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen are live wars while Kashmir and Palestine remain the two bleeding wounds perpetrated through unchecked state violence in the name of sovereign force. Legacy issues aside, there are potential flashpoints aplenty in the region. Kurds, Iran, various militant groups – Al Qaeda, Daesh – have a ripe region to transfer their focus. Geographically, this region is further bound by a mountainous spine made up of the world’s highest and longest ranges that run east-west through the middle of Asia giving this largely deprived region the look of a geographical sump.

Meant to be as integrated and globalised as the rest, the deep sump so formed by divisive geography and manipulated geopolitics, as indeed inept and pedestrian leadership, it is instead seeped with gathering the rest of the world’s effluent.. Religious uniformity is deeply riven by sectarian hatred which leads to perpetual strife. The region has the majority of the poor and the powerless over whom tribalism and familial royalty rule as a sovereign. It continues to lie in the dumps in social and cultural terms and in treating humanity at the level where it exists in the other two regions. Those few who are endowed in this region find academic and intellectual yearning in the other two more prosperous regions of the world. Others must continue to subsist in depravity and deprivation. Tribalism thus reigns.

The world has entered an era when its inhabitants stand divided in cultural terms and in quality of life. There are the proverbial ruffians and the uninitiated and those who would in due course launch to seek colonies outside the bounds of earth to escape the ignorant. Even as it happens, the super-prosperous arm their lower geographical neighbours to the teeth. This they do with the money that they had to give away for oil, bringing it back by replacing it with arms while its own factories continue to churn the deadly arsenal and provide jobs to its people. And the region of Islam, sadly, continues to blindly oblige. The strife and war and killings persist, as does ignorance and illiteracy and poor health and deprivation. Without any known centres of higher and exceptional education and health, the die is cast for the hapless of this sorry world.

This is an unfair setup in competitive terms but as the people of Islam are gradually shut out from the fruits of progress made by other parts of humanity, there is little course correction or a sense of foreboding visible anywhere in the world of Islam. We remain mired and may soon be reduced to a footnote in history in this march of civilisations.

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