Sunday, January 5, 2014

The European Sung Dynasty

In Europe  the governing circles seem to have a naive view and handling of the things important for the relations to the outside world.

Even though being part of and embracing the globalized world in the economic sphere, the Europeans seem to be unaware of or close their eyes to the question of power and dominance in the world.

China in the Sung Dynasty (960 - 1279)  was also 'globalized in an economic and even demographic way. It had vast trade with most of East and South East Asia and the whole Moslem world. And many immigrants came from these parts of the world. At the same time policies were extremely humane, open, benevolent, peaceful and wise in internal matters. In fact this modernity was one of the most humane and peaceful in world history. Cultural activity like artful painting was a main interest. In political affairs there were non-violent open political discussions between the two leading parties the Conservatives and the Reformists. At the same time the Sung politicians were sadly unaware of the threat from the real powers in the vicinity. In 1126 Tungusic peoples took the northern territories, and in 1279 the Mongolians took the rest of China.

Even though the situation then and now differ both in the context and the prospect (the Americans are not barbarian Mongolians, and Sung was more centralized than is the EU), the situations are comparable. The Europeans behave much the same way as the Chinese in the Sung time: internally humane and wise, externally naive and weak. Their countries may therefore face a similar destiny: Being swallowed by stronger powers.

In the last post "The USA or multiple powers?" I have already pointed to the rising American dominance. This seems not to be resisted or even noticed by the Europeans, who just let it happen without realizing the consequences for the European position and influence in the world. This lack of understanding of events and lack of counteraction is naive and will in the end cause loss of the rest of independence. In other cases European policies are more directly self-destructive. Here just a couple of specific examples of this:

In the field of fossil fuels energy supplies are these years being revolutionized by shale gas and oil. This development is making the USA a giant producer of gas and oil. And Europe? Here this technology is being blocked by environmental concerns. It is clear that a such policy will be of great relative disadvantage to Europe, even though it may be of advantage to the environment.

In a similar manner concerns for global warming are disturbing Europe's economic recovery and growth, while the USA and China don't really care. The environment and warming is of crucial importance, and for these reasons the whole world ought to do like the EU to save us all in the long run. This would be the morally right thing to do. But from the viewpoint of the here and now balance of power and relative economic strength the European policy is harmful to the Old Continent.

Denmark's policy towards Greenland is another example. This European country is willing to give Greenland total control over its territory and let it gain independence. It would be just 50.000 people with an immature political system having control over vast resources in over 2 million square kilometers and perhaps even the North Pole?! This area would be impossible to surveil and defend without foreign armed forces and perhaps mercenaries. In order to profit from the resources under the surface, the local politicians will not be able to resist the temptation to give rights to exploitation of every possible mineral, oil etc. to the Chinese, Russians and indeed the Americans. The ressources cannot be accessed without large numbers of foreign workers. No doubt Greenland will be an American colony filled with a large majority of American and Chinese miners and other personnel and guarded by American troops. Europe will lose resources and the Arctic will be filled with pollution!

The world would be a far better place if all major powers on the int'l scene had the same consideration as European countries for the environment and the same respect for small nations. But the world does not work this way. It does not respect idealistic and moral or even environmentally correct policies. They are perceived as weakness. The big countries are not good and benevolent. They will seize every chance to make gains in ressources, trade and power.  Europe will be overwhelmed by stronger countries. Like the Sung Dynasty was overwhelmed by the Mongolians from the North, while they thought they could enjoy eternal arts, peace and reason.

Despite some recent anger over the NSA nobody in Europe seems to relize what is happening before their eyes. And if some politicians do, they don't seem to have the will, energy or guts to resist.

Europe could no doubt be strengthened significantly, if the EU was centralized and run like Germany, but with due consideration given to the weak economies in Southern Europe. The old continent would benefit from this economically. It is also a precondition for greater European political strength. But it is not enough. As long as the very sympathetic, civilized idealism is combined with ignorance of power or just lethargy, the non-economic weakness will stay the same.

Under the globalized and open Chinese Sung Dynasty and even more under the following yet more global (caesarian) Mongol dynasty (1279), China was flooded by foreigners like Marco Polo and many others from all around Eurasia. This gave rising opposition from the Chinese population, which culminated in the national Ming Dynasty (1368), which in its narrow isolationism stagnated completely. Now the anti-global attitudes of the population had become official policy.

The reactions from the European populations can be compared with the reactions in the Chinese population before Ming. Contrary to the leading strata parts of the populations of European countries are reacting with resentment or directly aggressively to globalization and the intrusions from the outside world like Moslem immigrants and even the EU. As these parts of the populations are also voters, right wing populists gain representations in the parliaments. Also some "normal" politicians take such anti-immigrant or anti-EU views, see "The Decline of Politics".

The old Chinese parallels show that isolationism may not be the best reaction to global influence. Being conquered from abroad may indeed be perceived as bad, but just closing all physical and mental doors can contribute to stagnation.

So we have two equally dangerous tendencies in European politics:
1) Naive ignorance of the importance of external forces hungry for power.
2) Closing the doors for everything from abroad.

On the other hand, what is good about European policies are exactly the moral, benevolent, humane and environmentally right decisions. The ideal would be if such policies were combined with power to force them through! Appeals and good examples are not enough to transform the world into a better place. Goodness must be enforced by force.

If you are only strong, you are bad.
If you are only good, you will die.
You must be good AND strong.
Only this way can goodness prevail.

Fortunately the Americans and the other real powers today are not only strong and bad. Obama shows that you can both be strong and have a certain measure of good and humane ideals. Of course this should not be a monopoly for Democrats!

If the Europeans or the UN do not have the strength to bring pax for the world, somebody else must, be it the Americans or the Chinese.

1 comment:

  1. Why didn't I mention Russia in the last line about somebody having to bring pax to the world? After the fall of Communism Russia lost both its sphere of influence and even large parts of the territory of the USSR. Therefore the country is and will for decades be on the defensive, only trying to win back some of the lost areas.

    Besides Russia will be occupied by defending its cultural uniqueness rather than dominating the world.