The End of . . . What?
As everyone knows, January 1st, 2000 will neither signal the beginning of the 21st century, nor a new millennium. Rather, it will usher in the last year of the 20th century and of the Second Millennium.
But what of it? Compared with our self-delusion that the current occupant of the White House intends to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, the hype-filled games of retrospectives and "name the best of..." are relatively harmless.
Proclaimed has been the end of the Cold War, the end of communism - the end of history, no less, albeit with a question mark. Predicted has been the end of the nation-state, the end of Europe's importance, the end of Western Civilization itself.
A touch premature perchance?
Technically, the Cold War has ended, although Boris Yeltsin's recent warnings of Russia's nuclear capability and the concurrent lowering of the threshold for using it casts a shadow of doubt even over this item.
And the rest?
We keep confusing the Soviet Union - to date the largest and most terror-ridden expansion of the Russian Empire - with the political philosophy its leaders had adapted from the writings of French and German thinkers. Communism was simply the word Karl Marx chose to distance his brand of socialism from all others, as he clearly explains in his Communist Manifesto of 1848. The political philosophy of socialism - to be guided by the ever-changing agenda of "social justice," rather than the Rule of Law - is likely to be with us as long as there is an "us."
Since history continues to unfold, any comment on Francis Fukuyama's ingenious book title would be redundant. And so to the predictions.
A disturbing characteristic of our time is the tendency to draw conclusions from short-term developments, occasional trends, passing fads. And so, while theorists argue against the nation-state, and political activists extol the blessings of global government, the reality is markedly different. A never-before-possible rush is underway to split the world into as many nation-states as the United Nations building in New York can accommodate delegations. In the past, a people had to achieve nationhood and be able both to sustain and defend it; now, it merely requires a vote in the General Assembly to create a country, and the willingness of the International Monetary Fund to sustain it.
As the twentieth century began, England's empire spanned the globe. As the century ends, England's language spans the globe. What many call "The American Century" was marked by the reaffirmation of a most natural, and universally beneficial alliance between Great Britain and her former colony. Never before was a concentration of such immense power threatening to none but the rogue, the insidious, the evil.
As the twentieth century began, Germany - having recently achieved unification - made ready to break the hegemony of the English-speaking world. The chosen device was a series of world wars. As the century ends, Germany - having recently achieved unification - is making ready to break the hegemony of the English-speaking world. This time, the chosen device is the Deutschmark disguised as the "Euro," additional diversion provided by the European Union supposedly in the making.
As the twentieth century began, France was in its Third Republic. As the century ends, France is in its Fifth Republic. Fortunately, the star rating of restaurants in the Michelin guide remains consistent and reliable.
But as the twentieth century began, China displayed no ambition to be a player in global chess games. Now it does. And it would be foolish to assume that the unusual effort - rewarded by unusual success - to build an operational structure in and around the United States is a passing fad. Our "historians" may mistake the blink of an eye for a major event. China's clock measures time on an appropriately grand scale.
Still, apart from the last paragraph, the comments above would invite the criticism of being hopelessly euro-centric, and even more hopelessly stuck in the vantage point of Western Civilization.
Guilty as charged.
For the century ends as it began, and as the case has been for many centuries. It may be unfair; it may be cruel; it may be embarrassing; but the fact is that discoveries, inventions, creative activities of all kind continue to pour forth from the accustomed source: the headliner countries of Western Civilization. Goodness knows, everybody has been bending over backwards to cover up the uncomfortable reality. We invented an entire mind game called multiculturalism. We wrote entire fictitious histories. We are "celebrating diversity" day and night. We won't even wish each other "Merry Christmas" any more. Like children, we cover our eyes and pretend no one can see us.
In truth, we have abandoned both honesty and the process of passing on knowledge, once considered a sacred duty. If we continue, everyone loses. By pretending that the difference between a grass hut and St. Peter's in Rome is merely a matter of preconditioning, we insult the intelligence of the educated, and ensure that the uneducated remain so. No legitimate purpose is served by blatant lies, however sanctimonious the speaker.
Yet how is it possible, I hear the reader ask, that people from all over the world come to America and become creative, unless people's thinking is the same everywhere?
Apparently, it is not.
Before accomplishment, there must be aspiration. The very act of coming to America used to attest to a person's aspirations, producing the highest "aspiration density" in the world. But now, even in America, more and more people simply want the distribution of proceeds. Of course, the sense of aspiration to achieve must come from within; it cannot be doled out or transplanted from one person to another any more than the aspiration to live under the rule of law from America to Russia.
Thus, until further notice, Western Civilization remains more or less the only game in town.
Merry Christmas to one and all!