The first decade of the 21st century has radically transformed the balance of economic and political power of the world. Amid thousands of reports, surveys, and studies, one trend is very clear – we are moving to a very different world -a world where the West is not going to be the center of world and the rest just following.
The center-periphery model is getting upside down. In 2009, for the first time in history, consumers in China bought more cars than the consumers in America.
Of course, before that emerging countries already replaced the West in manufacturing goods and products. China has become the manufacturing head quarter of the world – no more America, Germany or England.
Lately, some of the largest companies, manufacturing common household products have emerged from Asian countries.
They are challenging the brand name companies of the West. It is very likely, before the middle of this century, China and India will become the world’s largest and second largest economy.
With the ongoing recession many predict that the emerging world is not going to be just an observer of the world’s economic and global issues – they are insisting to become the party of agenda setters.
The World bank recently co-opted China as the third largest share holder after the USA and Japan. Chinese energy policy is almost a replica of the Western companies (that used to be). They are in a big time buying spree of oil interests in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In the latest issue of the Economist magazine, the report indicated the emerging countries are becoming more innovative in business management practice.
It was mistakenly assumed that Asians companies can’t have better business models because they are not as creative as the West.
Of course, an essay in the Foreign Affairs indicated that some of the world-class academic and research institutions are being built in the emerging countries (China, India, South Korea, and Singapore), which in turn would challenge the Western domination in scholarship and research.
On the other hand, a recent survey showed that Generation Y will be less wealthy than their parents. Before that another report indicated that American children can expect to live shorter than their parents – for the first time in history.
Similar dismal reports exist in education, health care, energy and global warming. America’s stand is not as high as it used to be.
Why it happened? First, America is not working hard to maintain its leadership in the world, and Americans have become complacent and provincial in approaching social problems.
Second, the U.S. corporate giants have accumulated excessive power in setting America’s agenda. American people are not in charge – it’s the few on the top.
Third, the laws and regulations in America primarily geared towards the benefit of the corporate giants – their interest is served first before common people’s interest. Be it health care, financial regulation or whatever it is.
Fourth, the ideological battles between the conservatives and the liberals are blinding the American politicians in making pragmatic public policies. These are the main ironies of contemporary American.
There are lots of educated people in the United State but their hands are tight – laws of the land are stacked against common people (read middle class).
American corporate culture have engineered one of the largest wealth gap in this country’s history.
We need to reinvent our social contract and use our social capital for the benefit of all segments of the society. The world is moving forward.
Yes, emerging countries are progressing in breath-taking speed.
But we can be in the forefront as we had been in 1950s and 1960s. The East and the West can make the world better – we live in an undivided planet.
Dr. Ahmed is a professor of public administration in the Political Science Department at GSU.