Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dominique Moïsi

Demography is not an exact science. Countless dire predictions, from that of Malthus to that of the Club of Rome, have been proven wrong. But, according to a recent and very convincing essay published in the magazine Foreign Affairs, a dual demographic and economic trend is taking place that will result in spectacular shifts by the middle of this century. The western world will represent only 12% of the world's population, with Europeans reduced to 6%. (In 1913, a year before the outbreak of the first world war, Europe was slightly more populated than China.) Economically, the west will account for around 30% of global output – a level that corresponds to Europe's share in the 18th century and down from 68% in 1950.
What we are witnessing can be seen is a return to the past, with the west resuming to its old place in the world before the start of China's long process of historical decline at the beginning of the 19th century. The west's long period of global dominance is ending, encouraged and accelerated by its own mistakes and irresponsible behaviour. We are entering a new historical cycle, in which there will be proportionally fewer westerners, more Africans and Middle Easterners, and – with greater relevance economically and strategically – many more Asians.
There is a sense in Europe that you can’t be fully civilized with the death penalty. Now this feeling is reinforced — that the United States is not a fully civilized country with a police that behaves like that, that wants to humiliate. There is a sense that it’s a dangerous country.

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