"The next 40 years will be the most important in human history," says Ian Morris in The Christian Science Monitor, and it won't be pretty for the U.S. and Europe. We're on the cusp of "the biggest shift in wealth, power, and prestige since the Industrial Revolution catapulted Western Europe to global dominance 200 years ago," and this time China is destined to take the lead. And just as the East could not stop the West in the 19th century, "there is nothing that the West's rulers, soldiers, or intellectuals can do" now, except figure out the best ways to face the inevitable. Here, an excerpt:
The West is on top of the world. Only about one-seventh of the planet's population lives in Europe or North America, but they generate two-thirds of its wealth, own two-thirds of its weapons, and spend more than two-thirds of its R&D dollars. On average, American workers are seven times as productive as China's.
But when Richard Nixon made his famous visit to Beijing back in 1972, American workers had been 20 times as productive as Chinese. China's share of global production was 5 percent then; now it is 14 percent. China is now the world's second-biggest economy (Japan is the third) and the world's biggest carbon emitter. The world's fastest supercomputer is Chinese. Chinese taikonauts have walked in space, and will probably stand on the moon before Americans return there....
There was much that 19th-century Easterners could have done to manage the rise of the West.... Similarly, there is much that 21st-century Westerners can do to manage the rise of the East.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Republicans love this new health care plan. Too bad it's basically a tax cut for the rich.
- In defense of Gwyneth Paltrow
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 17 old proverbs we should use more often
- 8 tricks to surviving the holidays without gaining weight or being grouchy
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
Subscribe to the Week