BARNETT ON EURO-AMERICAN -SINO COMPARATIVE HISTORYDr. Barnett
had a post that used an WSJ op-ed as a launching pad for some big picture historical analysis:
"Message in a bottle
In turn, I want to use Tom's post in much the same manner. Here are a couple of quotes and my kibbutzing:"But first the Euros need to catch up with history: they are not the first multinational state or economic union. They did not invent the first unified currency. They were not the first continent to experience insane civil war and thereupon reason their way to a Kantian peace of transparency, free markets, free trade and collective security. "
Very true. Tom is pointing to America here but Europe itself experienced much the same process during the late Roman Republic. Roman citizenship was once so tightly guarded that it was denied even to the traditional Italian allies of Rome ( who played a role in the Republican empire of akin to that of the Scots in Britain's first great expansion during the 18th century - businessmen, colonial soldiers, in rare instances, minor officials) until after the Social Wars and the civil wars of Julius and then Augustus Caesar. After that, one could find Roman citizens who were Gauls, Iberians, Greeks, Germans, Jews, Arabs and peoples more obscure. The empire in many ways proved to be more a meritocratic, " open system" than did the insular city-state republic beloved by Cato.
China too went through not one but many periods of unification and renewal. Had the Ming dynasty and their Q'ing successors not turned toward resolutely inward, we might be talking today about the legacy of Chinese colonization of the Mideast, Africa and the Pacific rim of the Americas ( disconnection imposes heavy costs)."America made that journey in the latter half of the 19th century, thanks to our Civil War and the bloody build-out of the American West (actually, most of the blood spilled long earlier). We got to our emergent point (much like China's today, but along a very different path) around 1890, following a 25-year healing period after the Civil War (China reaches its emergent point around 2000, 25 years of healing after the Cultural Revolution)."
There's a great number of historical tangents buried in this paragraph. One can draw a comparison between American dollars flowing to China today and the postbellum surge of British and Dutch investment in American railroads and corporations. Or you can look at America as the Not Quite United States from 1787-1865; not unlike China from 1911 - 1989. Or you can compare the administrations of McKinley-Roosevelt with Jiang Zemin-Hu Jintao. Are there modern Chinese intellectual equivalents to the influential role played by Frederick Jackson Turner, Brooks Adams and Alfred T. Mahan ?"Europe had a far longer healing point, reflecting the depths to which it sank in its massive civil wars of 1914-1945. It's main problem is that its healing occurred in a very artificial sort of civilizational separateness, which is no longer tenable due to demographics"
Underneath its culture and civilization, Europe remains atavistic. While France has a different and more open tradition because of the French Revolution, many Europeans view their national citizenship primarily in terms of " blood and soil". Third generation Arab and North African citizens are still considered to be "immigrants" as are Turkish descended "gast arbeiters" in Germany.
Historically, China has taken a similar ethnocentric view of citizenship ( it is rare though not impossible, for a foreigner not of Chinese ancestry to become a citizen of China); Beijing's ability to change this and welcome Indians, Americans, Japanese, Koreans and Latins as future "Chinese" will in part, determine China's future role in world affairs.
Labels: 19th century, 21st century, America, barnett, china, europe, history, PNM