Word of the Week #121:

Advent

Democracy by itself is not a new thing.

As with many other things, the Greeks did it first. The format itself was dissimilar to what we observe today, but the intent was largely the same.

Experiments with electoral systems continued almost for two thousand years, before the first modern democracy was established. Of course, even that seems archaic by today’s standards.

So, when did real, modern democracy become a norm? As we discussed last week, a lot of this was an aftermath of the two world wars. Essentially, we can mark three major points of inflexion in our recent history.

1918

After their losses in World War I, the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empire fell, laying ground for the foundation of—at least relatively—democratic regimes. Universal suffrage in the United States followed soon.

However, this push could not build to a tipping point, as a combination of economic strain and budding nationalist sentiments led several states towards authoritarianism. This was one of the major causes for World War II.

1945

After World War II, the balance did tip in most cases. The newly liberated colonies opted into this democratic experiment, as did Japan. However, authoritarian communism stayed strong in the Soviet Union, and soon spread to China as well.

With the world divided between the two superpowers, each espousing a diametrically opposite ideology, tension continued to brew. Often referred to as the Cold War, this tension further precipitated in conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.

1992

Eventually, the Russian influence began to wane, before being extinguished completely with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The end of the Cold War ushered an era of economic growth in the former Soviet dominions and allies, and saw another push towards liberal democracy. The unparalleled power of the United States, the consolidation of the European Union and the rise of China and India, aided by the rapid progress in technology, initiated a movement towards unprecedented globalisation.

Those are the two words I would say represent these past few decades: Liberalism and Globalisation.

So, why do we need to talk about this now? Well, to put it simply, I believe we may be moving towards another point of inflexion. The pieces are all there, one simply needs to put the puzzle together.

What is going on? Why should we care? Let us discuss that next week, shall we…

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Word of the Week #120:

Genesis

What was the most important event of the 1940? What led the world where it stands today?

The answer can, obviously, vary according person to person.

Around here, the most popular answer would be the 15th of August, 1947, the day India earned independence from the Brutish Empire.

Oh, pardon me, I meant to say the British Empire. My auto-correct tends to malfunction at times, you know. Totally an honest mistake…

Some of the more learned of us might argue that the 26th of November, 1949, the day our constitution was ratified, went a long way forward in making us who we are today. However, the constitution did not actually come into effect for another two months, so… Different decade…

Further West, the 8th of May, 1945 holds a significant place, being the day the Germans surrendered in World War II, although the war officially did not end till 2nd of September.

Regardless, it is safe to say that the end of the Second World War also marked the end of the old world order, and it shaped the world that our past generations have known. The subsequent decolonisation, the establishment of the United Nations, and the growth of modern powers was all a consequence of the same.

In my opinion, however, the day of the new beginning should be considered far more important. To wit, the 17th of July, 1945 marks the day Chairman Stalin of Russia, President Truman of the US, and Prime Minister Churchill of the UK met in Potsdam, and essentially laid the foundations for the world order that lasted for, one might estimate, 45 years. Perhaps we could discuss more about that, some other time.

Considering that, it seems ironic how, over the past week, the current POTUS has held successive meetings with the current heads of both the UK and Russia. And from what we know about the content and the nature of both the meetings, it would not be overly dramatic to believe that we have reached another of those interesting junctures in history where the entire fabric of the world is unwinded.

Let us take another couple of weeks to explore exactly what that might entail.

I do believe I must warn you in advance. These could get somewhat bleak.

After all, this may just be the beginning of an end.