Post-Western Civilisation?

 Civican, Avda Pio XII, 2 Pamplona 24/09/2012 19:00h

Emilio Lamo de Espinosa, President of the Elcano Royal Institute stated that “on the new map of the world, China is the centre and Europe the far West”, because productivity per capita is converging, which means that “the power of a country depends especially demographics”. According to the thesis of this sociologist, “Europe is losing power, although in recent centuries it has spread Western civilization”.

He explains it with an example: “In China 40 million children study piano, so most of the future pianists will be Chinese. But they study Bach”. Lamo de Espinosa was invited by Civismo to explain what powers can pose an alternative with the decline of the West. He started by recalling that “the first time I heard of the fall of the American Empire’ was in the 1960s. Since then, it maintains its hegemony, although it no longer exercises absolute leadership and pivots towards Asia”.

Most of the future pianists will be Chinese, but they study Bach

Emilio Lamo de Espinosa

Among the strengths of the United States, he highlighted that they have many assets, a strong initiative and an army that surpasses all the rest of the world together. Furthermore, in his opinion, English is likely to remain a lingua franca for several reasons: it is universal in business and science, the English spoken by foreigners is simple and understandable, and there is no point in having more than one lingua franca.

China, however, is playing a very strong role in recent years and its importance will grow in the medium term. In fact, a large part of the crisis is caused by large Chinese savings, which “channelled a significant deficit in the United States, encouraging more spending”. According to the projections that the president of the Real Instituto Elcano manages, around the year 2050, the emerging powers will surpass the G7.

This is because “in open economies, ideas spread more quickly and create prosperity. The global research expert highlights two consequences: more progress in China and India, which are becoming suppliers for the world, and a growing detachment from capitalism in Europe, which no longer feels it benefits from liberal policies.

Lamo de Espinosa also explained that to understand the attitude of China, for example regarding the islands disputed with Japan, one must understand “the century of humiliation” that it has suffered. For this reason, it will not be willing to pay the price for the environmental policies that Europe intends to pursue. Furthermore, to ensure independence, the country is buying resources from all over the world.

The speaker reviewed the Spanish situation in the international context: “There is not going to be a EU foreign policy in a long time and we must develop it if we want to play a role in the world. The United States no longer cares about Europe, because it is neither a problem nor an ally; relations with Latin America are more difficult, because now Brazil is superior and Spain can no longer exercise dominion; the Maghreb, from which we had distanced ourselves, is changing too fast”. Referring to Islam, he warned that Muslim countries do not represent a power comparable to Moscow in the Cold War, “they can carry out terrorist actions, but they cannot win a conventional war”.

Years ago, the history of Europe was the history of the world, but it is no longer so. The history of Europe has become one more regional history. The big question is whether Europeans will be able to write our own history in the future, or whether we will let others write it. This will depend on the Europeans; it will depend on whether they are capable of creating a “United States of Europe”.

English will continue to be the language of the future. It is a language accepted worldwide and does not require great efforts to be learned. Chinese will not surpass English since at the moment it is only spoken in China. You have to put yourself in the shoes of the countries to try to understand their cultures. For example, one cannot understand the way the Chinese are if one does not know what the “century of humiliation” was. Environmental control is complicated as there are countries that are not willing to assume the costs and obligations that the West imposes on them.

The main task for Spain is to regain its self-esteem. The image of Spain abroad is not bad at all, what has fallen dramatically is the ‘self-image’. Spain is in a difficult situation. Since Franco, we have followed a consensus policy. And this has been blown up in recent years, especially due to the degradation of the European project. We must rethink our foreign policy, find better allies and create solid multilateral agreements with them. Our foreign policy with the Arab countries was a disaster, as was the European one, but it has substantially improved, and it is now supported that democratic regimes be established in these countries.