07 Dec Writing On the Wall for the West – Written in English by Chinese
I have a lot of sympathy for those who feel ‘left behind’ by globalisation. This social phenomenon can indeed seem harsh and brutal if you are a member of the Western disadvantaged ‘underclasses’. Lacking in education, basic work skills and cultural capital, or just feeling confused and insecure by all this rapid change, it is no fun being stuck on the outside, watching the rest of the world getting wealthier and wealthier – especially those peoples and countries once controlled and colonised by white Western empires.
2016 surely gave us a response to all this existential anxiety. It gave us Brexit and Trump, the rise of neo-Fascism across Europe – and maybe the EU itself disappearing by the end of the decade – but even with all this shouting and protesting, globalisation is not going away.
If you want a clear indication as to where the future lies, look no further than the latest PISA (International Student Assessment) rankings, published this week.
As a report in today’s BBC News states: “[these results] show that many of the most disadvantaged students in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam perform as well as the highest achieving quarter of students around the world…In the Western world, only Estonia and Finland match such a level of resilience against social disadvantage.”
For centuries, the West has confidently led the world in research, innovation, knowledge-creation, creativity and sheer dynamism, all underpinned by emergent democratic and liberal values. The UK gave us industrialisation. The USA gave us post-industrialisation. Both in terms of hard power and soft power, for billions of Asians the West came to signify the future, their future.
Not any longer.
2016 was the year that many Westerners decided to get off the globalisation bus. They’ve lost faith in the future. They want their country to return to ‘how it used to be’ – whatever that means for them.
Sorry, but I have to tell you Brits and Yanks, it’s not going to happen. There is no going back to a mythical past. Only in your imagination. In reality, the Asians are getting ready to pounce. They are hungry, ambitious and prepared to work so damned hard it would make the average Brit weep in his cup of tea.
The writing is glaringly on the wall for the West, and it’s written in perfect English by a generation Z Chinese woman.