If you have read my blog before, you have seen posts on Asian history and its often surprising (to some) place of having the first universities, a strong Christian faith until the 14th century, having the first hospitals and much more. Asia was also very inter-connected through the silk roads and its many branches, both land and maritime, up to the beginning of the Western colonial onslaught just over 500 years ago with the Portuguese.
But a 500 year period of global history is coming to an end, and Asia again rises to a place of dominance in many fields. It is not a quick development, but will happen over the next several decades, perhaps not fully seen until the latter part of the 21st century. But it will happen.
In a new book by Singapore based strategic consultant and futurist Parag Khanna, The Future is Asian, this Asian future is detailed. For some westerners, it will not be a future completely to their liking. Last week I happened to watch the CNN program anchored by Christiane Amanpour, and her guest was Khanna. In a very interesting twenty minute discussion of his new book, she attempted to push back on this very point, how his version of Asia’s future (and in some ways the world’s) would be a mix of semi-authoritarian leadership combined with a strong dose of capitalism. Khanna did not skip a beat, bringing out the failed to some degree present versions of democracy in the US and the UK, and highlighting a new generation in Asia that while wanting freedoms, was willing to pay a price for it of cultural and social limitations.
This is a very complex discussion that deserves to be held all over the world. I do not believe that the United States is in a terminal decline, and of course the country is changing from a White majority to being much more diverse in just the next 25 years or so. I have subscribed more to Fareed Zakaria’s view that the rest of the world is “catching up” to the US, rather than any immediate decline. But it is hard not to see globally that major changes are underway, however incremental and gradual.
I am also reading another of Khanna’s books at the same time, Connectography, on his theories of the future based on the increasing connections between people and cultures. I will have more to say in coming posts both on the future, but also on the history of Asia as well. Reading young(er) authors like Khanna on the future can be so much linked to what was an actual past in Asia, one with Christianity much stronger than first imagined.
As I have written before if you want to have a front row seat on the most strategic developments in the future, move to Asia. (or to an increasingly Asian city like Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco etc, etc.)