>Happy New Year
>Sorry for my absence lately. I’m without the internet temporarily.
So to bide the time until I’m back on the site please feel free to list any questions you want to discuss here.
I’ll start it off: if 2011 is the real start of the tens decade then what is your opinion about what will be the key moments and themes of the Noughties that historians point too in fifty to a hundred years?
>Add to the social networking point the development of mainstream 24/7 news media which has fundamentally changed the nature of current affairs, notably politics, but will also completely change the way historians do their job, forcing them to either adapt and swim, or sink, in a previously unimaginably deluge of information. Writing the history of the 2008 American presidential election, for example, will probably be akin to writing the entire history of the New Deals in terms of available source material, if not even more abundant in sources.
>Bah, god knows what happened to my first post. I've got it copied but it's not having it.
>Good question. Just a few ideas from the top of my head:- The 2008 onwards (taking Lehman Bros as an arbitrary start) global economic downturn and resultant attempts at securing economic recovery. On its own, the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s, but its (as yet unclear) implications for the global community are uncertain. Particularly, with two of the PIIGS dominoes within the eurozone having already fallen (by this I mean, of course, not collapsed but been subject to substantial international bailouts) there is a deepening divide between the stronger eurozone economies, largely in the north, and the weaker countries on the periphery. Whether rightly or wrongly, populist sentiment in both the north (particularly Germany) and the periphery is filled with mutual resentment, at perceived profligacy and dependency on the one hand and tight-fisted isolationism in the other. Prophesy is a fool's game, even if I do share a birthday with Nostradamus (a keyring once told me so), but IF the eurozone implodes within the next decade or so (and the collapse of Spain, in particular, would, I fear, be the final straw) there will be much examination of the period between Lehman Brothers and the Irish bailouts.- US appeasement towards a dangerously uncompromising Israeli government under Netenyahu. It's not about taking sides, but standing idly by while one party in supposed peace talks recommences the building of settlements on disputed territory is weak in the extreme. The flotilla incident alone shows the heedless hubris of Israel and, I think, its loss of allies among previously friendly neighbours, notably Turkey. The developments of the past year could prove dangerously significant in the medium and long term if the global community, the US aside, is losing patience with Israel and Israel, as a consequence, feels increasingly isolated.- The growth of emerging markets on a very meaningful scale, notably China and India, but also Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, and even South Africa. The rising ascendancy of these powers was only compounded by how quickly they bounced out of the economic crisis, even where they were affected at all. The shift has begun in earnest.- Linked, in a way, are the almost decade-long wars (and dangerous peace) in Iraq and Afghanistan. From 'Mission Accomplished' to the bloody, unsatisfactory peace and signal failure to rid eastern Afghanistan of the influence of terroristic fundamentalism, perceptions of American military power have been badly damaged. The cuts to defence spending in the UK mean that Britain would not be able to enter such wars again, at least for the ensuing decade. Worse still, the highly unstable borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan (probably the most dangerous place in the world) mean that Islamic fundamentalism has a potential foothold in a worryingly unstable, nuclear-armed state. I've said it before, on these pages, but should Pakistan collapse as a state (not beyond the bounds of possibility, even in the relatively short term) that vacuum would have to be plugged very swiftly and securely indeed. Iraq and Afghanistan don't bode well on this front.- The development of internet social networking and its attendant rise of global communities which, with few exceptions, transcend nation states, new forms of political protest (from flashmobs to co-ordinated runs on banks and Anonymous), cultural dissemination (particularly music, with the malaise of the hard copy, but also education, art, cinema and so on). Cultural historians, and not just cultural historians, will view this as a watershed. And rightly so; in so many ways, for better and worse, it has changed the world.—Five will do for now; I don't want to waste my last two days off (no offence, of course ;)). I might come back with more ideas (it's one of those things where one really could go on for pages and pages) and will be interested to see what others' think.
>Recovered your comment Ross. I'm not sure what the criteria are for making something spam but it kept coming up there anyway.Just to play devils advocate here do you think the recession will be known as a global recession or just a western one? The developing world is doing very well. If I were to list the countries I thought were doing well off the top of my head I could list China, India, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Indonesia, Kazhakstan, Ghana, Egypt etc. These are all middle income, or developing world countries, and all of them grew throughout the recession. Yet if we were to take into account their combined population we might be entitled to say that historians will look back on this time as a time of global growth and good news for humanity. Throughout humanity's history growth has been stagnant. In and after the industrial revolution we saw a minority of the world's population grow rapidly, which was the West, and perhaps you could even say the Middle Class within the West. Could this time, which I've talked of before being an information/technological revolution, be remembered in the history books as the time when the world started to grow?Very interesting that you highlight divisions in the EU. I hope those divisions won't escalate much further and hence the last decade not be remembered for that. But if divisions do grow, and Greece and Ireland do default, as much of the financial community has been saying for some months, then you could be right there.I couldn't agree more on Israel. I think Obama needs to shove his foot down Netenyahu's throat, as do EU leaders. But I'm not inclined to think that that will be remembered as one of the most important things of the decade as it won't be considered a turning point in history. Much of Turkey, and indeed the international community, was already suspicious of Israel and its consecutively extreme and pro-violence leaders. Whether peace is the next stop along the road, or another war, I fear the last decade's developments will be seen merely as a continuation in the lead up to those events. If war is the outcome it could be that people will preach the balance of power, and indeed they could be right in Israel's case. Israel's 'Iron Wall' philosophy and the mentality of the Israeli people, which sees themselves as a persecuted people worthy of pity, is unlikely to allow peace while they are so much stronger than their neighbours. A link could in fact be drawn with Japan and Germany in WW2. When power is focused in one point it has a tendency to spread outwards, largely through military means. Germany, Japan, and now Israel, all believed this to some extent, thinking that it was a kind of natural law giving them a right to dominate their neighbours.
>I think the "War on Terror" will be the defining event of the Noughties. Indeed the key leaders, Bush and Blair, focus on Iraq and Afghanistan in their new books, Bush especially. He hardly mentions anything else! Indeed these wars are already starting to define the political debates today: peace and cooperation versus liberal interventionism.Fundamentalism may be strengthened as you imply. The Taliban are already spreading the message that Islam defeated the USSR (Afghanistan) and now are defeating the US. You have to admitt they do have an argument. But we haven't lost yet in Afghanistan, and Iraq has strong growth potential if only it can gain an effective government, and the Allies don't desert them in this second phase of liberal interventionism, which is, or should be, economic assitance.Indeed on Pakistan. It's one of everyone's biggest fears at the moment. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that nothing like the floods happen again, because if they face another natural disaster on that level it could be end game for the Pakistani govt. But that's something we'll see out in this decade.Good point on the social networking and rise of the internet. Mind you I think this will be seen within a wider picture, which is the information/technology revolution, which will probably span a hundred year period as the Industrial Revolution did.Also, the first black President of the US will be seen as important simply because of how powerful the US is. And I fear, while seriously hoping for the opposite, that mounting tensions between the US and China may also be talked about. There are three serious causes of WW3, and all three have been discussed here: Israel-Arab Conflict, Pakistan's instability and perhaps most importantly, China.
>Interesting point for conversation: do you think the democratic uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world will in future be attributed to Bush and Blair's 'freedom agenda'?