The West & The Rest
by Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA & Kojo Solomon
- Dambisa Moyo
But what of the darker world that watches? Most men belong to this world. With Negro and Negroid, East Indian, Chinese, and Japanese they form two-thirds of the population of the world. A belief in humanity is a belief in colored men. If the uplift of mankind must be done by men, then the destinies of this world will rest ultimately in the hands of darker nations.
- W.E. Du Bois
Over the next 50 years, Brazil, Russia, India and China - the BRICs economies could become a much larger force in the world economy.
- Goldman Sachs (Dreaming With BRICs: The Path to 2050)
It is 2084AD, which also happens to be the 200th anniversary of the historic Berlin Conference that took place in 1884. To mark the occasion, which heralded the legendry scramble for Africa, the leaders from Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium gathered together in Berlin to deliberate on the progress and changes that have occurred in the world since the First Berlin Conference. Also in attendance were the Ambassadors of Denmark, Netherland, Sweden and Norway. President Hugo Rodriquez of the USA was unable to attend but Janet Taylor, the US Secretary of State, represented him.
Two days after the meeting while Gbenga Adebayo was cleaning the conference centre he came across a DVD, which he saw on the floor. He took the DVD home, inserted it into his computer and realised that the DVD contained the proceeding of the Berlin Conference.
The next couple of pages details what transpired during the 2084 Berlin Conference.
Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA Kojo Solomon
James CARPENTER, Prime Minister of Great Britain
Jean-Jacques LE BLANC, President of France
Otto von MULLER, Chancellor of Germany
Nuno ALVES, President of Portugal
Raul RAMOS, Prime Minister of Spain
King LION II, King of Belgium
Massimo ZAMBROTTA, Prime Minister of Italy
Hugo RODRIQUEZ, President of the United States of America
Janet TAYLOR, US Secretary of State
First Berlin Conference held
First World War
Second World War
India gain independence
Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal
Global Financial Crisis
China overtakes USA to become the world's largest economy
Mexico and South Africa replace France and Britain as permanent members of the United Nations.
USA becomes predominately Spanish speaking with a Hispanic majority
Nigeria sends its first astronaut to Mars
Two hundredth anniversary of the Berlin Conference
[After all the leaders are sited round the rectangular brown conference table, Chancellor MULLER addresses the leaders]
MULLER: Welcome to this historic gatheringÔÇŽ How time flies.. I can't believe that it is exactly 200 years since our predecessors first met to formalize the balkanization of the African continent. The purpose of this conference is to discuss the progress made since the historic conference and to deliberate on the tectonic shift that has occurred over the last 200 years. (turning to Taylor) Secretary Taylor, could you please explain to us the reason for President Rodriquez's absence?
TAYLOR: Thanks. President Rodriquez sends his regards and apology. The President could not make it here because President Chibuzor of Nigeria will be visiting the USA in four days time and as Nigeria is a very important ally of the USA, he has no choice but to remain in the States in order to make adequate preparations for his August visitor.
MULLER: Thanks Secretary Taylor. Moving ahead, we shall now discuss the progress and development that took place in the Western world after the first Berlin Conference.
ZAMBROTTA: 1884 was a watershed moment for the West. It was 130 years after the industrial revolution, which heralded the greatest civilization the world had ever seenÔÇŽÔÇŽ.even though our population was small relative to the global population, we were able to control and colonize people all over the world. Africa presented a serious challenge to us as different Western governments had various interests in different parts of the continent. In order to avoid conflict, the Berlin Conference took place in which our predecessors agreed to partition the numerous tribes of Africa into countries and colonies to be controlled by the West.
CARPENTER The Cape to Cairo project was very important to Britain as it gave us access to the North through to the South of the African continent-
LE BLANC: For us, the Senegal to Djibouti project was equally important, but unfortunately, we did not succeed in linking our colonies from the western part to the eastern part of the continent.
ALVES: Apart from Africa, the West also had control over India, Latin America, and parts of Asia. Our ability to colonize these people gave us access to their resources. Resources such as gold, cooper, tin, lead, cobalt, iron ore etc were taken out of the colonies and used to develop Western economies-
CARPENTER: We were also able to make maximum and effective use of the manpower of our colonies; the cheap labour provided by our subjects in the colonies reduced production costs and enabled our trading companies to maximize its profits. Prior to the abolition of slavery, we shipped out millions of Africans to work as slaves on the coffee, cocoa and cotton plantations in our colonies in North and South America.
ZAMBROTTA: Unfortunately for the West, the quest to expand its colonies created tensions among the nations. This resulted in the two World Wars, which eventually led to the emergence of America as the sole global superpower.
TAYLOR: Power did not shift from the West to the Rest of the world
RAMOS: What do you mean by the Rest of the world (ROTW)?
TAYLOR: It is a term used to describe the non-Western world. It comprises of Africa, Asia (including China and India), Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East. As I was saying earlier, power only shifted from one part of the West to another. As Europe declined in influence, America took the mantle in 1945, fortunately, due to the economic might of the USA, it was able to lift up Europe.
MULLER: Before we close for today's session, let's put this all in perspective. From the mid 18th century, the West became the dominant force in the world. First starting with Europe from 1750 to 1945 and then USA from 1945 to 2020. Thank you for your contributions and I look forward to meeting you all tomorrow as we deliberate on how Western civilization influenced the ROTW for almost 300 years.
[meeting adjourns for the day. All the leaders attend a social function and resume discussions the following day]
[the following morning, the leaders arrive on time. King Lion II who chairs the second session begins proceedings]
LION II: Yesterday, we looked at how the West came to dominate the world. Today, we will continue the discussion, but with an emphasis on how Western ideas, values and culture were embraced by the ROTW.
The sphere of influence of Western civilization reached the four corners of the world. Thanks to our ability to colonize a greater part of the world, we were able to impose our culture on others. We created a sense of superiority of Western culture over the ROTW. The unofficial mantra was "West is best". All over the world, everything Western was accepted-
CARPENTER: Britain played a key role in spreading Western culture. The English language became the most spoken first language in the world after Mandarin and the most spoken second language in the world. Our rule of law was spread all over the world, with a great percentage of countries in the world adopting the English Common Law-
ALVES: The Western style of dressing became the accepted norm. Indigenous communities replaced their traditional mode of dressings for jeans, shirts, skirts and blouses-
RAMOS- What I really find amusing is that business executives in very hot climates like Africa and Asia wore business suits for meetings and work. If our climate was as hot as theirs, there is no way we would have worn business suits to work.
MULLER: We were also able to define intelligence from a Western viewpoint. People from all over the world were encouraged to take Western based IQ test and those that excelled were classified as intelligent from a Western perspective.
TAYLOR: The West made great advancement in science, medicine and technology. We were able to increase life expectancy by 50%, we found cures for disease such as polio, malaria and small pox. Our scientists were able to shorten distance between places and make the world a smaller place through novel inventions such as the aeroplane, the Internet and the telephone. We improved the social life of people around the world. Musically, we gave the world artists like Michael Jackson, the Beatles, Elvis and Abba. Cinematically we gave the world films such as The Godfather, The Kings Speech, Casablanca, Titanic, and Lord of the Rings etc. We gave the ROTW democracy, which has resulted in a better society. We championed human rights thereby allowing billions of people around the world to enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of expression and the freedom to protest.
RAMOS: We created institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which allowed us to enforce our policies on the ROTW. Furthermore, we ensured that these institutions were headed by Westerners and tilted voting quotas in favour of Western economies-
ALVES: Militarily, economically and politically, the ROTW had no choice but to accept us.
MULLER: Our dominance in all spheres of life often resulted in a sense of superiority on our part and a sense of inferiority by the ROTW. In regions such as Africa, a number of women and men felt insecure with the colour of their skin and opted to lighten their skin tones by using skin-lightening creams in order to look like Westerners. Beauty was defined from a Western perspective; fashion models, newscasters and beauty queens from the ROTW were pressurized to look like their Western counterparts in order to excel in their careers.
CARPENTER: Between 2005 and 2016, it was not uncommon for women in West Africa to expend large sums of money on natural Brazilian hair extension, all in the name of trying to look Western. Some of these women forked out ┬ú1,200 on these hair extensions just to look Western for a couple of months.
ALVES: Please clarify what you mean by ÔÇśnatural Brazilian hair extension', as I am a bit confused.
CARPENTER: Africans have kinky hair, which is unique to them. However a number of these women were uncomfortable with their natural African hair as they longed to have the long straight hair of the Western woman. Their prayers were answered when a market for natural hair of Brazilian and Asian women was created in 2004. The natural hair was imported from Brazil and Asia to West Africa and a thriving hair dressing industry developed to attach the imported hairs onto these women.
LION II: I just read the other day that there was a time when a number of Asian men underwent height-extending surgery in order to increase their height to match the average height of Westerners.
ZAMBROTTA: One must not put the blame on Westerners, after all if a person is ashamed of his/her culture that is his/her fault-
LE BLANC: Unfortunately, some Western scientist used science to develop unfounded scientific theories, which suggested a hierarchy of races. The influence of scientific racism eventually led to various crimes against humanity such as the Holocaust, Trans-Atlantic slave trade, Apartheid, Jim Crow etc. It also lead to the long held false notion of the genetically superiority of the white race relative to other races.
LION II: In your discussion, you all seem to have omitted a very important tool used to propagate Western ideas and values. Guess what it was?
CARPENTER: The Commonwealth Summit or British Council.
LION II: No.
LE BLANC: Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.
LION II: No. It was the pressÔÇŽ. The press was the most potent weapon in spreading Western influence. Through the control of the media such as newspapers, radio and television, the West was able to define morality in Western terms, project regions such as Africa as backwards and ignorant, export a Western paradigm of the world and downplay the accomplishment of the ROTW.
[meeting adjourns for the day]
[Third and final day of the conference. Once all leaders are seated, Prime Minister Carpenter stands up to address the leaders]
CARPENTER: The final day of this conference will be divided into two sessions. In the morning session, we will discuss the circumstances that led to the decline of the West, while in the afternoon session, we will discuss the current world realignment and the way forward.
The seeds to the decline of the West were sown during the Financial Crisis of 2007-2009. Due to the flawed economic policies of the West, which encouraged over-borrowing, discouraged savings and encouraged inadequate regulatory oversight, Western economies incurred excessive losses at the private and public level, which ran into trillions of Dollars. Consequently, the capital stock of the Western world was depleted and the West had to undergo an unprecedented austerity programme, which resulted in cuts to defence, research and development, education, health etc. As a result of these cuts, Western influences in science and technology, military, education etc were significantly reduced.
LION II: As the west was undergoing this downsizing, the ROTW was experiencing a significant transformation in their fortunes. Due to prudent economic policies, the ROTW was able to weather the 2007-2009 economic storm and generated sufficient reserves and savings to move their economies forward-
TAYLOR: You seem to be ignoring the role played by a number of people such as Gandhi who's Salt March contributed immensely to the decline of the British Empire. Furthermore, the agitation for independence by a number of African and Asian countries eventually contributed to the collapse of the British Empire-
ALVES: Apologies if I sound moral, but I don't think it had anything to do with the financial crisis or the actions of some freedom fighters. I believe that the West's declining influence in the global scheme of things is as a consequence of the West's unjust actions that took place over the past couple of centuries.
ZAMBROTTA: Unjust acts like what?
ALVES: ummmh like the slave trade, which was estimated to have reduced Africa's population by half; like the extermination of the Tasmanian Aboriginal population; like the murder of 15 million Congolese during King Leopold's II private colonization of Congo; like the extermination of the indigenous Latin American population. We may be paying the price for our past misdeeds.
RAMOS: This is the most interesting part of the conference. For the next two hours, we shall discuss how the world has changed since 2020, with a special focus on how the ROTW has taken over the drivers seat while leaving the West at the passenger seat. We will then conclude by discussing the way forward for the West in a post 2084 world.
From the beginning of the 2007 financial crisis up to 2049, while the West was on a downward spiral, the ROTW was on the ascendency not only economically, but also militarily and technologically. In 2020, China overtook the USA to become the largest economy in the world. In 2050, the combined economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China became larger than the combined economies of the existing G7 economies.
CARPENTER: For us it was shocking to witness the economies of our former colonies - India and NigeriaÔÇŽÔÇŽ quadruple and double respectively relative to the size of Britain -
LE BLANC: In the 2025, Mexico and South Africa replaced France and Britain as permanent members of the United Nations thereby making the USA the only Western country to have a permanent seat in the UN.
TAYLOR: America has undergone a lot of transformation in the last eighty years. In 2008 when the USA elected Barack Obama as its first African American President, there was so much elation and celebration. Since then America has elected eight Hispanic American and six African American Presidents. In 2045, USA became a predominately Spanish-speaking country with a Hispanic majority.
A major consequence of the USA demographic change was a shift in US foreign policy. Since its independence up to 2044, USA had been regarded as a prominent Western country. However, with the increasing population and influence of the Hispanic and African Americans, the USA has become a pseudo Latin-African American country -
MULLER: (shrugging his shoulders) I guess that is why President Rodriquez has declined our invitation and chosen to meet with his Nigerian counterpart.
ALVES: Demographically, the West is at a disadvantage. Its population has aged significantly over the last forty years. The average age of the Western population is 50 years, which is 20 years higher than the average age of the ROTW. Consequently, the West has become less productive as a sizeable number of its population is in retirement. We can't compete with the other economies militarily and technologically.
LION II: In order to improve our productivity, we had to open our borders to immigrants from Africa and Asia. Prior to implementing this policy, 50% of our populations were aged more than 60 years compared to 70% of the ROTW population, which was aged less than 35 years.
TAYLOR: The West has also lost control over the media. The media from the ROTW has overtaken the Western media, which projected Western ideas, values and perspectives to the world over the last 300 years. Channels such as Al Jazeera, NDTV, NTA, and TV Brasil etc are watched by billions of people all over the world. As the Western media experience dwindling viewers, listeners and readers, the media houses from Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America continue to experience increasing subscribers-
CARPENTER: One advantage of this rebalancing is that a balanced view of the news is now projected to the world thereby eliminating the asymmetric Western bias of the last 300 years.
ZAMBROTTA: Talking about rebalancing, a number of things that used to occur in the 19th and 20th century no longer occur. For instance the dumping of toxic waste by Western companies into Africa no longer happens. Mandarin is gradually replacing English as the global lingua franca. Infact my son has just finished his degree in Mandarin. Beijing and Rio de Janeiro have now replaced New York and London as the global financial capitals of the world.
ALVES: A major consequence of this rebalancing is that the existing notion of hierarchy of races has been completely eradicated. Long gone is the unfounded myth that ÔÇśBlack is bad, Brown is ugly, Yellow is undesirable and White is pure'; ÔÇŽÔÇŽ it has been replaced with the phrase "there is neither Black, Brown, Yellow or White, but all are equal before God".
LE BLANC: There has been a global realignment of races, which promotes equality of races.
ZAMBROTTA: The world is more equal.
LION II: Yes. With the improved fortunes of the ROTW, billions of people all over the world have been lifted out of poverty and the world is now a fairer and more equal place.
TAYLOR: The ROTW has also made great strides in science and technology. The greatest inventions in the last 50 years have come from Africa, the Caribbean and Asia. It should be no surprise that no Westerner has won the Nobel Prize for Physics, Medicine and Chemistry in the last 10 years-
LE BLANC: The consequence of our lack of investment in research and development in the early part of this century has now caught up with us.
ALVES: That's rightÔÇŽ.the people from the ROTW also have the advantage of embracing different cultures. They can easily fit into the Western environment without losing their indigenous culture. Unfortunately, Westerners find it difficult to assimilate other people's culture.
RAMOS: I guess Westerners have no choice but to adapt to this new world we live in. In the previous uni-polar world dominated by the West it was possible for Westerners to disregard other peoples culture, but in a multi-polar world tilted in favour of the ROTW, Westerners must learn to embrace other peoples culture otherwise they will be left behind.
We will now go on a coffee break and resume in 15 minutes for the final part of the conference.
[Everybody heads to the coffee room]
MULLER: So where do we go from here? What should the West do to restore her past glory? If any of you have anything to say ÔÇŽ..feel free to speak.
LE BLANC: Personally, I don't think there is any need to restore the old glory of the West. We can't go back to the era of the complete domination of the world. There are two reasons for arriving at this conclusion:
First, we need to realize that the Western domination only lasted 300 years, which though seems a long time, is actually a very short time as other civilizations dominated the world long before the West took over. Infact, the current state of play is just a return to the existing status quo.
Second, the ROTW are much stronger than the West militarily, economically, demographically and technologically. It would be hard for us to try and dominate the world once again. What we should strive to do is to become equal partners in the global scheme of things.
CARPENTER: I agree with President Le Blanc. I would like to add thatÔÇŽ.we should work towards making the world a better and more equitable place rather than mapping out strategies to restore our old glory.
ZAMBROTTA: In addressing the question of what to do to restore our past glory, I would like use the analogy of a domineering father and his son. The case of the West's domination of the ROTW is like the father who had control of his son and would often discipline him in order to correct the son. Once in a while, the father would cane to son to bring him in line. However, as the son grew up and the father got older, the father soon realized that the son, who he used to discipline, had become much taller and stronger than him. I guess once this realization dawned on the father, the beating stopped.
TAYLOR: Let us accept the change that has taken place afterall was it not Esther Dyson who said "change means that what was before wasn't perfect. People want things to be better."
MULLER: Well that is all. Thanks for your contribution. I hope you all found this conference insightful. I wish you all a safe journey and I look forward to seeing you sometime in the future.
[All the leaders get up and leave the conference centre. James Wood, the cameraman transfers the recording from his video camera to a DVD, which he puts into his bag for onward delivery to his employer. He heads for the door and then turns off the light not realizing that the DVD has dropped on the floor]
Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA Kojo Solomon