The beams of the West’s world order are creaking

The beams of the West’s world order are creaking

If I told you 25 years ago that Finland, the country that was absolutely synonymous with the concept of strict geopolitical neutrality, would joined NATO; that in Switzerland, the country that was considered for decades the safest banking destination on the planet, one of its two largest banks would collapse; that in the United States, a former president would find himself in a criminal court for paying hush money to an adult film star in order to prevent her from talking about an alleged affair with him; if I told you all that 25 years ago you would have shaken your head, suggesting that “the poor guy has lost it.”

Some of the realities that we thought were completely solid are either crumbling – sometimes with a loud noise – or shaking. It is very difficult, in the phase we are in, to do what we often do when we are standing in front of a painting that we do not understand. In other words, to stand at a distance and try to interpret it. We feel the structural changes around us, we see the turning points we are reaching, but it is almost impossible to guess in which direction things are moving, to connect the dots and see the big picture.

You see, there are many cataclysmic changes happening at the same time. Social media have emerged as a huge challenge for Western democracies. They threaten them at a time when the totalitarian regimes are completely shielded against their influence. Artificial intelligence is entering our lives for good. No one, not even the wisest or most technologically skilled, can predict what this will mean.

Of course, the future of the US plays a pivotal role in the changes we are experiencing. We have reached a point where the absurd has become reasonable in that big country. It scares you to hear debates taking place at major universities about whether the US will go through another civil war. You are bewildered by the onslaught of political correctness that threatens to turn the center-left into ultra-conservatives, and you feel that, for some reason you cannot determine, the country is falling behind in many vital areas.

A good friend who teaches in the US always urges me to limit my worries and have faith in the power of the West to regenerate and progress through its contradictions and burdens. I’m never sure if this optimism of his is metaphysical, based on facts, or a projection of his conclusions from the study of history. It is hard to ignore the fact that beams in the liberal, Western structure are starting to creak, loudly. And since we grew up with its certainties, its culture, its sense of superiority over the rest of the world, it is reasonable to wonder what state it will be in 10, 20 years… 

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