The End of . . . What?
As everyone knows, January 1st, 2000 will neither signal the beginning
of the 21st century, nor a new millennium. Rather, it will usher
in the last year of the 20th century and of the Second Millennium.
But what of it? Compared with our self-delusion that the current
occupant of the White House intends to preserve, protect and defend
the Constitution of the United States, the hype-filled games of
retrospectives and "name the best of..." are relatively
Proclaimed has been the end of the Cold War, the end of communism
- the end of history, no less, albeit with a question mark. Predicted
has been the end of the nation-state, the end of Europe's importance,
the end of Western Civilization itself.
A touch premature perchance?
Technically, the Cold War has ended, although Boris Yeltsin's recent
warnings of Russia's nuclear capability and the concurrent lowering
of the threshold for using it casts a shadow of doubt even over
And the rest?
We keep confusing the Soviet Union - to date the largest and most
terror-ridden expansion of the Russian Empire - with the political
philosophy its leaders had adapted from the writings of French and
German thinkers. Communism was simply the word Karl Marx chose to
distance his brand of socialism from all others, as he clearly explains
in his Communist Manifesto of 1848. The political philosophy of
socialism - to be guided by the ever-changing agenda of "social
justice," rather than the Rule of Law - is likely to be with
us as long as there is an "us."
Since history continues to unfold, any comment on Francis Fukuyama's
ingenious book title would be redundant. And so to the predictions.
A disturbing characteristic of our time is the tendency to draw
conclusions from short-term developments, occasional trends, passing
fads. And so, while theorists argue against the nation-state, and
political activists extol the blessings of global government, the
reality is markedly different. A never-before-possible rush is underway
to split the world into as many nation-states as the United Nations
building in New York can accommodate delegations. In the past, a
people had to achieve nationhood and be able both to sustain and
defend it; now, it merely requires a vote in the General Assembly
to create a country, and the willingness of the International Monetary
Fund to sustain it.
As the twentieth century began, England's empire spanned the globe.
As the century ends, England's language spans the globe. What many
call "The American Century" was marked by the reaffirmation
of a most natural, and universally beneficial alliance between Great
Britain and her former colony. Never before was a concentration
of such immense power threatening to none but the rogue, the insidious,
As the twentieth century began, Germany - having recently achieved
unification - made ready to break the hegemony of the English-speaking
world. The chosen device was a series of world wars. As the century
ends, Germany - having recently achieved unification - is making
ready to break the hegemony of the English-speaking world. This
time, the chosen device is the Deutschmark disguised as the "Euro,"
additional diversion provided by the European Union supposedly in
As the twentieth century began, France was in its Third Republic.
As the century ends, France is in its Fifth Republic. Fortunately,
the star rating of restaurants in the Michelin guide remains consistent
But as the twentieth century began, China displayed no ambition
to be a player in global chess games. Now it does. And it would
be foolish to assume that the unusual effort - rewarded by unusual
success - to build an operational structure in and around the United
States is a passing fad. Our "historians" may mistake
the blink of an eye for a major event. China's clock measures time
on an appropriately grand scale.
Still, apart from the last paragraph, the comments above would
invite the criticism of being hopelessly euro-centric, and even
more hopelessly stuck in the vantage point of Western Civilization.
Guilty as charged.
For the century ends as it began, and as the case has been for
many centuries. It may be unfair; it may be cruel; it may be embarrassing;
but the fact is that discoveries, inventions, creative activities
of all kind continue to pour forth from the accustomed source: the
headliner countries of Western Civilization. Goodness knows, everybody
has been bending over backwards to cover up the uncomfortable reality.
We invented an entire mind game called multiculturalism. We wrote
entire fictitious histories. We are "celebrating diversity"
day and night. We won't even wish each other "Merry Christmas"
any more. Like children, we cover our eyes and pretend no one can
In truth, we have abandoned both honesty and the process of passing
on knowledge, once considered a sacred duty. If we continue, everyone
loses. By pretending that the difference between a grass hut and
St. Peter's in Rome is merely a matter of preconditioning, we insult
the intelligence of the educated, and ensure that the uneducated
remain so. No legitimate purpose is served by blatant lies, however
sanctimonious the speaker.
Yet how is it possible, I hear the reader ask, that people from
all over the world come to America and become creative, unless people's
thinking is the same everywhere?
Apparently, it is not.
Before accomplishment, there must be aspiration. The very act of
coming to America used to attest to a person's aspirations, producing
the highest "aspiration density" in the world. But now,
even in America, more and more people simply want the distribution
of proceeds. Of course, the sense of aspiration to achieve must
come from within; it cannot be doled out or transplanted from one
person to another any more than the aspiration to live under the
rule of law from America to Russia.
Thus, until further notice, Western Civilization remains more or
less the only game in town.
Merry Christmas to one and all!