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The Rise of the Rest
May 5, 2008 3:37 PM   Subscribe

The Rise of the Rest. Fareed Zakaria's Newsweek article about a "post-American" world.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (42 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
As I’ve said before we’re currently living in a post Britain world, and really both Britain and the rest of the world are better places for that, and I imagine it will be much the same with America.
posted by Artw at 3:43 PM on May 5, 2008


I'm a big fan of Zakaria; he has a reassuringly pragmatic way of looking at the world.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:48 PM on May 5, 2008


Hmm, a Fareed Zakaria article. I make the fearless prediction that it will predict enormous upheavals in the near future and that the proposed solution will be to keep doing basically whatever we're doing right now. It will say so much more cleverly than I just did, however. Now to read it.
posted by spiderwire at 3:49 PM on May 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


The post-American world is naturally an unsettling prospect for Americans, but it should not be. This will not be a world defined by the decline of America but rather the rise of everyone else. It is the result of a series of positive trends that have been progressing over the last 20 years, trends that have created an international climate of unprecedented peace and prosperity.
Boom! 10th paragraph, baby!
posted by spiderwire at 3:50 PM on May 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think even that is more positive than is justified, considering how the rise - and really is rise the right word? The roaring modern capitalist success, maybe - of various nations seems to be negatively affecting the world food trade, energy supplies and prices, the environment...
posted by blacklite at 3:59 PM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Remember when we used to be concerned that Japanese businesses would soon be running everything? There was even a book and a movie about it.

How'd that turn out, anyway?

Yeesh. It wasn't that long ago that the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese were in the running for "kings of the world status." Shit happens along the way. Nothing to be afraid of.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:37 PM on May 5, 2008


It's not like the lizard people who secretly run everything actually care who their current front is.
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on May 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


trends that have created an international climate of unprecedented peace and prosperity.


Don't worry America. It's all going to be okay. We love you how you are. Don't change a god damned thing. Keep on keep'n on.

Just keep spending what you don't have. Even when you end up living in cardboard boxes and fighting bullshit wars.

Just remember to ask: More consumerism please! Oh. And we had better make our tax cuts for the wealthy permanent!

Fuck this guy. Seriously.
posted by tkchrist at 4:41 PM on May 5, 2008


"post-American" world. It was bound to happen.
posted by Sailormom at 4:52 PM on May 5, 2008


The world's tallest building is in Taipei, and will soon be in Dubai. Its largest publicly traded company is in Beijing.

Can someone explain that to me? If he's talking about HSBC, isn't that headquartered in London? (and traded in Hong Kong, not Beijing?)

I mean, Microsoft isn't Chinese, right guys? Guys?
posted by crookedneighbor at 5:01 PM on May 5, 2008


"Their data show that wars of all kinds have been declining since the mid-1980s and that we are now at the lowest levels of global violence since the 1950s. ...Looking at the evidence, Harvard's polymath professor Steven Pinker has ventured to speculate that we are probably living "in the most peaceful time of our species' existence."

"....as violence has been ebbing, information has been exploding. The last 20 years have produced an information revolution that brings us news and, most crucially, images from around the world all the time. "


Coincidence? I think not. It's really hard to get behind conflicts in which the burning bodies of the slain are broadcast into your home within 24 hours.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 5:03 PM on May 5, 2008


Did some unexpected convolution of time and space occur where Fareed Zakaria suddenly knows what he's talking about and is no longer a complete idiot?

Or did I just miss a memo?
posted by scrump at 5:06 PM on May 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


To answer my own question, I guess he's talking about PetroChina. HSBC tops the Forbes list, which is based on a bunch of factors, not just market cap.
posted by crookedneighbor at 5:09 PM on May 5, 2008


I'm looking forward to the sense of post-imperialist emasculation that is overtaking America. Why? Because I think it's time for a new crop of disaster/monster movies. Post WWII emasculated Japan brought us Godzilla, stomping citizens into paste in the ultimate expression of powerlessness. The coming decade will hopefully bring some great new giant monster/meteor impact/tsunami/earthquake movies. This is the downswing of the cycle who's upswing brings revenge/payback/justice movies which I'm not as fond of excepting perhaps Unforgiven.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:24 PM on May 5, 2008


I don't think everyone else is rising. I think the whole world is at an apex, and the people on the second tier are so busy smugly looking up at America's (faster) decline that they don't notice that they, too, are beginning to fall. We'll all come crashing down on Nigeria shortly.

Pass the Pork'n'beans.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:53 PM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm so glad this appeared on Mefi, so I can refer to one of the funniest article comments I've seen lately. I'll leave you to judge whether it's straight or sarcastic...

From the article:

Americans see that a new world is coming into being, but fear it is one being shaped in distant lands and by foreign people. Look around. The world's tallest building is in Taipei, and will soon be in Dubai. Its largest publicly traded company is in Beijing...


From the comments:

I think it’s more a question of other counties becoming more productive relative to the United States. Workers in the US are nervous about having to compete internationally. An example being the movement of the worlds tallest building from Taipei to Dubai. I have seen houses moved a few miles in the US, but the movement of the worlds tallest building to another country is an amazing feat of engineering. Feats such as this makes the US nervous of the ingenuity displayed in the newly industrialised countries.
posted by so_necessary at 6:36 PM on May 5, 2008 [20 favorites]


The Post-American World (May 2008), by Fareed Zakaria.
posted by stbalbach at 6:39 PM on May 5, 2008


Did some unexpected convolution of time and space occur where Fareed Zakaria suddenly knows what he's talking about and is no longer a complete idiot?

Oh, c'mon, he's not that bad. He's just what we call a "sunshine pumper." I think what I said last time he came up still applies:
To be more precise, there are certain political institutions and writers who can end up constructing a beautiful argument for "keep doing basically what we're doing," no matter what the situation. It's conservatism-plus-plus.

It's this incredible Hayekian headfake that never fails. RAND has doing it in every study they've published since time immemorial. It's how Rauch can construct an astonishingly persuasive argument in favor of gay marriage and credibly come out on the other side saying, "ehh, but everything's cool the way it's going now."

And it's what Fareed Zakaria's been doing since the beginning of forever. These guys are the center of the center of the center -- they make these things that look, walk, and talk like passionate policy arguments that are, in fact, the exact opposite. It's astonishing to watch it in action, though. I actually like many things about what Zakaria and Rauch do, but it's important to see this for what it really is.
posted by spiderwire at 8:46 PM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not like the lizard people who secretly run everything actually care who their current front is.

Dude, stop calling the Jews lizards. Sheesh.
posted by pkingdesign at 8:48 PM on May 5, 2008


Myths of poverty
posted by owhydididoit at 9:39 PM on May 5, 2008


So true, spiderwire. If only he would come up with brilliant things we could be doing to respond to these developments. I suspect his audience at Newsweek wouldn't take well to being told to suck it up and accept a place of lessened influence. As Artw says, I think it would be healthy for us to come to terms with this, but we may not do so until forced. And won't that be ugly.
posted by dhartung at 10:20 PM on May 5, 2008


The Mall of America in Minnesota once boasted that it was the largest shopping mall in the world

Did it? It's never been bigger than the one in Edmonton.
posted by cillit bang at 11:15 PM on May 5, 2008


"the United States is different and may not fall into the trap of becoming rich, and fat, and lazy."

It will if it gets lazy, as it's already got the first two covered pretty well...
posted by crazylegs at 12:22 AM on May 6, 2008


These guys are the center of the center of the center -- they make these things that look, walk, and talk like passionate policy arguments that are, in fact, the exact opposite.

Well put, spiderwire. Sums up precisely the Zakaria sweet spot in American media culture, and this piece is a prime example. Come up with a quasi-academic catchphrase, throw an Aristophanes quote in there right off the top that does nothing but say something obvious in the comfortably obscure, heavily coded language of the self-consciously learned, and then give it all a kind of conversational, it's-all-good sheen that suggests no sociopolitical shift is beyond the reach of the pithy pseudo-analysis of the American punditocracy.

Zakaria's no Friedman (Friedman could've made the Plague sound like a market correction that provided exciting new opportunities in managed health care), but he's very good at selling his brand of schtick with a slightly more upmarket, Whole Foods-shopper gleam. Maybe it's that faux British accent of the hyper-educated Indian upper class, but when you see Zakaria on talk shows, he's just magnificent at describing horrifying events like they're the punchline to a marvelously witty joke told over G&Ts down at the country club.

Reminds me of the advice I once got from my editor at the Canadian edition of Time. I've mentioned it before here, but it's worth repeating: the house style at Time, he explained, was "sustained obviousness." This is the role of the American newsweekly: To tell its readers that it's a big old world and there are bewildering new things in it, but that they can be pureed into a new flavour of easily digested pablum just as effortlessly as anything else, and didn't you already know all this?

Now watch this drive.
posted by gompa at 12:38 AM on May 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


In April, a new poll revealed that 81 percent of the American people believe that the country is on the "wrong track."

One fears the war that Zakaria so relentlessly raved for in writing and on TV might actually have something to do with this. But then he's in the business of being wrong all the time, and increasingly smug because of it. While I am sure that the life of the millionaire magazine writers like Zakaria and the equally stupid Friedman -- the luxury homes, the Mercedeses, the private schools for the kids -- is indeed very expensive and they need to keep the cash coming in with speeches (Friedman gets what, 60K a pop?) and books and op-eds, I also think that their shamelessness is a bit grating.

Not that, of course, being horribly, completely wrong -- very possibly in bad faith -- about the most important American foreign poilicy issue issue of the last 45 years, should in any way damage the credibility of these alleged foreign policy experts (who can be more precisely described as high-priced media confidence men). All they need to do, snake oil sellers that they are, is simply come up with another catchphrase, some new abracadabra, and then sit back watch the morons come over for more -- then they can merrily laugh all the way to the bank.
posted by matteo at 1:33 AM on May 6, 2008


Alexander. Rome. Britain.

Three empires, of varying longevity and reach.

Empires rise and fall; America's will as well. Another will rise to take its place. The only questions are: When? And how?

Whether it's a good thing or not is, to a limited extent, moot, because it's GOING TO HAPPEN. Too bad for the Americans.

As long as there's an empire, there'll be people prophesizing its fall; someone's going to get it right eventually. The Soviets had their share of naysayers, but only the ones at the end got it right.

You know who else thought an empire was a good idea? Yeah, that's right.
posted by WalterMitty at 1:37 AM on May 6, 2008


If only I could come up with a way of catalysing the fall of the USA. hopefully the USA will coninue to dig itself into a huge whole that allows the rest fo the world to get on with it. (and not drink Coke).
posted by mary8nne at 6:41 AM on May 6, 2008


Well, I think it's a lot more likely that this is what we're in for.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:53 AM on May 6, 2008


America is not an empire. It is, as even the author notes, a society that accepts people from all over and remains competitive because people come from all over to be part of it's open society.

America will continue to dominate because our laws are more enforced, our tolerance for religion and racial diversity is higher, and we have plenty of room for more of everyone else's experts.
posted by ewkpates at 7:35 AM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


a society that accepts people from all over and remains competitive because people come from all over to be part of it's open society.

yeah, we're an open society all right (one so open we've got nelson mandela on our terrorist watch list and recently turned back a well-known british author at the border on account of his "moral turpitude"). (hint: we are not really a very open society anymore.)

we have plenty of room for more of everyone else's experts.

you'd never know it if you were to ask some of those 'experts'. i work with a lot of programmers from abroad, and this is definitely not the story i'm hearing from them. have you dealt with anyone going through the hassles of trying to work in the states on a work visa lately? or trying to get a green card? these days, we're restricting entry into the US even to skilled workers like never before in our history. if you're counting on america's openness to keep us afloat, i'm afraid there might be a pretty big leak in that particular lifeboat, post-911.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:06 AM on May 6, 2008


ewkpates: our laws are more enforced

I'm not actually sure what this means. If you mean that your laws are better enforced within your borders, then I'd say - not more so than in other advanced democracies.

If you mean that your laws have wider international recognition, then the FT disagrees.
posted by athenian at 9:54 AM on May 6, 2008


China-india-japan-russia, there is no way that a competent professional who could work anywhere would want to work anywhere else but the US of A, even to a degree if they are part of the ethnic/religious majority in one of those. in the European Union the newcomer states are only occasionally seeing returnees... once they go to the UK to work they don't come back.

forget about it. the demand to get in is as great as its evey been. with changes to immigration law and presidential administrations we will soon be as friendly as we ever were. it's not post-911 that's the only issue, though... it's the cost of labor. When you increase the size of the labor pool, then the cost for labor goes down. It sucks to get a MS or a Phd and find out that someone just as qualified as you is willing to work for 75% of your salary... I don't think the unions are too happy about that scenario, and for good reason.

The EU could be a real challenge to the US in terms of the quality of commercial law, especially if their members continue their prosperity boom. But otherwise the US remains the place to do business.
posted by ewkpates at 10:21 AM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


(hint: we are not really a very open society anymore.)

A lot of people still try to come here, though. It's pretty amazing.
posted by oaf at 10:42 AM on May 6, 2008


oaf: well, i wish my family in germany saw it that way. they won't even consider visiting the states anymore.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:48 AM on May 6, 2008


I take it they won't visit the UK, either, then?
posted by oaf at 11:03 AM on May 6, 2008


not sure. as EU citizens, they can move freely in and out of the UK without much in the way of red tape--there are freedom of movement treaties between UK and the EU. i think my sisters' concerns are largely related to the heightened airport security and the new difficulties in traveling to the US. the political issues are a factor, too, i think. but the practical hassles and the perceived risks of traveling to and from the US are probably a bigger factor for them.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:09 AM on May 6, 2008


ewkpates, that is not what defines an Empire. The Roman Empire for example was very inclusive of other people and customs. As was the French Empire and others. In fact one could say America's openness is an Empire like trait, it subsumes.
posted by stbalbach at 12:48 PM on May 6, 2008


saulgoodman: there are freedom of movement treaties between UK and the EU

We Brits are in the EU, for all it may not seem like it sometimes, but we aren't yet members of Schengen (the passport-free zone). The four freedoms still apply, however.
posted by athenian at 1:00 PM on May 6, 2008


You know who else thought an empire was a good idea? Yeah, that's right.

Palpatine?
posted by streetdreams at 3:54 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Palpatine?

Yeah, that's right.
posted by WalterMitty at 1:43 AM on May 7, 2008


"Myths of poverty"

God, that's a horseshit preach-to-the-choir article. The ideal model is subsistence farming? Yeah, that's one of those ideas that sounds great to everyone who believes in a Noble Savage and not so great to anyone doing subsistence farming. It's a knee-jerk response to the cheerleading for globalization that goes too far in the other direction.

"One fears the war that Zakaria so relentlessly raved for in writing and on TV might actually have something to do with this. But then he's in the business of being wrong all the time, and increasingly smug because of it."

Just like you, huh? Zakaria was for an international and broad coalition, with at least 400,000 troops, and for treating the war like the one in Bosnia. From the very get-go, he has opposed the way that this war has been conducted, and was one of the administration's earliest public critics.
posted by klangklangston at 11:12 AM on May 7, 2008


If you can find the full-length version of Fareed's appearance on Charlie Rose, do check it out. It really puts the book, the current political contest and economic downturn, all in context.
posted by msaleem at 2:17 AM on May 9, 2008


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