(Arthur C Clarke’s conception of The Monolith – the alien technology which evolves the homo sapiens into civilization on One Earth toward One World – in Stanley Kubrik’s Space Odyssey: 2001, the rest being the historical process)
The world as we live is emerging into four categories classified by the extent of integration.
India, the integrated subcontinent of princely states for just over 60 years since independence from the British in 1947 as a parliamentary democracy, has been integrated as a unitary imperial nation-state for about 2300 years in historical layers of race, faith and ethnicity.
China’s Qin Shi Huang, closely followed suit after India’s Chandragupta Maurya, though China, after the British Indo-China and Japanese occupation during World War II, had not adopted democracy.
Scholarship overwhelmingly documents the emergence of these two Asian powers after the decline of Egypt and Persia – our “oriental heritage” – from Arnold Joseph Toynbee to Will and Ariel Durant.
John Hopkins political philosopher Francis Fukuyama shed his own light in his travels around the world in a recent book The Origins of Political Order following theologian Karen Armstrong’s book The Great Transformation which explains the reasons for the formation of nation-states out of the post-enlightenment coalescence of the tribes of antiquity in First Millennium B.C.E. On balance, ever more integration is here to stay except if the enlightenment of antiquity morphs into the benightedness of post-modernity.
Europe, a continent of a people of one race but multiple ethnicities, having begun as pagan tribes until the advent of Christianity about three centuries after India and China and out of the throes of the collapse of Egypt and Persia since Alexander the Great, resembles Africa after Islamic invasions in its north and the spread of the faith to the south (except to apartheid South Africa).
Both continents, Europe and Africa, white to the north of the Mediterranean and black to the south of Plato’s Pillars of Heracles by the Straits of Gibraltar, first need integration – each among themselves – similar to India and China.
I had circulated in Washington an inaugural speech outline for Barack Obama in 2009 along the lines of Shiller’s Ode to Joy, the European aspiration of One Europe since Ludwig van Beethoven immortalized the poem in his magnum opus – The Ninth Symphony – which was turned into an American cinematic satire by Stanley Kubrik in A Clockwork Orange because of the European wars about it since Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon Bonaparte, and the mirror African aspiration of One Africa which was palpable at the recent Annual Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and The World Bank in Washington, D.C.
Americas, the youngest of them all, are wiser, just as wise as the oldest in the game of civilization, in working to hang together through thick and thin, from Yellowknife in the Anglo-French north to Ushuaia in the Spanish-Portuguese south.
The divergences in Europe and Africa, wanting to be together but being pulled apart because of fresh memories of division for as long as Europe and Africa have been in existence, are casting their pall on those who are already integrated – such as India – and integrating.
China, in its angst to remain a unified state while growing its economy to the top of the democratic world order after World War II, and having achieved its current status without the need to change its political structure, is benefiting from the economic troubles among the rest who are wallowing in self-doubt, exasperating the divergences between them.
America’s priorities are misplaced because far too much of American interest is invested in China, for Wall Street, Kissinger and Greenspan consulting outfits in New York and Washington, D.C., and elected officials not to stop benefiting.
India must be cautious of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) meddling in China, Pakistan and Bangladesh, given India’s history of wars with China and Pakistan which had resulted in the Chinese annexation of Mount Kailasa, an Indian cultural symbol in 1962, and in the liberation of Bangladesh in 1972. Late prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s approach to the Sino-Indian war was counterproductive for longer term Indian interests.
India must actively protect its land borders with its neighbors in Asia until China responsibly joins the family of nations.