beats me wrote:
When people make comparisons to the fall of the Roman Empire they think that just means the end of the party for the rich. What they don’t acknowledge (or probably don’t know) is the fall of the Roman Empire also launched Europe into hundreds of years of chaos and some even feel it stunted the growth of civilized society. We’d be a lot further ahead now if that never happened. The fall of the Roman Empire didn’t lead to equality or utopia for the poor.
there's a lot of problems with the Roman empire comparison though - Probably first and foremost, they didn't have nuclear weapons. I think it's easy to underestimate the significance of that because we kind of forget they are there, but the MAD principle still exists. There just can't be a major war that changes the balance of power like there used to be before 1945 any more because no one could really win it. That's why the cold war dragged on for so long, because they had to work out more covert ways of vying for power because they couldn't go head to head without wiping out the entire planet. So eventually economics won out. In many respects it's amazing the Soviet union held on for as long as they did.
Personally I think it's actually very unlikely that China will even become a real 'super power' because while they might be likely to take over economically in terms of GDP in the near future, they have a few things going against them that won't allow them to have the same kind of influence as the US. Firstly, they are already really an empire, and a hell of a lot of their effort goes into just keeping that together. There's 1.3 billion, and a huge portion of them are still living in real poverty. Literally hundreds of millions. In fact more than the entire population of the US. This is why the government is so brutal whenever any resistance springs up, because they just can't risk it spreading. The whole country could disintegrate.
Niall Ferguson was talking about the growing nationalism in young people, and kind of alluding to the possibility that they may get militant if their economy collapses and go to war, but they would be more likely to implode if that happened. They have real genuine worries of people in their millions starving if the economy goes belly up. It's easy to not really understand just how many people live there. While the numbers might make them seem powerful from the outside, holding that number of people together is a massive deal.
And going to war is not feasible, again, the nuclear weapons play a big part in that. They can't ever really have a proper war with the US, because apart from the possibility of it escalating to nuclear (and at this point it's thought that they have way less nukes than the US too BTW) the bigger issue is that their economies are so interdependent that it is almost like a MAD principle economically as well.
Their economic growth is completely dependent on other countries (mainly US and Europe) buying their stuff, so if they go down the Chinese go down with them.
And on top of that, they are already artificially propping up their economy with things like ghost cities. This is one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPILhiTJ ... r_embedded
Actually I think we have more to be concerned about the possibility of their bubble bursting.
For all the economic problems in the west, there is still an insane amount of wealth here. All the fuss in the media about economic meltdown is really more about it no longer being stupidly massively insanely excessive, now it's just insanely excessive.