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PostHegemons of 2069 (Brian Blodgett, USA, 01/09/19 4:10 am)
In regards to future hegemony, I believe that we must avoid just looking at the present and the near past and future, but look further back in history and try to project trends that we see. The US, without doubt, is currently waning in power and has been for some years, as it remains bogged down in internal political squabbles as well as external military conflicts. If I look back, it appears that the US really had its shining moments after World War II as it gained supremacy as a world power due to its military, but the years have not been kind to the nation and it is far from the superpower that it once was.
The obvious contender to the US is China, which while having a far inferior naval and air force, is not lacking in the ground-based area nor in the world of potential future wars, that of cyber. China is no longer a sleeping giant but is spreading itself around the world, dabbling not in politics in the way that the US had, nor as the colonial powers of the past did, but rather by making themselves helpful to countries in ways that tie them economically--which is far stronger than military can hope to be in our present age.
Yet we must not dwell on countries as we know them today since in 50 years will a country per se really matter as much as perhaps a collective group of countries? One can look at the European Union of today and say that it would not be able to match the US or China, but can we say that would be the case in 50 years? Remember from the mid-1800s to the start of the Great War, Britain was clearly the hegemonic power and then it was not until nearly 40 years later, after World War II, that the US picked up the mantle. Right now we are, to me, in a lull as the US wanes and China rises, but what will we have in 50 years remains the question.
I believe that the US will, not in the near term, but eventually reverse its trend and begin to rise, but that it will not be enough to allow the country to be the sole hegemonic power. China will also continue to rise but it too will only go so far and the two may not be equals, but above most individual countries. However, I am including two other possibilities, that of a conglomeration of European countries joining together unlike they are not in the EU, but rather more like a real united European union (note the small u, not a large U) and as one be on a level that allows them to be seen as a third hegemonic pillar. The fourth leg pillar will be individuals / mega-companies that join together in a true unbreakable monopoly of world power. They will not have a military, but they will also not need one. What they will have is the economy and all that goes with it. It may not be Gates, Amazon, or other rich individuals and companies that we have today, but rather those that are the fittest for 2068, a world that we do not know yet what will be the predominate measure of power.
Then there is the chance, the odd chance that we cannot rule out, that the hegemonic power will be none of the above, but rather a civilization yet unknown on earth, one from the stars that rules supreme over not only this world, but others.
However, the best hope for our world is that of a genuine World Federation, a world from Star Trek where the nations of Earth come together to end the problems that currently plague our orb; economically, socially, medically, etc., and we are reaching out to the stars. If one follows Moore's Law states that we are doubling our knowledge / technology every 18 months or so and expanding it beyond science, and even if it scientifically flattens out at some point in the future, we may find ourselves far enough along to live in the world that our science fiction writers are already in--after all, consider what the Jetsons and Kirk had that most everyone thought was unrealistic and see how much we have already surpassed it--or if you really want to step back in time and look towards the future, take a few hours and read Lord Lytton's 1871 book, The Coming Race and see how much of his novel is now our past of 50 or so years.
JE comments: Brian Blodgett puts his finger on the essence of futurology: we cannot know. In any case, we're going to revisit this post in 2069! Brian actually wrote 2068, but that's close enough.
Lord Lytton is best known for Literature's most iconic opening line, "It was a dark and stormy night." His The Coming Race is available on Project Gutenberg. Click below. Brian, can you give us a synopsis? What was the essence of the Coming Race?