Is the west at crossroads?

The Iron Bridge, Shropshire, England, the world’s first bridge constructed of iron opened in 1781

From agrarian revolution in Britain starting mid 17th century followed by the industrial Revolution to constitutional liberal democracies, the west led by United Kingdom and the United States of America afterwards have always led the world from the front. In technological innovations, in the aggressive foreign policies they have shaped the world and the current world order puts them at the apex. Indeed history makes it clear European civilization dwarfed others for such a long time.

With rise of nations in the East in particular China lately a big global player in various fields. The big question is whether this empire is starting to crumble? Some say the tell tale signs are there for everyone to see. This article captures few societal and political issues to shade a light on the current state of affairs in western Europe and America.

American foreign policy shows signs of faltering. Are cracks beginning to show? Maybe. Testament to this is the most recent standoff with the Iranian regime in Tehran. The North Korean nuclear endeavour and various missile test programs went on smoothly even with the United States president giving threats after threats and no action. Russia’s support of Syrian dictator Assad and its subsequent military onslaught has caused immeasurable damage to the country but all this happened while United States remained a mere spectator.

In the current Coronavirus pandemic, as of 15 May 2020 United States account for 29% of the world’s total Covid-19 deaths. In contrast, China has about 2 percent of the world’s total Covid-19 deaths. In Europe Spain, Italy, United Kingdom and France have suffered the most. Their health systems crashed under the heavy burden of the virus. Nowhere else in the globe has the virus been this ferocious. This pandemic has exposed the underbelly of Western societies health problems and regimes unpreparedness to disasters of this proportion.

The rise of China as economic giant plus other Asian economies has added to the quick erosion of western financial economic superiority over the world. China is now the largest investor in the African continent replacing countries like the USA and UK. China now flexes its muscle beyond Asia and Africa.

America’s many military adventures on international soil especially in Middle East has led to huge exodus of migrants seeking refuge in European soil. This is quickly becoming a catalyst for the rise of far right nationalism in various places creating angry communities and rupturing relationships thus creating divisions within these countries.

Britain’s decline coincides with the end of colonialism in Africa and the ultimate death of the British empire. This former economic and military powerhouse has been on downward spiral since then in certain terms. USA overtook her and has led the world till today.

Materialism has led to the culture of consumer society. Buying goods and services at times for no known reasons or simply to comply with a presumed trend has become the norm in the west.

At the base of western civilization is Christianity which has been historically intertwined with Western civilization. Through its long history, the Church has been a major source of social services such as schooling. Several universities were founded by the Church. In various ways the Church has sought to affect Western attitudes to vice and virtue in diverse fields. It has, over many centuries, promulgated the teachings of Jesus within the Western World and remains a source of continuity linking modern Western culture to classical Western culture. The Bible and Christian theology have also strongly influenced Western philosophers and political activists. Long held Christian teachings on sexuality and marriage have also been influential in family life. However, there exists general view of negativity towards religion in most Western nations today and a significant population view themselves as either irreligious or non practicing. Others consider themselves atheists and don’t subscribe to any religious views. These development in some way has led to deterioration of the moral fabric of societies, the marriage institution and family values.

The lack of or affordability of healthy food coupled with the busy schedules that people go through everyday has led to the consumption of fast food. No wonder UK is grappling with obesity. Data from the Health Survey for England (HSE) conducted in 2018 indicated that 31% of adults in the United Kingdom were recognised as clinically obese with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30. 63% of adults were classified as overweight or obese (a body mass index of 25 or above), compared to 53% in 1993. More than two-thirds of men and 6 in 10 women were overweight or obese. 15% of children aged between 2 and 15 years (inclusive) were obese and an additional 13% of children were overweight.

Is Western European hegemony once and for all gazing at its inevitable end? or is it just a blip, a one off miscalculation. Is it doom and gloom for the west or rather a wake up call. Time will tell.They say history repeats itself and empires however mighty come and go. If the inevitable happens and when the dust settles, history will remember this civilization as one that contributed to the much celebrated gains of the modern world especially in the field of science and technology, democracy and governance, rule of law, scholarship, Bill of rights and freedom.

In retrospect, communities in other parts of the world are not immune to most of the above issues especially moral corruption.

As with all discussions on what lies ahead, nobody can tell how it will unfold, in what circumstances and the exact timings. It’s all about probabilities and countries in the West still control much of the wealth of the world, possesses strong military and sound economic systems, With this humongous resources at their disposal they may redeem themselves before the curtains fall down.

Stay alert, stay safe and defeat Covid 19.


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