Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The genealogy of the modern West
I would argue that what we now have is the distorted, mutated inheritance of the Victorian age. That was the classical time of creation of new structures as we broke through from the agricultural age to the industrial with the materialistic liberalism as the dominant political-ethical context. To this newly established global society happened then the catastrophes of WW1, World Depression and finally WW2 – which in politics led to the traumatic Cold War and in economics to the controlled Bretton Woods system that enabled the birth of Social Democracy. Now the Cold War is only a distant memory and Bretton Woods has collapsed long since, capital flows free once again: Victorians would know and understand much of today’s world. Unless we see this continuum and its radical crisis, we cannot really understand ourselves and our confusing, chaotic, scary situation after the fixed certainties, fixed threats of the Cold War era. This is the world that emerged in the early 19th Century: we are its children, perhaps on the very brink of the next transformation.