In his book, The Changing World Order, American businessman Ray Dalio, who was one of the speakers at the Future Investment Initiative (FII), opines that the leadership of the world will move to China based on criteria related to higher educational levels, better income, and innovation, whereas the loss of world leadership is driven by criteria such as higher debt ratios, increasing internal disputes, reduced currency reserves, and external wars.
As a matter of fact, these criteria are of a quantitative nature, thus they are not enough to judge the transition of world domination from and to countries. Many people disregard the fact that, at its essence, the United States is an expansion of the European pioneership that started with the end of the Mediaeval Age.
In fact, it would be inaccurate to consider the European Renaissance as the starting point of this pioneership, which rather dates back to more than 25 centuries ago, to the ancient Greek civilization and the rise of logic, engineering, and mathematics, which remain till this very day the foundation of all human knowledge.
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Relying on these old Greek rules of logic, British universities formulated the definition and rules of science in the 18th century, thus providing the platform upon which the ideas and discoveries of Renaissance scientists, such as Newton, were based.
Hence, it is quite superficial to confine the legacy of the US to its modern history, since it is actually an extension of a very ancient civilization. Moreover, the US managed to pair these thoughts and cultural outcomes with capitalist concepts when European socialist parties were on the rise in Europe, driven by to historical pains resulting from feudalism and social class conflicts.
The US thus enjoyed growth, gained a level of competitiveness typical of the capitalist mindset, and became the land that welcomes and embraces entrepreneurs and investors. This policy of openness started with the country’s foundation and remains alive and well today, as evidenced by the rise of Elon Musk, – in a stark contrast to Jack Ma who vanished in China – thus paving the way for a wider tolerance of immigrants from various ethnic backgrounds compared to China or Europe.
Former US President Barack Obama, a man of color, ended his second presidential term six years ago, whereas Rishi Sunak, who is of Indian origin, struggled to become the UK’s prime minister. The United States’ tolerance and openness to immigrants was one of the main reasons for the power shift that took place from Britain to the US.
Despite its shortcomings in the fields of education and healthcare as a result of the capitalist system, which is designed to prompt profit establishments rather than societal institutions, the effects of these shortcomings on the American society remain limited, as it continues to be the biggest consumer market worldwide – with consumption making up nearly two thirds of the US economy.
China could become a key regional power, but it will not be able to introduce a new world order. If there were any alternatives for the US, they would be Western. However, there seems to be no such alternative on the short and medium terms. Besides, the prospect of European countries becoming one integrated state remains unlikely.
The leadership and pioneership of the world order depends on qualitative factors associated with trusted and viable laws and systems that are not only open to development but also accepted by the international community in its international and commercial relations. Such a leadership can hardly stem from quantitative measurements that concern superpowers more than the international community.
This article was originally published in and translated from Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh.