6. Silk Roads and Ocean Winds

The troublesome birth of globalism


Globalisation is historically inevitable. What we see today is not the only way it could have happened. Perhaps it took place this way because humanity rejected other options.

The potential, inclination or disposition to planetarise has been there for millennia. It is mainly a matter of how our haphazard, near-sighted way of reacting our way into the future interacts with our unconscious secret urges or potentials to grow, extend and interact.

Humanity customarily walks into the future facing backwards, yet this does not exclude the possibility that, deep down, it secretly knows or responds to something more than it sees. Several attempts at globalisation have happened in history, listed on the right.

We haven't got there yet. But we've come further than we think.

Attempts at globalisation
whether intended or not

- Alexander the Great, 334-323 BCE

- Rome, Han China & the Silk Roads, 100-200 CE

- The Muslim ascendancy, 630-720

- Crusaders and Emirs, 1100s

- The Mongols, 1200s

- Chinese world voyages, 1420s

- European explorers, colonialists and missionaries, 1500s-1700s

- Industrial trade empires, 1800s

- Superpower hegemony, 1900s

Supplement: More details of the above




The 1800s and 1900s laid down the infrastructure of globalisation. European domination reached its zenith by 1900. It laid the foundations for superpower dominance by USA and USSR, in which USA prevailed.

It looked as if USA reigned supreme by 2000, yet it had already started slipping in the 1970s, losing initiative and creativity.

In the 1970s Japan out-manufactured the West, then became an innovator. Then in the 1990s the Asian 'tigers', China and parts of Latin America grew too in cultural, political and economic influence.

By 1990 moral pressure on the West came from the 'Confucian sphere'. By 2001 it came from the Muslim sphere. This expressed shifting world values, realigning ideas in the context of a growing sense of global community. This is now one of the big themes of the 21st Century.

The former subjects of domination by Europe and America have partially adopted the ways of the dominators, with their own twist, and are moving it forward from there.

The developed world is driven mainly by an urge to maintain its position and comfort. The developing world is driven more by need. This leads to innovation and improvisation.

Over the coming decades developing countries will gain the initiative, redefining the world game and being redefined by it.

The 21st Century brings us to planetary civilisation. How we got here recedes into the past. Many new problems face us. Some arise from the past and some are recent or new.

Like it or not, by fair means or foul, it's a planetary world from now on. Question is, what kind of world, with what rules - and who decides?

We are in a century of reassessment: everything is up for review.

We must not confuse how we got here with what happens next. This concerns global civilisation. Re-civilisation.


Civilisation and its discontents


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