Why is America still important? Below I copy the answer I gave in 2011 in the last chapter of The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the World Economy. (For those not familiar with the economic meaning of my Minotaur allegory, read this.) Today, as the Trump Presidency looms, I fear that that conclusion is even more pertinent…
[Excerpt from Chapter 9]
The omens are not good. Never before have so many powerful people understood so little about what the world economy needs in order to recover. Never before have history’s actors been so painfully absent. Our only hope is that history often forges new possibilities at a time when none seem present. So, let us allow optimism to shine through the darkness around and pose the question: If the Global Minotaur is to be replaced by a well designed, collectively agreed, global surplus recycling mechanism, who might act as the agent of this birth? Who will emerge as history’s actors this time?
Previously, I argued that this time historical agency might spring out of the emerging economies. However, I must make a confession a few sentences before the book’s end: I do not believe it will. With Europe out of contention, and the emerging nations buffeted by both the Crisis and a lack of tradition in mould-breaking at a global scale, once more it is the United States that must provide, perhaps for the last time, the missing agency. Put simply, I just cannot see how genuine progress toward building a wholesome global surplus recycling mechanism can be made otherwise.
Of course, the pre-requisite for this is that America’s policy makers grasp the meaning and irreversibility of ‘their’ Global Minotaur‘s demise, and are energised by the dystopian prospect of a permanently stagnation-prone world economy. Then and only then is there is a chance of a collective future that will prove rational, stable and pregnant with an iota of some hope that our latest Crisis will be allowed to unleash its creative potential.
While emerging countries like China, Brazil, India, South Africa etc. must contribute important building blocks in the construction of this brighter future, America must nevertheless lead. If it does, perhaps centuries later, its own Minotaur‘s death will inspire the poets and the myth-makers to mark its demise as the beginning of a new, authentic humanism. If it does not, then our generation’s postmodern 1930s will last a lot longer than a decade.