America and Western Europe have stagnated while China dives into its newfound riches.
Ethnic nationalism is on the rise while the liberal globalist elite does nothing to stem the tide, too occupied in complaining about the ‘deplorables’ on their devices while ordering more wine from Amazon and posting selfies on Instagram.
The myth that no two countries with McDonald’s refuse to fight each other appears to be just that. Realism is back, manifesting itself through the whims of protectionism.
Are we doomed to conflict?
Not necessarily. It is in these moments that pessimism and inventiveness coexist.
Wrote British historian Thomas Babington Macauley in 1830:
“We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all before us, and with just as much apparent reason . . . On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?”
We can get out of this rut. Doom and gloom is the end all for worrying times. Tribalism can be cured, as can the negative aspects of nationalism.
There is a good side to bad problems that expose a weakness in the international order. But instead of whining in our own filter bubbles, we can use the moment to cushion against discontent.