Posted on | September 5, 2011 | No Comments
More than five centuries ago, today, Christopher Columbus left the last sea port in order to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Not such a crazed gesture for those who knew back then (and contrary to popular belief, there were many persons who knew) that the Earth was round. A totally suicidal gesture however if it hadn’t been for that unforeseen continent lying between Spain and Japan.
Columbus’ was a risky wager, but it was also the Spanish Crown’s bet, ready to do anything in order to reach the riches of the East and overcome its rivals. It was a fantastic, daredevil kind of bet which nevertheless turned out to be quite profitable to the king and queen who financed it all.
Faced with such madness today, what government, which individual would go on such an adventure? The last similar wager to be successfully won in the West was probably the conquest of the moon. Then again, it was only won because of a bitter rivalry between Western capitalism and Eastern communism. Pride, more than a sense of adventure, was the motivation behind our greatest discoveries. Come to think of it, you could probably say as much for the discovery of the Americas.
Today the complacent West, overconfident in its might, only dreams of making its elite richer at the expense of the poor. The radicalization, the polarization of political discourse and the recurring whiffs of right-wing extremism take an ever-growing place in the media. Meanwhile those countryies who would aspire to rival us, China, India, are working around the clock, toying with nuclear power, space programs and who knows what else.
The next cultural and scientific revolutions will not come from the West, where we do not expect anything anymore as we believe we are already on top. They will come from the East and aim at nothing less but to realign the power relationships between the various parts of the world.