At this stage in the American election season it is far from clear, despite early wins and losses, who the presidential nominees will be. As Julian Baggini writes, what is certain is that America, like much of Europe, is experiencing a mutiny against the status quo. The populist revolt against political and economic elites is spreading across borders everywhere except -- so far -- East Asia, where the prospects of the average person have risen instead of fallen over the past decade. (continued)
Many seem to fear the rise of China as a challenge to the West. Not Pope Francis. In a remarkable interview published this week in Asia Times, he takes the long view, transcending contemporary geopolitics and embracing the return of the Middle Kingdom's ancient civilization to the global stage as enriching for us all. (continued)
As global elites gathered in Davos this week, the World Economic Forum released a daunting survey that estimates that 5 million jobs will be lost across the world in coming years to robotic automation. Oxfam also reported this week that 62 ultra-rich individuals held as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people on the planet -- inequality too vast to last. While globalization and rapid technological advance empower some with unprecedented possibilities, they dispossess others, causing growing gaps in power and wealth that lead in turn to fear, resentment and violence. In this one world a race is on between the two consequences of change. As Jo Confino writes from Davos, "rapid advances in technology are pulling the world in opposite directions."(continued)
Even before the "Night of Shame" on New Year's Eve in Cologne further fueled an already fervent anti-foreigner backlash, German leaders were desperately looking to Turkey to stem the flow of refugees headed to Europe from the war-torn Mideast. Now 10 German tourists have lost their lives at the foot of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. They are the victims of yet another suicide bombing by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in the wake of Turkey's decision last July to allow U.S. warplanes to fly from its soil to attack militant positions in Syria. Along the old route of the Orient Express, violence and disorder are weaving an interrelated and self-reinforcing pattern of crises that will be hard to unravel. (continued)
While the main trend in Berlin after the Wall came down was for all of the city to become influenced by the freer public sphere that existed on the Checkpoint Charlie side, in Hong Kong, the opposite kind of trend, that of a free zone getting more constrained rather than a controlled becoming less controlled.