MOSCOW -- Countries like India and Brazil -- unlike, say, Germany and Japan a century ago -- are not seeking to overturn the world order. All they want is a place at the high table. Barring that, they have little choice but to build their own -- though India, Brazil and South Africa have reason to wonder if a Chinese-led world order would be an improvement on the current one.
While elements of the old liberal order will survive, they will have to accommodate new actors and approaches that do not play to America's commands and preferences. The multiplex cinema is an apt analogy for today's post-American world. Several movies are running in different theaters within a single complex. Hollywood style includes thrillers and Westerns with violence, crime, ruggedness and heroism as prominent themes. Bollywood fare offers passion, tragedy, song and dance. Kung fu films produced in Hong Kong and Taiwan play next to patriotic and propaganda films from communist China. No single director or producer would monopolize the audience's attention or loyalty for long. The audience has a choice of shows.
Talk these days of the creative economy as soft power and a harbinger of world peace, ignores the huge struggles taking place between Google, Facebook no one hand and Baidu, We Chat, Tencent on the other, pitching the U.S. and China directly against each other in a cold digital war of online platforms, search engines and aggregation algorithms. It is very nice to assert the diversity of cultures in a globalized world. But this diversity is in reality dependent on some very hard issues of finance, intellectual property rights and communications infrastructures.