In 1985 or so, I can remember a lesson at school where we were discussing what made a superpower. We decided that land area (or empire) and population, resources and technologies were important factors. At the time, the USSR as was and the USA as is were the two big superpowers and we then thought about who else we could add or who else could be a super power. Off course, talk turned to the continents. We said as eager pupils “China” as it had/has a big population and a big area, but our teacher laughed and said” Never. its isolated, communist and has no sphere of influence, no technology.” We talked of past empires and how they rose and fell, looking at Greece, Rome, British Empire. Nodding our heads at the certainty of decline. Then the Berlin wall came down in 1989 after I left school and went to university. Russia went bankrupt, and the state owned things were sold , the oligarchs came. Europe expanded and became a wannabe superpower, and China developed into the second economic power in the world. Today we have certain superpowers, The USA, China, Russia, The European Union, India, and then those that will become superpowers, Brazil, African countries such as South Africa and Nigeria. Perhaps Africa will develop its own equivalent to the European Union and show us how it’s really done.
Europe has fallen. Its still a rich and important market, but growth is stagnant and we now spend our savings instead of saving money. Even worse, our countries all have big debts, which we will have to take responsibility for eventually, and as we are now spending our savings, we are declining in Europe. We have no glue to hold us together, no identity, language or culture that joins us, and so Europe will fall.
What will take its place? Northern African countries do have a similar language, identity, culture and tradition. Perhaps they will form a block of countries to make a trading zone. Perhaps a nucleus of European countries will remain tied together, or even merge to form one country. Perhaps. Today canditad Trump has told us its the end of globalization and the beginning of Americanization, a clear vision that tells us America will now nolonger have influence in the Middle East and will look to Fracking to produce its oil, meaning American Military spending will be cut and that those zones of tension will undergo turbulence followed by stability. America will look to import less and produce more of its own things, a clear shot over the bows of the Chinese economic model of production, meaning China now has to develop its internal market or , go to war in the South China Seas as a way of uniting the population . If America turns its back on Japan, as looks likely if Trump wins, then Japan will have to change its pacifist ideals.
But Trump’s declaration forgets that business look to make the best deals. Where labour is cheapest. Where taxes are lowest. And business is no longer “heavy industry” but cutting edge and technogy/service based. China can produce more steel per year than the rest of the top 20 world steel producers combined, ten times what America produces per year and 8 times what Europe produces per year. China can control the supply of steel, cloths, electronics, raw materials, (except Oil) and has a powerful position. China will look at what it needs and try to take these things, as in Tibet (Rare earths) and Afghanistan (Rare earths/drugs) and Taiwan. If America makes the things , it has to sell them at a profit, which means that labour will have to be cheaper , or that raw material prices drop, or that robots do a whole load of things, and so energy has to be cheap. Perhaps Trump has understood the future involves a whole lot more robotics and so less work for people.