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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

On Niall Ferguson’s Conception of the West’s Challenger

“What we are living through now is the end of 500 years of Western predominance. This time the Eastern challenger is for real, both economically and geopolitically. It is too early for the Chinese to proclaim “We are the masters now.” But they are clearly no longer the apprentices.” ~ Niall Ferguson in his book Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011) 

The field of history is dominated by leftist scholars but Ferguson is an arch-conservative. He believes in the notion that “the West is the best.” I agree with his view that Western predominance is now at the end. But I don’t think that China will surpass the West. The challengers (there will be more than one challenger) will be multi-civilizational and globalist, and the new world that they will create, after surpassing the West, will be multipolar. The West and China are like the conjoined twins who share the same heart (economic heart)—if one falls, the second will be doomed. 

In the same paragraph in his book, Ferguson adds: “Nevertheless, civilizational conflict in Huntington’s sense still seems a distant prospect. We are more likely to witness the kind of shift that in the past 500 years nearly always went in the favor of the West.” This is typical conservative-historiography from Ferguson. In the same paragraph, first he predicts the fall of the West, and then he insists that the West will prevail. He sees the world in black and white—as the West versus the rest. He cannot visualize a world where the West is not supreme. 

The West has already played its world-historical role, and it is now a stagnant civilization which is content with the status quo. They have lost their lust to plunder and conquer, and to innovate and create. Since the 1950s, the West has grown weaker, while other civilizations have grown stronger. It might not come to a war between the West and its rivals. The West could get weakened due to economic woes and the intra-Western rivalries, which will erupt once America has declined and cannot act as Europe’s policeman.

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