As one specialist on East-West relations wrote as the Cold War came to a close, the world is “entering an age where economic growth depends less and less on the production of things for which the East Europeans do not have the resources – iron, coal, oil – and more and more on the production of knowledge.” Although the “Commanding Heights” of the international economy belong to the major energy producers of the world such as Russia and the Middle East as well as the manufacturing powerhouses of the world such as China and East Asia, these economic factors can easily translate into the” knowledge economy” or “information economy” which is now a prominent feature of the 21st century.
On the other hand, the “knowledge economy” or “information economy” which was borne out of the West in the 20th century and perhaps even long before with the “Printing Press” and so forth is now being stifled in America more than anywhere else in the Western world by making it more difficult for people to obtain a quality education. Although the internet offsets some of the difficulties and obstacles which the American system places in the way of people seeking to acquire a quality education, the consequences and the effects of debarring people from acquiring a quality education are palpable.
One of these consequences and effects is the rise of China as an economic and social powerhouse vis-à-vis the United States. China now produces more research and scientific publications than the United States. Thus, whereas knowledge and information shifted from the Middle East and Asia to the West approximately 500 years ago, knowledge and information is now shifting back to the Middle East and Asia and away from the West. Thus, censorship and the suppression of information in Anglo-America is actually backfiring more than it is helping Anglo-American society.
Nevertheless, folks in the Anglo-American establishment insist that “Liberal Democracy” rather than rational and unbiased inquiry along with quality education is the “redeeming idea” which elevated the West above “the rest” over the course of the last few centuries. It is worth nothing that “Liberal Democracy” is unique to Western culture and cannot be easily employed or tailored towards Eastern and non-European cultures. “Liberal Democracy” was essentially a Western reaction to feudal structures in the West. Whereas the West saw “Liberal Democracy” as the primary vehicle towards overcoming feudal structures in order to achieve economic and social progress, Eastern countries and non-European societies perceive the revitalization of their cultures and their traditional “way of life” as the main vehicle towards achieving economic and social progress for their nations and societies.
Thus, the framing of East-West relations by establishment types in Washington and Brussels as a struggle between “Democracies versus Autocracies” is merely another manifestation of jingoism and an attempt to simplify an issue that is complex and nuanced. Rather, the struggle for the overwhelming majority of people in the world has been to overcome the “debarring of men from the way” as well as overcoming attempts by certain political and social circles to “put out the light of God.” Now, with knowledge and information becoming more widespread than ever before, many of us are beginning to make some headway and progress in this struggle.