一个激荡的时代 (1991起)

近期会陆续发一些英文的作品(作品?),大部分是学术相关,虽然水品不高,大部分都是一如既往的yy,但是如果大家要抄去当作业的话,还是要有一点学术素养,请务必在文尾 cite “饭岛爱女士”。

In the morning of December 25, 1991, when the Americans were getting ready for celebrating Christmas, the radio broadcasted a major piece of breaking news of the time: the president of USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, resigned and declared the office extinct. That night, the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time over the Kremlin. Over 60 years of USSR — the largest social state ever in human history, had dissolved.

The dissolution of Soviet Union in 1991 was recognized as a major watershed of modern human history, between the Cold War years and post-Cold War period. To understand what happened in 1991 and why it meant the start of new era, it is helpful to go back some 40 years.

Prior to the cold war, the world was ruled by mentalities of people who grew up in the 1930s. In late 1980s, these people were in their 60s and they were getting ready to give up their power. The younger generation, which took over power from them, was one who had spent their most formative years in the sixties with Beatle songs like this one:

“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace”

These people, who now inherited the power from their elder generations, finally got a chance to shape the world the way they wanted, without having to take to the streets to protest.

The collapse of Soviet Union marked the end of communism and more importantly, the end of the remaining mentalities from memories of world wars and the antagonism between ideologies. It started a new era of global capitalism and the American-led prosperity, a seemingly promising world with the spirit that the younger generation once protested and fought for in the sixties: peace, democracy, prosperity, environmental protection, and human rights. The following decades are to be inevitably heavily influenced by the vision that they set for the world: the visions from the spirits and minds of the post 1960s.

Democracy First Wave

1991 marked the tail of the democracy first wave (or third wave as viewed by Samuel P.) that started from 1970. In this wave, democracy swept across the world, from south and east Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia to the Soviet Union. This democracy wave went to as far as Beijing. Unfortunately, the Chinese were not well prepared for it as people’s ideology had shifted too far away during the Cultural Revolution period. However, this wave of democracy somehow left its mark on China. Right after 1989, Deng Xiaoping announced the reforming and opening-up policy and opened China to the world.

September 11, 2011

Prior to September 11, 2001, the world had seen NATO expansion and regional conflicts in the Middle East, but the majority of world countries, including the United States, were focused on economic development. While sustaining the economic focus, the 9/11 attacks started a decade of American-led global anti- terrorism wars. In this decade, the Americans fought two of the largest wars since WWII. The wars ended in democratization of Iraq and Afghanistan, the deaths of Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden, and more importantly, it planted seeds of democracy in the Middle East and set examples to the rest of world.

Democracy Second Wave

The beginning of the 90s brought one important technology to the human world, that is— the Internet. The unprecedented convenience in communication and knowledge greatly accelerated the spread of democracy throughout the world. After the September 11th event, 10 years of accumulation of worldwide mentality and ideology of democracy resulted in the formation of the democracy second wave. This wave, started from the so called Arab Spring, inducing democratization in Tunis, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and the potential forthcoming Syria, Iran, North Korea and eventually in one of the last communist countries — China.

Call For Changes To The Democratic System

While the spread of democracy has made significant progress, the limitations of the democratic system itself have been more and more recognized. In the United States, young people call for changes. The Internet age enabled these young people to achieve things that the older generations could never achieve. The first African-American president—Barack Obama, was sent to the White house executive office. His intention for change, however, is challenged by the traditional powers that were benefited by the old system. The economic recession in the early 2010s provided an opportunity for changes to happen. Social movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street raised people’s awareness. Voices from scholars and liberal civil rights movement call for a universal voting system, where ballots are weighed by an individual’s education level rather than evenly. Whether the balanced voting system is capable of improving the efficiency and accuracy of the government decision-making is yet unknown.

New United Nations

The development of human civilization calls for the UN to take up more responsibility and a more important role in decision making for human welfare. Post-1991 globalization greatly enhanced the connections among nations in the world. Increased frequency of extreme natural events across the globe due to climate change, necessitates a more efficient coordination of disaster relief by the UN. The worldwide adoption of democracy made it possible to enforce the centralized function of the United Nations. The human races see a slight hint of potential world unification in the coming decades.

The Global Flow Of Goods And Capital

The world saw great economic development since 2000 due to breakthroughs in information technology. Traditionally, global merchandising followed the pattern of goods flowing from the “Third World” to the “First World”. The stock market turbulence on Wall Street in 2008 revealed the serious problems that existed in the flow of global resources. Followed by the 2008 stock market crash was one of the most serious world economic recessions since the great depression in the 1930s. The accumulated problems in the nature of money driven capitalism are seemingly incurable.

Troubled Europe

Countries without sound economic foundations faced great risk of economic collapse at the cessation of the global economic flow. Countries like Iceland, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain (PIGS) etc. had long been enjoying the benefits of receiving goods and receiving capital for little cost, and suddenly found that they were unable to pay back the huge debt that was accrued over the years. The Europe debt crisis put Eurozone at the edge of collapse by the year 2011. Only the UK, which has a strong historical, cultural and economic tie with the United States, was immune from the crisis. The United States managed, temporarily, to keep the US dollar as the only world currency.

The Lost Faith

Religion keeps playing a troublesome catalyst destabilizing regions around the world. However, religions are losing its faithful believers quickly. The fact that the world is now ruled by people who grew up in the 60s, who have been called “the Lost Generation”, created a worldwide de-religion mentality. Due to the revolutions in communication and education, the world three major religions see fewer and fewer participants. Development of Islam extremism is temporarily slowed followed by deaths of their spiritual leaders including Osama Bin Laden.

Health And Prolonged Age

The world population reached 7 billion in October 31, 2011. Modern medical technologies proved to be weak in front of disease. Between November 2002 and July 2003 an outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong nearly became a pandemic. Cancer and AIDS remain incurable disease at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Scientists announced that they have made significant progress in study of prolonging life. They claim that human life span could potentially be extended to 150 years.

Energy Reform

In the first decade of the 21st century, demand for energy from China, India and a few other developing countries grew to an unprecedented level. On the other hand, world oil reserve depletes quickly. Price of oil sees a peak in the beginning of the 21st century despite the world economic recession. The instability of the energy supply poses a serious risk to the world economic development. The United States’ Energy Revolution led by the Obama’s administration in 2009 started a trend of green energy across the world. Despite the strong opposition from oil companies, electric cars entered the consumer market in 2010. The appearance of electric cars potentially marked the start of the world’s post fossil-fuel age.

The Digital Era

The world saw some revolutionary developments in technology in the 90s and early 21st century. In this period, the world saw the popularization of high-speed Internet, personal computers, mobile phones and streaming movies, etc. The appearance of these great inventions brought significant convenience to people’s life. The popularization of Internet marked the start of the so-called digital era.

Global Warming

Unquestionable scientific evidence confirmed that the planet is becoming warmer. Consequences, associated with global warming, such as the rise of sea level and increased frequency of severe weather events, poses great risk. Super earthquakes in Japan, an unprecedented flood in Thailand, drought and wildfire in Australia and other extreme climate events shocked people across the world.

Prosperity Shift To The High Latitudes

Worldwide temperature rise has resulted in the loss of productivity, measurably, GDP loss. This made it even harder for low latitude countries. As temperature keeps rising, prosperity shifts to high latitude countries where temperature is relatively colder, such as Canada, North Europe and Russia.

Final Fantasy

With an almost biblical onslaught of twisters, floods, snow, drought, heat and wildfire, the U.S. in 2011 has seen more extreme weather catastrophes than it did in all of the 1980s. Across the world, people are seeing an explosion of disasters from super earthquakes, extreme droughts and floods to extreme weathers. At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research predicted: “The degree of devastation is extreme in and of itself, and it would be tempting to say it’s a sign of things to come”. The world entered an abysmal future at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century.

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