Sunday, September 04, 2011

The American Century

The Twentieth Century was The American Century, as earlier centuries were: from the Fifteenth Century on, there were Spain's, Dutch and French and English Centuries (Portugal, Germany and Russia tried to have their centuries, but never quite succeeded in doing it).

The greatest US era of The American Century was 1945 to 1965; after an earlier (1890 to 1928) gradual climb to world dominance (even the depression years of 1929 to 1939, brought on by the greed and excesses of the Roaring Twenties, was felt around the world, underscoring America's ability to lead, downward as well as upward.

1941 to 1945 was the apex of America's show of world military might, echoing America's tipping positively the scale against Germany in WWI (1917-1919). Then, after the war, came the Marshall plan in Europe, re-investing and economically dominating the world, and culminating domestically in the Lyndon Johnson's Great Society

Today, ironically (or jealously?) we belittle the 1950s as plastic and shallow. Take it from me, who was raised in that period, the 1950's were neither. The period exuded confidence, equity (the greatest growth of the middle class was during that period) and humble greatness. The racial, gender, diversity and sexual revolutions that occurred subsequent to the zenith years of the early sixties, rolling through the rest of the century, accompanied America's decline in the latter part of the century. Was it coincidence or correlation? Future historians will have to decide, Did we want too much "sharing of the wealth and power" too soon? Did those revolutions takes America's eyes the the growing economic challenges of the rest of the world, especially the oil sheikdoms, India, China and Brazil.

Will the Twenty-first Century be The Chinese Century, or the perhaps the Indian Century? Will America therefore have to learn to slip back gracefully into back-of-the-pack status, as Spain, Holland, France and England have done in centuries past? Or will America re-capture its sense of "exceptionalism", re-inserting earlier generations (1930 to 1945) sense of duty, shared sacrifice, investment and hard work for consumerism for NIMBY (not in may back yard)? Will the present entitlement generation(s) eradicate their sense of automatic deserving, and substitute "earn and learn"
for "take and grab"?

Time and history--America's and the world's--will tell.



Post a Comment

<< Home