China and the American Dream

by Dominique Moisi Dominique Moisi is the founder of the French Institute of International Affairs (IFRI) and a professor at Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). He is the author of The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope are Reshaping the World. 18.11.2012


China may be just a few years away from becoming the world’s leading economic power, and America’s strategic centrality may be on the wane (certainly, no one speaks of the United States today as the world’s “hyperpower”). But America still makes people dream, and its emotional hold on the world remains unique.

In this sense, last week brought two victories: not just Barack Obama’s over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the presidential election, but also the victory of America’s democratic system over China’s one-party authoritarianism. In a few sentences of his victory speech – the space of a magic moment – Obama celebrated “the mystery of democracy” in a very concrete, but also nearly religious manner.

Obama found the right words with which to pay tribute to the multitude of anonymous citizens going door to door to convince their fellow Americans to vote for their preferred candidates. He was describing democracy at its best, its most noble, as it should be, but not always is: freely mobilized men and women able and willing to change the course of their destiny.

At this moment, however brief, America’s soft power defeated by a knockout that of China, which less than one day later solemnly – and in the most opaque manner – opened the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Millions of people around the world would rather experience for themselves an election night like America’s than become a part of China’s long-term plans......

........In deliberately ignoring this diversity and embracing nostalgia for a long-gone past, the Republican Party – led astray by its ultra-conservative lunatics – was far more responsible than its decent candidate for the defeat. Romney’s mistake was to align himself for too long with ideas that were too radical for him – and for America......

......Obama was reelected because the Republican Party lost sight of the center in America......

.....Today, too, it is not America’s military strength that threatens or challenges China, but rather the enduring attraction of “the American dream.”

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Book Description by Amazon:

The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope are Reshaping the World by Dominique Moisi

May 5, 2009

The first book to expose and investigate the far-reaching emotional impact of globalization.

In his celebrated 1993 book The Clash of Civilizations, political scientist Samuel Huntington argued that the fundamental source of conflict in the post–Cold War world would not be primarily ideological or economic, but cultural. In The Geopolitics of Emotion Dominique Moïsi, a leading authority on international affairs, demonstrates that our post-9/11 world has become divided by more than cultural fault lines between nations and civilizations. Moïsi brilliantly chronicles how the geopolitics of today is characterized by a “clash of emotions,” and how cultures of fear, humiliation, and hope are reshaping the world.

Moïsi contends that both the United States and Europe have been dominated by fears of the “other” and of their loss of a national identity and purpose. Instead of being united by their fears, the twin pillars of the West are more often divided by them—or, rather, by bitter debates over how best to confront or transcend them. For Muslims and Arabs, the combination of historical grievances, exclusion from the economic boon of globalization, and civil and religious conflicts extending from their homelands to the Muslim diaspora have created a culture of humiliation that is quickly devolving into a culture of hatred. Meanwhile, Asia has been able to concentrate on building a better future and seizing the economic initiative from the American-dominated West and so creating a new culture of hope.

Do these emotions represent underlying cultural tendencies characteristic of particular regions and populations today? How will these varying emotions influence the political, social, and cultural conflicts that roil our world? How can the West transcend its fear and avoid sliding into protectionism or militarism? What can the Muslim world do to overcome is legacy of humiliation? Will China and India manage to maintain their status as the cultures of hope? And what will the effect of the world economic crisis be? By delineating the necessity of confronting emotions to understand our changing world and deciphering the driving emotions behind our cultural differences, The Geopolitics of Emotion presents a provocative new perspective on globalization.

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