Mediocrity is the cancer of society civilization

6 Civilization There is only one civilization in the world While Mark Zuckerberg dreams of bringing humanity together online, recent events in the offline world seem to breathe new life into the thesis of the “clash of civilizations”. Many commentators, politicians and ordinary people believe that the civil war in Syria, the rise of the Islamic State, the chaos surrounding Brexit and the instability of the European Union are all the result of a clash between “Western civilization” and “Islamic civilization”. Western attempts to impose democracy and human rights on Muslim nations have led to a violent Islamic backlash, and a wave of Muslim immigration, coupled with Islamic terrorist attacks, has caused European voters to abandon their multicultural dreams in favor of xenophobic local identities. According to this thesis, humanity has always been divided into different civilizations or cultures, whose members view the world in an irreconcilable way. These incompatible worldviews make conflicts between civilizations or cultures inevitable. Just as in nature different species struggle for survival according to the merciless laws of natural selection, so throughout history civilizations have clashed again and again, and only the "fittest" have survived to tell about it. Anyone who overlooks this gloomy fact - be it liberal politicians or unworldly engineers - does so at their own risk.1 The thesis of the "clash of civilizations" has far-reaching political implications. Its supporters claim that any attempt to reconcile the West with the Muslim world is doomed to failure. Muslim countries would never adopt Western values, and Western countries could never successfully integrate Muslim minorities. Accordingly, the US should not allow immigrants from Syria or Iraq into the country, and the European Union should revoke its multicultural fallacy and instead subscribe to an intrepid Western identity. In the long run, only a civilization can survive the ruthless trials of natural selection, and if the bureaucrats in Brussels refuse to protect the West from Islamic threat, then Britain, Denmark or France should act on their own and go their own way . This thesis is often and gladly advocated, but it is misleading. Islamic fundamentalism may indeed pose a radical challenge, but the "civilization" it attacks is a global, not a specifically Western, phenomenon. It is not without reason that the Islamic State has managed to unite Iran and the United States against itself. And even Islamic fundamentalists, with all their medieval imaginations, are much more firmly anchored in today's global culture than in 7th-century Arabia. They target the fears and hopes of alienated modern youths rather than the medieval farmers and merchants. As Pankaj Mishra and Christopher de Bellaigue have convincingly pointed out, radical Islamists are more influenced by Marx and Foucault than Mohammed, and the legacy of 19th century European anarchists is as important to them as that of Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs.2 It is therefore more appropriate to view the Islamic State as a misguided offspring of the global culture that is common to all of us, and not as a branch of some mysterious alien tree. Above all, the analogy between history and biology on which the "clash of civilizations" thesis is based is wrong. Human groups - from small tribes to vast cultures - are fundamentally different from animal species, and historical conflicts are completely different from natural selection processes. Animal species have objective identities that have lasted for thousands of generations. Whether someone is a chimpanzee or a gorilla depends on genes, not beliefs, and different genes dictate different social behaviors. Chimpanzees live in mixed groups of males and females. They compete for power by forging coalitions of supporters of both sexes. On the other hand, among gorillas, a single dominant male creates a harem of females and usually drives out any adult male who might question his position. Chimpanzees cannot adopt a gorilla-like social fabric; Gorillas cannot suddenly organize like chimpanzees; and as far as we know, exactly the same social systems characterize chimpanzees and gorillas not only in the last few decades, but for hundreds of thousands of years. There is nothing like that in humans. Yes, groups of people can have different social systems, but these are not genetically determined and they rarely last longer than a few centuries. Take, for example, the Germans in the 20th century. Within less than a hundred years, the Germans organized themselves into six highly different systems: the German Empire under the Hohenzollern, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, the German Democratic Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany and finally the democratically reunified Germany. Of course, the Germans kept their language and their love for beer and bratwurst. But is there such a thing as a specifically German being that distinguishes you from all other nations and that has remained unchanged from Wilhelm II to Angela Merkel? And if something actually occurs to you in this regard, was it there 1,000 or 5,000 years ago? The preamble to the (unratified) European Constitution begins with the statement that it draws “from the cultural, religious and humanistic heritage of Europe, from which the inviolable and inalienable human rights as well as freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law have developed as universal values ».3 That could easily give the impression that European civilization is defined by the values ​​of human rights, democracy, equality and freedom. Countless speeches and documents draw a direct line from democracy in ancient Athens to today's EU and celebrate 2500 years of European freedom and democracy. This is reminiscent of the proverbial blind man who grabs an elephant by the tail and concludes that the elephant is a kind of rope. Yes, democratic ideas have been part of European culture for centuries, but they were never everything. For all its glamor and effectiveness, the Athenian democracy was a half-hearted experiment that lasted just 200 years in a tiny corner of the Balkans. If the European civilization of the last twenty-five centuries was really determined by democracy and human rights, what about Sparta and Julius Caesar, with the Crusaders and the Conquistadors, with the Inquisition and the slave trade, with Louis XIV. And 6th Civilization 139 Napoleon, with Hitler and Stalin? Were they all intruders from some foreign culture? In truth, European civilization is everything that Europeans make of it, just as Christianity is everything that Christians make of it, Islam is everything that Muslims make of it, and Judaism is everything that Jews make of it. And they have made remarkably different things out of it over the centuries. Groups of people define themselves more through the changes they experience than through any kind of continuity, but nevertheless they manage to invent ancient identities for themselves thanks to their narrative skills. Regardless of the revolutions they are experiencing, they can usually weave old and new into a single "texture". Even an individual can combine revolutionary personal changes into a coherent and impressive life story: “I am the person who was once a socialist but then became a capitalist; I was born in France and now live in the USA; I was married and then divorced; I had cancer and got well again. " Similarly, a group of people like the Germans can define themselves solely through the changes they have undergone: "We were once Nazis, but we have learned our lesson, and today we are peaceful democrats." One does not have to look for any specifically German being that first manifested itself in Wilhelm II, then in Hitler and finally in Angela Merkel. It is precisely these radical changes that determine the German identity. To be German in 2018 means having to cope with the difficult legacy of National Socialism while at the same time embracing liberal and democratic values. Who knows what it will mean in 2050. People often refuse to see these changes, especially when it comes to core political and religious values. We insist that our values ​​are a legacy of ancient ancestors. The Political Challenge140 But there is only one reason why we can say so, and that is because our ancestors are long dead and can no longer comment on them. Take, for example, Jewish attitudes towards women. Today, ultra-Orthodox Jews banish images of women from the public. Billboards and advertisements targeting ultra-Orthodox Jews usually only show men and boys - never women and girls.4 In 2011, a scandal broke out when the ultra-orthodox Brooklyn newspaper Die Tzeitung published a photo showing the it was possible to see how members of the Obama administration followed the attack on Osama bin Laden's hiding place via live transmission - however, the paper had removed all women in the photo by means of digital retouching, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The newspaper said it was forced to do so by Jewish "laws of moderation". A similar scandal occurred when the HaMevaser Angela Merkel retouched a photo of a demonstration against the Charlie Hebdo massacre so that her picture would not arouse lustful thoughts in the minds of devout readers. The publisher of another ultra-Orthodox newspaper called Hamodia defended his approach with the words: "We can refer to millennia of Jewish tradition." 5 Nowhere is this prohibition on seeing women more strictly enforced than in the synagogue. In Orthodox synagogues women are strictly separated from men and must gather in a separate area where they are hidden behind a curtain so that no man can accidentally see the figure of a woman when he says his prayers or reads the scriptures. But if all of this is based on millennia of Jewish tradition and unchangeable divine laws, how can we explain the fact that archaeologists who unearthed ancient synagogues in Israel from the time of the Mishnah and the Talmud found no evidence of gender segregation Civilization 141 but wonderful floor mosaics and murals depicting women, some of them even dressed quite freely? The rabbis who wrote the Mishnah and Talmud regularly prayed and studied in these synagogues, but today's Orthodox Jews would view these places as blasphemous outrages against ancient traditions.6 Similar distortions of ancient traditions are found in all religions. The Islamic State boasted that it had returned to the pure and original version of Islam, but the truth is that its form of Islam is brand new. Sure, the followers of the Islamic State refer to numerous time-honored texts, but they choose quite arbitrarily which texts they quote and which they ignore and how they interpret these scriptures. In fact, their independent interpretation of the sacred texts is thoroughly modern. Traditionally, their interpretation was the monopoly of the ulama - the scholars who studied Muslim law and Muslim theology at renowned institutions such as the Cairo al-Ahzar University. Hardly any leader of the Islamic State has such qualifications, and the most recognized ulama have condemned Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his ilk as ignorant criminals.7 That does not mean that the Islamic State is "un-Islamic" or "anti-Islamic" as some claim. It is particularly ironic when Christian politicians like Barack Obama have the audacity to explain to self-proclaimed Muslims like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi what it means to be a Muslim.8 The heated argument about the true essence of Islam is simply pointless. Islam does not have an established DNA. Islam is what the Muslims make of it.9 The Political Challenge142 Teutons and Gorillas There is an even more profound difference between groups of people and animal species. Species often split up, but they never merge. Chimpanzees and gorillas shared ancestors seven million years ago. This one ancestral species split into two populations, each of which eventually embarked on its own evolutionary path. Once that was done, there was no going back. Since individuals belonging to different species cannot produce fertile offspring together, species can never mix. Gorillas cannot mix with chimpanzees, giraffes cannot mix with elephants, and dogs cannot mix with cats. Human tribes, on the other hand, tend to form larger and larger groups over time. The modern Teutons emerged from the amalgamation of Saxony, Prussia, Swabia and Bavaria, which not so long ago had shown little affection for one another. Otto von Bismarck allegedly mocked (after reading Darwin's On the Origin of Species) that the Bavarians were the "missing link" between the Austrians and the people.10 The French emerged from the merging of Franks, Normans, Bretons, Gascon and Provençals . On the other side of the English Channel, the English, Scots, Welsh and Irish gradually (whether wanted or not) welded together to form the British. In the not too distant future, Germans, French and British could merge into Europeans. Such mergers do not always last, as people in London, Edinburgh and Brussels are all too aware these days. Brexit could very well lead to the United King- 6. Civilization 143 becoming rich and the EU disintegrating at the same time. But in the long run, the direction history is taking is clear. 10,000 years ago humanity was divided into innumerable isolated tribes. From millennium to millennium these merged into ever larger groups and created fewer and fewer different civilizations. In the past generations, the few remaining civilizations merged into a single global culture. Political, ethnic, cultural and economic divisions persist, but they do not undermine fundamental unity. On the contrary, some divisions are only possible because of an overarching common structure. In business, for example, the division of labor cannot succeed if everyone belongs to a single market. A country can only specialize in the production of cars or oil if it can buy food from other countries that grow wheat and rice. This human unification process takes two different forms: through the creation of connections between different groups and through the homogenization of practices across groups. Connections can even arise between groups that continue to behave very differently. In fact, they can emerge among even the worst archenemies. War itself can create some of the strongest human bonds. Historians often claim that globalization reached its first peak in 1913, then experienced a long decline in the period of the World Wars and the Cold War, and only gained momentum after 1989.11 That may be true of economic globalization, but it leaves it entirely disregarding different but equally important dynamics of military globalization. War spreads ideas, technology and people far faster than trade. In 1918 the United States was more closely linked to Europe than it was in 1913, after which the two diverged in the interwar years, before their fate was inextricably bound by the Second World War and the Cold War. War can also make people much more interested in one another.At no time has the United States been in closer contact with Russia than during the Cold War, when every cough in a Moscow hallway led to people in Washington walking excitedly up and down stairs. People care much more about their enemies than about their trading partners. For every American film about Taiwan, there are probably 50 films about Vietnam. The Olympic Games in the Middle Ages The world of the early 21st century is much wider than just creating connections between different groups. People all over the world are not only in contact with one another, but increasingly share identical beliefs and practices. 1000 years ago the planet was fertile ground for dozens of political models of various kinds. In Europe there were feudal principalities competing with independent city-states and tiny theocracies. The Muslim world had its caliphate, which claimed universal sovereignty, but also experimented with kingdoms, sultanates and emirates. The Chinese empires considered themselves the only legitimate political entity, while in the north and west tribal groups fought each other with glee. A kaleidoscope of regimes was found in India and Southeast Asia, while America, Africa and Australasia ranged from tiny groups of hunters to vast empires. No wonder that even neighboring groups of people found it difficult to agree on common diplomatic procedures, not to mention agreements under international law. Every society had its own political paradigm and found it difficult to understand and respect foreign political concepts. Today, however, a single political paradigm is widely accepted. The planet is divided into around 200 sovereign states, which generally agree on the same diplomatic protocols and common international legal provisions. Sweden, Nigeria, Thailand and Brazil are colored in the same way in our atlases; they are all members of the United Nations; and despite innumerable differences, they are all recognized as sovereign states enjoying equal rights and privileges. In fact, they have many other political ideas and practices in common, including, at least outwardly, belief in representative bodies, political parties, universal suffrage, and human rights. There are parliaments in Tehran, Moscow, Cape Town and New Delhi as well as in London and Paris. When Israelis and Palestinians, Russians and Ukrainians, Kurds and Turks vie for the favor of global public opinion, they all use the same discourse on human rights, state sovereignty and international law. The world may have different forms of failed states, but it only knows one paradigm of a successful state. World politics thus follows the Anna Karenina principle: Successful states are alike, but each failed state fails in its own way by missing this or that ingredient of the prevailing political package. The Islamic State recently stood out for completely rejecting this package and trying to establish a completely different political entity - a global caliphate. But it was precisely for this reason that it failed. Numerous guerrilla troops and terrorist organizations have managed to found new countries or to conquer existing ones. But they always only succeeded in doing this by accepting the basic principles of the political world order. Even the Taliban sought international recognition as the legitimate government of the sovereign country of Afghanistan. No group that rejects the principles of world politics has so far gained permanent control over any significant territories. The strength of the global political paradigm can perhaps best be illustrated if one does not look at the core political issues of war and diplomacy, but rather something like the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Let's take a quick look at how the games were organized. The 11,000 athletes were divided into delegations based on nationality rather than religion, class or language. There was no Buddhist delegation, no proletarian delegation, and no English-speaking delegation. Except for a few cases - Taiwan and Palestine in particular - it was pretty straightforward to determine the citizenship of the athletes. At the opening ceremony on August 5, 2016, the athletes marched in in groups, and the respective national flag was carried in front of each group. When Michael Phelps had won another gold medal, the stars and stripes were hoisted and the "Star-Spangled Banner" was voiced. When Émilie Andéol won gold in judo, the tricolor was raised and the "Marseillaise" played. Conveniently, every country in the world has an anthem based on the same universal model. Almost all hymns are orchestral pieces a few minutes long and not twenty-minute chants that can only be performed by a special caste of hereditary priests. Even countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Congo have adopted the musical conventions of the West for their anthems. Most of them somehow sound like Ludwig van Beethoven composed them on a mediocre day. 6. Civilization 147 (You can have a fun evening with friends by listening to the different hymns on YouTube and trying to guess which is which.) Even the lyrics are the same almost everywhere in the world and refer to common ideas of politics and group loyalty. For example, to which nation could the following hymn be heard? (I only changed the name of the country to the unspecific “My Country”): My country, my mother country, the country where I shed my blood, there I stand as my mother's guardian. My country, my people, my nation and my country Let us exclaim: May my country be united! Long live my country, long live my state, my nation, my whole people, all wake up with soul and body For my great country! My great country, independent and free, my country, my state that I love. My great country, Independent and free, Long live my great country! The answer is - Indonesia. But would you have been really surprised if I had told you the anthem was from Poland, Nigeria or Brazil? The Political Challenge148 There is a similarly dreary uniformity in the state flags. With one exception, all flags are rectangular pieces of fabric characterized by an extremely limited repertoire of colors, stripes and geometric shapes. The outlier is Nepal, whose flag consists of two triangles (although the country has never won an Olympic medal). The Indonesian flag consists of a red stripe over a white stripe. The Polish flag shows a white stripe over a red stripe. The flag of Monaco is identical to that of Indonesia. Basically, a color blind person could not tell the difference between the flags of Belgium, Chad, Ivory Coast, France, Guinea, Ireland, Italy, Mali and Romania - they all have three vertical stripes of different colors. Some of these countries have fought bitterly against each other, but during the turbulent 20th century only three Olympic Games were canceled on war reasons (in 1916, 1940 and 1944). In 1980 the United States and some of its allies boycotted the Moscow Games, in 1984 the Soviet bloc returned the favor by boycotting the Los Angeles Games, and on several other occasions the Olympics found itself in the midst of a political storm (especially in 1936, when the Nazi Berlin hosted the Games, and in 1972, when Palestinian terrorists murdered eleven members of the Israeli team at the Olympic Games in Munich). Overall, however, political controversies did not cause the Olympic project to fail. Let's go back 1000 years now. Let's say you want to host the Medieval Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 1016. Forget for a moment that Rio was then a small village inhabited by Tupi Indians, 12 and that Asians, Africans and Europeans didn't even know that America even existed. Forget the logistical problems of getting all of the world's top athletes to Rio without a plane. Also, forget that there were hardly any sports around the world, and even if everyone could run, not everyone could agree on the same rules for running a competition. Just ask yourself how they would have arranged the competing delegations. Today the International Olympic Committee is spending hours discussing the Taiwan issue and the Palestine issue. Multiply this time by 10,000 and you get roughly the number of hours you would have to spend in politics in a medieval Olympic Games. In 1016, the Chinese Song Empire did not recognize any other political entity on earth as having equal rights. It would therefore have been an unthinkable humiliation to grant the Olympic delegation from there the same status as the delegations from the Korean kingdom of Koryŏ or the Vietnamese kingdom of Dai Co Viet - not to mention the delegations of primitive barbarians from across the seas. The Baghdad caliph also claimed universal hegemony, and most Sunni Muslims recognized him as their supreme leader. In practical terms, however, the caliph only ruled the city of Baghdad. So should all Sunni athletes be part of a single caliphate delegation or should they be divided into dozens of delegations from the numerous emirates and sultanates of the Sunni world? But why stop at the Emirates and Sultanates? In the Arabian desert there were countless free Bedouin tribes who recognized no master but Allah. Would each of these tribes have the right to send an independent delegation to compete in archery or camel riding? Europe would cause a similar headache. Should an athlete from the Norman city of Ivry take on that of his master, the Duke of Normandy, or perhaps that of the weak King of France, under the banner of the local Count of Ivry? Many of these political entities only lasted a few years and then disappeared from the scene. When you were preparing for the 1016 Olympic Games, you would not have known in advance which teams would compete, because no one could say with certainty which political structures would even exist in the next year. If the Kingdom of England had sent a delegation to the Olympics in 1016, the athletes, when they returned home with their medals, would have found that the Danes had just conquered London and that England had been integrated into the North Sea Empire by King Canute the Great, along with Denmark , Norway and parts of Sweden. This empire dissolved again within 20 years, but 30 years later England was conquered again, this time by the Duke of Normandy. Of course, the vast majority of these volatile political entities had neither an anthem nor a flag. Political symbols were of course of great importance, but the symbolic language of European politics was very different from the political symbolic language in Indonesia, China or the Tupi people. It would have been almost impossible to agree on a common process to determine a winner. So when you watch the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on television, keep in mind that this seeming competition between nations actually represents an amazing global agreement. With all the national pride that people feel when their team wins a gold medal and their flag is hoisted, one can be far more proud of the fact that humanity is able to organize such an event at all. 6. Civilization 151 One Dollar to Rule Them All In premodern times, people experimented not only with different political systems, but also with an astounding variety of economic models. Russian boyars, Hindu maharajas, Chinese mandarins and American Indian chiefs had very different ideas about money, trade, taxation and employment. Today, however, almost everyone believes in slightly different variations in the same capitalist theme, and we are all cogs in a single global production process. Whether in Congo or Mongolia, New Zealand or Bolivia - people's everyday routines and economic skills depend on the same economic theories, the same companies and banks, and the same capital flows. If the finance ministers of Israel and Iran were to meet for a business lunch, they would have a common economic language and could easily understand each other's worries and needs. When the Islamic State conquered large parts of Syria and Iraq, it murdered tens of thousands of people, destroyed archaeologically significant sites, overturned statues and systematically destroyed the symbols of earlier regimes and Western cultural influence.13 However, when its fighters invaded local banks and bundled American ones there When they found dollar bills emblazoned with the face of American presidents and invoked in English the political and religious ideals of America, they did not burn these symbols of American imperialism. Because the dollar bill is revered worldwide across all political and religious dividing lines. It is of no value in itself - you can't eat or drink a dollar bill, after all - but confidence in the dollar and in the cleverness of the US Federal Reserve is so strong that it is even among Islamic fundamentalists and Mexican drug lords and North Korean tyrants can be found. But the homogeneity of humanity today is most evident when it comes to our views on the natural world and the human body. If you felt sick 1,000 years ago, it made a huge difference where you lived. In Europe, the local priest might have told one of the local priests that one had drawn God's wrath and that in order to recover, one should donate to the Church, go on a pilgrimage to a holy place, and fervently ask God for forgiveness. Alternatively, the village witch might have claimed that you are possessed by a demon and that she can cast it out by singing, dancing and using the blood of a black rooster. In the Middle East, doctors who had learned their trade according to classical traditions might have declared that your four humors were out of balance and that you should bring them back into harmony with an appropriate diet and foul-smelling potions. In India, Ayurveda experts had opened up their theories with regard to the balance between the three body elements, the doshas, ​​and recommended treatment with herbs, massages and yoga exercises. Chinese doctors, Siberian shamans, African and Native American medicine men - every empire, every kingdom, every tribe had its own traditions and specialists, each with a different view of the human body and the nature of disease and each with its own cornucopia of rituals, Poured brews and medicines on the sick. The only thing that medical practices in Europe, China, Africa and America had in common was the fact that at least 6th civilization 153 a third of children died before reaching adulthood and the average life expectancy was well below 50 years.14 If you look today is sick, it doesn't really matter where you live. In Toronto, Tokyo, Tehran or Tel Aviv you end up in similar-looking hospitals, where you meet doctors in white coats who have learned the same scientific theories at the same universities. You will follow identical procedures and use identical tests to arrive at very similar diagnoses. You will then administer the same medicines that are made by the same international pharmaceutical companies. There are still a few minor cultural differences, but Canadian, Japanese, Iranian, and Israeli doctors share essentially the same views about the human body and human disease. After the Islamic State captured Raqqa and Mosul, it did not destroy local hospitals. Rather, he appealed to Muslim doctors and nurses around the world to volunteer there. Presumably, even Islamist doctors and nurses believe that the human body is made up of cells, that diseases are caused by pathogens, and that antibiotics kill bacteria. And what are these cells and bacteria made of? Yes, what is the whole world made of? A thousand years ago, every culture had its own story of the universe and the basic ingredients of the cosmic primordial soup. Today learned people all over the world believe exactly the same things about matter, energy, time and space. Take, for example, the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. The real problem is that Iranians and North Koreans have the same views on physics as Israelis and Americans. If the Iranians and North Koreans believed that E = MC4, Israel and the US would not care in the least about their nuclear programs. The political challenge154 people still have different religions and national identities. But when it comes to practical things - how to build a state, an economy, a hospital, or a bomb - we are almost all of the same civilization. Undoubtedly there is disagreement, but then all civilizations have their internal disputes. In fact, it is through these disputes that they define themselves. When people try to name their identity, they often create a shopping list of common essentials. This is a mistake. It would be much better if they listed common conflicts and dilemmas. For example, in 1618 Europe did not have a single religious identity - it was determined by religious conflicts. To be a European in 1618 meant obsessing over tiny dogmatic differences between Catholics and Protestants, or between Calvinists and Lutherans, and being willing to kill and give your life because of those differences. If a person did not care about these conflicts in 1618, then this someone was perhaps a Turk or a Hindu, but definitely not a European. Similarly, Great Britain and Germany had very different political values ​​in 1940, but both were an integral part of "European civilization". Hitler was no less European than Churchill. Rather, it was precisely the conflict between them that determined what it meant to be a European at a certain point in history. A hunter-gatherer of the! Kung, on the other hand, was not a European in 1940 because the internal European disputes over race and empire would not have made any real sense to him. Most often we fight against our own family members. Identity is defined more through conflict and dilemmas than through agreement. What does it mean to be European in 2018? It doesn't mean being white, believing in Jesus Christ, or upholding freedom. Rather, it means vehemently arguing about immigration 6. Civilization 155 about the EU and about the limits of capitalism. It also means urgently asking yourself: “What determines my own identity?” And thinking about the aging of the population, rampant consumerism and global warming. In their conflicts and dilemmas, 21st century Europeans differ from their ancestors of 1618 and 1940, but they increasingly resemble their Chinese and Indian trading partners. Whatever changes await us in the future are likely to involve fraternal struggle within a single civilization rather than a clash between alien civilizations. The great challenges of the 21st century will be global in nature. What will happen if climate change causes ecological catastrophes? What will happen when computers outperform people in more and more tasks and replace them in more and more activities? What will happen when biotechnology enables us to artificially improve people and extend their lifespan? There is no doubt that there will be an enormous amount of argument and bitter conflict over these issues. But these disputes and conflicts are unlikely to isolate us from one another. On the contrary: they will increasingly network us with one another. Humanity is far from being a harmonious community, but we are all members of one rowdy global civilization. But how can we explain the nationalist wave that has just gripped a large part of the world? In our enthusiasm for globalization, have we perhaps said goodbye to the good old nations too quickly? Could a return to traditional nationalism be the solution to our global crises? If globalization brings so many problems - why don't we just put an end to it?