Well, the title of the post may be a little exaggerated, and provocative; therefore, if you find it so, trust me it is because it was intended to be so. OK, no more mincing words. Some social, economic, and political events that played out during the last few days came banging down in my head, blaring out just one slogan, over and over, “Fall of the Titans”. Oops, I think I used too weighty words, such as “social”, “economic”, “political”, for something that, apparently, may not be as influential as many other concurrent events happening across the world. No, the events that are on my mind do not include the ongoing Libyan crisis; nor is it the Syrian uprising. It is not even the European debt problems. What actually I found more eye-catching are the downgrading of the US credit rating, and all the more very importantly, the uncontrollable riots raging through the city of London for the successive three days now.
Ever since I can remember, I have been taught — directly or indirectly — that the US and the UK are the lands of El Dorado, meaning that they epitomize cultural leadership, modernity, economic and military might; in a word, they are the symbol of the ultimate success of human civilization. Such Indian impression of these two English speaking countries may have roots in the country’s colonial mindset — slowly built in 200 years of British rule — and, of course in part, is due to the sweeping American success in business and industry post WWII. Against such image of these two countries, nothing can be more culturally shocking than watching pictures of public riots, arson, shops with smashed windows, coming straight from the heart of London; these pictures of violent mob are usually associated with the Middle east, the third world, and Africa, thanks to the widespread painting of these places by the mainstream media in such light. By the same token, another incredible event is probably to see the US, so far the undisputed world leader of business and industry, relegate from the elite group of countries with business credit rating AAA to a less prestigious AA+ level. If you care to peek into history, such changes are nothing but absolutely normal, when evaluated retrospectively; rise and fall are just a matter of time, but we never cease to feel surprised when they happen right in the present. For example, I find it extremely unbelievable that a leader named Genghis Khan, from a present-day very low profile country called Mongolia, just a few hundred years ago could build an empire — which is still world’s largest contiguous landmass conquered by an emperor — by virtue of sheer military superiority over all other world powers (another example may be the history of Jerusalem). Transition of power from one hand to the other is so common in history that it appears that such events may not be worthy of any special attention in the future. As such, the events just described will be trivialized as one of many such. Nonetheless, it is exciting to be a live witness to such events.
I might have talked completely nonsense; these incidents may be just isolated ones without any large-scale repercussions, and would go into media oblivion very fast; at best, they may have some passing impact on only a few isolated pockets in an even fewer countries. But at present, we don’t have the hindsight to predict how they unfold in the future.
Update: The ugly underbelly is laid bare. Here.