North America and the end of certainties
SUMMARY: I. Cancellation of the certainties. II. Temporary or structural crises? III. The United States or the exceeded hegemony. IV. The relation between China and the United States, or the dance of the elephants. V. Three actors in search of author. VI. Bibliography.
Theonly constant is change.
I. Cancellation of the certainties
One of the main problems of the different societies has been their inability to identify themselves in the historical moment that they have to live. The North American integration, constituted by Canada, the Unites States andMexico, faced to the profound change that we are currently living, seems to be confronting the same flaw.
The generation of 1929, by example, had to wait two or three decades to begin to understand the Great Depression. They had to wait to recognize and identify themselves through the bibliography that started to be published after the main part of the problem had passed and that keepsbeing written nowadays. Of course, historical self-diagnosis has never been simple. Also not now, in the most dynamic stage of what has been recognized as the industrial age, which is being brutally displaced by a new phase that is generally identified as the knowledge society.
Since the agricultural man attended the debut of the Industrial Era at the mid eighteenth century (with James Watt'ssteam engine and Edmund Cartwright’s knitting machine), and until the transformation of such era to another one (based on knowledge), modern societies tried to classify its various stages according to the innovation of the moment. It got that way until them got tired of counting, from the so-called Third Stage of the Industrial Revolution (which runs until the late nineteenth century (Sachs, 2006)and which includes the invention of the incandescent lamp by Thomas Alva Edison, the large power plants, the internal combustion engine, etc.). Modern societies understood that the nature of the flow of industrial and technological inventions was different from other previous historical events and that they will only have the time to try to manage change. However, as we may see nowadays, fromlate eighteen century to our days, society has not been able to manage change successfully. The giddiness and dynamics imposed on the life of the new economic, political and social being for more than two centuries, has been greater than its assimilation and its control capacity. In consequence, it has always been behind of the industrial and technological phenomenon that has lived.
From thisperspective we should point out that since it appeared the first steam engine to our days, modern man has lost all certainties, and he has fallen into an endless universe of questions, at which where when he finds some kind of answer, it ceases to be valid, because the river of innovation keeps bringing new waters, changing what has been learned.
This general idea could be the beginning of theexplanation of why the modern economic man - with as many technical and scientific resources available, with more than eight hundred million personal computers, with 500 billion computer chips, with computers that perform about a thousand trillion mathematical operations per second (Toffler, 2006) – has been unable to properly decipher the historical and economic moment that is living today. On thecontrary, he has accumulated an endless series of questions and uncertainties that come to the point of risking not only the solution of his present, but still worse, the possibilities of his future.
In historical terms, the leading causes of the loss of certainties of the modern man were originated in the frame of the long transition of the nomad man when becoming an agricultural man...