Eric Hobsbawn on the Challenges of the 21st Century
- Book: Eric j. Hobsbawn. Les enjeux du XXIe siecle. Entretiens avec Antonio Polito. Ed. Complexe, 2002.
Michel Bauwens, 2003:
The author, a famous Marxist historian, wrote an extensive history of the 20th cy, entitled "The short century", as he starts the period in 1914 and ends it in 1991, the year of the fall of the Soviet regime. This is an interview about the 21st cy. with an editor of the Italian "Republica" and it starts with a conversation about the new wars. EH notes that the Balkan crisis is a belated result of what happened when other Empires fell in WWI; but notes the different nature of this war as well. On the one hand, the extent of illegal trade and the breakdown of the nation-state re-instates private armies that can wreak havoc on populations. On the other hand, precision technology allows to focus on infrastructure, which spares lives in the present, but destroys a country's economic base, sometimes for decades As an example, Serbia experienced more damage from the NATO bombings than it did in WWII.
Follows a long discussion on world hegemony. EH sees a relative decline of US supremacy as its once absolute economic power becomes relative, and refers to history to say that world, and even regional, hegemonies are a rarity.
Concerning globalization, EH terms it a "long process" that started in the XVth cy. with the possibility of circumnavigating the globe, but the current phase began only after WWII when air freight made possible the world wide trade in fresh goods.