The “idea” can have a very strong effect even when it stops short of action. The mental picture of fulfilment through education is wholesome. Add to that the freedom of choice for one’s vocation. A young man’s dream of defining his livelihood in challenging conditions, or ones the world is not familiar with, is an excellent example of a potentially self-fulfilling prophecy. The dialectics of picking out the best available, or most preferred, alternative through information and discussion is familiar to journalism. Again, when reason and reality are exasperatingly relative, the same instrumentality can be the starting point for unravelling a conundrum, simply through narration.
When the world’s most powerful nation, labouring under unemployment in its mid-west and north-east, despite overall leadership in most other sectors, feels the global system is rigged, there can be cause for concern. In truth, the USA presides over an ingenious and sedulously-constructed network of technology and finance, not to mention a universal value system and military capability and configuration which are generally taken as read. A trade deficit and the emergence of a potential rival in China are believed to have upset the apple-cart. In the realm of relative perceptions, China feels discriminated against by international law, terms of bilateral trade and curbs on technology transfers which the US says are being squeezed out of firms investing there. China envisages the tariffs imposed on exports to the USA being absorbed by (American) customers of companies eager to preserve their presence in the Chinese market. Somewhat overweening about its own consumer’s choices, China defiantly suggests the USA is shooting itself in the foot by making the options of the American public dearer.
An amorphous global public sphere is depicting a scenario of warring elephants trampling down the grass (the lesser parties). If the evidence at hand is checked over, the USA has the means to influence China without punitive action. There would be support if, say, the US formed a coalition to persuade China against perceived sleights of hand. But the same entities could demur at overbearing action when their own interests vary. They are playing the overhauling of seemingly inextricable interdependence by ear. Only three of the USA’s allies have agreed to outlaw Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant banned from its orbit, but the break in the chain is already affecting a myriad of manufacturing auxiliaries and inducing the others to look out for alternatives. Japanese electronics yielded to replacements after the ‘eighties earthquake, but the country chose to stay in step with the status quo in view of its military dependence on the USA.
The making of rival techno-spheres of production and distribution is fraught with uncertainty. There could be fresh, and probably keener, bipolarity if China feels the urgency of strengthening its hard power with Russia as a tactical supplement before re-visiting the norms of global engagement. India stays impartial.
In an information-driven age, spontaneous ideation is connecting the dots for individual and collective alike.
By Uttam Sen
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