Easternization: “A game-changer for not just the world economy, but also for international politics”

Could I ask you to quickly summarize the argument of your book? What is Easternization as a phenomenon?

I think we’re coming to the end of about 500 years of Western domination of world affairs. It begins with the European Imperial Age in the late 1400s with Columbus, Vasco de Gama and the other big names of exploration and probably peaks in European terms at the beginning of the Twentieth Century when the European empires were at their peak. It continues throughout the Twentieth Century when America takes over as the dominant power after 1945. Even the Soviet Union, which was their competitor, is a European power. The whole world outside the West, outside Europe and the United States, finds itself shaped by the West’s actions. That’s the era of Westernization, when the West is economically, politically and culturally dominant.

We’re coming to the end of that era. There are many causes, but I think the most important of them is the very dramatic economic growth in Asia, which was significant enough when it took place just in Japan, South Korea or Southeast Asia. But when it reaches gigantic countries like China and India, it’s a game-changer for not just the world economy, but also increasingly for international politics. Just as how the world Westernized in the era of maximum Western power, I think that, at least politically and I think in time culturally, you will see much more power coming out of Asia.

That’s what I mean by Easternization. The world will adapt and be shaped by events in this part of the world, in the same way that places in this part of the world were shaped by events in the West.

This is an excerpt from an interview with Gideon Rachman, published on the Asian Review of Books on September 21st, 2017. The full interview can be found here.