Owning the 21st Century

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

On April 28, 2021, The President of the United States, Joe Biden, addressed the United States Congress. He talked about his economic plan and emphasized the importance of United States of America owning the 21st century. He meant that the U.S. must do everything in its power to dominate this century by having the strongest economy, the most advanced technology, and the most powerful military.

It is a silly goal. It is also an unachievable goal. Did Biden mean “owning the century” like Spain owned the 16th century or like England owned the 18th century? If he meant that, his vision for the U.S.A. was to colonize a big portion of the world one way or another, deplete the local natural resources, exploit people, destroy the environment, and allow the U.S.A. to become an extremely rich country.

If you read this, and you live in a country outside of the U.S.A., please know that the United States is not a monetarily rich country. It is a very poor country. The country carries an enormous debt, most of its citizens do not have savings, and the COVID-19 pandemic forced the government to print a ridiculous amount of money. In other words, the U.S.A. is in a very deep hole.

Biden spoke of the U.S.A. as a country that never gives up. That is true. But when you are in a hole, there are only two ways to get out of it: (1) wait for somebody to help you with a rope or a ladder, or (2) dig yourself out of the hole by creating a long, 45-degree tunnel that eventually leads you to the surface. Let’s look at each strategy.

Waiting for somebody to come and save the United States is like waiting for Godot. If you have not read the play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett about two guys who wait for a third guy named Godot, do not worry. Godot never comes, and no country will save the United States. No country will forgive the U.S. debt they hold, or ship rice and shoes to U.S. citizens. It will never happen and we know why, based on how Unites States has behaved economically around the world over the last 100 years.

Aside from not getting help, the intention to own the 21st century implies that everything U.S.A. does will be one-sided and benefiting only its interests. Collaboration with other countries goes out the window. Partnerships on strategic initiatives for solving global problems will not happen. Support to the rest of the world will be out of the question, because supporting others means creating beneficial conditions for others to thrive.

With Option 1 gone, we are left with Option 2, which is about self-sufficiency. Can the American people save themselves? It is unlikely. The voting numbers from the last presidential elections revealed a divided country, with citizens possible of great feats of critical thinking and creativity, as well as great feats of stupidity. The country has the best of the best and the worst of the worst. When these two groups come against each other, the worst of the worst spoils it for everybody.

When the worst group prevails, we end up with a dictatorship, like in Russia, or North Korea, or Syria. The only way out of a dictatorship is a revolution, either peaceful or bloody. Based on U.S. history, it is easy to foresee that, if it gets to that point, the revolution will be bloody. There may even be 50 revolutions, which will result in 50 new counties. Or one big revolution that will create 3–4 new counties. This will help U.S.A out of the hole, because it will dissolve the county as we know it.

These scenarios rest of the belief that the goals of the U.S.A. and its foreign policy will not change over the course of the 21st century. They will change. Owning the 21st century is a dream based on the assumption that things will not change. Biden will be replaced as a president either in four or eight years. The new president — it will not be Trump, do not worry — will have a new agenda for the country. Some laws established by the Biden administration will remain, but many laws will be replaced.

If one or more of the future U.S. presidents is a woman and a mother, things will change dramatically. Mothers give, and the ultimate national goal might not be owing the century, but giving the century away. Imagine the U.S. helping altruistically around the world and creating value everywhere it goes. Imagine the county destroying all its military arsenal and eliminating its armed forces and its Department of Defense. Imagine free healthcare and higher education for all its citizens. Imagine no homelessness. Imagine no hunger.

A great country — one that takes care of its citizens, protects them, educates them, and promotes their well-being — is not a utopia. This is how every country on the planet should be. Politicians may decide the course a county takes today, but their decisions are conditioned by the times in which they lived.

President Biden is a product of the last 70 years. Those were seven decades of huge economic growth in the U.S.A. He is conditioned to think that national growth can continue indefinitely. Nothing can grow indefinitely. There are limits to growth, especially in a capitalistic country that did not care about environmental and public health and had predatory economic policies for most of the 20th century.

Although Biden recognizes the impact of climate change and its dire consequences, it does not stop him from believing that the earth can be healed while the U.S. reaps monetary and environmental rewards. He wants the country to have its cake and eat it too.

This old attitude will not hold in this century. The day the Internet arrived, the old ways of communication and doing business and education died. The day enough scientists endorsed the climate change hypothesis, the old ways of doing domestic and foreign economic policy died.

All countries on the planet now have one main goal: the survival of humanity. Not the survival of our people or your people, but the survival of all of us as a group. This goal clashes with the goal of owning the 21st century. Owning the century is a selfish goal that does not align with a world that acts as a collective.

Whether you live in Chile, or Iceland, or Indonesia, we are a community. We are free people and help each other. We collaborate and respect our differences. We work together, eat together, laugh together, and move forward together. The credit for the life we create is equally distributed among us. If I fail, we all fail. If you win, we all win.

This century belongs to all of us — humans, animals, plants. Nobody will dominate. No country will be the political and economic lion that scares away the rest of the countries. In the past, the British Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Roman Empire all tried and failed. Today, nobody is afraid of the U.S.A., or China, or Russia, or Iran. Nobody is afraid of anybody.

Domination is impossible without fear. No domination, no owning the 21st century. When we remove one country’s domination and possessiveness of the world’s resources and people, we are left with equality and abundance, happiness and equity, joy and love, and, above all, peace.

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King Lear said it best, “In jest, there is truth.”

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Krasimir Karamfilov

Krasimir Karamfilov

King Lear said it best, “In jest, there is truth.”

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