The Black Death in Florence (Marcello, 1348)
The Disastronauts have something new to dread with the global financial crisis, and it comes with mean sounding buzzwords like “De-Globalization.” And you thought “Protectionism” was austere. Zachary Shtogren at BigThink has this:
Like stateless castaways out of the sequel to Casablanca, foreign workers who were making hefty salaries in emerging markets are now waiting for the next outbound flight. Even the gilded class has been affected. Expat professionals in Dubai, hit with last-minute condo and car payments they can’t meet, are leaving the keys on the counter and their Mercedes in the airport parking lot. Over 3,000 vehicles sit collecting dust in the desert sun at the moment. A shocking $1 billion in capital fled emerging markets last week alone.
Ouch, sounds like everyone’s running home and slamming the door behind them. But Second World author Parag Khanna disagrees. Globalization isn’t going anywhere. He sees the 21st century as nothing if not a new Middle Ages, as he puts it, “an age of plagues and progress, commercial revolutions, expanding empires, crusades, city-states, merchants, and universities.” Doesn’t sound too much like Disaster Chic. In fact, it sort of sounds exciting, right? There’s more:
AIDS, malaria, SARS, and other maladies could become plagues like the 14th-century Black Death. What will be the impact of the coming migratory hordes, potentially unsettled by wars and environmental disasters? Who will be the next Mongols—small, concentrated hordes who violently establish their own version of peace, law, and order?
Yipes, there sure were a lot of “hordes” back then, but surely it won’t be a real “Dark Age.” We’ll be able to find solutions to these crises quickly, right? How long could it take?
Establishing a new system of global governance will take centuries, hence the uncertain leadership and complex landscape of the mid-21st century. The next Renaissance is still a long way off.
Maybe now would be a good time to invest in cryonics. We’ll wake you when Da Vinci gets here.