Ever since World War II and the long period of decolonization that followed, the world has been divided not only into two ideological camps, socialist and capitalist, but into two developmental categories, developed and under-develop-ed, with a country’s weight in the political arena directly tied to its level of development. As measurements became more refined, sub-categories have included developing and over-developed nations, but the World Bank and the IMF saw to it that most nations remained in their assigned place.
The Edward Snowden affair has not only exposed American spying on anyone electronic capabilities can reach, it has revealed the emergence of a new balance of power. In a finite world threatened by the specter of nine billion people aspiring to a Western standard of living, levels of development measured by Western standards are rapidly being abandoned for a different set of criteria: community and sufficiency as opposed to individualism and growth.
As with all watersheds, this one will go unnoticed for some time, but lack of press coverage should not prevent us from realizing that a page is turning: when Turkish youth and middle classes force their government to abandon Western gentrification of an ancient city (Constantinople/Istanbul); when Brazilian youth and middle classes force their Workers’ Party president to lower transport fares and back off spending millions on sports stadia; when Evo Morales declares Bolivia will be better off without an American Embassy and its World bank and IMF satellites – and even when the Muslim Brotherhood defends demo-cratic elections – you know you’re witnessing a tectonic shift in the world balance of power.
The so-called Third World no longer has to ‘catch up’ to the over-developed world in order to command the world stage: it is writing the new definition of modernity.