A century ago began what was known as the "Roaring 1920s". In a world still recovering from the tragic World War I, it was a period of social, political and cultural transformations. In the West, women gained a new role in society, including the beginning of the right to vote. It also signalled the birth of mass culture and consumerism. Towards the end of the decade speculative capitalism led to the Great Depression which in turn paved the way for nationalism and the rise of fascism.
China lived in troubled times. The still young Republic of China was in practice fragmented among "Warlords" who cemented power in the face of the weakness of Beijing's central government. Instability and turmoil increased following the death of Sun Yat-tsen in the mid-1920s. Earlier, in 1920/21, northern China had been struck by a great famine that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
The past is, in fact, a distant world. One hundred years on, it is undeniable and remarkable the progress the world has witnessed, even in the midst of another World War, Cold War and various conflicts. Reality can be stranger than fiction and science"s amazing breakthroughs have allowed life expectancy to more than double on a global scale while Earth population saw a four-fold increase.
However, at the beginning of a new decade and at the crossroads of history, familiar uncertainties and concerns loom large across oceans and continents.
The large-scale protests and unrest that took to the streets of Hong Kong, Lebanon, Ecuador, Chile or France in the second half of last year are symptoms of a malaise. People"s sentiment of injustice and social inequality and cry for political change cannot be brushed aside. Adding to this is anxiety, there"s a sense of urgency in the face of the climate crisis that is just next-door. The writing is on the wall. It sounds like the canary in the coal mine.
What is being manifested in the base (infrastructure) shall correspond to alterations at the superstructure level, so that change can occur.
From a Hegelian perspective a synthesis emerges from this contradiction between opposites. And so, history goes on, like the spirit of reason and time (Zeitgeist). But in the processes there are men (and women), individuals with power who, can play a decisive role. Following the ideal Confucian ruler approach, the one who has power must exercise it with virtue, benevolence and sense of cosmic time on top of moral sensitivity to find the Way (Dao). There is a need for farsightedness. Happy New Year!