Has the West entered a phase of consuming self-pity ? The military and political withdrawal from Afghanistan has - if we believe the media pundits - precipitated a bucket-full of commentary about the demise of the West, its cultures, its social norms, its influence, its integrity and even its economics.
Governments from the US to the furthest boundaries of Europe would appear to be under the scathing eye of international media. Biden leads the charge (of course), then we have Trudeau - once the darling of the socially aware, but no longer, Johnson isolated and bereft of rudder and objective, Merkel ready to jump ship and leaving a wet imitation of a Chancellor in waiting, Macron failing to recognise his dwindling popularity....and so the list could go on. So, we might ask whether international media pundits have assessed the situation correctly and with insight or are we merely suffering a spate of bandwagon reportage that just makes for good reading and viewing figures ? It's very hard to say, but there seems to be plenty of 'evidence' to support the broad view that the leadership of the West has somehow collectively lost the support of its populations pretty much at the same time and, simultaneously, discovered the can of worms that the Covid pandemic has laid upon them. One could almost suspect some malign Chinese or Russian conspiracy lurking behind it all, couldn't you ? And that may not be as far fetched as it sounds.
Historically, there are some precedents which suggest that this cycle of low biorhythmic performance by the West's leadership has occurred before, but seldom has it been as widespread and contemporaneous as we view it today (possibly because the concept of 'The West' as a unified, common thinking group didn't really exist before the onset of the Cold War). Whatever the source, if the West wishes to remain a viable world influence, then it will certainly have to look hard at the nature of its political and economic leadership...a generation from now without that sea-change will see a very subordinate cultural and economic influence by the West upon the world stage.
Back home, our government seems truly blighted by inaction. The NHS dominates much of Britain's social discourse with arguments ranging from the 'more money brigade' to the 'splitting up into countless quango's brigade' interspersed with plenty of 'don't meddle with the NHS as it's too hot a potato brigade'. We seem to be at a point where the sustenance of the NHS as a treasured institution (irrespective of the service it provides the public) is ranked against those that would push for a complete revamp of the healthcare system. Something in between may be the course we have to take - but that all requires vision, courage and tangible deliverables throughout both its leadership and its constituent parts. And to stimulate that we require a political and economic climate that is unified with some common purpose. Throw all those elements into the goulash bowl and mix it up and there becomes a possibility that reform and modernisation of this lumbering leviathan becomes feasible and possible. However, to get the goulash blending nicely, we also need the sea change in our political and economic leadership that the wider West also needs to take place. But in how many of the West's leading nations can we see that probability ?
It's easy to criticise, isn't it ? Much harder to come up with realistic solutions to countless, interacting problems. But in unprecedented times, astronomical national debt and questionable economic resurgence, the clock is ticking for the collective as a whole. BB doesn't have any meaningful answers, but it seems as individual nation states we have to find a new way forward with new people, new ideas, new values and a bellyful of confidence to make all of these things happen sooner rather than later. We owe that to the generations ahead of us - and, on reflection, we also owe it to generations past. Time is no longer a luxury the West has to play with.