Dominique Moisi on The Clash of Emotions

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Sometimes you have to step way back to see what's going on in the world. For centuries, the view from the moon looked something like this: the West on a roll, confident and expansive, the once-proud Islam in retreat, and Asia, out of it.

Today, says French big-thinker Dominique Moisi, it's a whole new map out there — the West is in a culture of fear, Islam in a culture of humiliation, and Asia the planet's new culture of hope.

Shifts like this are rare and profound. Their effects can last hundreds of years. Moisi says we are in such a mega-shift right now — to a new map of global outlooks, with all that may mean.

This hour On Point: Dominique Moisi on cultures of hope, cultures of fear, and the new map of the world.

Quotes from the Show:

"I'm very struck whenever I travel between Europe, the United States, Asia and the Middle East by extremely different moods, and what strikes me most, maybe because I'm French is the culture of fear that has developed in my country, but I believe beyond my country, in Europe. And I find elements of that culture of fear when I arrive in the United States. And the moment I am in Asia, I'm caught by contrast, with the dynamism and the culture of hope that is present in China, India ..." Dominique Moisi

"You have to have in mind that China was in the 18th century a very self-confident empire. Seen from China [the current culture] is not as much a shift than a renaissance of China. They used to be a great power and they feel they are returning." Dominique Moisi

"It may be said that the American century was shorter than people would expect it to be. It started in 1941 with Pearl Harbor and the entrance of America as clearly the number one indisputable power in the world, and it may be ending in front of our eyes right now. And it may be that a combination of, not 9/11, but the American answer to 9/11 and the Iraqi disaster have accelerated that shift in history." Dominique Moisi

"In Europe ..., you have a fear of being invaded by the poor, coming mainly from the African continent; you have the fear from being blown up by the most fanatics coming from Islamic fundamentalism; the fear to be left behind [economically] by the most dynamics, and that is clearly today essentially Asia. Then there is the fear not to be any longer in control of your own life, either because you are governed by bureaucratic, anonymous power [such as] Brussels, or a benevolent superpower [such as] the United States." Dominique Moisi

"There is undeniably a new sense of optimism and a new sense of confidence in China, and this is all the more apparent because it is growing on top of over a century and a half of victim culture. ... But it's also worth bearing in mind that when you take the emotional temperatures of each country or culture, that there is something extraordinarily distorting about the whole mutant phenomenon of the Bush administration that tends, I think, to make us have a very unrealistic assessment of other cultures, other economies, and other worlds because we ourselves feel out of sorts." Orville Schell


Dominique Moisi, senior advisor at the Institut Francais des Relations Internationales (IFRI) in Paris, France.

Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley. He is author of nine books about China including "Mandate of Heaven: The Legacy of Tiananmen Square and the Next Generation of China's Leaders."

This program aired on January 9, 2007.


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