Up' has chosen to present you a short analysis text by Jacques Attali, taken from his blogwhich we find rather poetic about the economic future of nations. We learn the thread and the recipe of a successful nation that is renewing itself: youth, cuisine, music... What do you think?
In order to understand where a nation is going, economic projections, mainly GDP projections, are generally used, with a more than uncertain value. There are many other parameters that say more about a country's future than virtual statistics. And, among them, three areas, three fields of activity, three productions, which I always study when I try to understand where a nation is going: demography, cuisine and music.
One refers to the essence of life, the other to the nourishment of the body, and the other to that of the spirit.
Demographics tells us all about intergenerational relations, family structures, and gender relations; it tells us the size of a nation, its dynamics, its capacity for renewal. Its evolution is fairly easy to predict, as well as its consequences on ideological and political power relations.
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Cuisine tells us all about the great invariants of a nation: the diversity of its soils and landscapes; of its animals and plants; the way women think about their relationship to the world and how their way of life is still appreciated by the rest of the world.
Music tells us all about his creativity, his joy of life, his rebellion, his sense of transcendence and beauty, the relationship between the people and the elite and his ability to make the rest of the world dream.
The ways in which these three productions feed on elements from elsewhere and are exported, and the cultural or ethnic crossbreeding of which they are capable, say a lot about the future of these peoples: in particular, I do not believe in the future of nations whose population is ageing, and/or whose cuisine is boring and/or whose music is not audible to others.
Naturally, there are no objective criteria for music or cooking, and we must be careful not to stick to a Western-centric vision. Nevertheless, universality is an objective fact.
Few peoples have had a young population, a universally appreciated cuisine, music played all over the world. This was the case, proportionally speaking, at certain times, of the Greeks, Romans, Venetians, French, English or Americans. The United States, if it still has youth and music, has nothing left to cook but junk food with a universal vocation.
Some countries meet two of these conditions. This is the case (music and youth) in the United States, Senegal, Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica; it is also the case (youth and cuisine) in India, France, Morocco, Thailand; and it is finally the case (music and cuisine) in Italy.
Others have only one, which is cooking (China or Japan), youth (Turkey or Indonesia) or music (Great Britain).
Others, in my view, have none, such as Germany, Russia or Korea.
I would be quite happy to deduce only a few unintended consequences. For example:
France no longer has great music since it repressed all its popular cultures, for fear that they might jeopardize its unity; on the contrary, its cuisine has managed to survive, because it is linked to the irrepressible diversity of landscapes and climates. His music, however, is not far from being universal, by its producers and dj's, more than by its composers. More generally, this tells us that a successful decentralisation would be a condition for the return of French creativity and growth.
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China, as the very particular character of its music reminds us, has never had a universalist ambition and will be led, due to its demographic evolution, to redirect its investments inward. It will therefore not be a rival to the United States for world domination.
The United States, for its part, will be able to maintain or regain its imperium if it is able to breathe new life into its territories, protect its environment and return to diversified agriculture.
India, if it is able to export its music, making it even more audible to the rest of the world, and if it is better able to formulate its ideologies according to what the rest of the world can hear, can become a planetary power.
Until Africa, (when it will have succeeded in producing abundant and varied food on its immense arable land, 4/5 of which is now fallow), becomes the world's leading power.
(Article published in L'Express 13 Dec 2012)