January 1, 2014

DAVID BRIN: What If The 21st Century Begins In 2014? “The last two centuries (and possibly more) didn’t “start” at their official point, the turning of a calendar from 00 to 01. That wasn’t when they began in essence, nor when they first bent the arc of history. No. Each century effectively began in its 14th year. Think about it. The first decade of the 20th century was filled with hope and a kind of can-do optimism that was never seen again — not after the horrific events of 1914 shattered any vision that a new and better age would arrive without pain. . . . All right, that’s just one data point. Is there another? Well, look at 1814, the beginning of the Congress of Vienna and the so-called Concert of Europe that made possible the continent’s longest extended period of overall peace, as the great powers turned from fighting bloody wars to perfecting their colonial empires. Those two years — 1814 and 1914 –- each marked a dramatic shift in tone and theme (in the West, that is), so much so that they represented the real beginnings of the 19th and 20th centuries. Suppose the pattern holds — and remember this is just a thought experiment — what might it mean about the true 21st century?”

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