I didn’t finish Cold War in the last post. It’s hard to say when the Cold War really ended. There was no direct war between the two leading powers, only side wars such as the Korean or Vietnam war. As World War II was about a steel, the Cold War was about nuclear energy. The nuclear disaster (in 11986 HE) started the fall of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union was not able to admit that something didn’t work; they were too proud. Chernobyl was no accident. Nuclear power plants have an emergency button, but the switch was not working back then. The Soviet Union knew it but ignored it and continued with a test in Chernobyl, which had already failed a few times before. This time the emergency button was needed and its malfunction caused the disaster.
Putin admitted twenty years later that this caused the collapse of the Soviet bloc, which happened in many places three years after Chernobyl. People didn’t believe in communism anymore. In Poland, the non-communism party won elections. Czechoslovakia Velvet Revolution transitioned power from communism to democracy. Non-communist countries surrounded East Germany, and the Berlin Wall fell as well.
Everything happened with almost no violence. Germany has united again, and because the western part had everything in place (communism was controlled centrally from Russia, not available anymore), it was united under a western structure. Satellite states of the Soviet Union left Warsaw Pact and joined NATO. Russia changed to a federation containing only a few countries.
This is the end of the Cold War, at least in Europe. In China, it was not that peaceful—young people were cleared from the main square with violence. Hard to say when the Cold War ended in Asia if it has ever ended at all. Anyway, by the end of the last century, humanity converged to, kind of, the same values.
Extreme communism is out, and we may say that today’s Russia or China are national conservatives. Also, wars between states almost ended, and now we can observe only civil wars inside of a country, which is still forming and dealing with issues from the past. Even though other countries are helping from outside, we cannot talk about wars anymore.
European countries decided not to fight between each other anymore and try to unite around shared values as a confederation (confederation is a union of independent free states with its customs and laws but which share the same goals). The first signs of the European Union formed after World War II, but the form of EU, which we know today, started to form after the fall of the Soviet block. European countries introduced a shared currency Euro. Finally, humanity found a way how to communicate and solve problems together.
One such a new problem was the Great Recession crisis. What happened? Basically the same thing like during Tulip mania, Mississippi bubble or Great Depression. If you have spare money, the best thing is to buy something. If there are not enough goods to buy, prices go up. Central banks try to regulate it by inflation in the case when it goes out of control. However, banks controlled only inflation of goods (such as cars, milk, and so on; CPI, or consumer price index), and people were buying all kinds of assets such as real estate and mortgages and bets on mortgages and bets on those bets.
No one understood how it would end up; only a few noticed the problem. Nevertheless, it was late. Fortunately, the Great Depression did not repeat again. Nations helped each other. The debt was taken by central banks supported by states and paid from taxes of its citizens. Before World War II, governments spent 70 to 80 percent on defense, today it’s on public debts and social healthcare.
I think the internet helped a lot with that by faster communication without limits. The internet is with us for thirty years now. Although it’s a brief period, it changed our lives entirely. People noticed the importance of it and invested in internet companies like crazy, yet another bubble called the Dot-com bubble. No huge disaster, this time. People invested only in the future market and not real products. Many amazing things were created once internet companies sobered up.
Full-text search, aka Google, was founded by the end of the last century. Apple introduced iPhone ten years later. It’s not even 20 years, and we all have all the wisdom of humanity available in our pockets. All the time. The change was so fast. Today, many people are afraid of being without a phone and cellular signal!
We have everything at hand, and we are in limbo. We know a lot, but it’s hard to choose what actually to do now. We know what didn’t work, but we don’t know what will work.
Just two centuries ago, everything was about family and community. Children took care of elders. The family provided money for business and helped during illness. All members of the family protected each other from neighbors. When a family was not enough, the community came to help.
Industrial Revolution changed everything. Now, everyone is alone in industrial cities. Now, the state is taking care of those individuals. How? Think of the social system, healthcare system, police, court, fire department, all of which were not common before. The state didn’t care about us. Kingdom or empire was about general rules, but it was on communities, and families to protect regular people.
People were more than happy; they had something to live for even if they were poor and in terrible situations. They had the meaning of life, which we lost now. We know there is no no God. No real meaning. That’s harsh for human nature.
We are still fighting for some ideology, though. Now it’s shifted to ordinary people instead of keeping it between nobles or politicians. We figuratively (I guess thanks to the internet we are not afraid to attack someone or some group, but psychical attack is evenly bad) fight over human rights, animal rights, climate change, taxes, how to raise kids, how to help others, … and we have no clear picture how to solve those challenges. We only know what we tried and didn’t work out.
Next time, I will open humanity questions for tomorrow.