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Matthew Parris
writer and commentator

As a neo-empire, America has in fact already peaked, but the decline (like Britain’s in the 19th/20th century) may be a messy and aggressive-defensive affair, destabilising for the rest of us. The rest of us should band together for our protection, the keyword being not hostility but wariness.

I think there may be a neo-colonial return of great powers to Africa, which is a resource-rich vacuum and which seems chronically incapable of competent self-government. China may be involved.

I do not share my print-journalist colleagues’ pessimism about newspapers and magazines, for which I think there will remain a permanent place, offering familiarity and security in an unruly, unpoliced and increasingly info-overloaded world of e-information and comment.

Global warming will turn out to be a more complex and less understood phenomenon than the simplifiers and evangelists think now, and we shall turn more to coping than to prevention. Carbon resource-depletion will sort itself out, non-carbon alternatives being priced into the market as technology improves, mass-production cheapens, and oil-shortages drive up oil costs.

Invent better ways of storing electricity. Stop fighting the human individual’s desire for independent means of transport and learn ways to limit the environmental impact. Stop fighting free trade and learn to live with it and make it work better for the poor. Stop fighting the advance of science and technology (cloning, organ-transplants, life-lengthening, new ways of making babies, cheap air-travel, etc) and learn to live with and benefit from technical progress. Resist the arguments for increasing state control of individual lives and identities, and relentless information gathering. Info-tech will be handing autocrats and governments astonishing new possibilities: this is one technological advance which does need to be watched, limited and sometimes resisted.

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