During the last month or so, the North American auto industry has suffered a large blow in its struggle for survival. With Chrysler in bankruptcy protection and General Motors predicted to be in the same situation, the life of the North American auto industry is growing dim. The question that everyone is asking is "Who is to blame?". Many people would automatically point towards the executives and the company itself. While Chrysler and GM should share the largest part of the blame, North Americans should be also blaming themselves. The failures and the cause of these failures in the auto industry is just a symptom of a larger problem that faces North America, and the United States in general.
North America had once been a place where competition reigned, where dreams were made, and innovation ruled the day. It was also a place where we worked to better ourselves, our family, and our society. One of the greatest problems with North America, which continues today, is the fact that we think of ourselves as number one in the world. While such an idea is not initially a problem, maintaining such an idea for too long can result in negative effects for society and the economy. The main effect is stagnation, not necessarily economic stagnation, but a stagnate society. When a society believes that it is the top or center of the world for too long, it stops striving for success or for competitive growth. Just under a year ago, a large number of engineers, staff, and execs at GM and Chrysler would have the opinion that North America, possibly with the exception of Europe, Japan, and Korea, is the only place in the world that makes quality vehicles and that developing countries such as China and India can never catch up. What they failed to recognize is that China and India, especially China, have come a long way in just under 20 years. If the economic crisis did not exist, there would be possible that Chinese vehicles would be in the North American market today. According to many economists and auto industry experts, China has already over taken the United States in terms of car sales, and is possibly in the position of surpassing North America in quality and in safety.
This problem that North America, and more specifically the United States, is going through is not unique to America alone. History is a cycle, and humans are doomed to repeat themselves. The question is always not if, but when.
One of the major examples of a country suffering from the problem of elitism to this scale was China over a hundred years ago during the last couple of centuries of the Imperial era. Imperial China had been a world leader in innovation, technology and culture. As a result, the Chinese State and the Chinese people had believed that they were the centre of the World and the centre of the Universe; hence China’s Chinese name Zhongguo which means middle kingdom or central kingdom. For the first two centuries of the relationship between the Europeans and China, which began in the 1400s, China was able to maintain mastery over the relationship and mastery over their territories and its vassals. However, like the United States today, it continued its elitist view that it was superior over the other States and people of the world without much growth in technology, culture, or innovation. By the 1600s, the Europeans were over taking the Chinese in technology and innovation and by the late 1800s to early 1900s, China was reduced to a largely poor and weak country, doing only the will of Westerners and other Outsiders, and fighting multiple civil wars and ruled by warlords. It was not until recently in the 21st century, nearly a century later, that China has once again regained its status as a superpower, but more cautious than it had been in the past.
The question that remains is will the United States and the rest of North America follow the path that had cursed China for nearly a hundred years, or will they humble themselves and bring back innovation, creativity and competition? Until North Americans realize that we can no longer maintain this idea that we are superior to other cultures, other peoples, and other countries, we are destined to fail.