Then came globalisation - "the two discourses are analytically different. Neoliberalism offered a new kind of society, consisting only of profit-maximising individuals on markets. Globalization meant the global extension of what already existed." And finally the choice of "the Chinese taking a (more or less) capitalist road of development, seconded by a revival of Indian capitalism." Therborn says with neoliberalism having repeatedly run aground, in the Asian crash of 1997-8, the Argentine "master pupil" falling in 2001 and the crash of 2008-9, this last has become a major force of world modernism.
But he says that what we've been left with is a "chastened modernism". Neither liberalism, socialism nor nationalism are able to offer a rosy future, environmental concerns threaten the main denominator of social modernism, economic growth, while even in art, the idea of the avant-garde "has fallen into disrepute". Yet he says what we have that we've never had before is "a mass awareness of a common humanity, electronically directly interconnected and a common target of satellite beams of communications, in one global economy, one planetary environment".
Therborn carefully avoids saying it, but actually should intelligent Kepler-22berians arrive any time soon and say "we want to understand you", this wouldn't be a bad place to start. Although as with any economics-linked book at the moment, The World: A Beginners Guide does feel slightly out of date. It must have been finished just before the latest crisis, usually called "European debt" took hold, so it's perhaps more certain of life continuing much as before than any writer would be this month.