In my blogs over the past year, I’ve made mention of the fact that true entrepreneurial spirit is the only thing that’s going to change the world, if anything will. If we are to progress as a species, peaceful commerce must replace war as a method of international dealings. But the news only continues to get worse.
Based on what I’ve recently seen throughout the world, I honestly believe that we are headed for very serious trouble—and that the only real solution will be the same as when a computer operating system goes into a state of unstable operation: a reboot. So I would revise the above statement to say:
True entrepreneurial spirit, along with radical system changes, will save the world.
I don’t believe the problem lies with the planet itself, or the people involved—it’s our political and economic systems. Just like a computer is usually not at fault for failing; it’s the software, the operating system. And in our case, that operating system needs a drastic and complete reboot.
Our Failing Financial Leadership
As everyone knows, 2008 brought about a major collapse of world financial markets through the Lehman brothers bankruptcy, caused through the high-level trading in toxic securities. In November of that year, the G-20 Washington Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy took place, with goals to strengthen economic growth, deal with the 2008 financial crisis, and lay the foundation for reform to avoid similar crises in the future. According to reports of the summit, key agreements were reached in all these areas. The result should have meant a recovery.
Today we are faced with a multitude of new problems, both financial and in international relations. It is clear that that 2008 G2O summit didn’t do its job, because we haven’t changed the system. Now can the same nations once again come together and resolve the issues they failed to resolve 6 years ago? Today these same nations are barely on speaking terms; the most recent G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia was fraught with antagonism. A fleet of warships moved into international waters off the Australian coast to accompany president Vladimir Putin’s visit to the summit, an act that came without warning and was a shock to Australia and the other participating nations. Many world leaders confronted Putin over his recent actions in the Ukraine, and apparently offended he ended up leaving the summit before its official end.
These frictions are also a reflection of what is occurring in the financial markets. For example the Russian ruble has crashed horribly, with exchange rates reaching 74 Rubles per US dollar and 92.99 per Eurodollar (it has dropped almost 50% from the beginning of the year)—so these nations may not be in a military war, but are certainly in a financial one. World leaders in this kind of opposition cannot even resolve issues between themselves, let alone those of the global economy.
Trends of Revolution
The economic trends since 2008 are frighteningly reminiscent of those that were occurring in Russia prior to the 1918 revolution that brought about communism as the dominant power in that country. Prior to the onset of communism here was a very exclusive tiny ruling class consisting of the Romanov family and their relations and associates, who were extremely wealthy and lived in unbelievable opulence. The remainder of the population—the far majority—were uneducated and lived in abject poverty. We can look back on it now and see that it was a surefire recipe for revolution, ripe for someone like V. I. Lenin to come along, point to a “better way” and lead the population to a very violent and bloody “solution” to its problems.
A more radical yet similar scenario existed in France in the latter part of the 18th century, which led to the guillotine as the bloody symbol of “setting things right” with the majority. Might we be historically—and chillingly—reminded of the guillotine when reading headlines about ISIS and its horrific actions? I personally thought such barbaric actions had disappeared over 100 years ago, yet here we are today.
If we look at the current condition in the world today, we are seeing a very similar scenario. We have a tiny minority of the wealthiest people on the planet only getting richer—many of them obtaining their considerable incomes from inheritances and the like (in other words, they’re not earning it). At the same time the middle class—which for over 100 years has been the solid foundation of economic stability—is, for the first time, steadily shrinking. In the last 30 years we have achieved great progress in lifting people out of extreme poverty, but now we’re thinning out the middle class. Assisting this shrinkage is unemployment, which is for many countries seeing its highest rates ever. This is especially true for young people aged 15-24, a group with unemployment rates 4-5 times those of adults. In addition educational systems are in crisis—college graduates are not finding jobs in their chosen fields because they are not properly being educated.
Our faulty educational system is adversely affecting the next generation—our children. But let’s also look at the home lives of those same children, and the forecast is even more gloomy.
The great leaders and achievers of yesterday were raised in stable homes, and taught manners and character through their upbringing. Today character and manners are being communicated through television—today’s built-in babysitter—through violent and depraved cinema, and through video games. Do you really think that these images have no effect on young people?
Pioneer sociologist and philosopher Jane Addams, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, said,
“America’s future will be determined by the home and the school. The child becomes largely what he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live.”
We’re definitely seeing how true that statement is today.
Looking toward the Middle East, we can already see the results of this trend coming about. The majority of the young people taking part in radical terrorist actions are uneducated and poor. Highly educated (and well-funded) leaders come along and tell them that the only way they can ever succeed is to overthrow that horrible Western system “over there.” Very unfortunately, the results are quite predictable.
In a bizarre twist, however, ISIS has also attracted an estimated 5,000-8,000 educated young people from Europe. It is clear that if these people are indeed educated, their value systems must be hopelessly empty—a reflection of our failing educational and family systems.
If this trend continues throughout the rest of the world, I really don’t believe the revolution will only be coming from terrorists. As history has amply shown, a substantial divide between the super-rich and the poorly-educated poverty-stricken can only be pushed so far before it blows up.
I Don’t Support a Revolution
I must insert here that I am not a communist or a socialist; I am a free market economist and believe in peaceful prosperity. People should be able to achieve wealth on their own industry and merits. Nor do I believe that violent, bloody revolution is a solution to anything. If you examine history carefully, the results of these revolutions usually left the countries and peoples worse off. The Russian revolution led to the same or worse poverty for the population, and political and mental slavery besides. The French revolution shortly led to a dictatorship, that of Napoleon. A rare exception was the American Revolution of 1776 which resulted in the first real form of modern Democracy. But its success was most likely due to the number of highly educated and sane individuals who were involved with that revolution. The population as a whole was also far more educated than the other examples cited here.
Nonetheless the American Revolution was a painful birth, as is any new and very positive change. The fledgling US Army fought in horrible conditions with little food—some even subsisting on rats—in the worst of battle conditions. The new country struggled to its feet, having to beat back its enemy yet again in another costly war in 1812.
We can take another example of radical positive change in the abolition of slavery in the US. Yes, the slaves were finally freed—but not before the bloodiest conflict in history at that time, which left the Southern US in ruins and cut down one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known: Abraham Lincoln.
Another example is India which won its independence through non-violent demonstration. But following that win, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, and a two more bloody wars—resulting in the new countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh—ensued. The two countries have been struggling economically and politically ever since.
No real change comes about without pain and—often—blood. Bringing it down to a day-to-day example, take a look at human birth. It occurs with intense pain, and there is blood. Just as with birth, I honestly don’t think the changes we really need and have been demanding for decades will come without the same kind of blood and pain. I wish it were not so. I certainly wish we could avoid human suffering reflected in human history to achieve the next step—gaining consciousness.
But Then There Is Joy
But after the intense pain of birth, there is equally intense joy in new life, and the pain is totally forgotten. This bright new person is going forward into the world, and the parents and family experience amazing happiness through this occurrence.
That is the upside to any change that comes about through pain and suffering—for we, too, will experience joy in the birth of new and positive factors in our lives.
Right at this moment, throughout the world, we’re celebrating such an event that occurred some 2,000 years ago. Like any other, that mother experienced the went through the agonizing pain of birth, and without a shadow of today’s modern conveniences. She wasn’t even attended by a doctor, and was forced to give birth in a cattle shed. Yet that birth was so significant it has inspired billions of people from that time forward.
As many of us celebrate the joy of that birth, bear in mind we have other painful births, those of positive changes, yet to happen. The world needs a reboot, and it will occur. So celebrate the joy of the season—and look forward to the time when we’ll be rejoicing in the many necessary changes yet to come.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!