A global economy coming of age
Ours is an adolescent world. Its onset of metaphorical puberty was triggered by initial stirrings of the exponential High-Tech supertrend in the early-20th century, accompanied by defiant shrieks of ‘I Hate You’ hurled between most of the world’s nations, economic ideologies, races and religions. A century later governments are trying to act a lot more grown up, in between occasional temper-tantrums and battles of will. Like any adolescence, our journey toward maturity has been bitter-sweet. Wide-eyed enthusiasm for science or for religion did not solve everything. A juvenile feeling of invulnerability and disregard for consequences did not stop countries maxing out their credit, taking things they did not replace, and wrecking their shared home. Nor did stubbornness make naive ideas any truer. Throughout all of this, Mother Nature sporadically made even powerful governments feel stupid and useless. And on some occasions they behaved as if they were.
In the last several decades, our most successful nations have become increasingly-wild teenage prodigies. Nourished by a heady cocktail of new-found strength, inflated ego, lack of experience, passion, frustration and desire, we have become addicted to fossil fuels, real-time information, accelerating change, and unlimited food whatever the time of year. But no addictions are free of consequences. We now face a self-inflicted Rite of Passage that no one really understands, no one wants, and – in the far extreme – no one may survive. It turns out that the exponential gift of High-Tech has exacted a fearsome price. Yet the uncontrollable backlashes that are forming because of the escalating misalignment of hidden-interactions are not inevitable.
To avoid the worst crises, we must now enter into a mature debate that recognizes how the balance of power between national government and international business and boundaryless groups of people is already inevitably shifting. Existing authority figures must accept that their previously-unquestioned right to wield ultimate power must adapt; they no longer have the ability to lay down the law on everything. But those gaining previously-unprecedented influence must also accept that part of the deal for a more grown-up relationship is that with greater power has to come greater demonstrated responsibility. Most importantly we must each accept that as our world economy begins to fulfill its potential, so we too must adapt with it. The roles of governments, businesses and the general public all must change. If we are to curtail future crises then there is no alternative. There is no going back. And there is no longer the option of simply keeping things as they are. The need to realign our global governance is not a choice. It is an implication.
It inevitably follows from the triumphant coming together of our planet-wide civilization. It is a sign that our adolescent world at last is Coming of Age. Despite all the forthcoming struggles, the uncertainty, the long road toward Global Renaissance that still stretches ahead, ultimately the full recognition of what our current circumstance actually means should be the cause of immense pride. For it signals the crossing of a unique threshold reached by civilizations on, at most, only a very few precious planets scattered across the universe: The need for global realignment of the power structures and governance of a whole species is the single most important hidden consequence of a truly interconnected world.
More than anything else, that is the reality of Global Crises.