20th Century Thinkers in the 21st Century

by John Brian Shannon

Many people in this 21st century would be surprised to hear they are deeply immersed (and some would say, horribly stuck) in 20th century thought, a century where for ninety of those hundred years, the endless game of nation-state vs. nation-state was played, and often played with brutality. Nation against nation, democracy competing with communism and authoritarianism, freedom vs. repression and ‘the West’ against ‘the East’, or occasionally, ‘North’ against ‘South’ — these were the headlines of a turbulent century.

All these battles were fought diligently, usually for valid reasons (but not always) by nation-states, their citizens, and soldiers, all over the world from about 1914 onwards.

In terms of the success against such social ills as world war, small hot wars, the Cold War, fascism, tribal wars, poor governance and even poorer economics, plus a low global standard of health care, we have come far in the past 100 years.

The problem is, some just don’t realize how far we have come and are still ‘fighting the last war’ to use a military euphemism.

The last war is well and truly over. Unfortunately, some have utterly missed that, profound as it is.

Illogically, many of these people are still holding positions of power, many of them from the baby-boom generation, that for now at least, continue to call the shots for the rest of the world.

A world of change has occurred, and yet many of those holding either political office or powerful unelected positions are completely blind to it, as their hatred for their former enemies burns so bright.

In the West, for just one example, most citizens are pleased that Vladimir Putin is running Russia. We all know that Russia is experiencing the problems associated with a former Soviet-era economy, but that they are recovering nicely from it. We also know that they are dealing with incredibly rapid economic growth – which is a great problem to have! If your country must have a major problem to deal with, that’s the one to have.

And many people in the West and around the world, socialize with Russians every day, online, in the workplace or at universities around the world. Everyone is getting along just fine, thank you.

Спасибо, очень понравилось! (Which is Russian for, “Thank you, very much!”)

But are Western political office holders or powerful unelected leaders happy about any of that? For the most part, NOT! And therein, lies a tantalizing clue about what ails the geopolitical world in this century.

The people in (elected and unelected) positions of power in the West today are the same generation that taught us to fear, hate, and fight, the Soviet Union at all costs (one of those costs being lessened Western civil liberties from the onset of the Cold War right up to the present day) — and the fact that the Soviet Union no longer exists and communism in modern-day Russia is about as important as it is here (it’s not) does not decrease their deeply-held hatred of our former enemy.

The better the Russian economy does, the more they hate Russia. The more Russian citizens smile on TV, the more they castigate Vlad Putin. As Russia became the 13th most powerful economy in the world, some in the West were tearing their hair out. Russia is on-track to become the 10th most powerful economy in the world within the next decade. Can’t wait to see the contorted faces then!

And it is getting increasingly difficult for certain Western news outlets to show recent pictures or videos taken in and around Moscow, without the many Mercedes Benz and BMW cars and SUV’s driven by ordinary Russian citizens ‘crapping up the frame’ – thereby contradicting the verbal op/ed piece.

No! All those Mercedes and BMW’s are NOT driven by “filthy rich Russian oligarchs with ‘dirty money’ or high ranking KGB officers that hate Fox News… er… America.”

That was LAST century.

The real story, in case you missed it, is that it is no longer about nation-state against nation-state (although, some people are desperately trying to make it ‘still that’), nor is it even, democracy against practically all other forms of government (although, some people are desperately trying to make it ‘still that’), nor is about some well-intentioned fight against horrible social ills such as apartheid, which is mostly won at this point (although, some people are desperately trying to make it ‘still that’).

What it is about, is that 98% of the world’s citizens want their governments to stop fighting the last war, to cease with the old hatreds and prejudices and get on with clearing a path for citizens, so that they can progress — financially, socially, and for those who want it, spiritually.

Feudalism was replaced with something better (from the point-of-view of 98% of the world population back in the day) which manifested itself as freedom and democracy in half the world, while the other half endured communism, which was still a lot better than feudalism, for most citizens. The governance systems in use in the 21st century are mostly democratic ones — and the ones that aren’t, are reforming at different speeds towards democracy anyway — whether we bomb them or not.

Our representative governments must begin to focus on what democracy was originally created to achieve. Can anyone even remember what this was, this far out from democracy’s beginnings? In general terms, it was to bring freedom, the rule of law, education, economic prosperity, and the pursuit of pleasure to the vast majority of citizens (the 98%) living within that voluntary state of governance.

But truth be told at this point, citizens around the world would settle for this generation of powerful elected and unelected people stuck in their 20th century mindsets, just getting out of citizens’ way and letting individuals and families solve their own issues and get to their goals, themselves. A new generation will soon take the reins.

In the meantime, try not to blow up the world with your 20th century thinking. Thanks.

Signed, the 98 percent.

JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

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JOBS: The Key to Capitalism’s Success

by John Brian Shannon

As we all know, several political/economic models are in use in the early 21st century. A little refresher for you first, if your high-school political science classes didn’t especially thrill you.

The capitalist system employed by the Western nations and some other nations, is often referred to as the Free Enterprise system, the Free Market system, Wealth Accumulation, Capital Accumulation or the Open Economic model – depending on the context of a conversation. Politics can vary within capitalist systems – which are often a variant of democracy (civil rights enshrined in a constitution, the right to vote, rights to property and person and freedom of expression) form part of this model. Socialist parties represent the “left wing” and conservative “right-wing” parties are represented along with independent candidates as elected by the registered voters.

In the capitalist system, greed is the primary agent of economic change. If you want to eat, you work for money to buy your food. If you would rather drive to work than walk, you work for money to buy a car and insurance. An individual “works” to earn “profit” to purchase goods or services. The underlying premise being, that if an individual has a decent education and works “smart” and “hard” you will accumulate wealth over time. Western corporations and governments operate in a similar fashion.

So, why isn’t it working?

“It IS working!” wealthy Western individuals emphatically state.

“It IS working!” Western corporations emphatically state.

“It IS working!” Western governments emphatically state.

And in those cases, it most emphatically IS working!

But the rest of us are not. Working, that is. You know… jobs, working, making a living, paying the bills, making the rent… and all the rest of it.

You will recall my words from a previous paragraph; “An individual “works” to earn “profit” to purchase goods or services. The underlying premise being, that if an individual has a decent education and works “smart” and “hard” you will accumulate wealth over time.”

All good there. Except what happens in the capitalist system when there aren’t enough jobs?

The short answer is; A failed economic system. Ever more wealth becomes concentrated in a ever smaller percentage of the general population. You guessed it — 1% of the Western population will always agree that the Open Economic system works well for them.

For Western nations it is death by a thousand cuts and only in the interests of economic survival will our present system evolve into something very unlike the present model and it may take as long as 50 years to do so.

Let me back up a bit.

I promised you a political science refresher and here is the other half of it. The Communist system, sometimes called the Statist model, the Centralized Economic model, or the Closed Economic model, does not employ greed as the primary driver of human activity. Profit, either at the individual or corporate level is unknown and all economic activity is considered the property of the state. The only things that really matter to a communist is the national GDP and the sovereignty of the country. Of course, civil rights and personal freedoms are enshrined in the constitutions of communist countries – although at the end of the day personal rights can be and often are subjugated in the best interests of the state.

For one example of this, in the former USSR alcoholism rates were astonishingly high. But this was never reported in the Soviet media as it was thought that publicizing this knowledge would emotionally depress workers across the nation – and thereby suppress economic output. Therefore and officially, in the former USSR there was no alcoholism – and hence, the government-owned hospitals failed to devise a treatment for a disease which only occurred in the decadent West! If a citizen of the former USSR arrived at a hospital or doctor’s office for treatment of his alcoholism, he was told that he suffered from “an imaginary disease” and was counseled to stop “trying to get attention” by emulating Western behaviors. And no doubt put on some sort of watch list for good measure.

Eventually the former USSR collapsed mainly due to internal forces. However, some communist nations remain and are thriving. China has surpassed India, France, the UK, Germany, Japan and every other country except for the United States in GDP and accumulated wealth – and has done so by employing the statist economic model. According to most economics Professors, China will surpass the United States GDP by 2040. That’s 28 years from now in case you are a Chinese economist counting the days.

The main reason for the dramatic growth-driven economic performance in China is that many Western corporations have chosen to do business in China rather than the West – due to lower land and construction costs, lower labour rates, the lower costs associated with a relaxed or non-existent regulatory environment (depending on the industry and region of the country) and other cost-lowering factors associated with operating a business in China.

Beginning about 1999, U.S. corporations especially, have embraced the opportunity to lower their costs by closing their North American factories and building brand-new factories in China – sometimes with significant communist Chinese government assistance! Other western corporations too, have been closing our factories by the thousands in America and Europe and relocating their manufacturing operations to China – and on account of this economic activity, the Western economies combined are at present, 150 million jobs short of full employment. This trend of creating jobs in communist China whilst simultaneously creating higher unemployment in the Western democracies will continue as long as Western voters don’t complain too much.

By 2030, the Western democracies will be much-weakened in comparison to a still-booming China and the other Asian nations. At that time, Asia will be supplying almost all the manufactured goods for the Western economies which will by then, have lost 300 million jobs to Asia.

Also by 2030, perhaps as many as 700 million Westerners will be retired persons receiving some form of Social Security – while millions of younger people won’t be old enough to join the workforce. It will be a time when less than half of the West’s population will be employed and able to support the Western economies. From the Western point of view, this trend gets worse until 2060 when economic performance is expected to plateau in Asia.

A paradigm-shift has been taking place right under our Western noses for three decades now and we have just now begun to notice. China will soon be the dominant world power – and we handed it to them in exchange for higher profits for Western corporations.

It’s said; “He who has the gold makes the rules” – and it is shaping up to be a very different world indeed.

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