The future- will political ideals matter?
After the pandemic, will politics be relevant?
The future- Will political ideals matter?
This current – April 2020- pandemic is throwing up interesting questions about the future. It also shows how interconnected we all are on this overcrowded planet. Not just interconnected one nation to another, which enabled the virus to spread world wide in such a short time but also how our individual lives have become so dependent on so many other people. Interconnection is different from interdependent. It is not good for any group, or nation, to depend entirely on another, for its basics of food, shelter or defense. Dependency can become slavery so very easily. The mantras of the 1970's about small is beautiful and how to strive for self sufficiency, have been buried under the commercial needs of gigantic global companies. We have personal access to mass world wide communication but the question has to be; has this empowered us or made us reliant on advertising funded platforms? The greater part of the funding for social media comes from global commercial enterprises.
Very few people now live entirely “off the grid” without telephones, radio, TV, mains electricity, water, sewage and food supply. Very few, probably less that ever before. The sheer wight of numbers means that keeping the world fed by sustainable agriculture is less likely than at any time in the history of planet Earth. More and more of every part of every individuals life involves a world wide commercial business. From food and clothing, to transport and communication. These suppliers of need, are not nationals, they are international and they trade with governments of such varies political ideologies that they have transcended the usual understanding of international politics. All round the world there are trading groups, such as the EU and these have trade agreements with each other but the biggest traders within each nation are actually genuinely global businesses. The same company that is part of an EU agreement with say China, is also part of an American trade agreement with, say India. Amazon, Microsoft, the producers of brands such as Coca-cola are part of every nations trading with every other nation. They move production, capital and even profit declarations, around the globe to suit themselves. Nothing illegal or even immoral in this. They exist to maximize themselves and the returns the provide for their investors. This is the nature of the “beast”.
Accepting that so much of what we depend on, is provided by such pan-national providers, does the ideology of the government we vote for or get forced to live with, actually matter? Do these trans- national providers end up with more actual influence than our local politicians? Is this a good or bad thing?
The world wide pandemic is deflating the economy of every nation. This may not be a bad thing in the long term but it will cause great pain in the short term. It may lessen the power of the conglomerates and strengthen artisan enterprises, but it may result in the exact opposite to this. Just about every nation, rich or poor, has had to spend tax money on dealing with the pandemic. Even any who have not actually spent tax money, will have had a reduction of tax income due to the virus. Their first priority will be to recover the money, to get back to economic “normality.” This may not be a political aim of many, especially if in opposition to existing government. It is to be expected that all the sound bites, all the noise, will be about preventing a re-occurrence of the situation but in reality priority will be the recovery of the flow of tax income to the government, even the most ardent socialists will have to do this in order to actually redistribute wealth, help the poor, promote “equality.” It is how this return to positive tax flow, is done that will affect many generations to come. The easy short term, quick fix, is to allow the weaker and smaller enterprises to go broke and have both their markets and their abilities, to be taken over by those larger global businesses; these have the financial capacity to do this and to quickly get things going again. A slower alternative is to try and support smaller “home grown” entrepreneurs and concerns, to alter tax and property tax rules, so that the larger businesses do not remove tax liability from the country in which it is generated. Then the need is to change the employment laws to encourage success in start up and small to medium businesses. This will naturally be opposed by the multinational companies and they will, legitimately, use all the power they have to prevent any erosion of their profitability and financial flexibility. It will also be opposed by trade unions. They have a right to do this and the pressure on any government trying to ensure a recovery from both social and financial depression, will be huge. May be some will find a way to do both, that is they will manage to get the economy moving, by encouraging the vast enterprises with all their capital, and also to foster the longer term growth of “home” businesses.
One thing that is going to hamper all efforts, is the need to reduce the cost of government while at the same time improving the health care abilities of the whole nation. The number of deaths caused by the contagion will, unfortunately, disproportionately affect heath care workers. They will be in short supply and the people who have survived will willingly increase the rewards for working in the health care industry. No democratic government will survive if it tries to resist this momentum but it will hamper economic recovery. Fast or slow, Short or long term? What ever decisions are made, they will affect every person on the planet for a very long time to come.