Political Addendum

Note: This introduction to the addendum initially attempts to provide references to other discussions that have already touched on developments in politics, first from the past to the present and then into the future. The latter discussions in respect to the future are mainly part of the Brave New Worlds discussion.

It was always recognised that the first discussion of politics under the heading ‘The Scope for Political Evolution’ would only be part of an initial learning process. However, while the first two sections, i.e. Broad Introduction and Paths to the Future, do reflect this learning curve, there was an attempt to widen the scope of issues underpinning the breath of the political debate. In this context, much of present-day politics might be seen to rest on some form of ideological conviction, which when examined often appears to have little in the way of real-world evidence to support its many claims and assertions.

Note: At this point, the wording of the definition of 'politics' as a 'process' by which some form of 'governance' is agreed is now changed from ‘agreed’ to ‘imposed’, as invariably most governments, even democratically elected ones, only represent a minority of the population.

From a historical perspective, it might be argued that most forms of governance invariably involved the imposition of authoritarian rule on a majority primarily motivated by the self-interest of some smaller group. Although, today, we might perceive a change in style, the scope of self-interest of a wealthy and powerful elite might still be an issue within the political machinations of a nation-state. Of course, over the years, the nature of politics has undoubtedly changed, both in scope and sophistication, which today often takes the form of some perceived ideology that seeks change, e.g. religious or economic. However, it was also argued that the apparent disfunction now perceived in modern politics is also a reflection of the ‘human condition rather than just being a Machiavellian plot of some powerful elite, although this would not necessarily preclude the ‘ guiding hand’ of self-interest at all levels of society. However, this preliminary conclusion was possibly highlighted in the discussion of ‘The State of Global Politics’, where the success of the nation-state, and its population, is now often measured in terms of economic growth, although military power cannot be ignored in this equation.

But what about politics in the future?

In part, the discussions referenced above were primarily orientated towards the evolution of politics from the past to the present, where the extrapolation of developments into the future was taken up in a separate discussion entitled ‘Brave New Worlds’. While the scope of this discussion extended beyond politics, it was recognised that the sum-total of future change might result in the idea of ‘Fortress World’ as outlined in the discussion entitled ‘Political Catalysts’.

Fortress World considers the possibility that future problems simply get worse, such that powerful nation states retreat into the idea of authoritarian governance, both internally and externally, in an attempt to control aspects of the global economy for the benefit of their nation-state or some powerful minority.

This initial introduction was then expanded in terms of a series of discussions under the heading ‘Political Evolution’, which then attempted to reflect on the potential dilemma between authoritarian and democratic governance as initially summarised below:

“It would appear that any discussion of political evolution has to begin anchored in systems that exist today. In this respect, autocratic governance may acquire the power to ignore the wishes of the majority and, in so doing, act in its own self-interests or as demanded by some underlying ideology. Of course, democratic governance may also act in its own self-interest, such that it is preoccupied with maintaining the support of the electorate and, as a consequence, become increasingly paralysed when it comes to taking necessary, but unpopular, decisions. However, this is probably a naïve summary of present-day democracy.”

Of course, any attempt to extrapolate the current state of global politics into the future must take into consideration the potential change in economic fortunes of various nation-states, which may be predicated on both technology, access to natural resources and the education of its population. However, it was argued that technology developments of Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially in the area of AI Automation may come to profoundly change the nature of employment over the next 50 years or so. While the implications of the following chart will not be expanded at this point, the discussion entitled ‘Economic Catalyst’ provides a better overview of the potential jobs at risk in the future, which may then trigger further political instability.

The inference in these earlier discussions suggested that technology may well have some ‘ unintended consequences’ , although not entirely beyond prediction. However, if we ultimately consider technology as leading towards an ‘effect’, then we must look elsewhere for the ‘cause’, such that we might need to further examine the idea that human nature as the root cause of many of today’s global problems. By way of an example that has already been outlined, it was recognised that further technical developments in the area of security surveillance might initially be forwarded as necessary to protect society, but then lead to some ‘unwanted consequences’, at least, from the public perception – see ‘Information Control’ for more details. So, having now provided links to many aspects of previous discussions, the focus will now switch to reviewing some more recent ideas.