No breakthroughs for the better
This is an intense piece written by Leslie Gelb, president emeritus and board senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. I find myself having reactions that place me on two extreme ends of the spectrum. On one side, the "believer" that I am insists that things will improve between now and 2030. On the other, I feel despair. Either way it is tough stuff worthy of our attention.
The world of 2030 will be an ugly place, littered with rebellion and repression. Societies will be deeply fragmented and overwhelmed by irreconcilable religious and political groups, by disparities in wealth, by ignorant citizenry and by states’ impotence to fix problems. This world will resemble today’s, only almost everything will be more difficult to manage and solve.
Advances in technology and science won’t save us. Technology will both decentralize power and increase the power of central authorities. Social media will be able to prompt mass demonstrations in public squares, even occasionally overturning governments as in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, but oligarchs and dictators will have the force and power to prevail as they did in Cairo. Almost certainly, science and politics won’t be up to checking global warming, which will soon overwhelm us.
Muslims will be the principal disruptive factor, whether in the Islamic world, where repression, bad governance and economic underperformance have sparked revolt, or abroad, where they are increasingly unhappy and distained by rulers and peoples. In America, blacks will become less tolerant of their marginalization, as will other persecuted minorities around the world. These groups will challenge authority, and authority will slam back with enough force to deeply wound, but not destroy, these rebellions.
A long period of worldwide economic stagnation and even decline will reinforce these trends. There will be sustained economic gulfs between rich and poor. And the rich will be increasingly willing to use government power to maintain their advantages.
Unfortunately, the next years will see a reversal of the hopes for better government and for effective democracies that loomed so large at the end of the Cold War.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/01/15-big-breakthroughs-in-2015-114486_Page3.html#ixzz3QTC80fsH