Karl Marx believed that capitalism contained the seeds of its own destruction, and whilst we are yet to see whether this is true or not, it is clear that our rigid political ideologies are certainly the cause of their own downfall.
Despite its best efforts, Communism was unable to stem the rising tide of wealth, innovation, and change. Through its State-driven process, and its endless five-year plans, it attempted to plot a path with no clue as to what may be around the next corner. Capitalism survived, and thrived, because of its ability to adapt.
Charles Darwin recognised this phenomenon biologically in the natural world with animals having to adapt (evolve) in order to maintain their existence on the planet. (Note that these adaptations were random and were not driven by the animals themselves).
Politically, we must learn this biological lesson. If you stay still, you fall behind, and eventually cease to exist.
As an ideology Fascism harks back to historical successes and greatness, Socialism’s greatest flaw is that it has failed to see that the days of a large State with mass workers unions are over, and even Nazism, with its racial prejudice and genocidal anti-Semitism, branded itself as a Third Reich, building on past successes and returning to history for the answer.
Even though Francis Fukuyama proclaimed “the end of history” in 1989, his belief was misplaced. Neoliberalism, the dominant Western ideology, initiated under Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain from 1979 and Ronald Reagan in the US during the 1980s, and continued ever since, has now breathed its last.
History, it seems, has found another ending.
Neoliberalism failed to adapt to the world that it was itself creating. The elites continued business as usual, gathering unprecedented wealth and preserving the status quo, but failed to recognise that as their bank balances grew, their appeal waned.
Great Britain’s referendum decision to leave the EU (Brexit) and the election of Donald Trump as the next US President are both logical consequences of a system that has failed to adapt to new realities; globalisation, rampant inequality, the weakening of traditional media.
But what supporters of both Brexit and Trump fail to see is that though they may have correctly diagnosed the problem, they are proscribing the wrong medicine.
Withdrawing from a European market, retreating into this “us versus them” island mentality is not going to provide the cure. Similarly, no matter how tall Trump decides to build his wall, he will be unable to stem the tide. His insistence on reigniting the fossil fuel industry shows just how out of touch with reality he is. Fossil fuels are dead, and you can pump life support into them for as long as you like, they will not recover.
Change is inevitable and you cannot hide from it or prevent it.
It is this fact that also spells doom for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. There is no vision for the future, just a return to a time whereby the State was seen as the driver of change and the provider of all.
Though they occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, both Trump and Corbyn carry a message of looking to the past in order to make the country great again.
As John Naughton highlights in a recent piece in The Guardian, 10 years ago Facebook, Twitter, 4G, WhatsApp, smartphones, Skype… none of these existed. And look at the impact that these technologies have had on our world. Whether in the workplace, our means of accessing news and communicating with one another, or to organise protests and demonstrations, these technologies have fundamentally changed the way we live our lives, and will continue to do so.
It was not until 2003 that Amazon made its full first-year profit, AirBnB was not founded until 2008, and Uber came a year later.
We have no way of knowing what the future may hold and our best protection against this is to be flexible. Burying our heads in the sand, building walls, retreating from the world – these are not solutions. They will only make us fall further behind.
We need to embrace change. As humans we do it every day. When we wake up and step outside our front door we have no idea of what the world may bring, but we do it anyway. We give ourselves the flexibility, and we have the faith that we can adapt and respond as necessary. The alternative is to stay locked up indoors and shut ourselves off from the constant motion of the world.
North Korea has long attempted to remain outside of this global journey, partly through choice and partly through an enforced embargo Cuba has done similarly, the Islamic State – were it ever to be realised – would be a backwards facing religious dictatorship where all suggestions of modernity would be banned.
Imagine the lives of the people in these nations, and look at the paths that the countries are walking. It is impossible to maintain, and it is foolish.
In the future, automation is going to decimate entire industries, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become a reality, world travel will become quicker and communication easier, and rather than being scared of these advances, we should welcome them.
We need political ideologies that not only bring justice, freedom, and progress, but also flexibility. And it is this flexibility that is both our greatest defence and greatest asset in a world where everything is uncertain.
We cannot turn our backs on the future, we must embrace it.
Evolve or die. Which is it to be?
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One thought on “Evolve or Die: Which Political Ideology Can Bring Us The Future?”
This is the past, the present and the future: the elites will always organize themselves better than the masses. By virtue of being fewer alone. Therefore the masses will always be oppressed