Monday, 15 November 2010

How the world is changing

China shopping

The Economist published two leaders this week that got me thinking about how the world has changed and how inexorably many have failed to adapt to the change or make the kind of adjustments necessary to embrace change and become more relevant in the future.

In the leader China buys up the world [1], one innocuous statistic showed up which was Chinese firms only own just 6% of global investment in international business. One thing we must not fail to realise is that it is growing and it belies a failing of the capitalist model in the West where somewhat Communist finance is propping up or buying up businesses that were once the mainstays of democracies.

The debate between big and small government that exercises the West is moot much as the idea of state controlled enterprises being inefficient, lethargic and unprofitable. The Chinese are doing something we could well learn and use.

A timeline of decline

Even more arresting is the decline of other economic powers; for in 1914 and 1967, both Britain and America held about 50% of global investment respectively and those years were their peak years.

1914 announced the start of the World War I and there is no telling the cost that was to Britain and consequently World War II just a quarter of a century after. By the 1970s, Britain was not working and seemingly in terminal decline, and though there have been recoveries we find ourselves in another trough exemplified by swingeing cuts which no one is sure would bring recovery talk less of ascendancy.

It would be simplistic to suggest that our governments and representation have helped this decline take root, but blame cannot be too far from their door in the economic mistakes and atrocious policies that have defined each ideological standpoint to the detriment of the lifeblood of the each country’s progress.

Well beyond the World Wars

In 1914 that great African country Nigeria was created and it stands as the most populous black African country by far as well as its second largest economy. With its oil resources first discovered in 1937 there has been promise and prospect but very little to show for what it has.

The second leader in the Economist was about reforming the United Nations with the title Thinking the UNthinkable [2]. There is a strong case for redefining the structure of the Security Council and managing the influence of the permanent members whose status derives from having won the Second World War.

I have my doubts about how France won but that would be stoking the embers of discord. What we have now is the defeated foe of 1945 that is now a strong ally, Germany with an economy much greater than that of France and Britain; one must not forget Japan is a contender too having gone shopping like China only two decades ago.

How times have changed

In effect, 2010 is no more 1945, the fulcrum of power has shifted with the emergence of big democracies, economies and other powers making India, Brazil, Japan, Germany, South Africa and even Nigeria viable permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The growing influence of Islam in global affairs puts both Turkey and Indonesia into consideration too, making the UN Security Council more representative of the shift in power and of the times.

With this change there is probably a case for Britain and France giving up their seats for a European representative but the politics of the UN might not allow for widening of the permanent membership of the Security Council with equal status for all members and the loss of veto power.

Nigeria’s disqualification

The case for Nigeria strong as it may seem on promise is weakened by the notion that it is too anarchic a country compared to South Africa.

This damning assessment is in no way unfair, it simply crystallises our representation, our politics, our economic prospects and sadly our future.

This kind of view can only change when those we elect to represent us lift they game and play it right, all eyes are on Nigeria for 2011 but because of our failings South Africa might well take the spoils.

[1] Chinese acquisitions: China buys up the world | The Economist

[2] United Nations: Thinking the UNthinkable | The Economist