The sweeping change that most crystallizes the effect, that unprecedented connectedness of regular people in a country or the rest of the World can have in the global political arena, has been launched by the dramatic revolution known as the “Arab Spring”. This movement was triggered by a frustrated and despairing young man in Tunisia, whose act of ultimate self-sacrifice, as a form of extreme final protest against a callous and heavy handed government, so moved and galvanized the people into a spontaneous uprising, that it dethroned the long entrenched autocratic ruling family, and brought down the government of the country, within months.
The unplanned mass public rebellion in Tunisia lit a conflagration of similar mass protests and uprisings in the entire Middle East, and sparked pockets of public discontent in oppressed people throughout the rest of the World. This conflagration is threatening autocratic and insensitive governments not only in the Middle East, but globally, with far reaching and unprecedented consequences in future geopolitical and macro-economic trends.
The speed and ferocity of the change has been stunning. In the past, news of successful revolutions have inspired and triggered other revolutions in different parts of the World, but seldom if ever at the same time, or in so many countries at once. The pace, sweep and scope of change was made possible by the ability of people to connect almost instantaneously within the country and to the greater global community. It drew on long simmering resentment and the growing anger of the public in an unprecedented manner, till the collective dissatisfaction exploded in a mass uprising, becoming a powerful enough force to topple the most entrenched and feared dictatorial governments and their iron-fisted, ruthless and long standing dictators - in Egypt, Libya and now possibly in Syria.
"Arab Spring" is a rare and unique example of our times.
It was made possible almost entirely by the widespread access to communication technology by the global population. It helped galvanize the people of Tunisia into an unstoppable force, and showed people in similar situations how the most controlling and feared governments can be removed by the unplanned but collective action of the general population, with general outside support of the West.
This example of radical empowerment of ordinary people is being felt around the World, amongst the hereto arrogant and self-absorbed governments. It is forcing the remaining autocratic governments to bring about change and accommodation that would not have been contemplated, or tolerated, prior to the successful uprising in Tunisia.
In the Middle East, countries such as Syria and Yemen are embattled; the governments of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Kuwait, and the rest of Middle Eastern countries, are being forced to reconsider the long ignored needs and demands of their people, to a degree never before contemplated. In Asia, the most autocratic governments of China, Myanmar and North Korea have been forced to entertain varying degrees of accommodation for fear of rising discontent in their own populations.
Greatly empowered and better informed people, particularly in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, and generally around the World, are increasingly going to reshape the geopolitical and economic landscape globally. The change has already taken place as governments around the World re-calibrate their attitudes towards a more connected, informed and demanding public that can unify under a common cause almost instantly.
One of the more interesting and unforeseen developments triggered by these recent events, are the changes that Western governments have been forced to adopt. No longer can they, with impunity, preach democratic principles of freedom and equality for the people of the World, while supporting and at times installing the dictatorial regimes that have brutalized their populations for decades, while serving as “special friends” to Western governments. The populations of the Western developed countries are becoming increasingly more vocal and intolerant of such hypocritical behavior from their own governments, forcing change in foreign policy that is more in line with the long declared, but somewhat less practiced principles of universal freedom and democracy of such governments. This enforced change driven by an increasingly demanding public in autocratic as well as democratic governments, towards greater accountability, is going to fundamentally change the global political and economic landscape.
In the shorter term there is going to be a greater focus on national interest over global cooperation as governments are forced to focus on satisfying the demands of their populations in these current difficult economic times. That, as I have mentioned in the earlier reports, is going to slow the global economic recovery in the near term. But, the longer term impact of a connected global population is going to foster an easier and more cooperative political environment and a greater understanding of the benefits of a truly integrated global economic system. The well connected and better informed peoples of the World will appreciate and more readily accept the changes that are needed to collectively grow the global economy. This somewhat utopian environment is not going to manifest itself in the near term, but it is certainly going to develop over time, changing forever the way business is conducted between countries and the emerging larger and more powerful economic zones.
These multi-national economic zones will not be the model of “Euro Zone” type of quasi-political and a fuller economic integration, (especially after Europe’s most recent and deep economic problems), but in-spite of the seeming failure of the Euro Union model at this time, similar cooperative economic zones are already forming around the World along favorable geographic placements.
An increasingly integrated and unified Middle East is a probability in the future, in spite of all those who have a serious interest in not seeing that happen. A more unified Middle East based on the commonality of language (Arabic), religion (Islam), historical and cultural values, and governments not necessarily backed or supported by the West but more representative of their people, will transform the global geopolitical economic order.
Similarly in Asia, the need to streamline economic policy with greater integration and coordination of defense policy, driven by the economic and military threat of a dominant and increasingly aggressive China, is driving most major Asian countries to form cooperative zones to counter China’s dominance, and to further boost their own security and economic performance. There will be greater cooperation between India, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan in an effort to push back the increasing dominance of China, while they all individually try and find a balance between competing and cooperating with it, out of sheer necessity. Even with the fierce competition amongst them, the Asian countries will form one of the largest, most vibrant and sustainably dynamic economic regions of the World, due simply to the greatest number of poor people that are residing there. The total numbers are simply staggering, possibly in the range of 2 Billion, that are now slowly ‘emerging’ into higher levels of consumption with growing purchasing power, into the lowest level of the so called ‘Middle Class’. The rich and the existing middle class are already the fast growing in the World. With the new political revolution of enhanced government accountability, the policies of most governments in the region will of necessity be stimulative, to keep the discontent to a minimum.
The incessant demand of a massive growing consumer base into the foreseeable future will insure that economic growth will be the most sustainable in Asia.
Apart from demanding greater political representation and government accountability, the “Arab Spring” movement has also brought to light and to account, the entrenched corruption that has been the ‘norm’ in countries where supreme leaders, governments and public officials were accepted to be above the law. That perception and acceptance is now changing, in some countries faster than others, but changing nevertheless. Even a small percentage change towards greater transparency in public institutions in these countries, is going to have an enormous impact in geopolitical economic terms, through greater efficiency and higher productivity. So far there has been tremendous waste of wealth and resources in these countries due to endemic corruption starting at the highest levels of government, and filtering down to the common man, to the detriment of the countries as a whole.
As the connectedness and access to unbiased information continues to grow the global population will become more actively involved in the governance of their countries, the development and execution of foreign policy, and the more ethical and efficient use of the country’s resources for the betterment of the general population rather than for the benefit of the privileged few. People the World over are already more proactive in the way their governments are behaving on a host of different issues affecting their lives. People are already more willing to voice their opinions on foreign policy issues, at times forcing the overturning of entrenched policies that for years has been followed by their governments.
The unprecedented connectedness and access to unfiltered information made possible the “Arab Spring”, which has set into motion an active quest for greater freedom and autonomy in people currently under autocratic and authoritarian governments the World over. But it also made people aware, of the unprecedented power they have to change that which previous to the “Arab Spring” was considered unchangeable. This new awareness amongst the oppressed, and those more fortunate, has radically changed the perception of who holds the real “Power” in the World. This awareness is not only going to change the geopolitical and macro-economic trends, but over the coming years is going to change geopolitics, the way of business, traditions, culture and social interaction amongst people.