Peter Norris / Geopolitical Futures

March 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

 Looking at the world in a much wider context!

What is the world?

Wealth is not equal on the planet, the UK is the 5th wealthiest economy in the world – we have lots of things that are taken for granted.

Geopolitical futures are about understanding where we are, and what others don’t have (countries) looking at problems. For example, the Middle East produces the majority of all the oil in the world, and oil has touched us in one way or another, through technology, clothing, electricity etc.

The UK is one of the most densely populated countries in the world; this is because it’s an attractive country, with all its benefits. I have to be aware of all this.

India/China

These are the two economies that have great protection; they outnumber us by a massive extent (population). There are different parts of these countries, some very Westernised metropolitan areas, and others more rural. These Westernised areas are very keen on trade, almost too keen, as a result, British designers are highly sought after in these places since they require Westernised lifestyles, and I can supply Westernised design. We know about this part of the world, so they require these skills and influences; I need to consider that beyond these countries borders there are employment opportunities. For example China recently has had a lot of Western workers come over and create for them, with design etc. as the ‘Westernised’ things the Chinese produce are badly produced.

The problem that China is facing is that it’s so incredibly vast, but is run under one state/government that doesn’t change, unlike ours. There are lots of areas of China that want independence (so this is a problem), breaking away from Mainland China. The second problem is social unrest amongst different social classes, wealth is distributed unevenly, in Beijing you can find millionaires and billionaires everywhere, though move 50 miles out of Beijing and you see real abject poverty, there’s a huge difference. This is when social unrest occurs. These factors will ultimately affect the economic structure of the country, but how is this managed? If it’s market opens up some more then it will accept more Western workers, if it closes however it will have the opposite effect.

I need to be aware of the problems that are faced in these countries. These sort of problems and issues need to be recognised.

In the less economically developed areas of Eastern Asia, the cost of living is far cheaper due to the poorer state of the country, where you can live with very little money for quite some time. This is another factor I need to consider, how do I get round this?

Population density > Thomas Malthus (influential in the fields of political economy and demography), having very pessimistic views:

Where there is poverty, with populations in dense groups in close proximity, there’s a problem with illness, pestilence, plague, death, famine, starvation, health issues, where as in this country we have the national health system. Either you can feed all these people, or you let what would subsequently happen, happen. Mathus view was that this is an automatic correction that the weak are sifted out. In the UK we have the National Health Service (NHS), however, before this, such as the outbreak of Spanish influenza and the bubonic plague, you could see how much of the population would be decimated as a result, up to 60/70%! With poorer people not being able to afford some basic hygiene, all living in close proximity, this is when problems arise. Another issue to think about.

Poor / Wealthy – Poor usually are in abundant numbers in comparison, and get unruly, they start to wonder why they have to live in these conditions when there are others with stupid amounts of money, then they get unruly, and begin attempting to take by force. Law enforcement can only go so far to stop this, when numbers get large, then politics comes into play;

Politics = keeping the mob happy. If you can keep them happy, you’ve got control, and no problems.

Flash Points

These are areas in the world that are currently marked as being potentially dangerous

–       The Middle East – ill feeling here (mainly over the setting up of Israel), lots of conflict – wealth, power, and poverty, all of this coupled with different opinions has meant that the area is heavily affected by conflict. This region may become an even worse flashpoint as resources diminish.
Most Middle East countries face these problems and are trying to resolve them before they occur, trying to make the most out of what they’ve got.

–       Crimea (most current) – this is more of an issue related to Russia; they were slowly and manageably coming out of communism, but then everything started going backwards. Part of the problem is that Russia is so big, being made up of lots of smaller states, which are forcibly held together under the control of one centralized government. Russia needs to try and relinquish the control that other countries have, but keeping order at the same time, stopping other people from moving in. With Ukraine, half of it wants to go West, and the other East, but Russia doesn’t want to lose it, Russia is scared, since if it loses Ukraine then what happens to the other neighboring countries? They want independence also, ultimately meaning Russia loses power and control.

–       Georgia and Sochi + terrorism

–       China (which will eventually see the same problems as Russia)

Disruptors

–       Terrorism

–       Poverty (Malthus issues)

–       Pace & Change

–       Lack of Education

–       Market Movements

–       Technology

Terrorism – No longer is it expected that there’ll be massive wars such as the World Wars, but instead localised warfare, and terrorism. This is difficult to find out when and where. The trick is to figure out where and when these affairs are likely to happen. These terrorist actions are a trouble in the East and the West.

Another political issue here in order to prevent terrorism is obtaining information. Freedoms, duties and responsibilities – look at the USA for example with looking at emails etc. to prevent terrorism. People don’t like this however and don’t as it’s breaching their privacy, so this is an issue, it’s a difficult balancing act.

Minor and Major Changes: Major – major changes are where people have to be educated on something, something that’s changed the way people do.

Incredible amounts of money are lost from education, or more lack of education, which is the bigger problem. If people were more educated they wouldn’t be doing half the stuff they’d be doing, they’d first think about it. While simply trying to survive [in certain countries], it’s a quite a lot harder to learn something… This is a massive problem, a key disruptor. If education were available all across the globe, the world would be a much better, and peaceful place.

Pace & Change – People naturally don’t like change, and as we get older, we like it even less; when we get to the age of 65/70, we lose certain proteins that allow us to accept a change (physical problem); this is another issue. My generation on the other hand wants fresh things; it is fonder of change compared to previous generations. Not so long ago laptops and smart phones were quite uncommon to find on students, however now it’s quite the opposite, there’s only a small percentage that don’t have these things!

Market Movements – We know simply from looking at the market collapse that this causes a lot of problems for a lot of people, serious problems.

Technology – Technology can output lots of good things, but anytime something new is invented, there are usually 10 more problems arise; this is the real problem with technology. For example, computers, people and physical problems such as neck and back problems – these problems need to be identified when new technologies are introduced. How’s it going to work? Do we need extra time for this? Can everyone engage in the technology? These things tend to be much more driven by businesses, people who are involved in trade and business.

With all this considered, when I go work or travel abroad, I need to consider all of these flashpoints and disruptors, not engaging with companies that are going to cause a problem or get themselves into trouble. I need to keep in the know, I need to keep an informed and educated decision in projects.

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