Why this is the wrong way, and why the populists have a point
The Brexit will be an historic milestone. It will be a marker, pointing out what not to do as humanity moves forward. It will bring the limitations of both democracy and capitalism into sharp focus. It will signal the death of the nation state.
On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that the populists are reacting to something real. The nation state already has less sovereignty. And the market system is rightly losing the peoples’ trust as greed and malfeasance at the top distort the market to the advantage of the one percent.
Stocks tank. The United Kingdom becomes England as the Scots, Irish, and possibly the Welsh vote to remain in the European Union. The great London financial hub goes the way of Jersey as a money magnet. If you can find a way to short London real estate, go for it.
Pretty bleak, right?
Yes – in the short term. Boris Johnson, in his clever and cynical ploy to become England’s next prime minister, was orating on the radio yesterday morning. It reminded me of Henry V’s famous speech before the Battle of Agincourt. Only . . . well, 600 years have gone by, and Boris will lose the battle for England in one way or another.
The Long View
But what is really going on here? For that we have to look at the larger and longer picture.
We have all heard of globalization and global warming. Global means global. All of us. All of humanity.
The Brexit is the result of English voters voting parochially because politicians pander to their (very real) fears in order to get or keep power. Democracy, thus bent, ceases to look good. But the idea, even after all this time, still has merit. True, England has voted what it perceives as English interests, and will suffer as a result. But the new democracy cannot be that of nation states. The new job of political leaders is to make democracy a global concern, voting humanity’s interests.
Ditto capitalism. The MBA culture has separated “management” from entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs make stuff and do stuff. They put together teams that expand the world’s knowledge and hands-on ability. The MBA culture has led to the loss of knowledge and ability. Andy Grove (the last of the great managers) called it “breaking the chain of experience.”
What do we do?
The great challenge facing humanity is no less than learning to manage our Earth as a closed system for the benefit of all the people of the Earth. It will be a damn close thing. So the challenge includes our moving into space, and managing habitats other than the Earth as closed systems.
The good news is that these two systems management problems are essentially the same. Solve one, and you are most of the way to solving the other.
For examples of the new political and entrepreneurial leadership, look no further than President Barack Obama and Elon Musk. The president draws criticism because he is acting in the larger interests of humanity and not protecting temporary parochial interests. Elon Musk is sometimes condescended to because he does not take the money and run. Instead he re-invests – in electric cars, land-able rocket boosters, and now habitats on Mars.