More than a century ago, Irish novelist and political activist Robert MacLean wrote: “The future is in the hands of the people, not the politicians.”
In his essay “The Future of the World”, MacLean’s words resonate today.
The world’s powers, and its leaders, have failed to make the world a better place for the vast majority of humanity.
They have done so in the name of “the people” and their “greater good”.
MacLean was not alone in this assessment.
More than 70 years ago, American historian James Risen said: “There is no question that there is a fundamental difference between the powers that be in the United States, the British Empire, and the Soviet Union.
The Soviets, of course, are the only power in history to have successfully built a society based on democracy and the rule of law.”
It is not difficult to see why.
In recent years, the globalised world has come to realise the dangers of authoritarian rule.
Governments across the globe have lost their grip on power, their legitimacy, and their ability to make decisions.
In the United Kingdom, the Brexit referendum of June 23 saw a huge majority of voters rejecting the authority of the ruling government and rejecting a British empire that is no longer the only global power.
In China, a rising populist nationalism has resulted in a surge of political violence, repression, and social unrest.
The situation in India, China, the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere is similar.
Governments have failed, failed to deliver on their promises, and failed to rein in corruption.
The leaders have lost legitimacy and power, while the people are left with the consequences of their failed policies.
In this post, I will discuss three key trends that have taken place over the past half century.
First, the United Nations has been under siege.
With the advent of climate change, rising sea levels, and increased competition from rising populations, the UN has had to make hard decisions on how to respond.
The United States and China have been instrumental in pushing forward this UN Agenda 21, which aims to tackle climate change through sustainable development and development assistance, and to tackle the root causes of poverty and inequality by reducing poverty, inequality, and deprivation.
Second, there is less and less trust in the political system in general.
A large majority of people around the world now distrust political leaders.
This mistrust has reached a peak in 2016, when an Ipsos MORI poll found that a majority of respondents in nearly 70 countries said that the people should not elect the leaders of their countries, including the United Sates.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, the media has become more and more critical of political leaders, including politicians themselves.
It is now commonplace to hear politicians, commentators, and journalists saying things like: “I think it is time for us to stop talking about Brexit and start talking about Donald Trump”.
The rise of Donald Trump has seen a huge rise in the number of people in the UK saying they would like to see their country be the next United States.
While the mainstream media is often critical of politicians and political parties, the internet has also created an environment where people are free to voice their views.
There is a growing appetite for critical reporting, and for people to express their opinions about the world.
The media is becoming more and the more diverse.
We have seen in the past two decades that, even if political leaders do not win elections, they have the capacity to exert influence over the world through their decisions.
These decisions are being made more and less often, as the powers-that-be have failed at making the world better.
In the decades to come, we will have to look to the internet to ensure that these trends do not repeat themselves.