Hi there and welcome to Throw Forward Thursday. My name is Graham Codrington, and every Thursday we look into the future and see what might happen. And today I’m going to tell you what day I’m recording The Sun because it makes a difference to what I’m about to say. It’s the 15th of July 2021 as I record. And if you haven’t worked it out, my accent is from South Africa and that’s the home of my birth. I spent some time living in London, now living back in Johannesburg. And if you’ve been watching the news or if you’ve picked this up some time in the future and you go back and look at some news bulletins, we’ve experienced some riots over the last few days across at least one of our provinces in South Africa. It was sparked by our ex-president, Jacob Zuma, being put into jail for contempt of court during a corruption trial. But that was just the spark that ignited a bonfire of change and revolution. But as I look around the world today, I see in different countries around the world similar things happening right now, literally as I speak.
The Haitian president was assassinated last week and they’re now military on the streets. There are riots in Argentina and Cuba and Turkey and India. Recently, there have been riots and unrest in Lithuania and Belarus and France and Hong Kong and Ethiopia, eSwatini, Mozambique. The list goes on and on. That’s every continent around the world. Then, of course, there were riots in the United States. And just a few months ago, the United States sent the military into Portland, into Seattle to deal with riots on the streets.
We’ve seen that in the U.K., in Germany. And then, of course, if you go back further than that, you see other forms of civil terror in places that maybe you wouldn’t expect. And Afghanistan’s always on the list. And Pakistan and India and Indonesia and Philippines, but then also Belgium, you know, with bombs going off at stations and London before that. And then, of course, 9/11 back in the U.S. and depending on how far you want to go back, we could probably name every country in the world. Maybe New Zealand, no New Zealand, had their attack of a mosque just last year.
What’s going on?
Why all of this foment, revolution, chaos, revolt? I think that very simply, and this is obviously a simple analysis, we could take days probably to unpick this, but I think I see three things. First of all, I see the end of two major projects, two major experiments, capitalism and communism. They’ve been going on for a while, but for the last for my whole lifetime, for half a century, probably, let’s call it a century. They have been the dominant two forces playing out against each other. And all the capitalists are scared of communism. All the Communists are scared of capitalism, or so they say, because there’s no pure form of either of them anywhere on the planet. All of them have got a mixture of each other. China is about the most capitalistic government in the world at the moment, just investing in every opportunity that it can while instituting communist systems in its actual population.
Iran would be similar in different approaches, not that it’s communist, but in terms of totalitarian dictators and so on. And so again, there’s no pure form of each system. But in a lot of people’s heads, that’s been the big project. These two things fighting it out. Both have failed. Communism and capitalism have failed to deliver, and we need to find another way that’s part of the revolution. Looking for another way. The second thing that I see is old people in charge.
This is not true everywhere and some countries have been able to put a younger face you know, in front, like Canada, for example, and New Zealand and certain places. But in a lot of places around the world, America has just elected its oldest president and then the previous guy was the next oldest president they’ve ever had. You’ve got presidents across Africa, for example, who are ancient in South Africa, going to come back here, our cabinet is made up of ancient people in the 60s and 70s, these two or three people in their 40s, two or three people in their 50s, average age, kind of upper 60s. And that’s true across most of Africa. It’s true across Europe. Have a look at Germany and so on with politicians who are old, and all have been around for a long time. Putin obviously being a classic example over there. So, what you’ve got is you’ve got this older generation who grew up in the capitalism versus communism fight, who can’t see it differently. In countries where you have got two parties and that’s a lot of countries where they just alternate between the parties. The obvious example being America with the Republicans and the Democrats, they’re essentially the same party and they just swap over with each other that neither of them in America in particular are very unhappy when they’re out of power because they’re basically grifts to raise money. And when you’re in power, you’re raising money in order to not deliver on what you want to deliver. The Democrats are the worst at not delivering what they deliver because they start with a negotiation position, which is the opposition’s policies. I mean, that was Obamacare was ridiculous in that sense. And then when they’re out of power, they send you another email asking you for money so they can get back into power so that they can do nothing again.
In the UK, you’ve got a Labour Party led at the moment by Sir Keir Starmer. Which Labour Party on the planet is led by a lord of the realm? And it’s ridiculous now that we haven’t got these ideological divides. We don’t have these differentiations in most major countries in the world, two systems that have been competing for power, both of which have failed and now still have their representatives in place.
So, what’s the third thing I see?
More revolution. You see, when people feel that they’ve been left out of the system, when they feel that the system is not there for them, when they feel that they’ve got nothing to gain from the system, first of all, they disengage. And then after they’ve disengaged and they feel their lives getting worse, this is the poor, the lower middle class and now increasingly the middle, middle class just feel their lives all around the world getting worse.
And when that happens, they’ve got nothing left to lose. And so why not burn the whole place to the ground? Yes, of course, people in the upper echelons will say, well, you know, you’re burning your own infrastructure, you are burning your own future. But if you’ve got nothing left to lose. Well, then why not, because out of those ashes, history shows us over and over again something new emerges. That’s why as a South African on the 15th of July 2021, as much as I’m unsettled and a little bit shaken by the riots we’ve seen in our country, I’m actually remarkably hopeful at the same time, because I think this is a moment that cannot be ignored, I hope that the young people step up and start their own political parties. I think that’s what America needs. I think that’s what England needs. I think that’s what Iran needs. I think that’s what Russia needs. I think that’s what Australia needs. I think that’s what Brazil needs. I don’t know enough about China to know how difficult that statement is. It seems pretty clamped down, but they probably need it as well.
Japan can be added to the list of with countries, with ancient leaders. Not that we don’t want our older generation to be voices of wisdom, to be in the background, but we don’t want them to be in charge. We don’t want the boomers to go on for another decade again, trying to keep this capitalism versus communism fight alive and to keep going to Rolling Stones concerts. We need a new generation, not a new generation like my generation, Generation X, but literally the 30-year-olds and the 40-year-old stepping in. When I say young people, I mean 18-year-olds necessarily, although why not listen to their voices? They seem to have something great to say. But we need we need an evolution. No, we need a revolution. We need a generational change. We need an era shift to take place. Not a tweak, not an adjustment, but a change. I don’t know how long it will take. And I hope that we don’t have to burn too much to the ground to get there. But I’m pretty certain that political revolution is the next thing that happens, as I say in the classics, we can do it the easy way. We can do it the hard way. The choice is up to us.
Possibly a slightly darker episode of Throw Forward Thursday because I do think we go down before we rise, but I remain hopeful that nevertheless we will persist.
Throw forward Thursday. We’ll get back to our normal programming next week. I’ve got some very cool things, a little mini-series planned around some medical, some food issues, some health stuff, and then we’ll get into transportation in a few weeks’ time. So please make sure that you subscribe. If you’re listening to the podcast version, the audio version of this, please make sure that you subscribe to Graham Codrington’s Future of Work podcast and write us on whichever podcast platform you use if you’re watching me on YouTube, now’s the time to hit the subscribe button and the notification bell so that you are reminded next Thursday to come and check him to Throw Forward Thursday.
I’ll see you next week and I’ll see you in the future as well.
Graeme Codrington, is an internationally recognized futurist, specializing in the future of work. He helps organizations understand the forces that will shape our lives in the next ten years, and how we can respond in order to confidently stay ahead of change. Chat to us about booking Graeme to help you Re-Imagine and upgrade your thinking to identify the emerging opportunities in your industry.
For the past two decades, Graeme has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, travelling to over 80 countries in total, and speaking to around 100,000 people every year. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, and on faculty at 5 top global business schools.