Rajdeep sent me this link all the way from Japan. He has noticed – as I hope some others have, too – that I have been writing in the same vein for a long time now. Good to see that a hot-shot ‘with-it’ management consultant is saying the same sort of thing now, and though he thinks of himself as an outlier still, he can hear his echo in as stolid an establishment figure as Larry Summers, and his article has been published in the Harvard Business Review, as dyed in the wool as they come this side of the Pope (am I being unfair to the Pope?)
The whole of the current young generation faces Stagnation, with a capital S, regardless of how many overnight puppy-billionaires in the Mark Zuckerberg mould our global freakonomy keeps throwing up.To quote Haque, “Stagnation means, in plain English, that living standards in many rich nations are going to fall for young people. That’s a fancy way of saying that life is going to get shorter, harder, nastier, dumber, and bleaker. No, sorry, just because you can buy a gigantic 4D plasma TV on 4000% APR credit and a bag of Doritos the size of an Escalade for 99 cents doesn’t mean you will live longer, be healthier or happier, or be able to afford an education for yourself or your children”. And that’s the bright picture, because he is talking about rich nations here. There’s a couple of lines about IT-hack types in India and China, too: find them yourself. I worry, for my daughter is on the threshold of adulthood, and has been brought up to be unusually aware and sensitive.
There are two sad things about this situation. One, that even the Umair Haque types have no concrete agenda (read the third paragraph from the end), just as the Arvind Kejriwals and the ‘We are the 99%’ gangs don’t. So, in Rajiv Gandhi’s long-forgotten words uttered in another era and another context, ‘the future is being determined by drift and not by direction’. At least the Bolsheviks had some sense of direction back in 1917, or thought they had. Hard to believe it’s been almost a hundred years since…Two, it makes me feel horrible to think that 99% of those who read stuff like this are those who can afford to live in denial, either because they have got slightly better-than-average jobs-plus no family responsibilities (there’s an incredible number of this type around these days among under-35s!) or because they are still living on mummy-and daddy’s support (a lot of them ‘disguised unemployed’ – oops, I meant doing PhDs), or in low-paid-dead-end jobs and piling up debts with no thought of the morrow, and therefore hate to be reminded. If change for the better comes about in my lifetime, it will not be their doing. The sans culottes, or their latter-day equivalents, don’t read blogs on the internet…
Ah well. I shall keep faith in my old guru John Maynard Keynes, who once famously wrote ‘The ideas of economists and political philosophers are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler… sooner or later, it is ideas rather than vested interests which are dangerous for good and evil’.
Thank you, Rajdeep.