The Forthcoming Crisis
This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on March 29, 2017.
A major crisis is looming in our future and I am not the only one saying so. In the TIME Briefs of January 27, 2017, Michael Gorbachev warns us of potential war on a global scale. Paul Ryan warns us of a financial collapse and they are not the only doomsayers; there are many more. I predict the same. My prediction is based on my analysis of where the USA is on the lifecycle. (1)
The USA is on the aging side of the lifecycle curve, at the end of Aristocracy and the beginning of Recrimination. In this phase, people are frustrated with and angered by the decline. They attribute the demise of American’s position in the world to a lack of leadership, and turn against their leaders. This phenomenon is evidenced by presidents’ declining approval ratings. Donald Trump was at 37%, the lowest any president ever had. I believe if Hillary Clinton had been elected, she would not have fared much better. With the aging of the system, Americans’ approval of their leaders will only get worse. Someone has to take the blame…
What characterizes Recrimination is disintegration. Like an old person’s body falling apart, the disparate parts are not cooperating well anymore. The signs of disintegration are already here. Crossing the aisle at the Congress is only a memory. Some cities, intent on protecting undocumented immigrants, are refusing to adhere to federal decisions. Governor Jerry Brown of California announced from the stairs of the Capitol in Sacramento that he will defend the LGBTQ community at all costs. Other signs of disintegration are the millions of people at Women’s Marches declaring, “Trump is not my president,” and a movement that aims to sue the government over executive orders. And there is already heavy unrest. Police are being accused of brutality, unnecessarily murdering innocent people. It is not the Doris Day 1950s anymore. Planned real estate units with walls, a gate and guards is becoming ubiquitous.
What is next?
Private police and security guards will be stationed in front of private homes. Today this happens only at the residences of diplomats; in the future it will become the norm for common citizens in the US, as it is today in Brazil.
Disintegration means there is no trust in government. Increasingly parents do not trust public schools with their children and home schooling is less and less rare. Charter schools are appearing like mushrooms after the rain.
Will Trump “clean the swamp?” He got elected to reverse the decline of America, to make America great again.
It won’t happen in a democracy. To make the necessary changes requires bold, strategic decisions to be made. For that, he needs to coalesce political power. That won’t happen because of the disintegration that characterizes the state of Recrimination. . .
Fact, he already failed in several of his attempts.
On the macro level, the manifestations of disintegration could be the breakdown of the United States, with California, Texas, or southern states actively seeking to pull out of the union. This is not a nightmare, or someone dreaming a dream. Serious people in daylight are discussing it.
The despair that the desired changes are not happening, that the situation is only getting worse, will cause frustration and a search for scapegoats. Not strange. Whenever there is trouble and serious pain, people look for scapegoats; people cannot accept reality without an explanation and personalizing the cause of their pain.
Throughout history, the Jewish people served that function. I predict there will be a major rise in anti-Semitism in this country. The first signs of it are already happening: Over thirty Jewish social or prayer centers were threatened with violence just in the first two months of 2017. Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia were vandalized. As the situation becomes more and more difficult, ostracizing Israel, even to the point of supporting its demise, will to be expected.
The crisis I see coming is not just in the United States. Europe is on the same aging curve, even further down than the USA. Europe will elect fascist leaders who will promise to solve the problems by verdict. They will fail like Trump will fail too. Hostility toward Europe’s Muslim population will grow, and the manifestation of social disintegration and confrontation will be even more acute. The answer? A search for a strong leader that will be able to harness democracy. That is called fascism. And anti-Semitism will not skip Europe. On the contrary it will be more open than the USA. They have the tradition.
As China flexes its muscles, I wonder how Japan will react. And what will China do with the billions of American monies in its coffers. If the international community replaces the dollar as the vehicle of international transactions, and creates a different tool composed of multiple currencies, it will speed up the decline of America as a world leader and push its position on the lifecycle curve down even further.
Russia has a demographic problem: insufficient reproduction while other ethnic groups are growing. The country needs any ethnic Russians they can find. That was one of the reasons for Russia to take over Crimea and to support the ethnic Russian demographic in Eastern Ukraine. Will ethnic Russians in Latvia and North Kazakhstan be next? Will Putin, or his successor, try to bring them into the Russian fold? He might have to do it because there are signs of unrest in Russia. Manifestations against Medvedev that he is corrupt. But that is only a prelude. People do not dare to attack Putin so they test their political muscle against Medvedev. Putin is smart. He can read the political tealeaves. He needs to do again something to increase his popularity, and what is more popular than some heroic national pro Russian act of defending the Russians that live in neighboring countries. The world community might interpret that action as further aggression. How will it react? Confrontations are becoming more ominous. Instead of reducing nuclear armaments, both the USA and Russia are talking about increasing their arsenals.
Nuclear confrontation of major powers I believe is improbable. Both Russia and USA know what the repercussions can be for their countries. But that is not the case with the radical Muslim terrorists who might eventually get hold of a tactical nuclear device and explode it in a major city. Since radical terrorism is a grassroots phenomenon, I see no way Western civilization can eradicate it.
I cannot predict when all of this will happen because the lifecycle curve is not measured by time. But all of it, or parts of it might happen in my lifetime. Actually it is already happening.
Just thinking and worrying,
Ichak Kalderon Adizes
Ichak Adizes: Managing Corporate Lifecycles (Adizes Institute Publications www.adizes.com) Available in Amazon.