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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: As Technology Trumps Realpolitik, Anarchy Will Most Probably Reign
Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel on the democratization and fragmentation caused by advanced technology.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

As the 21st century advances, its technology-based wealth creation is wiping away all cultural, managerial or political ties to the industrial society.

Victims of the transformative tsunami abound. Newspapers and printed books have troubles covering costs and making profits. Digital media on the contrary seem to mushroom everywhere including in societies that are deprived of freedoms such as Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

Another casualty: the music industry whose income stream went from US$15 billion in 2003 to US$6.9 billion in 2013.

Retail has not been spared from this downward spiral either. In 2017 there were nine retail bankruptcies as more people prefer to shop on line.

And cable television is forecast to remain in about 60% of TV households by 2030, down by 26% from current levels.

Politics, of course, could not be spared from this evolutive wave.

Up and until the 1990s, the leading world powers would create and maintain stability by means of approaching both politics and diplomacy with pragmatism. Ethical, moral or ideological considerations were often sacrificed in the alter of realpolitik.

This entailed the adoption of decisions and creation of alliances based on interests and circumstances that would enlarge or preserve the decision-maker's power base. Bluntly expressed in a quotation by Teddy Roosevelt, realpolitik would counsel a country like the U.S. to ally itself with "Our SOB." And no one of course would question this wisdom, as no one truly knew who "our SOB" was.

But as the mobile phone revolution took hold and Steve Jobs correctly bet on mobile phones as the integration platform for entertainment and wealth creation, that wonderful gift of privacy only exists now in the U.S. constitution.

Armed with cameras in every phone and with the massive distribution power of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, we all know who is who everywhere in the world. And we tend to demand the application of the same principles of rule of law that envelope our societies to any US ally.

Unfortunately for the civilized world, replicas do not abound in the so-called emerging markets. We thus live in a world where puritanical principles are now the standard to deal with the world while distorted conduct is being exposed by the portable spies everyone carries in a phone. This makes the adoption of realpolitik principles impossible to any politician that aspires to be reelected.

To complicate matters more, the tech revolution that is forcing transparency is also facilitating illicit activities.

Today any criminal organization can penetrate the information storage hubs of the most powerful government agency. They can extract data to either commit crimes such as extortion or financial fraud or to coverup their own illicit activities.

Alternative communication systems can be set up in a matter of hours at quite competitive costs. Money can be laundered at lightning speed. Meanwhile law enforcement agencies are restricted by national and international legislation and sovereignty in their fight against these organizations. Therefore, transnational criminal organizations have grown five-fold over the last decade experiencing an income growth that went from 1% to 5% of world GDP.

And as realpolitik falls further in the dustbin of history, anarchy will most probably set in. The U.S. will subtly give up on leadership as it will become increasingly difficult to establish instill its own standards of conduct in emerging markets and powers (read Russia and China) while organized crime will stand ready to fill the vacuum.

By the time the world realizes that it needs to change the institutional edifice created after World War II which thrives on sovereignty for one that is based upon collective responsibility, planet earth could look like Nal Hutta -- the home planet for galactic gangsters in Star Wars.


Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.

For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matķas Delgado from El Salvador.

You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.

 

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