Rather the world we will increasingly have to get used to is one in which the big players in business, politics, religion and international affairs have to contend with serious challenges to their power from smaller operators.
Once a mighty oil company such as Royal Dutch Shell would not have caved in so easily to nationalistic demands, as it is doing in Bolivia. But the company's head Jeroen van der Veer said recently that his company was resigned to accepting Bolivia's decision to break the contracts it had made.
Wikipedia is challenging the might of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Though it is only five years old the internet multi-language rival to Britannica is now 12 times bigger than its paper-based competitor. The New York Times, founded in 1851, sees eight-year-old Google as a serious competitor. The trend is seen in politics from the challenge to US power in Iraq to the emergence of minority governments in Europe and Latin America.
Rather than seeing a concentration of impressive and daunting power in mega-corporations and mega-powers, the reality is that power is more fleeting and more easily challenged by smaller, competitive units. Even the Vatican is being challenged. In Latin American, one in five refer to themselves as evangelical or Pentecostal Christians whereas 50 years ago 90% were Catholic.
There are new opportunities in such a world for ‘the little guy, whether a small country, a new company, a citizen’s group that shares interests or a talented individual’. But the world will become less stable, more ‘volatile and fractious’.
Source: From the Vatican to Baghdad, the little guy is calling the shots
Financial Times, Tuesday 13 June 2006
Review by Morice Mendoza