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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Russia and elusive civilization: the West are tectonic shifts

Developed countries (total West) now stand on the threshold of cardinal changes in all spheres of public life. Now it looks like an accumulation of problems, once again creating the illusion of a “decline of Europe”. But the basic values that have become cultural codes of Western civilization, democracy, market economy and human rights — there is question only of a narrow group of misfits.

Currently, we are seeing not the crisis of these values, and the painful search for new forms of their realization in practice. So how will Western society in the near future? And are there any changes Russia?

photo: Alex geldings

It should be noted that global social changes are tracked during a powerful and expert discussions (e.g. within the framework of Davos).

Russian experts are almost in this discussion do not participate for several reasons:

— rejection of the Western expert community and our participation because of the extremely negative image of Russia (almost a totalitarian country, where freedom of speech and criticism of government are suppressed). There are facts of unmotivated refusal of publications in prestigious scientific journals, rejection of invitations to symposia and conferences;

— some Russian experts, going abroad, follows the cliches of our propaganda that discourages their Western counterparts and prevents further contacts;

— the lack of adequate Russian funding trips and in General equal expert cooperation with the West.

All this leads to an increase in the actual insulation of the Russian expert community from the most advanced world field discussion. Thus any, even the most courageous attempts to reform Russia in the European direction have large risks to achieve goals. This is already happening.

President of Sberbank German Gref said at the Gaidar forum this year, said: “We are very proud of their program of centralization of IT systems, how we have made considerable progress in recent years, has invested huge amount of money. It was the largest and fastest project of centralization of IT infrastructure in the world. But as soon as we built our super-data-center, all finished, we came to the conclusion that we are absolutely uncompetitive”.

What tectonic shifts will occur in the West in the coming years?

1. Employment and education

The next technological revolution (robotics, Internet of things, etc.) will lead to the displacement of people from the scope of the so-called real economy (industry, transport, agriculture). But it will quickly expand the employment sector to meet the social needs of different segments of the population:

— older (patronage, organization of leisure, personalized medicine, education), especially that there is an aging population;

with disabilities and all people with disabilities in the state of physical and mental health. Their number is growing;

— children (pre-school and school personalized learning, the transition from “teacher” to “tutor”, the rejection of the class-lesson system with the transition to games and interactive methods, the organization of extracurricular activities, monitoring health status);

— students (in fact, the transition to universal free higher education at bachelors level, the decline in traditional teaching load for a teacher with a simultaneous substitution of its research activities together with the students).

Add to this:

— the transition to universal continuing education (adult education);

— the rapid growth of employment in the sphere of Amateur culture (providing services on painting, music, physical culture, very diverse hobby);

— professional assistance in establishing communication between people on any occasions;

— changing the concept of “working time” from 7-8 fixed-time presence in the workplace to a flexible, in many cases remote, and employment without rigid time limits of work and rest.

2. Health and health care

The rapid development of technology personalized online-monitoring of health status will allow:

— to increase the average life expectancy at birth up to 90 years or more. The border of healthy life, which is not required a massive involvement of the health system, will also move upwards. This will, of course, to the mass employment of people aged 70 years and older (including through adult education), and also will lead to changes in the pension system (see below);

— to reduce the cost of the actual health care, i.e. the treatment of diseases. On the one hand, these costs (per case) can grow increasingly fondamenti clinics and hospitals. But, on the other hand, most likely, final expenses in absolute amount will fall because of the efficiency and ubiquity are extremely cheap methods of control over health healthy.

The choice of the model of health, including health in each country will be more determined by tradition, a type of social contract than purely fiscal reasons.

3. Pensions

Likely to occur, as in other spheres of social life, the personification of the retirement trajectories. What does this mean?

— expansion of the voluntary accumulative process through various financial institutions so that the predominant part of pension is formed at the expense of these funds;

be the responsibility of the state will be reduced to ensure the “minimum guaranteed income” (see the next item);

— the retirement age as surge category will disappear, and everyone will decide for themselves when to start to use their pension savings;

— the problem of security of life in old age will be decided not only earning a pension, but by multiplying the family estate, receiving income from owning shares in the business and the accumulation of other assets.

Obviously that will require a lengthy transition period from the current pension system device to the one described above. It stems from the fact that the new principles in full must be offered first to the younger generation, just coming into the labour market.

4. Social protection

In some developed countries (Switzerland, Finland) have the practical preparations for the introduction of the “minimum guaranteed income” to all residents of the country irrespective of employment and social status. The only differentiation is provided for adults and children. In the city of Utrecht (the Netherlands) this experiment began on 1 January 2016. This should be eliminated the system of social benefits. The state will remain the expenditure on education and health, the amount and form of provision which will be determined through the mechanisms of the social contract (including the agreement total between the taxpayer and the state).

5. Identity

The release of people from the sphere of the physical survival of the industrial and semi-skilled labour exacerbates the problem of personal and social identity.

On the one hand, globalization does not disappear (the integration process, the Internet, the development of transport, in General, the existing transparency of the borders, common standards unit everyday life, etc.), and on the other hand, people want to save family, ethnic, regional roots. A good example of finding that balance — Japan. In several Western countries this balance is still being searched (the UK, Spain, Canada, Belgium, Italy). Hence attempts of separatism, scepticism towards European integration.

A separate issue in this block — migration. Recent events in Europe have shown that multiculturalism is not really suitable. You need to go to intensive programs of integration of migrants (especially non-European identity) in the receiving side. Here, too, it is important to find a balance between forced assimilation and the right to preserve their ethnic and cultural identity.

6. Local government and civil society.

The changing nature of employment, improving the quality of human capital (see education and health) will create entirely new opportunities for public-political activity of people.

You can expect an even greater decentralization of government institutions, transfer of many state powers in the civil sector (NGOs, employers ‘ organizations, SROs, etc.). This will significantly limit the powers of the Central authorities, which may face, for example in the EU, with a trend towards a unified socio-economic policy throughout the entire region.

Apparently, the new role will have referendums and other forms of direct democracy with the use of IT technology and transparency of government activities (“openness of information”).

7. Criteria of social progress.

As you know, several years ago, two Nobel laureates, Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya sen, issued a report to the then President Sarkozy of France, which, to put very briefly, said, to assess the degree of social progress matters is not GDP, and the comfort of people’s lives.

Of course, this conclusion refers only to developed countries that have reached a level of wealth that allows the vast majority of citizens do not fight for daily survival. The example of Japan: 20 years of economic growth did not lead to any systemic crisis. This situation, as they say some Western experts, is the “new normality”. Just the accumulated potential GDP could be used more efficiently from the point of view of public interest.

In the West was the development of a whole branch of Economics that deals with “happiness” (recall, for example, recently translated into Russian language of a book by Richard Layard).

Now included in the expert notion of human security, which absorbs into itself the concept of human rights. It is about ensuring the right of every person to a decent life.

8. Changing attitudes to non-renewable natural resources

In addition to simply lowering prices for oil and gas in the developed countries start to become obvious trends in behavior change of people and society in General towards renewable natural resources. A gradual transition to wind, solar and similar type of power — this is not a fad “green” and sustainable policy of many States (e.g. Germany, Scandinavian countries). Cultural code becomes the saving energy in the home.

In a number of countries have taken the decision that all new buildings (at least office) must someonespecial energy, in particular, with the help of solar panels. In Sweden and several other countries in a few years will be prohibited from selling vehicles with petrol engines. They will be replaced by electric cars and other such mechanisms.

Quickly develops the joint use of things. It is possible to result as an example, car-sharing (by the way, appeared in Moscow). Instead of owning a personal car, you can enjoy economical traveling by car, going online and reserving it for a certain time and in a certain place. A special application allows to optimize the movement of these vehicles through the city. Thereby dramatically increases the degree of use of resources spent on the creation of this car (as you know, a personal machine is idle almost 90% of the time). And as a result reduces the need for extraction and use of renewable natural resources (metal, oil, gas, etc.).

This change in the behavior of individuals and communities in fundamentally changing the structure of economy and employment (see section 3.1).

9. The system of international security

After the end of the cold war bipolar world disappeared and there was a brief period in the “end of history” UN-American. However, then emerged and strengthened the European Union, quickly rising China. Russia after the decline of the 1990s in the 2000s has become much more significant force, relying on the “wind-borne” trillion revenues from exports of oil and gas. It is made in the system of international relations, significant elements of multipolarity.

In addition, in 2000-ies has worsened and continues to worsen the problem of international terrorism, largely because of this new failed-states.

Russia’s recent actions have further complicated the global balance of power.

In these circumstances, the West is now looking for a format of self-consolidating (with the assistance of various allies in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America) vs. “loose anchor” of Russia and China and international terrorism. Therefore dramatically accelerated the signing of the TRANS-Pacific partnership, is not far off a similar Transatlantic agreement, strengthened the military fragment of NATO and expanding the territorial presence of his forces. In the same row began to change anti-American regimes in the leading countries of Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba), the struggle for the European future of Ukraine and Moldova.

Despite participation in the Eurasian economic Union, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan leave many opportunities to change its geopolitical orientation. This makes them long lasting and the Russian economic crisis.

Thus, Russia is today in terms of foreign policy extremely difficult situation: severely weakened economically (and this trend will continue at least in the medium term), behind technologically, pushing claims to a “special way”, she actually turned out to be non-systemic player with very limited abilities. References to the possession of a powerful nuclear capability only underlines the weakness of the current geopolitical position of Russia — after all, the world is now regarded primarily soft power.

But it is also clear that the West cannot build a balanced system of international relations without the participation of Russia — at least because of the size of the country and referred to the nuclear potential.

Therefore, both sides (West and Russia) are doomed to the beginning of a dialogue and mutual concessions.

The above are only some of the top moments of the intra-European debate interesting and in Russia, so that when the window of opportunity to build up adequate goals and to implement them albeit long, but the road map with specific interrelated reforms.

We, in Russia, you can get in the end?

(A) Restoration expert, and human contacts between Russia and the West.

B) policy briefs and reports that Russian experts are prepared using the European experience in relation to specific reforms.

C) Joint ventures with Western colleagues reports and development that have conceptual, pan-European significance, including for the future of Russia.

When will be launched this dialogue? Unknown at this time…

Yevgeny Gontmakher,

member of the Committee of civil initiatives

Deputy Director, Institute of world economy

and international Affairs. E. M. Primakov

Russian Academy of Sciences

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