Fascism is a political system in which governments are directed and driven by economic interests. As such, the political entities which are governments, serve the narrow interests of a national ruling economic class, not the interests of their citizens, whom governments imply that they serve. Today, the most dominant global businesses provide platforms for users (citizens) from around the world to exploit and benefit from.
These global businesses are not physical. These businesses are virtual and as such do not have loyalty to a geography, a political system or a ruling political elite. These businesses have established their own policies and procedures which provide a virtual (legal framework) for their users (citizens) to use and prosper from. As these platform-based global businesses continue to grow they may displace the nation state as a governing framework for humanity.
Evolution of Governments:
To understand how governments have evolved, one must understand the economic systems they were derived from.
Hunters and Gatherers: Human beings all around the world, were initially hunters and gatherers. People hunted animals for food and foraged for food (nuts, berries, vegetables, etc.) from the immediate land to sustain themselves. Being close to water resources was extremely important. Society was highly decentralized, as any given geographic area could only support a specific number of people for a specific amount of time. As such, people formed into small groups, or tribes, and constantly moved about in search of the next meal. The natural wealth of the land which people inhabited or moved through (in terms of wildlife and plant resources) determined the size of the tribe or group. As these groups were transient and mobile, the group protected itself by itself and was self-governing.
The Agricultural Revolution:
As humans evolved they began identifying patterns in life such as growing seasons and the reproductive cycles of animals. Humans began organizing themselves to exploit these patterns. As such, human settlements began forming around arable land and water resources.
Production of agricultural and animal output was related to land, water resources and labour (human and animal). For the first time in human history, humans were able to plan and execute production based on knowledge of growing seasons and animal reproductive cycles. Human survival became organized. Food surpluses were generated for society, enabling societies to start specializing in other economic functions (handicrafts, clothing, building, basic tool manufacturing, etc.). Regular and consistent food surpluses led to the growth of settled communities as well as to the commoditization of food and other organized essential outputs.
Humans became increasingly sedentary because they became associated with specific geographies. This occurred because the value of fertile land, water and animal resources related to a specific geography became increasingly obvious to society. This was very different from the mobile and nomadic nature of the hunter gatherer.
Specialization of labour and the labour intensity of various economic activities required that society organize itself beyond the tribe into geographic communities. These new human settlements had to take into consideration the societal value of land and resources for the survival of the community. As such, and because land had an organized and productive value, the issues of law, legal enforcement within the community became important as well as protection from raiding hunter and gatherer tribes. This led to the rise of governments and the organized relationship between citizens and a governing or organizing class. Productive citizens sacrificed certain rights and functions to enable an organized governing class to provide protection and administer organizational affairs of society. This was the first social contract.
The agricultural revolution can be characterized by increased use of knowledge in agriculture and basic manufacturing as well as the development and use of specialized organizational knowledge to organize increasingly large land holdings, markets to sell generated surpluses and knowledge to administer the affairs of society and protect the community. This was the start of the nation state.
The nation-state, a political model integrates two principles:
- The principle of state sovereignty: This was first described in the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), which documented the right of states to govern their geographic territories without foreign interference.
- The principle of sovereignty, which recognizes the right of national communities to administer/govern their own affairs. Sovereignty is based on principle of popular sovereignty. The sovereignty of states/nations belong to their people. Thus, the legitimate rule of a state requires the consent by the governed.
As such, nation states oversaw and governed the development of their own individual national economies. Agriculture, land and natural resources and human and animal labour remained the fundamental basis for economic activity and national wealth until the mid-1700s. Nation states established and organized institutions to carry out these duties and to improve the productivity of the productive class (canals, rudimentary roads, courts, markets, etc.). The governing class imposed taxes on the productive class to enable them to provide security and administer affairs of the productive class.
The Industrial Revolution:
The industrial revolution started sometime in the 1760s in Great Britain. This revolution was characterized by the use of steam power, the rise of factories and the mass production of goods. Industry arose not only because of new power sources (steam, petroleum then electricity) but also because of improvements in organizational skills and capabilities. Improvements in organizational capabilities enabled surpluses to be generated in areas once dominated by low volume production artisans and craftsmen.
Industrial organization led to the beginnings of the development of the managerial class. The managerial class was tasked with the optimization of resource use. Increased use of science, knowledge and data as inputs to production characterize the management class. Combined with a declining dependency on local human and animal effort because of developments in energy sources (steam, hydropower, coal and petroleum) and development of transportation systems (rail, bus, trucks, ships) industry has become less geographically centralized. Today, competitive manufacturing is executed globally, sold globally and managed globally.
Over the past five decades, improvements and advancements in information technology (IT), originally funded by governments and militaries, have permeated the fabric of industry. Additionally, the use of computers once relegated to governments, space programs and very large corporations, have become within the reach of small businesses and the average person. Thus, today, industry is highly automated, with companies such as Oracle, Baan, SAP, etc., providing IT solutions which help the managerial class improve the productivity of their companies. The increasingly low cost of computers and the rise of software as a service and the increasing prevalence of cloud computing has made access to very sophisticated managerial and enterprise planning software (ERP, CRM, etc.) much more affordable. Companies using these software services input their data and the software provides analysis and record keeping enabling and empowering management of smaller companies to take sophisticated and studied decisions similar to larger corporations. It is through these software modules or services that quality and structured management is increasingly becoming a commodity.
The Rise of Platforms:
The increased prevalence of and access to IT systems, particularly web-based systems and services in combination with global manufacturing capabilities and agricultural output, has turned agriculture, manufacturing and management into global commodities. It is increasingly difficult for nations and corporations to claim and sustain competitive advantage by virtue of science, engineering, industrial organization or managerial capabilities.
World-wide mega companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Oracle, Google, Ali Baba, etc., have formed global communities which operate on a single platform. Amazon had 150 million prime users in Q4 2019. Google has 2 billion users and 400 million mobile device users. These platforms are creating massive new communities which are being organized by global mega companies. Platform users are required to abide by the rules and regulations established by the companies. As such, global users are increasingly becoming platform citizens. If citizens do not abide by the rules of the platform they will be prevented from using the platform. Since, manufacturing, agriculture, logistics and management have increasingly become global commodities, it is highly unlikely that the individuals will be able to produce and prosper without platform use. This is a hostage market.
In fact, these global companies have become so large and serve such large communities, that several of these companies are considering issuing digital currencies in their name. In early 2020 Facebook was considering issuing its own digital currency. Because Facebook has 2.7 billion users, any currency it issues could theoretically become the new global reserve currency. The same is true for Amazon, Google, etc. This is a sovereign move and as such could indicate the demise of the nation state. Existing nation states would devolve into becoming land lords for the physical world while global online giants would control and govern the virtual world. The virtual world does not have physical limitations and governing it will enable platform giants to harvest the intellectual and creative efforts of the world. Ideas and creativity are mankind’s only infinite resource and it is likely to be controlled through the governance of platforms. These global giants are too large for most countries to take on and over time, they will likely dominate human development. This is the New World Order.
CEO of the Innovative Startups and SMEs Fund – ISSF