After so much effort put into the global integration in the decades preceding the Soviet meltdown, the world is isolating again. Unfortunately...
The 1990s were particularly pivotal as an inflexion point for the integration of trade, finance, tourism, information and, of course, companies. Multilateral trade agreements were drafted, protectionist barriers lessened, global forums strengthened, mergers became global, financial markets integrated in a strong growth spiral, information became more accessible globally as the Internet and personal computers spread exponentially.
The 2000s, despite the bursting of the Dotcom bubble and the 9/11 terrorist attack, were also especially favorable to the international integration process, particularly for China’s strong economic growth spiral, whose impacts on many other countries’ economic development are absolutely undeniable. At the end of that decade, the Chinese rise as protagonist in geopolitical disputes against Western potencies, notably the US, was already clear. On a second level, Russia itself also organized on the Soviet oligarchical rubble, India also presented itself as a rising power, Germany strengthened as the mainstay of Europe’s monetary stability, and Brazil also enjoyed favorable winds with the boom in agricultural and mineral commodity prices
The 2010s, in turn, were tenser, deteriorating a few of the strongholds that ensured momentum for the global integration movements. The collapse of many North American financial institutions during the Subprime Crisis; the insolvency of several weakened European republics; the masses of refugees invading the Old Continent; the unsolvable tension in the Middle East; the democratic deterioration in Latin America and Africa; the belligerent religious extremism; the conflicts and the deadlocks on the most sensitive multilateral agendas; the inability for political articulation by international agencies; China’s commercial-financial aggressiveness scrapping industries throughout the planet; the blatant inability of North American leaders to secure tacit agreements; the 24/7 omnipresence of social media on billions of mobile phones...These are a few of the detractors. Just a few...
The 2020s started with the hope for a more promising new decade... foolish mistake – the COVID-19 pandemic plunged the planet in a health-economic crisis, without precedent for more than a century. Social distancing became the new modus operandi – from the nuclear family terrified of the lethal viral threat, to the political core of the hundreds of government leaders interested in preserving their popularity and viability. Notwithstanding the scientific progress to expedite the development of vaccines (despite all questions about their long-term effectiveness, and mostly about currently unknown side effects), we witnessed fragile international political articulations, in addition to the loss of credibility of WHO itself.
Fake news (which have always existed, and will always exist in societies) gained a lot more dissemination and influence power, exactly due to the algorithms designed to offer contents by converging individual preferences. The individualization of the unlimited access to information became liberating only in the aspirational ideal. In practice, it is the most effective handcuff keeping us away from critical thinking, from the broad view and the constructive dialectic. The best tool for the comfortable alienation of the individual who feels free given the possibility of unlimited access, powerful in the face of the recurrence of facts and data that strengthen their limited beliefs, and influential given the ease to share and express (oftentimes, anonymously).
It truly is a paradox: social media have amplified democratically individual voices in artificial antidemocratic webs. We are increasingly more ignorant and misinformed in an endless world of information. For me, sociologically, such dynamics is one of the key accelerators of the contemporary disruptions and fissures. Lovers and haters influence digital algorithms for the intensity of their acts, despite being statistically-irrelevant minorities in the general context. While lazy minds build their truths in a few clicks, characters and emojis.
The world had already been living with presidential elections of radical extreme-right and extreme left exponents in several places around the planet. Ideological radicalism that retreats, misinforms, twists everything around it. Conservative subjects in habits and customs, protectionist positioning in economic agendas, deterioration of diplomatic relations, weakening of multilateral global development agendas, more ostensible military movements.
It is a fact there are threads of hope... Some prominent intellectuals still remain lucid in their voices, resilient to the playful muffling of tweets and influencers. Scientists continue producing credible data that may be used in public policies and multilateral agendas, bravely resisting the barrage of ludicrous fake news. A few political leaders still pursue possible articulations. A few business leaders and financiers are also engaged in relevant efforts revolving around pertinent themes related to the great global challenges. But it is little... too little...
Raindrops in the ocean, dew on the grass, homeopathic drops are always noble... but insufficient for major transformations, notably cultural and natural. We are not dealing with superficial scratches here, but abyssal fissures and structural disruptions. Systemic, complex and deep movements, often imperceptible to the naked eyes of the daily life, but dramatic in their multidimensional impacts.
The world needs a new compact... but it lacks competent proponents. Dangerous... At least, we stay entertained in multiple playful universes.
Daniel Augusto Motta é Managing Partner e CEO da BMI Blue Management Institute. Doutor em Economia pela USP, Mestre em Economia pela FGV-EAESP e Bacharel em Economia pela USP. É Alumni OPM Harvard Business School. Atua também como Managing Partner da corporate venture capital WhiteFox sediada em San Francisco (EUA), como Senior Tupinambá Maverick na content tech Bossa.etc e com Membro do Conselho de Administração da Afferolab. Também atua como Diretor de Planejamento Estratégico da UNIBES e Membro do Conselho Deliberativo do MASP. Foi Membro-Fundador da Sociedade Brasileira de Finanças. Foi Professor nos MBAs da Fundação Dom Cabral, Insper, FGV, ESPM e PUC-SP. É autor de diversos artigos publicados por Valor Econômico, EXAME, VocêSA e Folha de São Paulo, e também tem três artigos publicados pela Harvard Business Review Brasil. É autor dos livros best-sellers A Liderança Essencial, Anthesis e Data Insights.