What Next?

Human beings are supposed to be social animals. They cannot live alone, and weave a web of humanity around them to survive. This web grows bigger and bigger. When this web becomes unmanageable, it is broken down into smaller parts. In the beginning all those parts are homogenous but gradually some dominant parts emerge and divide their area of influence, defining their own boundaries.

Human evolution has moved in such a manner, from humanity towards society, then to clan or state, and from state to nation, etc. Along with the clusters come economies of different shapes and sizes.

(This is how I interpret evolution. The actual process is of course, a lot more complex.)

This story is of the economic history of mankind. Don’t worry, I am not about to bore you with economic mumble-jumble. But I have been wondering about what big transition is next in line for us, and that curiosity led me to write this blog.

Homo sapiens emerged not so long ago – around 10,000 BC – which is hardly 12,000-13,000 years before now. They started with very basic – hunting and gathering. Back then, Man’s brain was not as developed as that of the Modern Man, but it was enough to manage their economy. The next revolution came with agriculture, and that’s when all these stories of superior and inferior men started. We had two kinds of economy now – one section of men chose to keep hunting while the others occupied themselves in settled agriculture. The society with the settled agriculture economy became superior, and hence more likely to rule over the society that was still living off more primitive means.

This system more or less continued till the industrial revolution, after which manufacturing replaced (and became more superior to) agriculture as the prime economic mover. Blue-collar workers dominated the countryside peasants. The entire manufacturing economy survived on raw material and the search for market for its products, and thus started the search for colony and the system of colonisation.

By the mid-1920s all developed countries had moved one step up on the ladder of economy – towards the service economy. By this time all colonies were free and had started adopting manufacturing to drive their own growth. By now the service economies of developed countries were fed up of the manufacturing economy of developing countries.

The process of evolution towards the next link in the economic chain has now already begun with the developed economy moving to a knowledge-based economy (quaternary economy), which is being fed by the emerging services sectors in developing countries. Meanwhile, some laggard economies are still in the manufacturing stage and some are in agriculture.

As you can see, the economic ladder climbs up the hunter/gatherer-agriculture-manufacturing-service-quaternary stages. In the modern world, some countries are even skipping the manufacturing stage to directly jump to the service economy (India is a somewhat an example). So what would happen when every country in world reaches the currently known zenith of the economic ladder?

How would the demands of manufacturing and agriculture be fulfilled? Who will drive the quaternary economy?

Is the entire economic system of this world woven around the concept that there will always be gaps between countries, with one set consuming and other supplying? Does it mean that the gap between a developed, developing and the least developed economy is never going to go away? Is it only a dream that one day every country will reach the zenith of human development?

Yes it is. Until and unless the present systems of economy are not done away with, we will not move to the next step of economic evolution (after the industrial revolution). Our present economic ladder system has colonial mentality at its base: that one country need not move up the ladder of human development in order to benefit another.

Each and every country needs to identify their own strength and develop around that strength. After that, comprehensive economic cooperation needs to be nurtured among these specialised strengths to fill the economic gaps of each country. Then only we can hope to survive and sustain in the long term.