What is common among these three events: (i) the Fall of Bastille in 1789, (ii) the invention of the microprocessor in 1971, and (iii) adoption in 1992 by 118 national governments of Agenda 21?
Here are more hints.
Can you discern what is common among these six trends?
- Political: the break-up of the Soviet Union and democratization of Eastern Europe; replacement of military dictatorships with elected leaders in Latin America; fall of dictatorial regimes in Taiwan, South Korea, Philippines and Indonesia; end of apartheid in South Africa; recognition by Israel of the Palestinian Liberation Organization; “people power” revolutions in the Philippines, Chile, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Indonesia and Serbia;
- Economic: the shift from socialist to market economies in Russia, China, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Eastern Europe where decision making by a few central planners was replaced by choices of millions of consumers; global shift of wealth creation from industry to services thereby a power shift from capital and machineries to knowledge and knowledge workers; global shift of market value from intangible (=mostly knowledge) assets than from tangible assets;
- Social: the growth of the voluntary, non-profit and non-government organizations, which mobilize civil society for causes such as human rights, rights of indigenous peoples, women’s rights, environmental protection, etc.; the adoption in the Rio Summit of 1992 of sustainable development as the new mainstream development paradigm; the growing adoption of corporate social responsibility and socially responsible investments;
- Technological: satellite TV, personal computer and WAP-enabled mobile phones which are placing tremendous information, computing power and choice in the hands of individuals and households;
- Religious: Protestant Reformation, Vatican II (“priesthood of the laity”), women in the priesthood, creation spirituality, personal spirituality replacing adherence to organized religions; and
- Organizational: the flattening of organizational hierarchies, growth of horizontal networks and virtual communities, emergence of autonomous intrapreneurial work teams and post-industrial empowerment of knowledge workers.
If you said “democratization” (or any of its synonym), then YOU ARE RIGHT!
Democratization is a trans-societal megatrend because it cuts across political, economic, social, technological, religious and organizational domains.
The people side of this megatrend picked up speed over the last three centuries, while the technological side jump-started about half a century ago (see diagram below). Indeed, the information revolution is another force for democratization. Together, the telephone, the personal computer and the Internet is a powerful and empowering combination.
Do you think that it is reasonable to expect that this global megatrend — democratization — will continue to permeate all aspects of life and society throughout the world for the next centuries?
Photo credits to Wikimedia Commons for “The Storming of the Bastille” by Jean-Pierre Houël and the picture of a Hitachi HD6803P microprocessor; thanks to the UN Division for Sustainable Development for the cover page of Agenda 21.