Last night I watched, alongside the rest of the world, the infolding of the Parisian saga. On the internet paraded figures of chaos and pain, devastation and desperation. I cannot even imagine what my Parisian friends are going through at this moment in time. Their City of Light turned into a City of Darkness.
The crime against the French people did not come out of nowhere. It culminated over the space of months, if not years. We got the first taste of it with the Charlie Hebdo attacks, when Islamic fanatics killed some of the most forward thinking journalists/ cartoonists/ political thinkers. It was the first incident that gave us an indication of the depth of the cultural problem within the french society. Or so we thought.
It looks like the problem expanded (as did the number of dead) and it is no longer a cultural one. It is part of the impact that the movement of populations will bring upon us in the 21st century. Researchers in think tanks noted that there will be a displacement of populations from western Asia and northern Africa for a variety of reasons. The number of people who will try to enter Europe may exceed 11 million!
Such an influx of new people resembles the movements of the northern ‘barbarians’ in western Europe from the fifth century AD onwards. A number of historians (mistakenly) consider them the main reason for the downfall of the western part of the Roman Empire. The truth is somewhat different. The new people infiltrated and affected all aspects of life, politics, economy and society. Slowly but steadily they displaced the old Roman order and replaced it with the new medieval countries.
So, does this mean that our civilisation is at stake? Not at all. Of course, history is change. We cannot expect the world to remain immovable and unaltered. But the changes do not have to be negative, even if the results from the first impact are not necessarily positive. The way our governments will face the situation will have a definitive effect on the final outcome.
As individuals on the other hand, we need to be prepared for the inevitable changes. And as business people we need to be ready to ascertain the new opportunities. Let me try to put together a few rough hypotheses, in my attempt to read the future.
After the 2008 credit crisis we noticed a sharp decline of the middle class and the inevitable larger inequality that ensued. The new hordes of immigrants entering Europe may temporarily cushion the middle class’s fall, as they will eventually become the new working class. They will be the ones who will become an essential component in the new order of things. They will be the new cheap labour that will curtail outsourcing and its problems.
Furthermore, the housing crisis we notice in some countries (mostly outside the UK), will be stopped. 11 million new residents will need houses, flats and other cheap accommodation to live and prosper. Building development will continue and rents will remain stable, if they do not increase. Consequently, the wealth of the nations (most of which is based on housing) will be guarded.
In addition, the cultural clashes that will ensue will create a series of problems for all parties involved. And this is where modern entrepreneurs will thrive. As you know business people are essentially problem solvers. They devise solutions, create value, and get paid for their efforts. Accordingly, they will attempt to resolve all kinds of problems arising from the new situation. And they will prosper in the process.
My advice would be to keep your eyes open for new opportunities. Society will need cheap and instant solutions in order to keep afloat. Technology, and especially software development, could become a potent player in the worldwide game of population and cultural shifts. Refuges coming to Europe are not the problem. They are a blessing and should be protected from the fanatics who try to destabilise our civilisation.