12 January 2015 760 words, 4 min. read

Where is this crazy Society going to?

By Pierre-Nicolas Schwab PhD in marketing, director of IntoTheMinds
I started 2015 with a blog post about Love. Only 48 hours after that blog was published the attacks in Paris began. I must admit I felt so desperate when it all started on Jan, 7th that I just had […]

I started 2015 with a blog post about Love. Only 48 hours after that blog was published the attacks in Paris began. I must admit I felt so desperate when it all started on Jan, 7th that I just had no energy to write anything.

How could I actually write anything about a secondary subject like marketing when such events happen?

I wanted to modestly dedicate this first post to the victims of the three attacks.

The question arose however about the very topic of a post like this. What could I write that will not just look silly in light of those events?

I found the inspiration in the debates that took place this week on the reasons that drove people, born in Europe, to perpetrate terrorist attacks far away from the battle fields.

Politicians found explanations in the families of the terrorists, bad encounters made in prison and the subsequent path to radicalism. Whereas there is little to do about divorces and children become the vistims of the tensions between their parents, I think there is much more to say about the second rootcause, namely the path to radicalism.

The quest for a goal in life

What it inspired me is that the path to this radical ideology has also something to do with the Society we are living in and what we all made of it. In the 60’s and 70’s, radicalism led younger people (among them some of today’s top politicians) to believe in communism. Today the seeds of rebellion are still living but the result is an unprecedented level of violence. One may hypothesize that 30 or 40 years ago, our Society was able to calm these rebels down. They got a job, were able to make something of their lives, feed their family without struggling too much and eventually happiness replaced wrath. Our Society was able to distribute a little bit of happiness to everyone and we could live in peace.

Inequality leads to revolt

Today’s Society has never been as unequal as before. Just have a look at what worldwide leading economists are saying (Stiglitz, Piketty and many others). A monster, soon uncontrollable, has been created that will “eat” the biggest part of the population to profit a few others. The middle class, which fueled the Society with optimism, is slowly disappearing and with it, the seeds of happiness.

What I want to point out is that this gap between the rich and the poor is creating incredible frustrations among our people. Some of them (a small number fortunately) are then led to looking for new ways to give a meaning to their lives. And the result is what we saw last week.

Profits, always more profits

I’ve explained in earlier posts that I’m pretty pessimistic about the evolution of our Society. Recent readings don’t give me new hints that I was wrong. I’m still very worried.

I see companies which focus on financial metrics only (to please shareholders) and take decisions that have terrible human consequences. I see executives taking short-term decisions to please the same shareholders and boost their bonuses. Those short-term decisions benefit a few at the top and those at the bottom become the long-term victims. Although organizations need to be managed by a limited number of people, I’m wondering how the fate of so many human beings can be ruled by a bunch of people.

A new class of entrepreneurs may be emerging

The polarization of our Society may however have one long-term advantage. With so many jobless people and increasing poverty, we may actually witness the emergence of a new generation of entrepreneurs. My generation, born in the 70’s, grew up with the belief that the equation “One Company = One Career” had no sense anymore. Newer generations (X, Y) may actually believe in total flexibility. Every one of us would become a self-entrepreneur selling his skills to a new form of companies, smaller, more flexible, more agile, which would use the ad hoc skills when they need it. Some skills would still be needed on a permanent basis, others more occasionally.

What about YOU? Do you still believe in our Society?

What do you, readers, actually think of our Society. Do you still believe in it? Can we still change it? Will be still be there in 100 years?

Take a moment to think about it in light of last week’s event and send me an email. Rise up and share your thoughts.

Photo : copyright Brian Talbot via Flickr

Posted in Marketing.

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