By Kumar David –
There are two schools of thought, one says that the world will gradually return to “normal” (its former self) sooner or later. The other more sombre view which I subscribe to is a premonition that things have snapped for better for worse and it won’t be the same again. Not every portent that I sense will come to pass, but many of these changes cannot, not happen. Covid-19 was the last straw that broke the camel’s back; it was one gigantic straw but actually many pressures accumulating over the years combined and blew. Covid is a catalyst whose long-term implications will be far-reaching in geopolitics, governance, economics and culture.
First ecology; the damage that humans wreak on the planet is unsustainable. The pandemic brought us face to face with catastrophe. The virus did not jump from bat or civet to humans; quite the contrary we raped and ravaged the forests, the waters and the mountains, and nature having nowhere to turn came home and nestled in our bosom. Second the earth’s carrying capacity. There are too many humans and to say we breed like rabbits is an unconscionable denigration of rabbits. Third the global economy in the last two decades has been characterised by a widening gap between haves and have-nots and for the first time since WW2 absolute poverty is on the rise if we take China out of the computation. Governments have become more repressive in the Twenty-first Century. And worst of all is ever increasing intolerance between communities. Is barbarism among humans the sum total effect of this melt down? Will the jolt 2020 delivered shake us up before calamity becomes apocalyptic catastrophe? I cannot paint the whole canvas from ecology, to population, to economics, to social inequality and political tumult today. I will be selective.
Allow me to preface this with the comment that for the next decade – to look beyond this horizon in this essay is not sensible – what happens in America will be the decider. I have often said in this column that in the early 2030s China will become the world’s largest economy and a diplomatic and military power on par with the US, but that does not contradict my assertion here that as an exemplar and moral influence the American legacy will last long. While the PRC’s development strategy will overdetermine the economic model adopted by developing countries, China’s moral influence will be crippled until and unless the Communist Party, at least in this its centennial year, becomes sure footed enough to tolerate other mass organisations, especially in Xinjiang Province. The next four years of Biden Presidency is crucial. His team is conventional, decent, reliable, tried and tested but it certainly does not sparkle with brilliance; pedestrian like the boss himself but I guess it is just this that warms mundane liberal hearts. But the liberals have a point. The next four years is course correction; dull plodding to undo a maniac’s domestic and international ravages but above all else also to address the economic hardships of Americans in the lowest income quartile and banish the raison d’etre of the Trump Base. Biden’s success will not be measured in the stratosphere but on terra firma, by which measure Obama – glittering intellectual compared to poor old Joe – presided over a failed second-term.
Youth-led climate activism is the most influential force in the formative days Biden’s Administration. The movement has notched high-profile victories; Deb Haaland, a Native American will lead the Interior Department and Gina McCarthy an environmental health and air quality expert, the Environmental Protection Agency. Former Secretary of State John Kerry who helped craft the Paris Accord will hold Cabinet-rank position as climate Tsar. There are expectations that Biden’s USA will be a world environmental trailblazer. But the team will be greeted by the grinding realities of obstruction from Washington Republicanism and moneyed vested interests. The outcome of this tussle will shape the planet’s climate in the decade of the 2020s and American youth mobilisation is the key that will influence environmental youth movements everywhere.
Population will decline but not fast enough
The population of the world on 1 Jan 2021 was 7.83 billion and the number of births in the first ten days of 2021 was 2.9 million. Far too much for the global resource base to carry; humans create too large a footprint before finally, they their “hiatus make”. A recent BBC programme says population will peak at 9.7 billion in 2064 and decile to 8.8 billion by the end of the century; still too large and the rate of decline too slow. It would be better if in two generations global population declines to below 7 billion and if thereafter stabilises at a steady four billion. Humanity has intelligence, technology and the skill to enter this ‘noosphere’. Stripped of mumbo-jumbo a ‘noosphere’ is a term coined by Vladimir Vernadsky and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin for when reason and science come together to create a higher consciousness.
The population of different countries in million in 2100 is projected as follows (2020 population in paracentesis): China 730 (1390), India 1090 (1325), Nigeria 790 (214), USA 335 (330), Japan 60 (125). China’s decline to nearly half and Japan’s to less than half is remarkable, but more than threefold explosion in Nigeria is astounding and alarming. Sub Saharan Africa, about one billion in 2020 will rise to 3.36 billion by century’s end, while Latin America and the Middle East also buck the declining trend. LA’s 630 million in 2020 will swell to 750 million – the Catholic Church wants them to procreate around-the-clock. The Middle East cum North Africa, now 600 million, will rise to 1 billion by 2100; myopic education and oppression of women lie at the root. The worst of the pandemic has still to devastate Africa and the Middle East and I am optimistic that the crisis will ameliorate this social bigotry. Only dramatic change can avert famine, devastation of forests, despoiling of open-spaces and pollution of the waters.
(Sri Lanka’s population in 2020 is 22.2 million (I hope 2 is a lucky number) and falling, but too slowly. Experts estimate a decline to 15.3 million by 2100 with a bulge of 55-85 year olds; the fattest part of the bulge being 60-70 year-olds).
Only a tiny percentage of capitalism’s accumulated loot comes from value creation
Greece’s former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis declares: “We thought globalization had defanged nation states. Presidents cowered before bond markets, prime ministers and finance ministers behaved like Goldman Sachs knaves and IMF lackeys. Media moguls, oil men, financiers, and left-wing critics of capitalism agreed that third-world governments were no longer in control. Then the pandemic struck; regimes grew claws, bared teeth, closed borders, grounded airplanes, imposed curfews and closed theatres”. In his verbal gush Varoufakis does not appreciate this is necessary, but to forbid burial the dead was vengeful and give all power to the military is dangerous. Since he is long-winded – let me summarise from his “Seven Secrets of 2020”:
Governments retain power and exercised it during covid to reap corrupt profits. Lankan’s I meet in Los Angeles say that compatriots who wish to travel home are compelled to buy their tickets from Upul Travels, whose proprietor, a Gota buddy, has been made head of airports and aviation. Compulsory hotel quarantine has to be at another buddy’s hotel chain. The worst was when, according to the Sunday Times, the tourism regulator was told that “Udayanga Weeratunga, former Ambassador to Russia who now gives his official address as Temple Trees, intended to bring large numbers of Ukrainians to the country”, He was allowed to bypass official guidelines but all he brought was a bunch of covid-positive cases!
However, it is not only in Sri Lanka that covid is a lucrative avenue for acquiring and sharing corrupt monies by regime and businessmen favourites; it is global. The public must rise up though in this country army types have been appointed as satraps in the guise of covid-fighters in every district to crush unavoidable future dissent. Western governments that claimed to be broke when called upon to pay for health, education or welfare have discovered oodles of cash to support financial markets, airlines and big companies, or stoke stock-markets to unheard of heights. Inequity in wealth has become obscene thanks to “stimulus” money printing. It has exposed the ugly truth that mountains of concentrated private wealth have little to do with entrepreneurship but rather a knack for cornering benefits. Only a tiny percentage of accumulated loot comes from value creation. Covid has shown up how degenerate modern finance capital is.
The record-speed development, testing, approval, and rollout of covid vaccines, reveals that science depends on state aid. Commentators waxed lyrical about the market’s capacity to respond to humanity’s needs, but the “irony is that Congress in the country of the most anti-science president ever, who ignored, mocked, and intimidated experts during the worst pandemic in a century, allocated $10 billion to ensure that scientists had the resources they needed”.
“Year 2020 is not a banner year for capitalism whose unintended consequence should be that profit-seeking individuals who have no regard for anyone else end up serving society. The key to converting private vice into public virtue is competition, which impels capitalists to pursue activities that maximize their profits. In a competitive market, that serves the common good”. By 2020 however competition has been replaced by giant monopolies in new industries, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Facebook and Apple.
Looking ahead the silver lining to the dark post-covid cloud is renewed universal environmental and climate-change sensitivity. The second matter about which I am cautiously optimistic is that there will be a push back against authoritarian governments worldwide. Trump’s deserved crushing defeat – the GOP has lost the presidency, Senate and House – will weaken dictators and would-be dictators elsewhere and restore some decency in politics. Nevertheless challenges should not be underestimated; Democrats barely won the two Georgia Senate run-offs last week and here at home Gotabaya’s autocratic power remains undiminished. As I write these lines on 6 Jan an insurrection, instigated by Trump, has overwhelmed Capitol Hill (the seat of Congress, equivalent of out Kotte Parliament premises), the security people have taken away the VP and members of both Houses which were in session, and brought much vaunted American democracy to its knees. Biden must completely demolish the Trump legacy.
deepthi silva / January 10, 2021
” The Biden team does not sparkle with brilliance…”
Perhaps the writer can suggest someone with brilliance- Dayan J, Ranil, Dilith,Sajith, himself ?
Although there is nothing to back it up , this word is overused in Sri Lanka , a small and poor third world country.So many brilliant people…..
Do things happen because some “brilliant” man appeared ?
Was NM brilliant ? Was Mao brilliant ?
Dinuk / January 10, 2021
1. Covid-19 plandemic has backfired on the Euro-American Corporate mafia that hatched the plot with Big Phama, Gates and the Davos clique and WHO and other UN agencies for Global Governance.
2. China is today is without doubt the World’s number 1 SUPERPOWER with over a Billion people, a history of 4000 years and 6 G technology!
2.1 Bio-terrrorism, COvid-19 and attacks on food security will heighten. Please check out the US patents related to the Fall Army Worm. Since Covid 19 did not kill enough brown people, food security is under attack, with bird flu hitting India and Sri Lanka, another lab produced virus, as well as, skin disease for cattle. Bio terrorism is certainly set to continue for this decade. Bio-terrorism and Cyber war including attacks on infrastructure is the new face of Hybid Cold War by the crashed EU-US-NATO empire on Asia. They want a war between Asian Giants, India and China.
3. the plain truth is that Ukraine is a Joe Biden and US Deep state proxy and Sri Lanka is being played by US-EU-NATO at this time, because of ties to China and Russia. Ukraine sent Agro-Chemical waster to Sri Lanka December 2019, Burrissma Belissima Avant Guard Joe Biden’s son’s firm and Senadhipatty had a link up with US citizen Rajapaksa brothers making money. Now Ukraine is sending Covid-19 bio-terrorism tourists and buying fish harvested by Japanese and French trawlers in Sri Lankas oceans (EEZ).
4. after CIA staged a coupe on Russia’s border – true Cold War style in post-Cold War Europe! Sri Lanka’s and the US citizens Rajapaksa family’s love-affair with Udayanga’s Ukraine was brokered by the CIA and
5. US govt. has 800 military bases to protect “Human Rights” and stage coups and assassinations all over the world. USA has a long and distinguished history of destroying democracy and committing war crimes around the world and this history is coming to light now.
6. Britains Keenie Meenie Services (KMS) set up the STF during JRJA’s and son Ravi’s days as a killing machine. Please read the new book on
7. Did the US have a hand in some of the assassinations in Sri Lanka? Yes, certainly the assassination of SWRD Bandaranaike was a Cold War operation when CIA was weaponizing Islam and Buddhism and monks to fight communism and socialism in the Asia and the third world. Please read the book: ‘The United States of War” by David Vine. Joe Biden’s son was running an oil company in Ukraine after the CIA staged a coupe in that post-Soviet republic to get it away from Putin.
Dinuk / January 11, 2021
BTW. wonder who paid for Kumar David’s little jaunt and Ezypass to USA and LA where the US citizen first family is also present — in this time of Covid-19 lockdowns?
Seemingly to proclaim Truth from the Temple of failed democracy where Government by the Rich, with the Rich, for the Rich prevails?!
KD seems to get special treatment to globe trot and game the narrative for the poor natives in Banana Republic who are locked down for no good reason under the Covid-19 vaccine and deep state mafia scam!
Sinhala_Man / January 13, 2021
It is surprising to find Prof. Kumar David in Los Angeles when it is the worst place on the planet for COVID. However, I would never have thought it my business to pose questions of the sort that you have.
So, you think that as a socialist Kumar should even at this age be a beggar who cannot afford to travel, do you? What you exhibit is nothing but envy. Don’t you realise how honestly Kumar writes, hiding none of his views, and on what a range of subjects? He shares his knowledge for free, he doesn’t get paid for writing these articles, you know.
Yes, those who are frank in their views sometimes get things wrong, and acknowledge later that his predictions have been wrong. We all know that Americans seem to have a special talent for blundering. Why do so many go there (I haven’t been outside Asia myself)?
In this first video you will see that John Kerry who testified to the evils of the Vietnam War wanted reparations made. Much of this second video is the same but is preceded by those who call him a liar.
Sinhala_Man / January 13, 2021
I’ve also looked at this:
Take it all in, and see for yourself that there is accountability here.
At least on climate we will have a man with commitment, who, it is true has changed tack on occasion, but all that is transparently there.
You’re a guy who really seems to be into conspiracy theories, could you please indicate what you yourself stand for? I’ve noticed you going on and on about David Vine, who makes some good enough points, but why not compare all that with what we’ve had in Sri Lanka? There you will find the consistency of Kumar.
Read him on Economics – he knows his way about various systems. At this stage of his life, given his cheerful outlook on life, and his thrifty ways he’s an elder statesman to all. Why don’t you look at the sordid details of those who rouse communalism within this country, and more than all else, state your own solutions?
SJ / January 11, 2021
Please take off the smoked glasses to see some light.
Ratnam Nadarajah / January 11, 2021
Dear Prof. . Kumar
” compared to poor old Joe – presided over a failed second-term.”
Poor old Joe, he may be but he is, I believe a man of integrity and a compassionate human being. His team in my view is better equipped and more robust than the current Trump administration. To start with the VP is an experienced and hardworking law maker and security advisors are seasoned people. The First Lady to be will be strong anchor for Joe Biden in my opinion, given her credentials.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched-they must be felt with the heart” Helen Keller.
All in all, I think 20 January 2021 will be a beginning of new dawn for American politics in particular and global outlook in general. Still Uncle Sam is perceived to be world policemen, whether we like it not. The American Dollar reigns supreme in spite of the Chinese dominance in world trade.
As I see it, the Crypto currencies have its place in our scheme of things but it’s a long way off to dislodge the American dollar as a currency of some reconning
On the other hand, the population growth is a very serious concern to all and sundry, in that the disproportional growth in the third world economies is a real issue.
In the West the concern is the negative population growth. May be robotics and artificial Intelligence ((AI) may somewhat counter balance this inadequacy
Ajay / January 10, 2021
It’s always a delight to read Prof. David. In 12 paragraphs he gives you a sweeping survey of all the major current developments and issues impacting the entire humanity as citizens of a globalized world. He covers everything from environment to population to the impact of Covid on economy and politics to post-Covid world. Reading him you get the feeling you’ve learned everything there’s to learn about the world. For an (Ex?)Marxist his approach is quite cosmopolitan, liberal and easygoing – and thus gratifying to read. Except for one minor concern. Sometimes you wonder if he has gone too far in the opposite direction, if he has defected to the West completely. Because at times it appears as if he’s looking at the world with American eyes. Or maybe it is just my imagination.
old codger / January 10, 2021
“LA’s 630 million in 2020 will swell to 750 million – the Catholic Church wants them to procreate around-the-clock. The Middle East cum North Africa, now 600 million, will rise to 1 billion by 2100; myopic education and oppression of women lie at the root.”
I wouldn’t be quite so sure what will happen by 2020. Turkey was secular for a very long time after 1918. Most of the Middle East and North Africa had secular rulers who liberated women but were not to the liking of the world’s policeman. If US meddling hadn’t brought on the Iranian revolution, and the Soviets had stayed at home, even Afghanistan would have been a livable place today. It is interesting to look at photos of female students in Kabul, Cairo, and Teheran in the 60’s. Things can change again.
old codger / January 10, 2021
2100 not 2020.
SJ / January 11, 2021
One thing that is certain is that I will not be there to comment on the forecasts.
How about you OC?
old codger / January 11, 2021
SJ, This is a bit like the people in 1930 who predicted fling cars by 1980.
leelagemalli / January 15, 2021
Dear Mr SJ
I think you would live longer than you ever guess at. Please take care of you COVID …. vaccination marathons will protect you all sooner than later. In order one s souls to be heald, you also need positive thinking while working on getting any kind of symptoms being treated.
eeakdavi / January 11, 2021
Your last sentence raises rather fundamental points relating to Marxism-Liberalism-21st Century World views . Please see my next week’s (17 Jan) column where I will devote a few paras to my perspective on these matters.
Ajay / January 13, 2021
OK Prof. David, I’m bracing myself.
Sinhala_Man / January 10, 2021
Thanks, Prof. Kumar,
Your assessments of the importance of many trends are insightful, but what is of vital importance is your focus on world population. This pandemic must open our eyes to the importance of co-existing with other life forms. Humans cannot expect eco-systems to hold out if we arrogate to ourselves the right to dominate all other species to the extent that we think it justifiable to drive them to extinction.
And there’s this myopic drive by ethnic and religious groups to actually compete to multiply their own group. I cannot identify the “recent BBC programme” that holds out hope that population will actually decline. Here’s one programme:
We cannot know which of these predictions will be the one that gets realised. It depends on our collective human effort. No other species can make decisions – unless it is viruses. At this moment the Gota government is whipping up Islamophobia on the ridiculous issue of the cremation of COVID dead, but some of us have been adding our voice to calls of MMDA reform voluntarily from within that community. One hopes that both Muslim and Catholic communities worldwide will heed these predictions.
srikrish / January 10, 2021
When the social forces are disturbed the social equilibrium is equilibrium is disturbed and a new equilibrium will be established.
It has happened in the past and it will happen in the future as well.
A study of Hegelian dialectic may provide an insight of how will this ultimately turned out.
-transformation of quantity into quality and thesis, antithesis and synthesis.
USA is a divided country. DonaldTrump is not the cause, but the result and perhaps the symptom.
UK is also a divided country and Brexit is the symptom, so are India and Sri Lanka.