For the last 30 years in Western Europe and Japan (and more recently in America), the 80-class have been voting in the bedroom by not procreating enough children to replace themselves. It’s a sensible decision because they’ve noticed that, due to automation, average real wages have been steadily declining during that period and sub-fertility is the only way they can afford to rent or buy a house and fill it with the obligatory stock of household goods according to what they and their neighbours perceive their social status to be.
So far, governments have been accommodating themselves to this in four main ways: 1. turning a blind eye to immigrants from the Third World in order to try and maintain a sufficient level of taxation (apart from Japan which has maintained an almost total racial policy); 2. allowing their secondary state schools to be dumbed-down to give the false impression that children are better educated; 3. allowing the banks (and themselves) to open massive sluice gates of credit (and thus of present debt); 4. continuing to con the 80-class that economic growth can continue for . . . er, well . . . forever. presumably.
The cultural gap between the 80-class and the 20-class, though widening, is not watertight, of course. Failures from the latter will continue to drift into the 80-class (perhaps even down to the growing under-class of unemployables right at the bottom) and enough talented children and young people from the 80-class will be identified and fast-tracked upwards in order to top up the numbers of specialists increasingly needed by the 20-class — the economic decision-makers in politics and business.
It’s difficult — nay, impossible — to imagine how these trends can be reversed. The economic pressure of something like 2 billion poorer people in China, India and Brazil (at least) who want our standard stock of consumer goods can only grow if their governments want to remain in power. Their own developing 20-class (400 million?) who will also demand a much more varied protein diet (requiring four or five times normal grain acreage) will constitute additional economic pressure of its own due to existing world-wide freshwater shortage for agriculture.
Actually, there’s great hope for the West. As our 80-class decline into nothingness in the next three or four generations, the 20-class will be able to survive because their exportable specialist skills will still be needed by those countries which still manage to keep their heads above water in that period (during which time their own 80-classes will start to decline for the same reason as ours are now).
As for the immediate future in the West, this is far more problematic. It’s likely in my view that the financial sector, currently an all-too-successful sub-group of the 20-class, has already reached its zenith. Its present hyper-fast algorithmic methods of equity- and bond-trading with its supercomputers and optic fibre links have probably reached its limits for physical reasons (limits to electronic circuitry, speed of light, etc). All debts — banks’, governmental and private — will have to be written off sooner or later, and the financial sector will have to be reduced to its traditional role of being a helpmate to the real economy (2% to 5% of GDP?) and not its destroyer.
What will come to the fore in the 20-class? I’ve little doubt that the biological sciences, already foremost in frontline research funds, will become dominant. Increasingly precise brain-mapping will tell the 20-class a great deal more about effective learning methods in their own schools and universities. Genetics will gradually whittle down the incidence of harmful gene variations (both dominant and recessive ones) causing mid-life diseases. Epigenetics will not only teach us more about the avoidance of mid-life diseases but also, because epigenetic inheritance involves emotional predispositions as well as physiological ones, it may well help the political sector of the 20-class to do their jobs better. The David Camerons of the future will realize that countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iran, Syria, etc, can’t be socially engineered overnight into copies of Western democracy. Some epigenetic instruction sheets in their DNA, being semi-permanent, take generations to change.
Actually David Cameron ought to realize these things already. The younger generation (in both the 20-class and the 80-class) are already disinterested in politics even though Cameron’s predecessors have tried several social engineering tricks in the last 50 years. In 30 years’ time they (the educated 20-class anyway) will be the generation that has the decision-making power. From the boardrooms of the thousands of specialized transnational corporations, large and small, the decision-makers of the real world economy, are probably going to want (and greatly influence) different governmental systems from those we have now.