21 December 2019

A decade of great challenges – and huge opportunities


As the dust settles on the 2010s, we’re sure to be inundated with gloom-filled thinkpieces telling us what a god-awful decade it’s been. From Trump’s election to Brexit and the readily accepted climate eschatology of the new green movement, much of today’s media is a heady brew of shrill, overblown pessimism.

Here at CapX, though, we tend towards a more ‘glass half full’ view of things. Yes, plenty of ghastly things happen around the world, but if you zoom out and look at the fate of the average human being, there has never been a better time to be alive.

As our occasional contributor Matt Ridley noted in an excellent Spectator piece this week, in the 2010s:

“Global inequality has been plunging as Africa and Asia experience faster economic growth than Europe and North America; child mortality has fallen to record low levels; famine virtually went extinct; malaria, polio and heart disease are all in decline.”

That doesn’t mean there are not many things to be concerned about, of course. This decade has also seen the near-destruction of Syria and the hollowing out of Venezuela’s economy by its gangsterish socialist regime. Kim Jong-un still presides over a neo-Stalinist hellscape in North Korea, and continues to rattle his nuclear sabre. And closer to home, yesterday we released a collection of essays on the theme of ‘Illiberalism in Europe’, setting out the many challenges to political and economic freedom on the continent.

As well as taking on those forces, European countries must also get ready for the very different world which will begin to really take shape in the next decade. China’s rise and ambitions are very well-documented (though it faces a decade of huge challenges) but rather less is said about India, which will become an ever more important counterweight to Xi Jinping’s expansionism.

And in Africa, though growth is far from uniformly spread, there are exciting signs of economies starting to bloom – Ethiopia, the Ivory Coast and Tanzania, to name just a few of the fastest-growing.

Though the rise of these countries is often framed as a challenge to the West, it also represents a huge flowering of human potential, not to mention vast new markets with which we can trade. That is why leaving the European Union in a way that most enhances trade is so vital to the continued prosperity of this country.

Given the pundit classes’ generally poor record of prognostication, I’ll refrain from making any hard-and-fast predictions for the ’20s.

One thing we can say with iron certainty, though, is that CapX will continue to vigorously make the case for more economic freedom and a truly popular capitalism. We would not be able to do what we do without the support of our readers, for which we are very grateful.

We wish all of you a Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2020.

Click here to subscribe to our daily briefing – the best pieces from CapX and across the web.

CapX depends on the generosity of its readers. If you value what we do, please consider making a donation.

John Ashmore is Editor of CapX