Dramatic changes are afoot. The future will not be like the past. Demographic changes and migration are having a profound effect as the workforces of some countries age and shrink, while others expand. The Project on Governance in an Emerging New World aims to understand these changes and inform strategies that both address the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by these dramatic transformations. We will explore the implications for our democracy, our economy, and our national security, and for other countries.
Advancing technologies and demographics portend disruption in Russia, as in many other parts of the world, but volatility has been the rule rather than the exception in this historic power. The fall of the Soviet Union left modern Russia in a state of disrepair. Its economy collapsed alongside its government. Its population decreased, and fertility plummeted. To those living in Russia at the time, it was deeply destabilizing.
Looking at international relations and security (IR&S) and foreign policy (FP) issues through the eyes of an innovation studies researcher presents a dialectic challenge. On the one hand, it is always restricted by the natural lack of knowledge about IR&S theories and facts; on the other, it may reveal some hidden tendencies on the crossroads between technology and IR&S/FP. In the case of emerging technologies, this problem is further aggravated by the fact that most of them are in the relatively early stage of development.
Nearly every discussion about Russia raises three questions: Who is to blame? What is to be done? And where is Russia heading? This paper focuses on the third question, though the other two cannot be ignored entirely. Now is a particularly appropriate time to ask where Russia is headed, for the world is undergoing profound and rapid transformation at several levels. We are witnessing dramatic technological changes. These processes of change and transformation – technological, economic, demographic, and climatic – present great challenges for governance at all levels.
The world is going through a very complicated and dangerous period in its development. One does not need to be an expert on global politics or have access to exclusive sources of information to arrive at this obvious conclusion–all you have to do is flick through the latest issue of a newspaper or watch the news on TV.
This paper will ruminate in a highly preliminary way on the possibility of change in Russian governance as a result of disruptions in technology. No such momentous changes are on the horizon at the moment. That said, history moves in surprising ways, and unintended consequences are the norm. Technological disruption, too, usually brings change in unforeseen directions. Whatever happens, it will not happen the precise way we might anticipate.
One of the key developments in 20th and 21st century history has been the demographic revolution, or demographic transition, which radically changed the course of fundamental demographic processes involving the birth rate, mortality and migration. Demographic change affects the international situation both directly and indirectly, through the social processes experienced by all societies which embrace this change.
Russians are richer today than they have ever been in their thousand-year history. Today, Russians enjoy a GDP-per capita of $11,900, down from a 2013 peak of $16,000, but moving in the right direction again. Between 2000 and 2008, Russia’s GDP grew by 83%, productivity grew by 70%, Russia’s share in the world economy grew fourfold, from 0.6% to 2.7%, real wages increased by 3.4 times, and real pensions increased by 2.8 times.