New Internationalist

Keep this page for ten years

January 1980

The New Internationalist’s predictions for the Nineteen-Eighties Free re-subscription forms to all readers in 1990 if we score less than five out of ten.


In the West, unemployment will continue to rise and the very idea of employment will undergo a radical change. It will no longer mean working nine-‘til-five, five days a week from the age’ of 16 to 65.

At the same time the idea of education as something only for the young will also give way to new ideas.

The combination of these two trends will mean that people will have two or even three careers, returning to school in middle life and then beginning a new career. The rising average age of the population will support this trend and will push retirement ages up not down.


Multinational corporations manufacturing consumer goods will dramatically wind down investments in the developing world.

Increasing protectionism in the rich-nation clubs like the EEC will make the multinationals more concerned about manufacturing within the tariff walls being built around the rich markets, and less concerned about taking advantage of cheap non -unionised labour in the Third World.

High labour costs and union power in the rich countries will be combatted by unrestrained automation.

Chief beneficiaries in an enlarged EEC will be Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Greece.


There will be a revolution in the Philippines before 1985.

Heavy foreign investment, backed by anti-union legislation and political repression, has helped to create a rich minority whose conspicuous consumption and love of prestige projects mocks the poverty of the majority and invites their anger.

Despite a 6 per cent per annum economic growth rate, malnutrition, unemployment and squalor have risen steeply and even the established Catholic church has begun speaking out against ‘economic atrocities’.

If the Shah has gone, can Marcos be far behind?


A Common Market of the Americas - including the United States, Canada, Mexico and Venezuela- will be formed in the second half of the decade.

After initial hostilities between the participants in the early years of the Eighties, economic interests will throw them together. American need for oil and Mexican and Venezuelan need for technology, infrastructure and industry on which to spend their huge oil revenues will result in an economic and political alliance.


The 1980s will see the greatest world-wide public relations campaign of all time, as the trans-national corporations begin buying social, cultural and political acceptability.

By 1990 a few hundred corporations will control almost half of the world’s productive assets. The chief restraint on the expansion of this new global empire will not be economic or technical - it will be political and social. The corporations will see this as a ‘public relations’ problem and begin media campaigns to sell the idea that the world is now in good hands - their own.


Anarchy will be the most studied and talked about ‘movement’ of the Eighties.

Anarchy will come to be seen by many as a logical extension of ‘Small is Beautiful’ and its adherents will argue that both Communism and Capitalism are just different sides of the same devalued coin.

There will be a vast increase in the number of small groups of people in all industrialised countries who find positive ways of ‘opting out’ from alienating systems and re-taking control of their own lives. Proudhon, Godwin, Kropotkin and Tolstoy will all be ‘rediscovered.’


The world’s known oil reserves will be found to be two or three times higher than present estimates.

This will lengthen the time-span for adjustment to a post-petroleum era, especially as the search for alternative energy sources will also be yielding significant results by the end of the decade.

The nuclear energy debate will become more and more an ideological issue, with energy choices being debated in terms of the kind of society which different energy alternatives might lead to.


The most troubled nation of the Eighties will be the Soviet Union. Russian oil is running out - and with it goes the loyalty of East European allies. The economy in general is stagnating.

The flashpoint will be resurgence of ethnic identity. Muslims (who number one third of the population) or Ukrainians will find common cause against the dominance of European Russians. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and its satellite countries are in fact an empire of subject peoples. Poland will be the thin end of the wedge.


In the Third World, unemployment will be the greatest political force of the Eighties.

Unemployment and chronic underemployment will affect over five hundred million people by the end of the decade. They will increasingly be young, educated and gathered together in cities.

Their rising numbers, deepening poverty and increasing political consciousness will add up to trouble. Riots by the urban unemployed will shake many Third World cities.

Among those to fall as a result will be Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.


Australia will be the great supplier of minerals for Western industry in the Eighties. Vast new deposits of coal, uranium, diamonds, copper and iron ore will be discovered.

Official attitudes towards the exports of minerals and company profits will be clarified in a sensational expose. In the ‘Canberra Watergate’, senior politicians will be found to be heavily involved with the mining companies funds.

For the Third World mineral exporters, these discoveries will mean reasonable prices throughout the decade and no chance of any producer cartel action to increase their export incomes.

This feature was published in the January 1980 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 083

New Internationalist Magazine issue 083
Issue 083

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If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

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