During times of economic turbulence, humans tend to do the weirdest things and protectionism is one of them. Instead of trying to innovate and actually increase trade, history has shown that a lot of times, the exact opposite happens and protectionism rears its ugly head.
In case you aren’t familiar with the concept, I’ll try to (over)simplify it.
Let’s assume you’re the prime minister of Country A and that the economy is not exactly doing great. Rising unemployment, falling wages and so on. People are starting to become upset, protests are becoming more and more frequent.
What would a responsible leader do?
A responsible leader would maintain a cool head and try to figure out a way to do better via innovation, reforms and so on.
Unfortunately, history has shown us that leaders rarely act in a responsible manner during times of turbulence.
Instead, they act like politicians rather than true leaders and try to manipulate voters by finding someone else to blame.
A true leader would say something along the lines of “Look, we’re all guilty to a certain degree but let’s not dwell on the past and, instead, focus on how we can make the future better through innovation and cooperation”… I think that’s a fair enough starting point.
Most leaders however don’t want to say things which might affect their popularity and, instead, point fingers at whoever represents a convenient target.
Maybe another country.
Perhaps several countries or even the international community as a whole.
Before you know it, protectionist measures end up being adopted.
Country A all of a sudden decides to make international trade increasingly difficult in order to “save the local economy” and in 2014 and beyond, this might mean leaving the Internet.
No, it’s not a typo.
Leaving the Internet (in other words, no longer letting the population access the World Wide Web) and trying to replace it with a restricted, local version.
Country A would leave the World Wide Web and replace it with “Country A’s Internet”, Country B would implement “Country B’s Internet” and so on.
At this point, what I’m saying may sound like science fiction.
But all it takes is for let’s say a few large countries to make a step in this direction and a precedent would be set. Fragmentation is without a doubt the worst thing that could happen to the Internet and domainers would, of course, be hit extremely hard.
I honestly hope that our leaders won’t prove to be so irresponsible that they’ll do something as extreme as pulling the plug on the Internet as we know it because saying that this would inhibit progress would be the understatement of the century.
Internet fragmentation represents one of the main external threats domainers should be aware of.
Ask yourself how you would be affected if such a scenario were to unfold and if the effects would be devastating beyond comprehension, it might be wise to diversify at least a little bit.