The first nations fell in desperation amid a flurry of hostile takeover activity. Nations who fell later in the campaign willingly surrendered to their inevitable fate so as not to prolong the pain of failure and further endurance of significant hardship. This was a war like no other; there were no air skirmishes, strategic ground invasions or weapons of mass destruction. The battles were those previously only seen in the boardroom; behemoths of industry mounting hostile bids and fighting for controlling rights through subversive share price manipulation and covert share purchase operations. This was a war waged across intellectual battlefields; battlefields of corporate balance sheets, debt ratios and the fundamentals of national economies.
In the long, hot summer of 2021 Italy was in trouble, serious trouble. A nation still in grief following the unexpected severity of the second wave, its public services were crumbling, and its people were collectively exhausted. Burdened with a veritable mountain of debt, the country’s finances were considered irreparable. The European Union and European Central Bank, sympathetic to the country’s woes, found themselves unable to deploy the levels of monetary stimulus required for any viable recovery. NGOs were now deployed across Italy’s territories in an attempt to lessen the burden of poverty and suffering across the nation. And it was one of the largest philanthropic organisations in the world (The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation), involved in the organisation of NGOs, that first had the idea.
It had long been rumoured the largest and most successful technology organisations had balance sheets strong enough to refinance major global economies. Boardroom gossip had long suggested that the balance sheet of a well-known technology giant was healthy enough to repay, in full, the pre-COVID national debt of Spain. Things were different now though … or were they? The debt ratios of nations had worsened considerably whereas the balance sheets of major tech businesses had only benefitted from the drive towards remote working, online shopping, and virtual supply chain management.
When Bill Gates first suggested the potential for a corporate entity to rescue Italy, the idea was treated with some level of derision. Why would a commercial organisation want to do such a thing? Where was the benefit? How could it receive ‘pay-back’ on the investment it was making and risk it was taking? But it quickly become clear that beyond the obvious brand recognition and positive public relations associated with a ‘country rescue’, more tangible longer-term benefits could be realised in the forms (amongst others) of increased market share, big data collection, workforce availability, competitive environment control, and the integration of earned income with tax revenues. Suddenly the idea become an attractive proposition. At first Italy bravely resisted the idea that the nation would be subject to a corporate takeover, but the battle was futile – there really were no other options. Conscious that further such deals would follow, and with eyes on securing a strong foothold in Europe, Alibaba mounted a bid. After a brief and bitter battle with Amazon, Alibaba reigned supreme and Italy become Alibaba territory area 1. Spain fell next and requested corporate bidders in short order. In the decade that followed, most of mainland Europe and some of the Middle East was directly under the control of Alibaba. In 2025 the growing number of territories controlled by Alibaba were renamed ‘Alibaba Kingdom’.
In a similar fashion, Amazon and Apple launched a joint venture to take control of Northern America and the densely populated areas of India, Pakistan and South Korea. North Korea, China and Taiwan fell to Alibaba alongside Australia. Russia, South America and much of the remaining world nations eventually formed part of ‘FAB world’ (a joint venture comprised of Facebook, Alphabet and Brain (the hugely successful AI and Quantum Computing giant that had emerged early in the pandemic from Google Deep Mind).
New Zealand and countries on the African continent were the only nations not to submit to corporate ownership. After many years of fighting, poverty and famine, the African nations joined together to form the powerful and resource rich African Empire.
What wasn’t apparent until some years following the pandemic was the devastating impact on male fertility rates for those who had caught the virus and shown few if any symptoms in their teenage years. Across much of the world birth rates were falling and a future potential crisis was emerging.
The African Empire did not suffer the same fertility issues and this, combined with a wealth of natural resources, led it to fast become the global super-power of the Post COVID era. Nations seeking young talent to take their territories successfully into the future looked first to the African Empire. Many young Africans were now in senior political and corporate positions across the world.
A decade after the first COVID cases traversed the globe, the African education system is now considered to be the best in the world. Corporations had invested heavily to support infrastructure development, education and technological innovation in an effort to ensure their territories were most favourably treated in terms of resource trading and access to highly educated human capital.
The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, served by Microsoft and supported by myriad pre-COVID NGOs, now manage most philanthropic projects across the globe and work closely with the African Empire to ensure global peace and to reduce poverty.
The lessons of early 21st century corporate success are not lost on territories controlled by commercial organisations. Each has a shared set of values, a culture based on defined acceptable behaviours, and a drive for brand loyalty. Territories are effectively extended captive markets, and large portions of the workforce spend most of their time working for their corporate masters. Corporation tax is a thing of the past and all entrepreneurial ventures are at least 50% corporation state owned. Some corporate territories are well managed and ethical with extensive benefit systems while others are chaotic and have much corruption at their core. Virtual nations controlled by large corporations now cut across pre-COVID national borders and a new, previously unimaginable, world order has well and truly been implemented.
As time progresses, corporations are becoming sophisticated in particular areas of society and exporting their expertise and technological innovations to other corporate owned territories. New Zealand is the home of globally shared technological infrastructure and manages the free yet monitored movement of people across the globe. Settling to work in another territory confers no rights of residence – the idea of citizenship is now related to what you do, and for which corporation rather than where you do it.
The established pre-COVID entity of the sovereign nation has fallen; national identity has largely become obsolete; corporations are the new nations across most of the globe. New Zealand has become a beacon for a growing number of small pre-COVID nations now seeking to emerge from the suffocating control of corporations by claiming independence. Following centuries of neglect and instability, The African Empire has emerged victorious.
Major shocks can drive unforeseen outcomes. Outcomes that had previously been suggested in jest (corporations are the new nations) or didn’t seem possible in our lifetimes (The African Empire) can suddenly come to pass. Massive geopolitical and societal changes such as these have happened previously in our history and can certainly happen in our future. It’s easy to look at a suggested future scenario or a current conspiracy theory and consider it to be irrelevant or impossible. The future-ready ones open their minds to remote possibilities and frequently ask what-if?