Mark Brolin details why mainstream thought so often is one-dimensional and wrong in totally predictable ways


Mark Brolin is a Geopolitical StrategistEconomist (Stockholm School of Economics) + Keynote Speaker + World Optimist. He helps leaders better understand the world around them by contributing truly multidimensional strategic insights. The object is the not only help them make the best strategic decisions but also shine within their stakeholder community. In line with statistician Hans Rosling (the author of bestseller Factfulness) Mark often finds mainstream debate far too one-dimensional while in turn far too inherently short term, far too focused on the negatives and far too influenced by self-interest (politicians, journalists and labour market big beasts are all strongly incentivised, for a number of reasons Mark often talks and writes about, to sell simplistic and typically introvert doom-is-near-narratives).

So whereas many others see mainly downsides and dangers, during the analytically fascinating transition period playing out in real time, Mark sees also the upsides and opportunities. Including the benefits of the much needed correction phase pushback against obviously detrimental developments such as unprovoked warfare, democratic erosion and vested interested dominance (economic concentration). So in, yes, Hans Rosling’s spirit of balancing media negativism and defeatism with fact-based optimism and opportunity spotting, Mark does not shy away from challenging today’s gloom-and-doom sentiment. Certainly, positive change, following yet another period of (this time globalist) excess, always takes time on the field of practical reality. Still, inch by inch and nomination by nomination, such correction in the right direction is already taking place. 

Mark is convinced no major problem exists that cannot be solved – given first a truly multidimensional analysis that is proactively cleared of vested interest PR-fluff. In practice the latter often means, more than anything else, an analysis specifically paying heed to the top-down analytical bias of the always powerful forces benefitting from and therefore seeking top-down control. It also means an awareness of the havoc and polarisation guaranteed when such top-downers are taken seriously when peddling the three most classic arguments always made by paternalists. So which are the three arguments that never fail to reveal a real life (neo)paternalist? Firstly, peace and prosperity is impossible unless more powers and money are sent in the direction of, hrm, themselves. 2) Everyone saying otherwise are uneducated throwbacks. 3) Taxpayers (and all other voters) have to be made to part with yet more money so the top-downers can “generously” help with their, yes, re-education.

Mark has had the opportunity to work with business leaders, policy specialists, research institutes and think tanks across three continents. He is moreover a regular contributor to the current affairs debate in both the UK and Sweden. Well-known employers include OMX (Nasdaq)Cantor Fitzgerald and the Swedish Foreign Ministry. His corporate development background – for years he was de facto responsible for distinguishing corporate substance from corporate fluff – probably helps to explain his uniquely hands-on and proactively noise cancelling approach. Mark was born in Sweden; most of his professional life he has been headquartered in London. He is a regular contributor to the current affairs debate in both the UK and Sweden.

Cover design by multimedia street artist Dean Stockton (D*Face)

Mark’s latest book project, Healing Broken Democracies: All you need to know about Populism, was a joint thought leader project including also Daron Acemoglu, David Goodhart, Matthew Goodwin, Jonathan Haidt, Eric Kaufmann and Luigi Zingales. A key argument Mark is making in the book is that we should look at the 2020s in much the same way as many other transition period decades (for example the 1920s and the 1980s). Meaning as a decade marked changes which have had little to do with any individual and just about everything to do with massive technological shifts. The latter have in turn triggered massive commercial and socioeconomic shifts. Such transition period decades are moreover always distinguished by smoke, dust, intellectual confusion – and, yes, tribalism – until a new voter group equilibrium has been established. On top of that they are distinguished by much more predictable – and favourable – outcomes than we will think if obsessing about short term negativity instead of looking at the big picture. An extract of the Jonathan Haidt chapter was published also by Politico

It is hard to find anyone, believe it or not, who more consistently than Mark Brolin offers counterweight to all forms of political or economic excess. That is, counterweight not only to the political and economic excess of the past (“everyone” offers such resistance), but also to the excess policies of today (counterbalance to the latter kind of excess is a lot less common than many think). So what is bound to follow when moderation is promised but excess is delivered? Even if this excess, again like today, is dressed up as moderation? Discord and confusion. As well as permanently angry tribal people who fail to see the irony when throwing mud at their opponents while simultaneously claiming they are the only champions of politeness and respect. Mark is still convinced that such tribal people are not even close to representative of the common sense voter majority. A majority that again and again has proven to be the one and only strong force in society to always smell a rat when the forces of top down control try to take things too far.

Mark is always quick to point out that there is plenty of much underestimated good faith going round and that none of the key conspiracy theories bear scrutiny. So neither disillusioned voters nor the Davos crowd are secretly plotting either grassroots revolution or how to secretly pull the strings of society from the top. How can we tell? One of several key reasons is that none of these camps are even close to as organised as individual demagogues pretend in order to stir up a sense of immediate danger. How could they be when either busy trying to make ends meet or completely immersed in dealing with the next company takeover or how to defend the latest quarterly report at the next board meeting?

The silver lining of today’s (unnecessary) confusion, as Mark sees it, is that there are presently amazing opportunities for those who, ahead of key decisions, proactively rise above the tribalism, negativity bias and short term noise – and allow themselves to instead be guided by voter market or consumer market fundamentals. Mark Brolin has again and again emphasised that unless doing so, proactively, Good Governance is impossible. Both in the private sector and in the public sector. It is then also impossible to maximise stakeholder value (voters, shareholders, consumers). He would love to hear from those with the same mindset who want to somehow join forces to improve society.

Key focus areas: Key Development Trends, Transition Period Dynamics, Geo-Politics, Geo-Economics, The Political Cycle, The Business Cycle, Brexit, The EU, Sweden, The Nordics, Media negativity bias, Establishment Top-Down Bias, Centrism In Name Only (CINO), Pretend Moderation versus Real Moderation

In theory just about everyone agrees that no society can remain vital unless allowing challenges to received wisdom. In practice such challenges are still, now as always, resisted by those already in control of the reins of power.


As both a book worm and practitioner Mark has been inspired by countless authors, biographers, historians, philosophers and captains of industry. Meaning by all kinds of switched on thought leaders and entrepreneurs – both alive and long dead. Still, Mark’s earliest and most special professional inspiration was his dad, Swedish TV commentator and presenter Åke Brolin. The latter always stayed true to the facts while also combining a strong natural presence with a completely relaxed style. Yet he would never even consider trying to outshine any of the many fascinating people he met and interviewed. Mark does get he might be just a little bit biased on this one but consider it his prerogative.

Pictures from top to bottom: 1) Frank Sinatra 2) Boxing heavyweight champion Ingemar Johansson 3) Swimmer Gunnar Larsson and diver Ulrika Knape sitting down during an afterparty following both of them winning gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics 4) Björn Borg 5) Sean Connery 6) Pic from the 1970s when relaxing on the job really could mean relaxing on the job 7) Salad Days with great friend Christer Hansson 8) One meeting was particularly important to Mark’s dad – and somewhat significant also to Mark: his meeting with Mark’s beautiful mum.