We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Military-Industrial Complex Reform

Since defense industry is the backbone of US economy and employs millions of people, it needs to be transformed into an engine of productive national renewal rather than be sharply and rapidly slashed

The military-industrial complex has been the biggest real sector of the American economy since World War 2. The total amount of money poured into defense (and defense related expenditures which wouldn't otherwise exist) is now over 1 trillion dollars annually. Utilizing this proper counting of expenditures (rather than official breakdown that shows defense as just 1/4 of the total budget), the federal government spends 1/3 to almost 1/2 of all money it gets on defense (one may argue that it is even more when costs of years of counter-insurgency warfare are added but let's look at the basics for now).

Millions of Americans get their paychecks either directly or indirectly from the government in this manner. As such, making rapid sharp cuts in the defense budget (under either ideological or budget balancing pretext) would greatly exacerbate dangers to social stability and American domestic national security. Even modest cuts in defense will throw hundreds of thousands of additional citizens out of work and push the current real level of unemployment (20% or 1 out of 5 Americans without a job) to being worse than during the Great Depression. Possibility of serious social eruption with real violence is increased if this final solid industrial pillar of US economy is touched. Even with rather overpriced weaponry, US is still the biggest weapons dealer on the planet. In addition to quantitatively unmatched weapons exports to satellite nations and ideological allies, the government's military purchases is the last thing keeping remaining top notch American factories from being shut down.

Obama administration seems to realize this as has every president for the past 50 years. He prudently extended the GI Bill to send Iraq and Afghanistan occupation veterans to college. It is safer to have Iraqi war vets drinking liquor in college than sitting unemployed, armed, and boiling with personal or political resentment in an economically depressed town or city. Obama and Gates also mostly cut weapons systems so far that are in their research and development phase rather than full production phase. Blue collar workers are still showing up to make mortars, helicopter replacement parts, Humvees, etc.

Although the corporate path to globalization has already destroyed most of the productive industrial capacity in America, the military related factories remain to churn out a wide variety of complex products in large quantities. These assembly lines (and the advanced machinery and managerial systems experts required by them) will be the last thing the Obama administration touches. That is the reason Obama has focused more on health care to reduce long term costs.

It was always inevitable that mechanization in time will reduce total global amount of human workers and constantly increase levels of total unemployment on an international level. It is against this backdrop that the federal government has to work to decide on what to save money on. Here is a fascinating letter to the president and a call to action from 1960s (highly recommended) by scientists warning of mechanization and its consequences. Some quotes are in order:

"Present excessive levels of unemployment would be multiplied several times if military and space expenditures did not continue to absorb ten per cent of the gross national product (i.e., the total goods and services produced). Some six to eight million people are employed as a direct result of purchases for space and military activities. At least an equal number hold their jobs as an indirect result of military or space expenditures. In recent years, the military and space budgets have absorbed a rising proportion of national production and formed a strong support for the economy."

"The problems posed by the cybernation revolution are part of a new era in the history of all mankind but they are first being faced by the people of the U.S. The way Americans cope with cybernation will influence the course of this phenomenon everywhere. This country is the stage on which the machines-and-man drama will first be played for the world to witness"

"* Surplus capacity and unemployment have thus co-existed at excessive levels over the last six years.
* The underlying cause of excessive unemployment is the fact that the capability of machines is rising more rapidly than the capacity of many human beings to keep pace.
* A permanent impoverished and jobless class is established in the midst of potential abundance."

It has been 40 years since the warnings of this report and 40 years of the government disregarding all recommendations within it (as well as very similar observations and recommendations made by Zbigniew Brzezinski in 1970). Since the government has not made a thrust towards utilizing its industrial base (when it still had it) to move into post-scarcity socioeconomics, what remains to be done is make sure the remaining factories keep running. That means reform of the military-industrial complex rather than massive cuts in it. People working for the defense sector can slowly be put to use nation building right here at home.
It is well understood that the defense sector is bloated and corrupt (Lockheed-Martin for instance makes sure to have offices, factories, and people employed in over 40 states to influence congressmen across the board). However, gutting this 60 year old industrial behemoth will not only increase danger from former soldiers stirring trouble but will also create a bit of a brain drain as defense related scientists go abroad. Considering that the funding for exotic weapons Research and Development has increased under Obama, perhaps the government is aware of this and does not want an American repeat of Soviet scientists selling flowers on a sidewalk for a living until finding work in China.

Most importantly, the same factories making advanced fighter jets, tanks, and communications systems can be retooled to serve national renewal just as car factories were retooled to make tanks during WW2. The recent fires in California for example, could not be brought under control because of inadequate amount of firetrucks (some of them 40 years old) and military-industrial complex facilities can be utilized to stamp out fire trucks and other equipment of tangible material use. Under this cover, the government can continue funding the defense associated industries while actually diverting substantial amounts of money to improving social welfare and quality of life. This would be the equivalent to making cuts in defense that are absolutely necessary while being politically doable (since right now major cuts are impossible in any event due to congressmen needing Lockheed corporate money as well as blue collar political support working on Lockheed owned assets).

The way things stand now once the dollar default occurs, military industrial complex will be rapidly reduced anyway. Since it is a lot more real and tangible than the now deflating financial sector, its demise will bring a lot more societal misery than can be imagined. That is why it must be reformed to be more than an advanced killing machine. A good way to go about it would be to:

1) Increase the number and scope of collaborative projects with European aerospace and military counterparts when it comes to weaponry. This way, the burdens of developing next generation platforms can be shared while keeping American scientists employed within NATO space. Just like Indians and Russians are now jointly working on supersonic BrahMos missiles, there is no reason why Europeans and Americans need to engage on separate jet, ship, helicopter, and missile research.

2) Use executive authority to make surviving car and airplane factories collaborate with cutting edge military production facilities. Since German style state capitalism is coming to United States in the near future anyway, it will not be a big jump from ordering car companies around to mandating collaborative production of 21st century civilian vehicles, planes, communication tools, etc. Even national health care problem can be rapidly solved if the coverage given to soldiers is expanded to provide for all Americans.

3) Declare a national emergency as a pretext (war on dingy infrastructure to beat the Chinese or some silly marketing phrase like that) for using the military assets in socially productive and creative ways. This is an unfortunate tactic but seems to work the best in this society rather than direct appeals to compassion and data. An American government that says "hey lets use our soldiers and our space assets to put up these broadband towers all over the country so everybody has faster Internet than Japanese do" would have much greater success than one that follows recent example of Finnish government by saying  "all people have a right to the fastest Internet possible".

4) Of course who can forget about the 700 military bases US has around the world to maintain dollar dominance as a reserve currency. As the dollar declines, so should the number of American bases overseas.

Not using the military industrial complex as a vital tool of reform with the biggest potential (while first reforming the tool itself and taking enough control of it) would leave the federal government with few other options.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Myers Briggs Personality Type and Political Affiliation

Modern psychology and brain anatomy studies reinforce the need for proportional representation democracy. That is because roughly 80% of people have brains that predispose them towards protection of the status quo

We've all come across people who just seem incapable of modifying their perspective based on new data being presented. Most of us still mouth the words that additional education (or indoctrination/propaganda as is often the case) is what is needed since surely this person will turn around if his/her consciousness is sufficiently expanded with additional data backing your perspective. However, all too often deep inside we know that some people are "hopeless". This conclusion concerning failure of propaganda is reached from all over the political, cultural, and religious spectrum at one point or another. It thus becomes fashionable to outright dismiss "inconvertible" individuals and opposing zealots (on political and religious fringes of any given population) as nuts and crazies.

Personality theory in psychology allows us to better categorize individuals in society without resorting to name calling. Myers-Briggs typology in particular offers a better construct (compared to useless terms like conservative and liberal for example) to predict how an individual will act politically and socially. Myers-Briggs research combined with biology and brain scan techniques also offers us hints at understanding the underlining anatomical basis that predisposes a person to be either a disagreeable radical or a gentle follower.

There's been little relative popular attempts to scientifically explain why the bulk of the population is always a warzone between the extreme fringes. It's just assumed that it will always be this way just like there will always be criminals and extremely altruistic self-sacrificing givers. This assumption seems reasonable and obvious but gives rise to two other creeping and unsettling assumptions:

1)  The human population is relatively fixed along a bell curve type continuum. Perhaps this is better visually represented by a sphere with a number of spikes extending from it. The moderate population is the bulk of the sphere and the zealous "radical" factions (whose opinions differ dramatically from the statistical average) are the spikes extending from the sphere's surface (as well as into the interior to some degree which would represent silent sympathizers). It is irrelevant to label the spikes as extreme left, right, etc. All that is important is that a relatively fixed minority of the population (lets say 10-20% range) will be:

a) prone to modes of thought that are tangibly different from majority's

b) prone to action and lifestyle based on these thoughts

Authors like Friedrich Hayek for instance, observed that in 1920s Germany roughly a million workers swung their support between communists and Nazis based on who was winning. It was noted that the two seemingly opposing ideological parties clashed with one another the most because they were very often competing for recruits in the same psychological pool of young people. Considering how many overexcited Americans called both Bush and Obama the new "Hitler" in recent years, we can easily imagine how an aggressive drooling at the mouth anti-war protester from a big city could have been an equally excitable protester at a teabag rally if only he was born in a small town and into a different culture.

2) Since the ratio of intensely active people (prone to being perceived by population at large as "wingnuts"or criminals or radicals or genuinely informed and committed activists, etc) to more relaxed apathetic majority seems to be roughly fixed across all societies and globally as a whole, the explanatory basis for such a dynamic can only be biological. Just like there exist (and can further be bred) aggressive dogs and peaceful friendly dogs, there exist aggressive people, natural Buddhist-esque peaceful people, etc. A person who is an aggressive pit bull equivalent (and who wants to impose his views of the world onto others the most) would differ in his relatively extreme ideology depending on what part of the world he was socialized in. Psychiatry has shown us that people are born with different ratios of neurotransmitter production and quantitative as well as qualitative differences in the types of chemicals that affect their mood and cognition. We now understand that people differ a lot more in terms of brain architecture than they differ in terms of things like body type, skin color, fast twitch/slow twitch muscle ratio, etc.

The reason why these assumptions are unsettling is not because there is a degree of fatalism involved ("he will be a radical of one stripe or another no matter what" or "he will be socially lazy, shallow, apathetic, and uninvolved no matter what). Obviously with modern socialization methods and pharmaceutical modification (with psychological genetic and cybernetic modification to follow in near future), an individual can be shaped more than ever before by society and by himself. The assumptions are unsettling because if the broad direction of our views, opinions, and political/cultural/religious affiliations are largely physiologically determined at birth, then societal progress becomes enormously more difficult. Societal progress can be defined here as one zealot faction (that is seen by majority as the most "correct" in its socioeconomic policy perspectives and formulations of what humans should do next) dragging everybody else along behind it as has always occurred throughout history.

Obviously people will disagree on what constitutes progress (some actually thought arrival of Reagan was progress) but if majority of people are physiologically predisposed towards the status quo, progress of any sort becomes a lot harder in a democratic society. In the past, one intense dedicated fringe of the aristocratic elites dragged the other nobility along behind it (since majority of nobility would also have a soft apathetic bulk) and thus dragged the rest of the population behind it as well. We also had scenarios of power vacuum developing and one intense fringe political faction overpowering the others (as in the case of Bolshevik and French revolutions) and filling the leadership position to then drag the rest of the serfs behind it.

In today's democratic structure however, protection of the status quo is a lot more preserved since the moderate bulk of the population has a political voice and thus a way to provide the ruling elites with legitimacy. The moderate bulk of the elites now also has ever more sophisticated consent and perception manufacturing methods to influence the newfound voice of the majority. For a small number of dedicated activists, pushing society along towards desired version of progress against the forces of social inertia is now harder than ever. The powerful activists now need to sway both the fellow elites and the people simultaneously.

Let's finally get to the Myers-Briggs part of the article to see what we are now dealing with.

The most widely used way to get a glimpse of people's underlining neural physiology has been the Myers-Briggs psychological questionnaire (one of the better versions found online for free can be found here). Over the past few decades, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been utilized to collect enormous amounts of statistical data on personality types found within the human population. The statistical type breakdown (I am using a combination of 3 different sources on the %. Don't mind the catchy positive nicknames each type and group cluster has been given. What matters here is the number within a population.) so far has been as follows,

Protectors (SJ)

ESTJ - Overseer, supervisor
11 - 11.6 - 13= 11.8%
ESFJ - Supporter, provider
10 - 12.3 - 13= 11.7%
ISTJ - Examiner, inspector
6 - 11.6 - 12= 9.8%
ISFJ - Defender, protector
6 - 10 - 13.8= 9.9%
All SJs


Creators (SP)

ESTP - Persuader, promoter
4.3 - 8 - 13= 8.4%
ESFP - Entertainer, performer
8.5 - 9.5 - 13= 10.3%
ISTP - Craftsman, mechanic
5 - 5.4 - 9= 6.4%
ISFP - Artist, composer
6 - 8.8 - 9= 7.9%
All SPs


Intellectuals (NT)

ENTJ - Chief, fieldmarshal
1.8 - 3 - 5= 3.2%
ENTP - Originator, inventor
3 - 3.2 - 5= 3.7%
INTJ - Strategist, mastermind
1 - 1.5 - 2.1= 1.5%
INTP - Engineer, architect
1 - 2.5 - 3.3= 2.2%
All NTs


Visionaries (NF)

ENFJ - Mentor, teacher
2.4 - 3 - 5= 3.4%
ENFP - Advocate, idealist
2.1 - 5 - 5.5= 4.2%
INFJ - Confidant, empath
1 - 1 - 1.5= 1.2%
INFP - Dreamer, healer
1 - 2 -4.3= 2.4%
All NFs


Each of the personality types (the well defined strong ones at least who haven't self reported to be a mutt of 2 or more different personalities) can be seen as a specific brain type. As mentioned above, the physiological neural difference between 2 people of vastly dissimilar brain types is a lot more significant than how a person looks on the outside. That is because the brain type determines a mental and emotional predisposition of a person for the rest of his life. People classified as "bipolar" or "anti-social/sociopathic" for instance, have neural structures that will make them lean towards some things more than others during their entire lives.

click to enlarge
We can see from the statistical breakdown that SJ (left-brained people with parietal lobe strength) predominate in the overall population. The second biggest group are the SP (right-brained with parietal lobe strength). Together they are almost 80% of the population. The SJs tend to be conservative, authoritarian in outlook, conventional, focused on concrete "what is", and protective of the general society. They don't rock the boat too much and defer to tradition. The SPs tend to be fun loving, crafty, entertaining, and have uncanny ability to focus on "what is" (with their parietal lobe) in order to fix and modify it.

If you look at the cute nicknames given to different brain types, you can see that the human herd pretty much needs all of them if it is to evolve and survive. Some types are needed more than others in the great scheme of things. The SJ and SP groups for example are conveniently numerous. SJ population provides a great amount of soldiers, policemen, social workers, self sacrificing charity givers, accountants, and status quo protectors. In other words they keep the herd safe even if it means stagnating the herd through using their positions in the executive to slow down rapid change. SP group provides us with artisans who improve quality of life for the herd through provision of entertainers, artists, dancers, singers, and resourceful improvising mechanics. SPs can be said to exist to entertain SJs and keep them on their toes by having more fun than them.

It's easy to see how SJs lean republican and SPs lean democrat overall. The jokes that democrats have better sex lives than republicans begin to acquire an element of truth (considering the different approach left and right sides of the brain take in deciding on how to deal with the here and now). However, the two large groups are united by their concern with all things as they are in the now. That makes the two groups friendly and status quo leaning by default. An ESTJ born in Brooklyn may identify as a traditionalist democrat whereas an ESTJ born in West Virginia may identify as a traditionalist republican, but both are more likely to seek similar professions and get along if they hang out together. Brain type identification provides a lot more material to predict a person's behavior and views on the world than simple political identification.

The overall theme emerges that people with neural computers that predispose them to either protect the status quo or be apathetic about it (since they are busy pursuing hedonistic adventures) are the supermajority that are not as interested in "what can be" (as the less numerous NP and NJ groups tend to be). A point must be made here that not one group is more important than another and that even their numerical breakdowns seem amazingly appropriate. It would be turbulent for the herd to have for example, more ENTJs/INTJs than ISTJs/ESTJs since the problem with authority that NJs have (due to their desire to be the authority themselves) would create unsustainable infighting and not allow enough people who follow orders. Each brain type has a very key social niche and function and over thousands of years there evolved an intricate genetic balance and ratio. There are of course also multitudes of physiological "mutts" who are a hybrid of all and can't be "pigeonholed" (the most common complaint brought against psychological typology in general).

Interestingly enough, the Hindus have spent thousands of years evolving classification of human beings into 4 broad psychological varnas or classes. Each was considered as important as the other (all parts of the same body) with their own particular temperaments and duties.

Some brain types are literally made to create new theoretical constructs on how society should be organized and which steps it should take next (INTPs, ENTPs,). When balanced by the emotional consideration and input of INFPs and ENFPs (since strong T theorists are prone to being too rigidly rational and thus not take into consideration the emotional impact of their constructs) new paths for society can be developed that would be acceptable to SJs and SPs combined. However, as explained above, these people will always be outvoted and marginalized by politicians who mobilize the other more numerous groups. "Think of the children!" is a call to arms for ESFJs and ISFJs for instance whereas being tough on crime, national strength, and defeating foreign enemies is the bread and butter of ESTJs and ISTJs.

This dynamic reinforces the need for proportional representation in our system of governance. Proportional representation is practiced in most European Union countries to great effect. This way each brain type cluster can get a political party of their own. The marginalized 20% of the population can get representation and even serve as coalition kingmakers. New voices can be heard in the discourse. Today the 20% of population has to either join the big parties they don't like and "radicalize" them (seen by the tail wagging the dog phenomenon of militants dominating today's Republican party and driving moderates out of it) or abstain from the process thus depriving society of valuable input. In proportional representation, each batch of brain types seen as "radicals" can find a party to call home and really support. They would also have more political representation to vent out their frustration and to institutionalize their presence and views. Citizens can then pick and choose which vision of progress to support and which to leave behind.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cuban History: A Historic Microcosm of Most New World Republics?

PART 1: Can the history of Cuba teach us anything about the future of United States? A different way of looking at Cuban history..

INTRODUCTION: Come along reader, on an epic interdisciplinary journey to explore what led a dynamic rapidly growing nation to be fatally looted.

If one accepts the notion that similar societies encounter roughly similar milestones in their development, then one accepts possibility of societal forecasting. Lets see if Cuban past can teach us anything about America's future. A model of societal forecasting is presented which takes into account the physical size of the country as a key factor in the speed of development.

Social, economic, cultural, and political changes can take place rapidly within a geographically small piece of land. This is due to sheer logistics. A small plot of land, like Singapore, can go from a port with peasant farmers supporting it to a 100% urban city state in less than 200 years. We're talking about third world peasants reaching world's 5th highest GDP per capita by just creating an exponential historical burst of activity. Singapore went through the process that Dutch port in lower Manhattan had gone through, only quicker. Since it was a country in itself it became hyper-efficient, the way Manhattan would be if it had to be its own nation.

In a way, same historic pattern can rapidly "speed up" in a tiny country given proper conditions, even if it began later. At some point, the developmental curve of a society becomes more exponential and history rushes with great speed. The physical energies expanded to say, turn a whole country into a city state, are much greater the larger the country is. Physical efforts and developments of travel, logistics, communication, and migrations all require greater raw power to spread through an area the larger it is. Corresponding social symptoms of the physical efforts like these (like changes in political, social, cultural patterns and trains of thought) are thus also slower to spread through an area the wider it is.

Let's use an extreme imaginary example to take this to a logical conclusion. If the world's people decided not to use contraception, we can see the sheer energies needed to turn most of the surface of the planet into a city state of 30-50 billion people (considering their social thinking is against competing continent sized city states). Obviously in this scenario, some/most food would be grown on some other planetary surface even if chunks of the planet become Central Park equivalents. Where would be the exponential turning point in this scenario? Maybe at 10-20 billion, and rapidly rising, there would be global political unification to deal with use of all livable space. There'd need to be central executive to decide what space to use for living, resource extraction, food production, and recreation. However the completion of the world city state would be happening at ridiculous speeds towards the end compared to the humble beginnings of armed men running at each other with sharp objects and dragging salted meats in caravans.

The model presented shows that if two countries, differing in size, share the same physical developmental pattern, the smaller one can complete it earlier even if it started later. In essence, if very general patterns exist one can look into the social future of a society by observing the past of a smaller society that had similar physical development. Social aspects, of the underlying physical arrangement/development of a society, are manifest by country's political structure, economy, cultural views, etc. How does the rate of technology ( that is inching towards exponential by mid 21st century) affect all of these physical developmental patterns that in themselves reach an exponential point? Technology allows one to do a thing with less energy such as communicate, travel, transport, and build. Thus, it allows a physical pattern, such as urbanization towards the city states mentioned above, to a accelerate.

For a mathematical demonstration lets use a clean example for now. Lets say two identical settlements start simultaneously at 10 sq kilometers. They are inside a computer simulation where each has an isolated chunk of identical land (in terms of resources) and no contact with outside. One has enough land to grow into country A (with maximum area of 100 sq kilometers) and one into country B (with maximum area of 2000 sq kilometers). They have access to same technology and grow at a rate of 100% a year utilizing same expansion techniques. In a way, they are just cloned virtual mold. Country A would achieve urban saturation in its 4th year of existence and country B would reach saturation in its 8th year of existence. Even if B started out a year earlier it would still finish earlier. Even if B was given futuristic technology that allowed it to expand 110% faster AND started a year earlier it would still finish later than A.

With this example, we see how a small country (that differs in quality and quantity of natural resources, differs in quantity and quality of technology, and differs in quantity and quality of its people) can still over shoot a larger country in terms of historically reaching the point where its larger neighbor will be. Different physical progressions result in different progressions of culture/politics/economy and perhaps even religion. But obviously the real wold is not a sterile simulation but a world in flux where all societies physically and thus culturally interact with one another. One can convincingly argue that even if there was some very general pattern/s ( like urbanization with rising population and subsequent rise in efficiency in utilization of land for living and resources) then countries following different trajectories always distort each other to the point where seeing any pattern is impossible and absurd? A larger backward society can swallow whole a smaller society that is ahead and reverse its growth. A new technology can be acquired by a larger backward society, due to the larger human pool of talent, and it can skip a stage in the pattern perhaps? What if a country that covers a large area decides that urbanization is immoral and thinks its more prudent to force the whole world to live in small towns, killing off extra people, or sending them to off world colonies? What if the Bolshevik revolution isn't Russia's version of French revolution (just coming later due to being in larger geographic area and thus levels of development)? What if no pattern exists or there are half a dozen pattern clusters just like personality clusters of human beings?

All these are solid points and but ignore the definition of what a pattern is. These points do not touch upon the sheer usefulness of observing physical flux of the world, categorizing it, putting what's observed into groups and clusters, and then finally acting upon these observations. How do we know Sweden is VERY unlikely to go on a murderous jihad against Norway this year? How do we know that a congregation of KKK members will probably not contribute to third world humanitarian aid? After all everything is in flux and motion and maybe Swedish society is far more open to influence from fundamentalist Muslim clerics through watching television than we think. How do we know Somalia is unlikely to become an economic powerhouse in next 20 years even if a few super-geniuses come of age in it to become Somalian political leaders?

Most societies are now stuck in the framework of states with borders that aren't warring too much. It became much easier to categorize, compare, see patterns, and yes even use that to learn from and predict near future flux they will be in. If one thinks that the inside of a country is perhaps too fluid (because people keep moving, trading, learning, fighting, and leaving ) then how can one ever justify categorizing and predicting behavior of a smaller unit of people such as goths, elderly christian fundamentalists, and so on. Those groups have patterns of development even if they are right in the middle of great diversity of social and physical forces. If giving more advanced technology to feudal religious fundamentalists just makes them more technologically advanced and capable zealots, then a pattern of fundamentalist strength and longevity can be established. If giving them advanced technology makes them into kind Social Democrats like those in Sweden, then a pattern of technology making people enlightened and politically progressive can be established.

Ancients talked of basic social forms repeating and manifesting themselves, in similar ways, regardless of technological, ethnic, or temporal differences between people. What were those basic pattern types? The city versus the countryside. One man rule, many men ruling, and a few men with lots of resources ruling. They've talked of those who rely on weaponry and those that don't. Strategic configurations were discussed and very basic formulas created. We now have a more advanced understanding. The obviousness that the physicality of terrain, economic tools/technologies, and demographics give the society its character has long been clear. We now also know that physical structural differences within a person's brain goes a long way in showing what route that person take when interacting with society and how far society can influence this person. We now know some people have a physiological predisposition to aggressiveness, emotionality, intellect, and calmness. Within all the populations of the world, these physiological factions exist and they all partially determine who will be on top, the bottom, and out in the trenches regardless of how much schooling they received.

With enough data, we can connect the dots, and start learning from groups of people who have perhaps taken a route in the past so similar to ours that their past resembles our future. If say, their past resembles our future just 30%, then combined with all of our current knowledge we might even have up to 1/5 shot (taking into account resemblance not discovered and gaps in analysis) at getting the future right and planning for it. 1 in 5 is still very daring for countries but perhaps not as daring as predicting that a marriage will last a certain amount of years, that a business idea will fail, or that suburbia will always be an oasis of American ingenuity, wholesome nuclear families, and parked flying cars.

Now we can look at Cuba since Cuba is small and much older than we think (the way Japan is much older than Chinese think) with a much richer history to teach us.

PART 2: An explanation (utilizing model presented in Part 1) on why Cuba possibly makes for a better case study than Brazil to perhaps learn something about America's future. Also a brief retelling of Cuban development until independence in early 20th century to set up discussion.

In part 1, we've established a model with which it might be possible to predict development of one society by looking into the past of another. Why look at Cuba to potentially learn about future of United States? Why not, say Puerto Rico, where the land area is smaller (thus accomplishing whatever historical pattern rapidly)? Conversely, why not Brazil which is the third largest in the hemisphere and closer to United States in terms of energy levels needed for urbanization and expansion? Wouldn't Brazil ( where settlement started earlier than in US and had its white ruling population dip below 50% much earlier than US) be a better indicator of American future even though historical process didn't burn through it as rapidly as Cuba?

Valid points but some geographical areas were just never independent enough to see behavior of national elites playing in a sovereign box. Puerto Rican elites never shed their lapdog status sufficiently to have enough breathing room to mold a society. It doesn't help that the nation was not only too small to sustain itself without being a trading hub (Singapore, Hong Kong) but that it was the first to be hit by approaching hurricanes being built up in south Atlantic. Dominican Republic was also occupied too many times for their elites to get a sense that their territory is anything other than a plaything for regional powers like the Baltic states are.

Brazil, however, does potentially offer some opportunities for learning when it comes to:

1) Post-racial solidarity of the educated class

2) Urbanization and its effects on the rural poor

3) Authoritarian one party politics emerging as Urban elites acquire dominance over rural ones and concentrate their wealth behind one political faction

4) Amassed urban wealth over generations and its effects on cultural values of each urban generation. Think how urban American grandchildren ( of people that rural slave morality calls "hipsters" these days) will view rural and suburban people in the future.

Think of the sheer sense of privilege and distance that education building upon itself over generations brings. Think of the contempt/pity at the rural poor that it will bring from urban areas as the cultural gap widens. Think of how the egalitarianism (of early settlers as they are united in hardship and in control of non-white natives) gives way to insurmountable rural/urban gaps in views on life, pleasure, and power. Maybe evidence of history speeding up can be seen by the fact that it took the children of 3rd/4th generation Italians/Jews (who moved to suburbia to fit in with ruling ethnic group) very little time to start moving back to urban areas and start building hedonistic wealth generating power centers. Wealthy Brazilians have long considered 25 year olds just teenagers trying to find themselves.

The process is just really beginning in United States and it'll be interesting to see how accelerated it becomes with the aid of evolving technology. Interestingly enough, Brazil is still young and Brazilian elites have not stopped using language of the countryside amongst themselves. Once they start speaking a more fashionable language of a foreign role model society between themselves (many already have good control of English), alienation will be complete. It'll then be in the best interest of the urban rulers to throw efforts behind one party authoritarian rule to strike a balance between enriching themselves as well as modernizing the countryside to prevent redistributive/secessionist rebellion (or out of pity if that still exists in post-Nietzchean world). Russian elites that were recently butchered/exiled show a glimpse of what happens when a cultural break between city and country grows so large that elites are viewed as truly foreign parasitic entities (rather than responsible power centers that mold entire society for the better).

But that's for another day. Lets do a clear cut intellectual exercise and do a simple retelling of Cuban history with a new lens. We'll speed through from the arrival of Spaniard conquerors to right after independence from direct Spanish rule in early 20th century.

Veterans of fighting and mop up operations in Spain (and butchering of Muslim civilians) arrive in Cuba. Many have no social mobility and further employment in Spain and are escaping poverty or the law. After months of miserable dangerous voyage without women present they proceed to exterminate the native men on the island and enslave their women. A lot of aggressive genetics (manifest as ESTP/ESTJ/ENTJ/ENTP personalities by Myers-Briggs test) are introduced into the women who are then absorbed into Spanish settler population. The island becomes a transit point but many settlers remain and import slaves to grow tobacco and sugar. Higher levels of sugar and nicotine consumption, compared to other colonies, gives an element of agitation to the culture that began in violence and control (a tongue in cheek suggestion). Descendants of individualistic mass murderers become pillars of the community with 18th century equivalent of picket fences (only two slaves in every garage instead of cars).

Since Cuba is a transit hub, there is always traffic going through it and its upper classes are more cosmopolitan than those of English colonies through more contact and migration. They are more heterogeneous ethnically and have more logistical communication with each other than those in other Spanish colonies. Thus we don't necessarily see purely Spaniard ruling class like the purely Anglo ruling class emerging in English speaking United States ( and continuing until the present). That is helped by some absorption of French plantation owners fleeing Haitian slave rebellion. Catholic sexual prudishness is diluted and slaves are impregnated more often than in American south.

Although Cuba started out a century earlier than the first Dutch/English colonies, its economy begins to stagnate under Spanish mercantile rule. However, the elites feel it's still more profitable for them to be
protected from United States and they don't have endless tracts of land to make money off (like those rulers clamoring for independence in other Spanish colonies). Numerous and long established (rather than recently displaced like in American south) slaves pose a danger to Havana if it pushes for independence since non-white population might exploit the chaos. Spain is happy to oblige and rewards Cuban elites for loyalty with more economic autonomy.

With new sugar extraction methods, the entire island is connected and elites make enough money to consider pursuing similar development as in United States. Enough of the wealthy are capitalist liberals now and create an alliance with poor white workers to end slavery so both don't have to compete against free labor. It took them longer to reach this level of development because Spanish imperial regulations prevented structures necessary for capitalism and industry to flourish. Cuba reaches level of social development where Confederate States of America would be in the 1960s if it broke away.

Cuban leadership is now ready to use nationalism to make many black and poor Cubans fight for residents of Havana. The benefits of sovereignty outweighed the resources needed to repay the poor for these services. Cuban upper classes were thoroughly liberal in the American tradition at this point. Like the Baltic elites in the 90s, they utilized offer of American support to push out the influence of a stagnant declining Madrid.

Successful struggle for independence commences and many non-whites rise in the military and social ranks during the common struggle. Lighter mulatto populations have already assimilated significantly into society before slavery was ended and now significant number of blacks are doing the same. Considering the society began with ethnic cleansing of natives and intermixing, elites are comfortable with the assimilation and just continue class and educational discrimination.

Spain is pushed out but US military occupies and allows American oligarchs to buy 10% of best land and majority of exports. Iraqi-nization continues as the occupiers graft an early 19th century US democratic system onto an older racially mixed society. Only educated Cubans with enough property are allowed to vote. US creates a hearts and minds campaign of public works projects to bring health/education for the poorer citizens so they aren't used by independence elites as much (similar to strategy Union emancipating slaves to weaken Confederate elite power). The first and only candidate on the presidential ballot is a Maliki type character who fought against Spanish rule in the past but now acquired substantial connections with American rich. United States pulls out of Cuba and allows them independence on condition they attach favorable export terms to the constitution and allow a US base to operate indefinitely.

Following a few more quirks, the democratic system begins to chug along with independence founders elected for many years. Cuba is sovereign economically but has free trade with US as per constitution. As far as American satellites go, they are between Japan and Puerto Rico ( if one could use that spectrum of US control). However that proves to be an economically beneficial arrangement since lack of protectionist measures create a de facto economic union. Nationalist Cuban elites slowly regain control of the best land and export of resources. Many American oligarchs stay and are assimilated into Cuban ruling class taking part in molding of the new state. This adds and strengthens the leadership of Cuba.

Sugar can be sold freely without inefficiencies and an economic boom commences. What does one of the oldest new world societies do with a flood of money now that it got democracy to play with in a small area?

PART 3 A lot of effort, energy, and force have been spent to modernize the country BEFORE Fidel Castro took over..

We continue an overview of Cuban history started in Part 2 up to Fulgencia Batista's loss of power.

In part 2, we've began to take a general background look at Cuban history up to the moment of its independence.

Founding fathers, heroes of the independence struggle, rule Cuba for the first 30 years. One of these founding fathers, Gerardo Machado, starts out as a liberal and wants to turn Cuba into "Switzerland of the Americas". To achieve this long term vision, he decides to go against the constitution (partly written by Americans), stay in office longer, and become a developmental authoritarian. Communist party supports him since he engages in mass infrastructure construction and social projects that require higher taxes on the rich. He might have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for that dastardly Great Depression. Some modernizing authoritarians just come along at the wrong time to be tolerated. Central Asian presidents for life and Putin wouldn't be where they are today if the world depression we're experiencing hit us 8 years ago. Price of Cuba's equivalent of oil, sugar, dropped even before the international depression.

Regardless of the economic downturn, Machado tries to whip country into shape even if it means machine gunning protesters here and there. People's psychological expectations of continuing growth are thwarted by economic reversal and they take the anger out on the government. A coalition of elites across the entire political spectrum is formed and pressure the senior military to remove the forcefully developmental president since Peter the Great type tendencies don't fly in the 20th century.

Lets look at the people who forced Machado from power and see if they got a better plan compared to his island long highway to improve trade/national integration, new schools/educational reforms, and efforts to diversify the economy from sugar.

The usual suspects emerge.

1) Educated/well off urban liberals who value hands off government and freedom of speech more than rise in average standard of living. They want to preserve integrity of the 20 year old constitution that is often violated anyway. Democracy and term limits for them are more important than social stability.

2) The oligarchs who think he is taxing them too much for a useless thing like "modernizing" and strengthening national power, building things for the poor, and regulating the economy to point it in direction where it's less dependent on American demand.

3) Leftist elites and labor unions who think the government is in cahoots with the oligarchs by not taxing them too much or going further with its reforms. These people think that unless a leader is ideologically leftist, the person is not good enough.

4) Rural conservative elites who think a government supported by communists is unacceptable. The people who feel religious, poor, and Catholic Cuba is better than a strange modern wealthy industrial Cuba that lost its roots.

Well these impatient know it alls got their wish, destabilized the country, and got American support which made senior military ask Machado to leave. Good job guys. The pragmatic tyrant who knows how to compromise and does what works is removed. Orange revolution accomplished. Chaos ensues.

An enormously powerful individual and co-equal to Fidel Castro emerges at this point who orchestrates a coup. His name is Fulgencia Batista, a mulatto from the poorer ranks of the military. He doesn't take power right away, controls the country behind the scenes, and puts up no less than 6 presidential puppets into office from different political backgrounds in just 7 years. Although some puppets are competent, he removes them whenever and shows that each side of the political spectrum fails in its own way. Acting like an archetypical INTJ, he stages free and fair elections for himself at the right time and is popularly elected. He is also supported by the Communist Party who sees in him a multi-racial modernizer truer to form than bourgeois Machado was.

Batista creates one of the most progressive (as in progressive) constitutions in the world. He provides a wider social safety net than in United States. He understands that staying unconstitutionally

Corruption overflows the government. Batista's work is about to be undone and he stages another coup in 1952. At this point however, Batista is 51 years old and has grown hedonistic and thus weak while out of power. Fidel Castro is 28 years old and at the top of his physical and mental strength. Batista's decadent physiology is incapable of forcefully transforming society and he tries to just ride along till death like Nursultan Nazarbayev. Fidel senses weakness and lack of spirit in his modernizing equal. He learns from Batista's mistakes. He strikes,utilizing support from some usual suspect elites as well as organized criminals. He wins.

The rest is history.

What caused one of the greatest lootings in Western Hemispheric history? What allowed the countryside to violently loot the urban areas and make over a million urban middle class/educated/progressive

people to flee to Florida? How bad did it get that a communist revolution happened? Were they eating each other? Zimbabwe-esque famine? Surely the country was going down the drain that a communist was needed to modernize it? Cuba must have been dirt poor compared to United States? Industrial workers probably had zero safety nets? Unions were forbidden? Probably had Laizze Faire fascist hyenas running the show?

None of the above.

PART 4: Similarly to USA, Cuba was the wealthiest Latin American country IF one averages the richest and poorest. It was better off than most in Latin America

A look at Cuba's socioeconomic situation before Castro's take over and comparison to today's United States.

In part 3 I have summarized the political developments of Cuba until Fidel Castro's take over. Now it's time to see what the socio-economic situation was like for the people at large. I hinted that it wasn't really terrible overall (contrary to what a communist revolution might indicate). This makes it all the more troubling that a redistributive revolution occurred.

From 1903 to 1958 Cuba's GDP grew 1110%. (see Figure 1) Yes, even after drop in price of sugar in 1920s, a couple coups, two modernizing dictators with mass opposition, social unrest, electoral violence, as well as Great Depression. We see a dip from 1925 to 1936 (which coincides with Machado's rule from 25 to 33) but it also coincides with sharp sugar drop before Machado took power and depression that hit only 4 years into his dictatorship. Even during that downturn the government continued to industrialize and increase amount of social services.

Now lets summarize a few points for a feel of economic situation right before Fidel Castro takes power. We can see that it wasn't 5% gilded age oligarchs sitting on top of endless poverty like in 1916 Russia. Old theories, that Cuban pre-revolutionary society was economically stagnant, unfair, and/or neo-colonially exploited by US do not hold water. Lets see how it really was in Cuba in the 1950s:

1) A large advanced middle class compared to most of the world and noted by UN
2) 8th highest industrial salary in the world (higher than Denmark, Belgium, France)
3) The richest and most developed nation in Latin America
4) 1 month paid holiday, 8 hour workday, 9 days sick leave, 6 weeks holiday before and after childbirth
5) Havana fourth most expensive city in the world (Key piece of information) and with more cinemas than New York
6) Third lowest mortality in the world and death rate that fell from 22.4 per 1000 in 1903 to 10.7 per 1000 in 1953
7) Highest rate of education spending in Latin America
8) More doctors per capita than United Kingdom
9) Largest labor union privileges in Latin America with bans on dismissal. Politically powerful labor.
10) GDP per capita equal to Italy and higher than many countries like Japan (admittedly no big achievement since many countries were ruined in the war)
11) 4th highest literacy in the region and higher than in Spain (economy could sometimes not keep up in demand for education ) (Key piece of information)
12) One of the highest ownership rates for radios and cars in the world. 4th highest Latin American consumption of printed media
13) Lowest infant mortality in Latin America.
14) One of five most developed countries in Latin America in terms of agricultural population with only 46% of people living in the countryside (Key piece of information)
15) Key destination country for talented immigrants. Proportionally, a bigger target of emigration than United States
16) Was successfully in the process of diversification from being an export based economy in the 50s. Used high sugar profits to create a stabilization fund to absorb economic shocks and aid in diversification. Tourist industry and non-traditionally exports began to bring substantial money and the economic prospects for growth looked good.
17) Between 1949-1958, Cuba's annual share in average income paid in worker's remuneration (wages, fringe benefits, pensions) was 65% and only behind US, UK, Canada

We see that things on the average national level kept rapidly improving. So why were people of all political stripes so angry? Well, the urban professional class (the industrial workers), still made 1/6 as much as American workers. Cubans oriented themselves on United States. (Key piece of information)

 Even though their society was better off than most Latin countries in many categories, it psychologically seemed that they were falling behind or not advancing fast enough. It is also more difficult for economy to grow once it becomes industrial enough and Cuba's growth slowed to 1% GDP a year before the communist revolution. The above 17 factors and 1% growth a year does not make for catastrophic redistributive conditions. Regulation of business and privilege of labor could have always been lessened by a Cuban Nicolas Sarkozy equivalent without violence.

The psychological reasons of reality clashing with expectations explains the discontent of the urban dwellers but not the severity of the criminal looting that arrived from the rural areas.

At this point we know about the Gini index and that the average GDP of a society can be high while income/social disparities are enormous. When a billionaire walks into a poor bar, the average wealth drastically rises. However, considering Cuba had a large solid middle class, we know this was not the case. Cuba definitely had a fatty middle of people with medium incomes to stabilize the social situation.


What we do see is that the split between the urban areas and the countryside became much sharper in every category. The rural data presented here refers to rural workers working for third parties rather than peasants who worked for themselves. The urban data refers to professional/industrial workers in 6 provincial capitals with Havana bringing the urban average up.

54% of Cuban people lived in urban areas. That compared to 80% in today's US but US urban description includes sub-urban areas where whites escape supposed inner city rot.

(side note: In the next few decades in United States as:
1) whites flee economically dying cities like Detroit
2) inner cities are reversed with suburbs in terms of where the poor people live 3) rent culture takes over from home owning culture, we can expect to see more of stark contrast develop between city and country in US future as suburbia disappears.)


75% of rural housing in Cuba was classified as either in bad shape or ruinous compared to 30% in urban areas.

24.4% of rural housing was classified as in moderate or acceptable shape compared to 50% in urban areas.

.6% of rural housing was classified as in good shape compared to 20% in urban areas.

Havana and other major cities were noted for high level of land/housing speculation that drove up the prices enormously. Their housing bubble didn't pop before revolution. It was unprofitable for private developers to build in the countryside and government had other more important concerns, like education/healthcare, than building affordable good rural housing.


Cuban society 60 years ago was far less complex technologically than US society in 2009. We all know these days that finishing college/grad school in 2009 is like finishing high school/college in 1960. Same thinking must be applied to 1950s Cuba that was lagging behind 1950s US.

of Cubans who never went to school (1.5 million), 67% lived in rural areas
of Cubans who reached middle school (86,000), 95.3% lived in rural areas
of Cubans who reached high school (88,000), 95.7% lived in rural areas
of Cubans who reached college (1,292), 2.4% lived in rural areas (KEY)

23% of Cubans older than 10 years were functionally illiterate and 46% of these people lived in the countryside. Number of illiterate sharply rose in older adults. We see that vast majority of elites were based in urban areas from which political power flowed and decided national destiny.

Efforts to bring development and infrastructure to the countryside were prevented by this low literacy/education as well as rural conservative oligarchs who exploited rural populations for political votes. People in rural areas literally did not know what was in their economic interests and did not have enough consciousness to understand and properly express their socio-economic interests. Many of the rural illiterate poor just served as seasonal labor for either agricultural industry or to serve city dwellers in unskilled tasks.

Agricultural sector of 1950s Cuba could be compared to its modern equivalent of food preparation, packing, and working in McDonalds or supermarkets. Those rural Cubans that got some schooling probably had enough consciousness to realize that its very difficult/expensive to live in Havana so they tried to make something of their life in small towns. Illiterate Cubans thought they might as well make some money in the cities even if it means living in suburban slums if necessary.

It might be safe to say that 2009 American middle school does a better job at bringing an individual to higher level of consciousness than a Cuban high school (if not a rural college) in the 1950s. It is difficult to make accurate comparisons with United States but they become troubling if we start attempting to make them. Only 28% of American population has finished some type of Bachelors degree and only 85% of American population has finished high school. It means roughly 2/3 of American population is in a consciousness/cognitive spectrum that compares to Cuban illiterate-middle school spectrum. That is not sufficient for them to financially make it in rapidly growing urban areas like NYC/Boston or make the best political decisions for their areas (considering the wealth/power of rural American oligarchs).

It is very difficult to think that America has equivalent of peasants but we must understand that technology is progressing at an increasingly exponential rate. The economic/scientific/political complexities of the world increasingly require at least a good modern bachelors as a base. It is very possible that grad school has already or will soon surpass college as the high school equivalent in American 1950s. Obviously most Americans these days do not fall under the category of functional illiteracy but perhaps the definition of what's illiterate needs to be revised or broken into levels.

As American elites increasingly and disproportionately live in urban areas, we can begin to see the political power of urban areas rise dramatically. Serious modernization efforts will then become possible with EU as the role model society. However, as we have seen in Cuba in part 3, even militant rapid modernization efforts can fail to prevent violent redistributive social environment. They might not be fast enough to satisfy the real demand of rural areas or the psychological sense of progress amongst the urban educated. United States also lacks a solid export based way to bring income for modernization.

We see the supply of education not satisfying demand and that is compounded by the illiterate equivalents of modern society having higher birthrates. The birthrate disparity due to modern contraceptive education, provides another difficulty for United States that Cuba did not have (at least to the same degree). Education cannot build upon itself. Even if forceful militant public efforts at providing it (versus the private oligarchic control of supply) are undertaken, it might not be enough. The government is still in only the early stages of assessing the full educational dilemma.

PART 5: Focus on similarities of widening gap between city and country, cultural trends of power elites, and difficulty of modernization.

Conclusion of Cuban analysis to hopefully catch glimpses of socioeconomic future awaiting United States.

Part 4 touched upon rather uncomfortable similarities between pre-revolutionary Cuba and modern United States when it came to educational disparities. Part 1 explored a framework with which  to compare evolution of similar societies based on land area they occupy. It hinted that some of the patterns that are about to occur in United States have already occurred in Cuba. What does that mean?

That means that educational and thus cultural gap in United States has not become as great as it was in Cuba right before the communist looting. The current US gap hints at what's to come rather than serve as an analogy to 1950s Cuba. We're in the early to medium stage of the cultural urbanization process that might sharply speed up as it gains momentum. Only in 1980s and 1990s did American educated start to slowly trickle back to urban areas from suburbia. True urban renewal began. Even then, only a few cities were recipients of the emigrating suburban talent (such as New York City). During that period we still saw some white flight into suburbia from proximity to non-white inner cities. The later suburban arrivals were whites that got accepted into American society late in the game such as Italians, Jews, and Slavs. In a way, they were moving against history since the evolution and improvement of best entertainment for educated professional class of people is primarily found in urban areas.

The American cultural gap between grad school whites and some high school/just high school non-whites is immense. Even if Soviet style mass schooling infrastructure starts to be built in every underdeveloped area, it will be a couple of generations until the gap starts to narrow sufficiently. As we have seen from the Soviet experience, many central Asians did not fully close the developmental gap with their white Siberian counterparts even with such forceful educational initiatives. Efforts in the direction of more forceful education are very difficult since America never fully organically desegregated.

Slavery in United States didn't end on its own after naturally burning out like it did in Brazil and Cuba. In Brazil and Cuba, poor white workers pushed to politically end competition from free labor in their own  country. Some large urban capitalist businesses (that relied on more skilled workers) also wanted to eliminate competition from businesses that utilize free labor. A rural capitalist making same product as his urban competitor can increase profits by utilizing slave labor for janitors and construction workers to cut costs. Urban business, for which utilizing slave labor is more difficult if not illegal, cannot effectively compete and thus joins an alliance of poor whites and liberals to end slavery.

The biggest complicating factor for a smoother comparison of US to Cuba is how slavery ended. The above mentioned process never burned out naturally in United States since slavery was ended by Union bayonets rather than by voluntary adherence to local law. This is not to say that Cuba didn't have post-slavery de-facto Jim Crow and social discrimination for many years. It occurred but was milder like in American northeast in the 70s and was helped by large amounts of interracial marriage. The involuntary end of American slavery retarded conditions where poor whites and non-whites can start developing economic post-racial class solidarity and common political interests. As such, many modern uneducated whites still feel more nationally integrated and "American" than their co-equal non-white "other". This allows elites' appeals to nationalism to work better in southern states from which poor white American soldiers disproportionately come from.

Meanwhile, this allowed the American educational/cultural gap to widen even deeper and prevented society from thinking about the types of modernization efforts needed. If Confederate States of America successfully separated in 1860s then slavery would have naturally burned out in a few decades and the population would have become much more racially intermixed sooner. The military would have been much more intermixed as well and the sheer amount of rising mulatto elites would conspire with urban liberals to push Confederate States on a path to school, health, and infrastructural modernization. Late 19th century southern political resistance to occupation and national integration retarded the process by a century. Jim Crow prevented the artificial term of "American" (which is no different than the term "Soviet" or "Chinese" as far as multi-ethnic empires go) from applying to all sooner.

History caught up. Now Republican Party will have to become multiracial, redistributive, and in cahoots with empathies of urban liberals in order to survive. As it re-organizes (if it ever does), migration of educated to urban areas will be mostly complete. The sheer concentration of masters and doctorates diplomas in urban areas should start to resemble educational breakdown of Cuban 1950s society. The housing bubble collapse, weakening dollar, and greater competition for declining white collar jobs should speed up the process. By 2020s/2030s, the income divide between the countryside and urban areas will become enormous (that is if authorities manage to prolong capitalist world order a while longer). Many cities will not make it and will be abandoned to continuously shrink like Detroit while others will attract the best talent.

Since national elites will get to intermingle more, social cultural polarization amongst them will further alienate them from their rural or suburban roots. Suburbia at this point will lose its appeal as a safe peaceful retreat and many suburbias (not just those by abandoned cities) might become 21st century equivalent of slums. The contrast with new Euro style inner cities will become more shocking than today's contrast between Detroit and Manhattan's lower east side.

In the first half of the 20th century, Havana had more entertainment for an advanced urban aristocracy such as stripclubs, more hedonistic nightlife, and an amazing cosmopolitan cuisine. That's one of the reasons it became a tourist attraction in an era when plane tourism was dangerous and expensive. However wealthy Americans didn't go to Havana because they could indulge in socially liberating hedonistic gratification at the expensive of poor peasants. They went because they saw the sophisticated urban wealthy educated Cubans at the stage of development which will be reached by wealthy educated Americans in 2020s/2030s and so on (using the model of analysis developed in part 1).

In a way, visiting Americans were able to taste futuristic advanced hedonism of their great grandchildren. That's not saying that the general poverty of the rural Cubans did not create appeal of sex workers and such. Cheaper sex workers and wonderful beaches however exist throughout other Latin American countries and were just a garnish on the Havana steak. Cuban nightlife/entertainment was years more advanced than one that existed in the prudish New York City or Las Vegas. Things that are only now appearing to become more publicly popular amongst children of American rich (such as sexual swinging) happened amongst European wealthy and educated as far back as 19th century and beyond. Cuban urban class (living in 20% of the best housing in the country) was already as "spoiled" (in the eye of Puritan morality) and socially conscious/accepting/tolerant as middle class New Yorkers a generation from now.

What do we mean by socially conscious? As we saw in part 4, even though the wealth of urban areas controlled politics, it was in their best interest to spend large amounts of money on modernization. Russian elites know that the best way they can achieve more wealth/power domestically and internationally is to develop the countryside. Government leadership will understand that US will further and further fall behind EU (in sheer power) if drastic modernization efforts are not started. If Republican party reorganizes into a populist force, it'll prod the cities to modernize quicker. If it doesn't then serious modernization efforts should still begin in US once the situation beyond city borders gets desperate enough. We now have mass decentralized electronic media to shame sensitive city dwellers into accepting higher tax burdens more quickly. Numerous white collar workers should begin to organize into politically powerful Cuban industrial union equivalents. Once again this assumes that Barack Obama manages to reform and thus preserve American capitalism for a couple more decades.

As Cuba and Russian Empire have shown, if 5% of population is surrounded by functional illiterates then the illiterates can be swindled out of a lot of money and resources through conspiracy and social construction. Cuba's corruption was unstoppable since those in charge mingled together in the same close urban area and devised new schemes for the country and how to make money. The only thing that allowed a power vacuum to develop is some elites deciding to not share the spoils, having too much power, and the infighting that occurred.

United States might be beyond ability to engineer peaceful decline into the 21s century at this point. That is because modernization efforts on the scale needed require:

1) enormous national resources
2) united political center
3) a lot of political capital
4) popular legitimacy
5) solid economic base

and most importantly

6) time and patience over generations

Even then they are potentially very destabilizing. They can create psychological sense that government is incompetent, not doing enough, corrupt (which it will be, Iraq war and bailouts are just appetizers), and too weak to do what is needed. Elite adherence to tradition and constitutional law (so far done relatively successfully in US) gets strained enormously in such an environment.
If technological stop gap measures for education (like advanced Internet learning) are not found, then we are looking at potentially devastating turn of events. We might even see some violence in future years once some elites find out how to exploit the rural discontent and find allies in urban areas. With fertility rates of the uneducated higher, the task becomes more difficult by the day.

It is doubtful that a great nuclear power will be allowed to be greatly destabilized from within by EU/Russia/China but their cooperation is not guaranteed considering China and Russia are facing similar problems. Hopefully exponential progress in technology will allow us to find solutions to manage the national decline peacefully so United States of 2020s and 2030s meaningfully contributes to European economy. Cuban rural population looting the cities, taking over residences left by those fleeing to Florida, and providing education/healthcare for themselves violently under guidance of urban elites (who betrayed their urban educated neighbors out of desire for power) serves as a lesson. It probably wont get to that point in US any time soon or if it does it'll take on a brand new strange form. However we can learn from how an old, progressive, wealthy, and growing American republic with a lot of potential ended up dying. Now instead of having skyscrapers Havana still has cars driven from its golden age of civilization.

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