THE FUTURE IS RUSHING UPON US
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.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
The global financial crisis has clearly illustrated that there is a serious vacuum of ideas on what to do next as a civilization. Majority of the public senses (on various levels) that key leaderships of many Western states do not offer much more beyond printing more money, socially brutal austerity, etc. Playing for time and looting are not solid ideas and everybody knows it. This inevitably opens up society to ideas from below which will eventually result in part of the elite siding with these ideas to co-opt them and ride them to power.
In United States, we saw the libertarian critique meme and the reactionary "going back to FDR policies" meme rapidly become dominant online over the last 2 years. Collapsist and neofeudalism memes are also about to become dominant. Collapsism in particular forces future oriented thought. The non-Internet world is quickly following behind since it took researchers a year or so to educate themselves about the fraud that caused the crisis, to put their books out, and then another few months for people to read the books. Various socially visible pundits can now defer to books as authoritative sources in speaking up. The market for new type of demagogy (talk radio being the old type) is nowhere near to being saturated.
This awakening resembles a sort of a popular front in the making since people from diverse ideological backgrounds are creating a consensus of what they are against (federal reserve corruption, military eating most resources, financial oligarchy and its personal lawyer/butler [US congress]). A marriage of convenience of this sort is usually created when all other options are exhausted and it will split into petty infighting once the current regime is changed.
All the accelerating muckraking and massive corruption exposures going on currently will begin to create a dissident critical mass in the near future. This is due to the gently exponential curve that is word of mouth communication and most importantly due to some elites sensing that popular sentiment now allows certain things to be safely discussed on a national level. Like in a jury herd dynamic, a minority of consistent and tireless individuals can swing the entire group whether at elite level, the level of a bar or church, or national level. The vacuum of workable ideas in leadership allows such informational waves to spread and take hold rapidly. It may have taken Christianity 300 years to become a dominant meme but with present communication technology, informational "viruses" can do the trick in just years.
partially co-opted it with funding demonstrates level of genuine popular support). The great budding coalition of groups who usually don't want anything to do with one another (but who realize they got a common enemy) is gaining strength by the week. The awakening process does not even need to take hold of most people. A society historically needs maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of people to substantially switch their world view in order for real transition to start happening. 1/3 of the population can always be counted on to defend status quo to the last while 1/3 can be counted on to be an apathetic mushy middle that joins whoever seems to be winning or is more popular.
How will ideas be judged, what determines which will win out?
Market of ideas is limited by two things.
1) Practicality of an idea. This means the degree to which an idea is compatible with unfolding social and physical dynamics of human civilization (can't have genuine feudalism, monarchies, or theocracies in 21st century with hundreds of millions of educated people). In a way, the strongest idea is one which is predictive of where we're pretty much headed anyway. This criteria can be said to be desirability of the good (functionality determining desirability).
2) How quickly it can be internalized by the public at large. If one needs to read too many books to understand and accept an idea, then it really is not that great. An idea having been popular previously at some point in history greatly helps with this. This criteria can be said to be the knowledgeableness of the buyer to determine which good is desirable.
So what's on the market presently?
I am going to focus on United States since in many ways the problems of United States show to the world the problems that they themselves will face very soon. The ideas that the American people adapt to resurrect themselves will eventually (if not immediately) be influential on a planetary scale after a couple of decades. The following are listed in no particular order of importance.
a) Reactionary "going back to FDR style" Keynesian monetarism, sound money, and rapid infrastructural development
b) Reactionary "going back to the John Quincy Adams style" American credit system, sound money, and rapid infrastructural development
c) Reactionary "going back to industrial robber baron style" brief and unstable period of something resembling what the libertarian faction wants. Some haphazard and rapid ego driven infrastructural development.
d) American version of Leninist New Economic Policy and very rapid infrastructural development
e) Emulation of Chinese style oligarchic dictatorship and rapid infrastructural development
f) Post-monetarist energy accounting Technocracy and very rapid infrastructural development
It'll end up being f) eventually but not before one or more of the others are torturously tried, muddled through, combined, and recombined. In effect, a)-e) are a connecting bridge of experimentation that will make f) possible in due time. Some areas of the country and the world may experience de facto libertarian c) environment due to only the local oligarchs having developmental resources (see Abramovich in his post as governor of Chukotka). Such frightful old school oligarchy should not really spread too quickly before rapid backlash into other choices. There is also the matter of deflation stifling its development. Therefore the libertarian faction is primarily useful as a vibrant "rural power" part of the popular front. They will quickly fade as America's socioeconomic failure discredits capitalism (fairly or unfairly) in the eyes of humanity at large.
exponential progress of technology consistently increasing planetary unemployment. There will also be the issue of China entering it's "America in the 1930s" period of industrial depression and crisis of overproduction (which in turn stands to discredit that country briefly in the eyes of the world).
We can begin to see how process of elimination reduces the extent to which the current ideas on the market will be utilized. For the older generation, some elements of a) can be used to provide them peace of mind, continuity towards the end of life, and as marketing to politically sell rapid increase in state intervention. Then, for the younger generations, the mythical elements of b) combined with the edginess of d) may follow to demonstrate that rapid infrastructural progress really is occurring and to provide the future American regime with legitimacy (it'll definitely be needing it). Transition period of the next 30 years will definitely be turbulent and interesting for all involved. We must consistently remain vigilant throughout the process to make sure the rich do not derail the experimentation into something truly frightening (which would make us wish for the old USA back).