The Future? It’s Already Here
Let’s backup a bit here. It’s really easy to get emotional about the incredible political disaster that a minority of our US citizens caused for all of us. As I’ve said previously, this is actually part of a much larger problem that has resulted in the steady collapse of the dominant capitalist economic model and the governmental model of representative democracy. These are problems that have been making themselves more and more apparent in the last ten years with now a sudden seeming cascade into fascism. The cause is accelerating technological change causing a profound shift in the nature of human social institutions. This is probably best known as the fourth industrial revolution. We have been experiencing the arrival of a future that is, to quote William Gibson, already here but unevenly distributed. And that is the core of the problem.
In human terms the problem is one we have come to know fairly well in the late twentieth century. There is a lot of new stuff and there are a bunch of people who just don’t get it. Remember when there were people without phones and email? Things were changing and now they are changing even more and even faster. Since this is both human social organization and economic system change it’s a double whammy. The old one, two. And then the old one, two again. With a twist on the end. The economy went down and didn’t come back except in some places. Both understanding and benefits have been very uneven in distribution. And these are not two things but the halves of one large change.
The fourth industrial revolution is the change from capital to social and intellectual. This is a very big and very basic change. So many people don’t get it. Millennials mostly get it because they didn’t know the old systems when they worked. But that doesn’t mean they can easily understand and articulate the difference. They just know how to navigate and while it is changing even more quickly they are pretty use to that. People in the countryside and rust belt towns were left behind. Plain left behind by accident. Home alone and shit keeps happening.
With this reality clearly in mind it all makes more sense. This has and is happening everywhere with the same uneven distribution. Most of the population, increasing steadily, lives in large metropolitan regions. The changes are fast and people adapt quickly. We mostly speak the new language and know the new values. If not we’re learning. The problem is that this is ununderstandable to the folks left behind and they are losing out economically because they still think that money is what counts and they know they don’t have enough of that.
The trouble is money is still important. But money symbolizes value and that use to be physical assets. That’s the old economy, i.e. capitalism. Money is still here but the new value is in intellect and creativity and this is causing profound change in all parts of human society. For capitalism and asset building the rule is uniformity and quantity. Production lines with repetition and uniformity in people fits the model really well. Do the same things repeatedly but faster with the same kind of people and you will make more money and can retire in comfort. That held true through the third industrial revolution but the jobs starting going away. Unfortunately that system is now long gone.
Creativity does not value conformity or repetition. It values diversity and change or innovation. We hear these words everyday but we don’t realize what they mean and how different that meaning is for those who get the new economy and those stuck in the old. This change in values is reflected in society and the values inherent in the fourth industrial revolution made us value diversity in relationships, social roles, and culture. Simply the fact of massive upheaval and immigration that works through urban centers allows immigrants to be normal and diversity to be recognized as a new form of wealth.
We backed all the way up here to say that Trump or any other pseudo-fascist shouter by definition doesn’t understand the change. They are opportunists who gain power on ignorance and anger and always by promising a quick return to the old ways. They are a tragedy that must be controlled but are completely bound by the old system of values and social organization that is already gone for a large majority of the metro population. In the larger change they are irrelevant. And the larger change can be delayed but can’t be stopped because the future is already here in the fourth industrial revolution. The Third Reich was to last a thousand years but only lasted a bit over ten. Trump will be lucky to last ten months.