Future Perfect: Trends for a Not-so-new Millennium
By: Dr. Sam Vaknin
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We construct maps of the world around us, using cognitive models, organizational principles, and narratives that we acquire in the process of socialization. These are augmented by an incessant bombardment of conceptual, ideational, and ideological frameworks emanating from the media, from peers and role models, from authority figures, and from the state. We take our universe for granted, an immutable and inevitable entity. It is anything but. Only change and transformation are guaranteed constants - the rest of it is an elaborate and anxiety-reducing illusion.
Consider these self-evident "truths" and "certainties":
1. After centuries of warfare, Europe is finally pacified. War in the foreseeable future is not in store. The European Union heralds not only economic prosperity but also long-term peaceful coexistence.
Yet, Europe faces a serious identity crisis. Is it Christian in essence or can it also encompass the likes of an increasingly-Muslim Turkey? Is it a geographical (continental) entity or a cultural one? Is enlargement a time bomb, incorporating as it does tens of millions of new denizens, thoroughly demoralized, impoverished, and criminalized by decades of Soviet repression? How likely are these tensions to lead not only to the disintegration of the EU but to a new war between, let's say Russia and Germany, or Italy and Austria, or Britain and France? Ridiculous? Revisit your history books.
Read more about Europe after communism - click HERE to download the e-book "The Belgian Curtain".
2. The United States is the only superpower and a budding Empire. In 50 years time it may be challenged by China and India, but until then it stands invincible. Its economic growth prospects are awesome.
Yet, the USA faces enormous social torsion brought about by the polarization of its politics and by considerable social and economic tensions and imbalances. The deterioration in its global image and its growing isolation contribute to a growing paranoia and jingoism. While each of these dimensions is nothing new, the combination is reminiscent of the 1840s-1850s, just prior to the Civil War.
Is the United States headed for limb-tearing inner conflict and disintegration?
This scenario, considered by many implausible if not outlandish, is explored in a series of articles - click HERE to read them.
3. The Internet, hitherto a semi-anarchic free-for-all, is likely to go through the same cycle experienced by other networked media, such as the radio and the telegraph. In other words, it will end up being both heavily regulated and owned by commercial interests. Throwbacks to its early philosophy of communal cross-pollination and exuberant exchange of ideas, digital goods, information, and opinion will dwindle and vanish. The Internet as a horizontal network where all nodes are equipotent will be replaced by a vertical, hierarchical, largely corporate structure with heavy government intrusion and oversight.
Read essays about the future of the Internet - click HERE.
4. The period between 1789 (the French Revolution) and 1989 (the demise of Communism) is likely to be remembered as a liberal and atheistic intermezzo, separating two vast eons of religiosity and conservatism. God is now being rediscovered in every corner of the Earth and with it intolerance, prejudice, superstition, as well as strong sentiments against science and the values of the Enlightenment. We are on the threshold of the New Dark Ages.
Read about the New Dark Ages - click HERE.
5. The quasi-religious, cult-like fad of Environmentalism is going to be thoroughly debunked. Read a detailed analysis of why and how - click HERE.
6. Our view of Western liberal democracy as a panacea applicable to all at all times and in all places will undergo a revision in light of accumulated historical evidence. Democracy seems to function well in conditions of economic and social stability and growth. When things go awry, however, democratic processes give rise to Hitlers and Milosevices (both elected with overwhelming majorities multiple times).
The gradual disillusionment with parties and politicians will lead to the re-emergence of collectivist, centralized and authoritarian polities, on the one hand and to the rise of anarchist and multifocal governance models, on the other hand.
More about democracy in this article -click HERE.
More about anarchism in this article -click HERE.
7. The ingenious principle of limited liability and the legal entity known as the corporation have been with us for more than three centuries and served magnificently in facilitating the optimal allocation of capital and the diversification of risk. Yet, the emergence of sharp conflicts of interest between a class of professional managers and the diffuse ownership represented by (mainly public) shareholders - known as the agent-principal problem - spell the end of both and the dawn of a new era.
Read about the Agent-Principal Conundrum in this article - click HERE.
Read about risk and moral hazard in this article - click HERE.
8. As our understanding of the brain and our knowledge of genetics deepen, the idea of mental illness is going to be discarded as so much superstition and myth. It is going to replaced with medical models of brain dysfunctions and maladaptive gene expressions. Abnormal psychology is going to be thoroughly medicalized and reduced to underlying brain structures, biochemical processes and reactions, bodily mechanisms, and faulty genes.
Read more about this brave new world in this article - click HERE.
9. As offices and homes merge, mobility increases, wireless access to data is made available anywhere and everywhere, computing becomes ubiquitous, the distinction between work and leisure will vanish.
Read more about the convergence and confluence of labor and leisure in this article - click HERE.
10. Our privacy is threatened by a host of intrusive Big Brother technologies coupled with a growing paranoia and siege mentality in an increasingly hostile world, populated by hackers, criminals, terrorists, and plain whackos. Some countries - such as China - are trying to suppress political dissent by disruptively prying into their citizens' lives. We have already incrementally surrendered large swathes of our hitherto private domain in exchange for fleeting, illusory, and usually untenable personal "safety".
As we try to reclaim this lost territory, we are likely to give rise to privacy industries: computer anonymizers, safe (anonymous) browsers, face transplants, electronic shields, firewalls, how-to-vanish-and-start-a-new-life-elsewhere consultants and so on.
Read more about the conflict between private and public in this article - click HERE.
11. As the population ages in the developed countries of the West, crime is on the decline there. But, as if to maintain the homeostasis of evil, it is on the rise in poor and developing countries. A few decades from now, violent and physical property crimes will so be rare in the West as to become newsworthy and so common in the rest of the world as to go unnoticed.
Should we legalize some "crimes"? - Read about it in this article - click HERE.
12. In historical terms, our megalopolises and conurbations are novelties. But their monstrous size makes them dependent on two flows: (1) of goods and surplus labor from the world outside (2) of services and waste products to their environment.
There is a critical mass beyond which this bilateral exchange is unsustainable. Modern cities are, therefore, likely to fragment into urban islands: gated communities, slums, strips, technology parks and "valleys", belts, and so on. The various parts will maintain a tenuous relationship but will gradually grow apart.
This will be the dominant strand in a wider trend: the atomization of society, the disintegration of social cells, from the nuclear family to the extended human habitat, the metropolis. People will grow apart, have fewer intimate friends and relationships, and will interact mostly in cyberspace or by virtual means, both wired and wireless.
Read about this inexorable process in this article - click HERE.
13. The commodity of the future is not raw or even processed information. The commodity of the future is guided and structured access to information repositories and databases. Search engines like Google and Yahoo already represent enormous economic value because they serve as the gateway to the Internet and, gradually, to the Deep Web. They not only list information sources but make implicit decisions for us regarding their relative merits and guide us inexorably to selections driven by impersonal, value-laden, judgmental algorithms. Search engines are one example of active, semi-intelligent information gateways.
Read more about the Deep Web in this article - click HERE.
14. Inflation and the business cycle seem to have been conquered for good. In reality, though, we are faced with the distinct possibility of a global depression coupled with soaring inflation (known together as stagflation). This is owing to enormous and unsustainable imbalances in global savings, debt, and capital and asset markets.
Still, economists are bound to change their traditional view of inflation. Japan's experience in 1990-2006 taught us that moderate inflation is better than deflation.
Read about the changing image of inflation in this article - click HERE.
True Prophets are Bad Team-players
Prophets and prognosticators of social, political, and economic trends are often shunned, outcast, mocked, or outright punished. Even when their predictions come true during their own lifetime, they are rarely acknowledged or compensated for the abuse and mistreatment meted out to them throughout their "years in the desert". In stark contradistinction, the originators of scientific theories attain fame and a slew of pecuniary rewards once their theories prevail.
This disparity is because people are invested - both emotionally and materially - in prevailing social, economic, and political trends, fashions, and assets. The Establishment rely for their survival on inertia, and on the blindness, ignorance, and acquiescence of the masses. True prophets and successful prognosticators tend to "rock the boat" and undermine this edifice of wealth and privilege. They constitute a present and immediate danger. Social ostracism is the most effective weapon against them. Persecution may follow if it proves insufficient.
But, there are deeper reasons for the resentment and consequent maltreatment of true prophets and successful prognosticators.
First, by straying outside the "official line" and by predicting (and thus promoting) change, they prove themselves unable to conform to extant social mores, edicts, values, and etiquette. This overt non-conformism renders them solitary, idiosyncratic, and eccentric. They are not - and cannot be - team-players.
A good case can be made that human progress is dependent on the ability to work in teams. Disruptive, asocial, schizoid, narcissistic, or antisocial individuals threaten not only the society on the fringes of which they operate, but also the very survival of its members. Hence the almost instinctual aversion most people have towards the maverick, the pioneer, the innovator, and the successful prognosticator.
Second, as far as society goes, the very fulfillment of prophecies, predictions, and prognoses is humiliating and constitutes a major narcissistic injury. The prophet or analyst or prognosticator is in the position to gloat and to say: "I told you so!". Predictions come true and prophecies vindicated are reminders of the obtuseness, inanity, shortsightedness, and sheer stupidity of the masses and their leaders, who refused to listen to the repeated warnings of the prophet or prognosticator.
It is a lose-lose situation. If he gets it wrong, the prophet or prognosticator is subject to scorn and opprobrium. If he get it right, he become a source of constant embarrassment. His very willingness to go on a limb and stick his neck out renders him an oddity, best-avoided, or even best-suppressed.
What can we do to ensure that generations to come have a sustainable future?
Nothing much. The question, as it is posed, caters to our narcissistic presumptuousness and grandiosity in that it implies that we can predict the future with a modicum of certainty and act to subvert it or change its course. This, of course, amounts to delusional thinking. There is very little we know about complex systems such as the weather or human societies, let alone about the confluence of both. Remember how Malthus's dire scenarios were refuted (hitherto) by the advent of the green (agricultural) revolution?
As the White House Science Advisor said (in a 200-pages report released in June 2009), there is "unequivocal and primarily human-induced" rise in global temperatures. This, to quote the CNN, "threatens to stress water resources, challenge crops and livestock, raise sea levels and adversely affect human health ... Longer and more intense heat waves; increased heavy downpours likely to cause widespread complications such as flooding and waterborne diseases; reduced summer runoff, creating greater competition for water, especially in the West; rising ocean water temperatures that will threaten coral reefs; an increase in wildfires and insect infestations; and more frequent coastal flooding caused by rising seas."
There is also no doubt that we need to act to reduce emissions and ameliorate localized adverse reactions to and outcomes of climate change. But our reactions should and can amount merely to damage control in the here and now. Any future-oriented intervention (based on considerations of inter-generational equity) may do more harm than good because of a basic information asymmetry: we know a lot more about the past and the present than we could ever hope to learn about the future.
There is also the implicit assumption that future generations are going to share the same values, preferences, and priorities as we do and, therefore, will be appreciative of our efforts on their behalf. This is "generational centrism". If history is any lesson, nothing can be farther from the truth. Each generation develops its own mindset and adapts to its physical environment (in the long run, our descendants may even relocate to other planets.) Our forefathers, for example, would have been horrified by our penchant for inhabiting polluted, congested, crowded, filthy, and crime-ridden cities. There was no way they could have predicted urbanization, what with their rustic and pastoral predilections.
Finally, sustainability implies a preference for plenitude over scarcity. Yet, abundant natural resources and endowments are rarely conducive to creative and disruptive innovation. The accomplishments and assets our civilization prides itself on are all the outcomes of hardship and dearth.
There remains the ethical question of whether we owe anything (for instance, a sustainable environment) to persons who have yet to be born. Even if we assume that such persons will surely exist, what is the contract that binds us together? What obligations - moral or otherwise- do we have towards future generations? That we wish to do something does not mean that we ought to do it (in the moral sense).
Rights - whether moral or legal - impose obligations or duties on third parties towards the right-holder. One has a right against other people and thus can prescribe to them certain obligatory behaviors and proscribe certain acts or omissions. Rights and duties are two sides of the same Janus-like ethical coin.
This duality confuses people. They often erroneously identify rights with their attendant duties or obligations, with the morally decent, or even with the morally permissible. One's rights inform other people how they must behave towards one - not how they should or ought to act morally. Moral behaviour is not dependent on the existence of a right. Obligations are.
The potential of future generations to become alive is not the ontological equivalent of actually being alive. A potential life cannot give rise to rights and obligations. The transition from potential to being is not trivial, nor is it automatic, or inevitable, or independent of context. Atoms of various elements have the potential to become an egg (or, for that matter, a human being) - yet no one would claim that they ARE an egg (or a human being), or that they should be treated as such (i.e., with the same rights and obligations).
Future generations, in other words, have no rights and we have no obligations towards them.
How to Make a Successful Prediction
Many futurologists - professional (Toffler) and less so (Naisbitt) - tried their hand at predicting the future. They proved quite successful at foretelling major trends but not as lucky in delineating their details. This is because, inevitably, every futurologist has to resort to crude tools such as extrapolation. The modern day versions of the biblical prophets are much better informed - and this, precisely, seems to be the problem. The informational clutter obscures the outlines of the more pertinent elements.
The futurologist has to divine which of a host of changes which occur in his times and place ushers in a new era. Since the speed at which human societies change has radically accelerated, the futurologist's work has become more compounded and less certain.
It is better to stick to truisms, however banal. True and tried is the key to successful (and, therefore, useful) predictions. What can we rely upon which is immutable and invariant, not dependent on cultural context, technological level, or geopolitical developments?
Human nature, naturally.
Yet, the introduction of human nature into the prognostic equation may further complicate it. Human nature is, arguably, the most complex thing in the universe. It is characteristically unpredictable and behaviourally stochastic. It is not the kind of paradigm conducive to clear-cut, unequivocal, unambiguous forecasts.
This is why it is advisable to isolate two or three axes around which human nature - or its more explicit manifestations - revolves. These organizational principles must possess comprehensive explanatory powers, on the one hand and exhibit some kind of synergy, on the other hand.
I propose such a trio of dimensions: Individualism, Collectivism and Time (History) coupled with four trends: increasing self-sufficiency, personal mobility, risk mitigation, and the quest for immediacy (the demise of delayed gratification.) The permutations of these seven parameters provide a complete view of today's and future world.
Thus, self-sufficiency coupled with malignant individualism lead to social fragmentation, functional autism, narcissism, solipsism, and reclusiveness; rampant individualism in conjunction with personal mobility result in the disintegration and dysfunction of social institutions, starting with the family; collectivism in cahoots with risk mitigation yield asset bubbles; time (or, rather, the lack thereof) in bed with petulant immediacy give birth to anomic and antisocial behaviors; and so on. Technology is both the midwife and the handmaiden of these unholy dyads: it fosters and facilitates the dystopia that is upon us.
Consider the tsunami of adultery. It is the outcome of a narcissistic "me first and me only" mentality (individualism and entitlement); collective phenomena such as the modern workplace which is open to both genders and encourages emotional intimacy; a lack of perception of personal or group history (a kind of ahistoric carpe diem); the increasing pecuniary self-sufficiency of women; enhanced personal mobility (geographical as well as emotional); and technological risk mitigation which renders romantic affairs relatively hazard-free (contraception prevents unwanted pregnancies; social networks, laptops, and smartphones allow for encrypted and password-protected illicit liaisons; modern transportation and telecommunication facilitate physical encounters in faraway places on short notice.) Finally, the addiction to immediate gratification makes sexual dalliances irresistible.
Human yearning for uniqueness and idiosyncrasy, for distinction and self sufficiency, for independence and self expression commences early, in one's formative years, in the form of the twin psychological processes of Individuation and Separation
Collectivism is the human propensity to agglomerate, to stick together, to assemble, the herd instincts and group behaviours.
Time is the principle which bridges and links individual and society. It is an emergent property of society. In other words, it arises only when people assemble together and have the chance to compare themselves to others. I am not referring to Time in the physical sense. No, I am talking about the more complex, ritualistic, Social Time, derived from individual and collective memory (biography and history) and from intergenerational interactions.
Individuals are devoid and bereft of any notions or feelings of Social Time when they lack a basis for comparison with others and access to the collective memory.
In this sense, people are surprisingly like subatomic particles - both possess no "Time" property. Particles are Time symmetric in the sense that the equations describing their behaviour and evolution are equally valid backwards and forward in Time. The introduction of negative (backward flowing) Time does not alter the results of computations.
It is only when masses of particles are observed that an asymmetry of Time (a directional flow) becomes discernible and relevant to the description of reality. In other words, Time "erupts" or "emerges" as the complexity of physical systems increases (see "Time asymmetry Re-Visited by the same author, 1983, available through UMI. Abstract in: http://samvak.tripod.com/time.html).
Mankind's history (past), its present and, in all likelihood, its future are characterized by an incessant struggle between these three principles. One generation witnesses the successful onslaught of individualism and declares, with hubris, the end of history. Another witnesses the "Revolt of the (collective) Masses" and produces doomsayers such as Jose Ortega y Gasset.
The 20th century was and is no exception. True, due to accelerated technological innovation, it was the most "visible" and well-scrutinized century. Still, as Barbara Tuchman pointedly titled her masterwork, it was merely a Distant Mirror of other centuries. Or, in the words of Proverbs: "Whatever was, it shall be again".
The 20th century witnessed major breakthroughs in both technological progress and in the dissemination of newly invented technologies, which lent succor to individualism.
This is a new development. Past technologies assisted in forging alliances and collectives. Agricultural technology encouraged collaboration, not individuation, differentiation or fragmentation.
Not so the new technologies. It would seem that the human race has opted for increasing isolation to be fostered by TELE-communication. Telecommunications gives the illusion of on-going communication but without preserving important elements such as direct human contact, replete with smells, noises, body language and facial expressions. Telecommunications reduces communication to the exchange of verbal or written information, the bare skeleton of any exchange.
The advent of each new technology was preceded by the development of a social tendency or trend. For instance: computers packed more and more number crunching power because business wanted to downsize and increase productivity.
The inventors of the computer explicitly stated that they wanted it to replace humans and are still toying with the idea of artificial intelligence, completely substituting for humans. The case of robots as substitutes for humans is even clearer.
These innovations revolutionized the workplace. They were coupled with "lean and mean" management theories and management fads. Re-engineering, downsizing, just in time inventory and production management, outsourcing - all emphasized a trimming of the work force. Thus, whereas once, enterprises were proud of the amount of employment which they generated - today it is cause for shame. This psychological shift is no less than misanthropic.
This misanthropy manifests itself in other labour market innovations: telecommuting and flexiwork, for instance - but also in forms of distance interaction, such as distant learning.
As with all other social sea changes, the language pertaining to the emotional correlates and the motivation behind these shifts is highly euphemistic. Where interpersonal communication is minimized - it is called telecommunications. Where it is abolished it is amazingly labelled "interactivity"!
We are terrified of what is happening - isolation, loneliness, alienation, self absorption, self sufficiency, the disintegration of the social fabric - so we give it neutral or appealing labels, negating the horrific content. Computers are "user-friendly", when we talk to our computer we are "interacting", and the solitary activity of typing on a computer screen is called "chatting".
We need our fellow beings less and less. We do not see them anymore, they had become gradually transparent, reduced to bodiless voices, to incorporeal typed messages. Humans are thus dehumanized, converted to bi-dimensional representations, to mere functions. This is an extremely dangerous development. Already people tend to confuse reality with its representation through media images. Actors are misperceived to be the characters that they play in a TV series, wars are fought with video game-like elegance and sleekness.
Even social functions which used to require expertise - and, therefore, the direct interaction of humans - can today be performed by a single person, equipped with the right hardware and software.
The internet is the epitome and apex of this last trend.
Read my essay - Internet A Medium or a Message.
Consider the astounding revolution of personal publishing.
Today, anyone, using very basic equipment can publish and unleash his work upon tens of millions of unsuspecting potential readers. Only 500 years ago this would have been unimaginable even as a fantasy. Only 50 years ago this would have been attributed to a particularly active imagination. Only 10 years ago, it cost upward of 50,000 USD to construct a website.
The consequences of this revolution are unfathomable. It surpasses the print revolution in its importance. Ultimately, personal publishing - and not the dissemination of information or e-commerce - will be the main use of the internet, in my view.
Still, in the context of this article, I wish to emphasize the solipsism and the solitude entailed by this invention. The most labour intensive, human interaction: the authorship of a manuscript, its editing and publishing, will be stripped of all human involvement, barring that of the author. Granted, the author can correspond with his audience more easily but this, again, is the lonely, disembodied kind of "contact".
Transportation made humanity more mobile, it fractured and fragmented all social cells (including the nuclear family) and created malignant variants of social structures. The nuclear family became the extended nuclear family with a few parents and non-blood-related children.
Multiple careers, multiple sexual and emotional partners, multiple families, multiple allegiances and loyalties, seemed, at first, to be a step in the right direction of pluralism. But humans need certainty and, where they miss it, a backlash develops.
This backlash is attributed to the human need to find stability, predictability, emotional dependability and commitment where there is none. This is done by faking the real thing, by mutating, by imitating and by resenting anything which threatens the viability of the illusion.
Patriotism mutates to nationalism, racism or Volkism. Religion is metamorphesizes to ideology, cults, or sects. Sex is mistaken for love, love becomes addictive or obsessive dependence. Other addictions (workaholism, alcoholism, drug abuse and a host of other, hitherto unheard of, obsessive compulsive disorders) provide the addict with meaning and order in his life.
The picture is not rosier on the collectivist side of the fence.
Each of the aforementioned phenomena has a collectivist aspect or parallel. This duality permeates the experience of being human. Humans are torn between these two conflicting instincts and by way of socialization, imitation and assimilation, they act herd-like, en masse. Weber analysed the phenomenon of leadership, that individual which defines the parameters for the behaviour of the herd, the "software", so to speak. He exercises his authority through charismatic and bureaucratic mechanisms.
Thus, the Internet has a collectivist aspect. It is the first step towards a collective brain. It maintains the memory of the race, conveys its thought impulses, directs its cognitive processes (using its hardware and software constraints as guideposts).
Telecommunication and transportation did eliminate the old, well rooted concepts of space-time (as opposed to what many social thinkers say) - but there was no philosophical or conceptual adaptation to be made. The difference between using a car and using a quick horse was like the difference between walking on foot and riding that horse. The human mind was already flexible enough to accommodate this.
What telecommunications and transportation did do was to minimize the world to the scope of a "global village" as predicted by Marshal McLuhan and others. A village is a cohesive social unit and the emphasis should be on the word "social". Again the duality is there : the technologies that separate - unite.
This Orwellian NewSpeak is all pervasive and permeates the very fabric of both current technologies and social fashions. It is in the root of the confusion which constantly leads us to culture-wars. In this century culture wars were waged by religion-like ideologies (Communism, Nazism, Nationalism and - no comparison intended - Environmentalism, Capitalism, Feminism and Multi-Culturalism). These mass ideologies (the quantitative factor enhanced their religious tint) could not have existed in an age with no telecommunication and speedy transport.
Yet, the same advantages were available (in principle, over time, after a fight) to their opponents, who belonged, usually, to the individualistic camp. A dissident in Russia uses the same tools to disintegrate the collective as the apparatchik uses to integrate it. Ideologies clashed in the technological battlefields and were toppled by the very technology which made them possible. This dialectic is interesting because this is the first time in human history that none of the sides could claim a monopoly over technology. The economic reasons cited for the collapse of Communism, for instance, are secondary: what people were really protesting was lack of access to technology and to its benefits. Consumption and Consumerism are by products of the religion of Science.
Far from the madding poles of the human dichotomy an eternal, unifying principle was long neglected.
Humans will always fight over which approach should prevail : individuality or collectivism. Humans will never notice how ambiguous and equivocal their arguments and technology are. They will forever fail to behold the seeds of the destruction of their camp sawn by their very own technology, actions and statements. In short: humans will never admit to being androgynous or bisexual. They will insist upon a clear sexual identity, this strong the process of differentiation is.
But the principle that unites humans, no matter which camp they might belong to, when, or where is the principle of Time.
Humans crave Time and consume Time the way carnivores consume meat and even more voraciously. This obsession with Time is a result of the cognitive acknowledgement of death. Humans seems to be the only sentient animal which knows that it one day shall end. This is a harrowing thought. It is impossible to cope with it but through awesome mechanisms of denial and repression. In this permanent subconscious warfare, memory is a major weapon and the preservation of memory constitutes a handy illusion of victory over death. Admittedly, memory has real adaptive and survival value.
He who remembers dangers will, undoubtedly live longer, for instance.
In human societies, memory used to be preserved by the old. Until very recently, books were a rare and very expensive commodity virtually unavailable to the masses. Thus humans depended upon their elders to remember and to pass on the store of life saving and life preserving data.
This dependence made social cohesiveness, interdependence and closeness inevitable. The young lived with the old (who also owned the property) and had to continue to do so in order to survive. Extended families, settlements led by the elders of the community and communities were but a few collectivist social results.
With the dissemination of information and knowledge, the potential of the young to judge their elders actions and decisions has finally materialized.
The elders lost their advantage (memory). Being older, they were naturally less endowed than the young. The elders were ill-equipped to cope with the kaleidoscopic quality of today's world and its ever changing terms. More nimble, as knowledgeable, more vigorous and with a longer time ahead of them in which they could engage in trial and error learning - the young prevailed.
So did individualism and the technology which was directed by it.
This is the real and only revolution of this century: the reversal of our Time orientation. While hitherto we were taught to respect the old and the past - we are now conditioned to admire the young, get rid of the old and look forward to a future perfect.
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