Bold New World: The Essential Road Map to the 21st Century
a book by William Knoke
(our site's book review)
Knoke believes that, in the future, the Information Age will be second to the Placeless Society. The equations about power and wealth will have to be reformulated to fit the new reality of near = far in the Age of Everything-Everywhere, where people and goods often move instantly or nearly instantly from one place to another.
He dispels the myth of the immigrant as a drain on our society. There are many benefits to having immigrants enter the country: they produce more than they consume, pay more taxes than they take in social benefits, are less prone to crime, and are more entrepreneurial, hard-working, forward-looking and courageous than most people. A full 25% of immigrants are professional or technical workers, compared to only 15% of the American population. We get many scientists, programmers and engineers from immigrant populations—if they didn’t come here we’d have serious, even critical, shortages. American science depends on immigrants: although the foreign born constitute only 6% of the US population, they constitute over half the graduates in computer science, engineering or math.
One can see how ludicrous those people are who say the foreigners come to take American jobs, and that’s bad for our economy. In truth, they come to fill the slots that would otherwise remain unfilled, due to America’s dislike for these jobs, and this contributes enormously to our economy. The Asians who work in Silicon Valley alone have been crucial to the success of US technology. Knoke's book was written in 1996.
Although the foreign born constitute only 6% of the US population, they constitute over half the graduates in computer science, engineering or math
2013 Note: In the Bay Area over half—50.1%—of the tech workers were Asian in 2010, up from 38.7% in 2000. (Source: Asians Now Half of Silicon Valley Work Force, http://www.itbusinessedge.com, Susan Hall, 2012.) The American education system’s backwardness in science, technology, engineering, and math training is having a bad effect on the job market—and, believe it or not, it's only getting worse. Those who aren’t well prepared in science and technology will see their options in the job market only become fewer and less attractive with each passing year. Tech companies are thrilled when highly qualified Asians immigrants apply for their job openings.
Tech companies are thrilled when highly qualified Asian immigrants apply for their job openings
Summary: there are a gazillion Americans looking for work—or pretending to—but few are qualified. So foreigners are hired . . . duh! One would think Americans would stop studying things that are fun and interesting and easy and start studying science, technology, engineering, and math so they can land one of the great-paying jobs that are going begging. They can always study the fun and interesting and easy things when not at work, letting this be a hobby, which is the way it should be. The colleges need to be jumping up and down hollering to their students: GET A CLUE! Which is better: being an expert basket weaver that flips burgers all day or an expert engineer that lives in a big house, has plenty of discretionary income, golfs at the best clubs, and is happier than a pig in poop? (Not exactly sure what the pig sees in being in poop . . . )
The engineer lives in a big house, has plenty of discretionary income, golfs at the best clubs, and is happier than a pig in poop
Which is better: being an expert basket weaver that flips burgers all day or an expert engineer that lives in a big house, has plenty of discretionary income, etc.?
Knoke describes the advent of the full-service industry, with a more complete menu of what needs can get filled. Service workers of the future will have to be problem solvers, empathetic, resourceful and articulate to thrive in the Service Age. Knoke points out that companies must come closer than they do now to filling the real needs of the consumer. But this brings up the point that the closer companies get to real needs, the more the customer will be reminded of the unfilled needs of his childhood and the more the pacification of symbolic need-filling activities will backfire. Most people who’ve looked hard at the maturity level of the majority of people who work in companies have seen that they have great difficulty identifying and filling their own needs, much less anyone else’s. They’re simply going to be unable to fill needs better unless the society’s social structure loses much of its dysfunctionality.
The facts are that most people aren’t very good at intimacy, at relating, at caring for others, at parenting, at keeping themselves healthy, at problem solving, at understanding, at listening to others, and at respecting other’s differences. Unless MCs can turn around the maturity and self-actualization levels, values, social and relational knowledge and communication abilities of the average worker, Knoke’s dream of Service Age workers who are a lot more capable of good relating and filling needs than today’s workers is merely a pipe dream. In truth, people don’t become more because their jobs try to pressure them to become more. People become more because they somehow trade the dysfunctional aspects of their lives for nicely functional ones, and then they soon begin to transform because of their empowering environment.
Knoke’s dream of Service Age workers who are a lot more capable of good relating and filling needs than today’s workers is merely a pipe dream
Media Sexploitation is a book that explains how the marketers exploit the customers: "He’s told what he needs and wants in a way that pushes his buttons that relate to struggles to be loved during childhood, insecurities and fears about his or her attractiveness, hygiene, independence, manhood or womanhood. He’s vulnerable to advertising because he’s insecure in his being, other-directed, and easy to manipulate by yanking the chains of his insecurities." And yet, Knoke points out that companies must come closer than they do now to filling the real needs of the consumer. The customers and workers are all Americans pulled from the same people pool. So how are these vulnerable, insecure workers supposed to rise above their monolithic inadequacies in order to fill others' needs when they cannot even fill their own?
The American consumer is vulnerable to advertising because he’s insecure in his being, other-directed, and easy to manipulate by yanking the chains of his insecurities
Consumers have been taught, by tens of thousands of advertisements, to consume when they're unhappy in order to soothe their tensions. The stores are normally full. Do the math.
For the most part, they won't. But the marketers will simply have to give customers the illusion of need fulfillment in a convincing enough manner to keep these customers coming back for more, regardless of need fulfillment. There's a saying: "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Happily, most customers buy simple items like clocks, pens, or glue, so if that was the need then the need can be considered filled. Except when it comes time for customer service. The big stores have seemingly figured that one out: Return anything, for any reason, no questions asked. A returns person works at the Returns desk, performing a "don't ask, don't tell" operation which involves crediting credit cards the price of the item. There are even some helper people in the stores that can answer simple questions about merchandise—very simple questions. It all works, even if not quite as Knoke envisioned it. Now, good help in the stores, from knowledgeable people—that's another story. Hence all the time-wasting buying and returning unsuitable items.
Knoke does some really commendable thinking about Islam in his book. He sees them lasting until 2050 or so and then their chosen path will collapse for the same reason the communist path has collapsed. Both grew out of an ideological fervor to create a Utopian world by yielding individualism to a greater good, which was socialism for the Bolsheviks and Allah for the fundamentalists. (Islam's most fundamental concepts are a rigorous monotheism and that the purpose of existence is to worship God. That is about as "fundamental" as one can get.)
Islam's most fundamental concepts are a rigorous monotheism and that the purpose of existence is to worship God
But neither the orthodox/fundamentalist/absolutist brand of authoritarian social engineering nor the communist/leftist/secular/moral relativist brand of authoritarian social engineering will create anything remotely like Utopia. The latter has already died off (except for China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam) from following Marx’s erroneous social engineering theories (China only works because of the aspects of it that have turned to capitalist enterprise, and North Korea is a basket case). The former, Islam, gets more out of touch with the real world and more hopeless as a 21st century lifestyle every day that goes by. Both require strict conformity to ideological norms; both have an inner circle of misguided “experts” who issue decrees; and both view the rest of the world as evil and unworthy and ripe for forced conversion at any cost.
Knoke says that strict following of Koran and Islamic law effectively freezes a billion people in the Middle Ages. What will eventually be their downfall is the puny living standards and factional battles between moderates and fundamentalists. The only question is whether they will expand the nature of their downfall so it is also our downfall.
He sees no future for hierarchies, but a glorious future for networks which render place irrelevant but connections super-relevant. (Google's search algorithm values your websites' connections [incoming links] as the highest factor used to calculate websites' search engine results page position.) See The Healing Web: Social Networks and Human Survival and Social Networking and PSBs in MCs.
He sees SDI and long-range missiles as mostly useless, since it’s much easier and more convenient to implement attacks—even devastating ones—without cumbersome hardware to worry about. (Many say that the most devastating nation killer would be an EMP pulse delivered 300+ miles above the center of the U.S.) Knoke sees a future in which governments will subcontract independent hit-squads, seeking to attack terrorists on their own level: assassinations, mysterious explosions, and kidnappings. (La Femme Nikita and Mission Impossible were TV shows about this subject.)
SDI and long-range missiles as mostly useless, since it’s much easier to sneak a suitcase nuke over U.S. borders
Our borders are trivial to sneak across
Once terrorism gets under full swing, fear will dictate that we give up some of our privacy in order to have surveillance everywhere so there are ways to detect the terrorists. (See The Rise of the American Corporate Security State.) Other restrictions, such as ones dealing with travel, phone taps, etc., will also be utilized to make us safer. Private security firms will boom. Eventually, the rising weight of terrorism will snap the back of the once powerful but now obsolete nation-state. (Our 19 trillion dollar debt is the first crunch of that back snapping.) He agrees with Toffler that the widening disparity between regions in the U.S. “may well trigger an explosion of extremist movements demanding regional or local autonomy or actual secession.” People are rejecting the centrally planned in favor of the locally determined, giving the nation-state less reason to exist. Devolution and decentralization are what the future will be about. The U.S. has federal anti-pot laws, yet Colorado and Oregon and Alaska and Washington State and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use.—Feds be damned. It is a clear case of centrally planned bowing to locally determined.national debt
Unless American citizens start defecating money, the debt has put us all in deep doo-doo
Knoke doesn't mention it, but if you stand back and view the U.S. holistically, from the point of view of a wise but disinterested analyst, you begin seeing patterns and trends that lend considerable credence to his devolution and decentralization prediction. The two political parties cannot accomplish anything. They shut down the government (twice so far) over policy beefs. They are hopelessly gridlocked, deadlocked, and partisan. All pretenses of bipartisan cooperation have disappeared. The American people mistrust, and often hate their leaders and what are jokingly refered to as "representatives" (since we all know that the corporations who fund their election campaigns end up being who they really represent).
The pushmi-pullyu: a perfect symbol of U.S. political gridlock
We've cobbled together three metaphors that clearly summarize what's going on:
- The overall goal as described in the United States Constitution: parties cooperating and representing the people, for the good of the people. Image: the "ship of state" is a sailboat with a crew of two, a Red (Republican) guy and a Blue (Democratic) guy. One runs the tiller and the other mans the sails. They cooperate wonderfully and the boat whips around on the water with great aplomb and alacrity—this boat is handled with competence.
- The media presentation: parties rarely cooperating, but instead bickering incessantly and moving the country forward only infrequently. Image: the "ship of state" is a sailboat with a crew of two, a Red (Republican) guy and a Blue (Democratic) guy. One runs the tiller and the other mans the sails. They bicker incessantly and the boat barely moves away from the dock—this boat is handled with incompetence which may end up shipwrecking it on the rocks someday—perhaps soon. The two ass clowns in the boat put on what to them is an interesting spectacle of Culture War-based loathing, one-upmanship and upstaging, with the media colluding to find this farce interesting and relevant even though it's normally neither. Visions of Doctor Dolittle's pushmi-pullyus dance in our heads—they couldn't make any headway either—pulling in opposite directions.
- The ugly reality: What the Republican or Democratic parties do is just a distracting sideshow—it has little meaning or importance—except as sleight-of-hand. The wealth of the middle class gets robbed behind the scenes by the corporations and politicians (which actual investigative reporting would discover) but the media sees only the angry posturing and accusatory rhetoric—a tale told by an idiot (media flunkies), full of sound and fury (blaring, wanton sensationalism), signifying nothing. The media has no real news or real reporting, as it is just the mouthpiece of the corporations and politicians. The media often report the press releases from corporations and politicians verbatim because they don't want these sources to dry up so they just report what they're told, bowing politely as they do so. Image: the "ship of state" gets its treasure hold plundered as the media's camera ass clowns focus on a sensationalistic fistfight going on on deck, a pseudo-battle staged by the Red (Republican) guy and the Blue (Democratic) guy. This prestidigitation gets the public's attention on the fisticuffs on deck purposely so the public will fail to notice the shameless pilfering going on below deck, where the real action is.
The media focuses on a sensationalistic fistfight going on on deck, so the public will fail to notice the wealth of the middle class getting robbed behind the scenes by the corporations and politicians
The two parties in our pseudo-democracy are moving farther apart daily, and each is the opposite of the other. And worse yet, the American people are just as hopelessly polarized and alienated and frustrated and divided as the politicians that pretend to represent them. Conservative America really isn't the same country as liberal America. These two factions coexist grudgingly at best, sometimes managing polite pseudo-smiles, more often disdainful looks. ("Your bunch is wrecking our country," each conservative American is thinking of each liberal American, while cursing under their collective breaths. And each liberal American is thinking the same thing of each conservative American.)
So, since the politicians are getting nowhere, Congress is deadlocked, and shutting down the government is their only relevant "accomplishment," and our democracy has been replaced by an oligarchy in which the polarized people and polarized politicians are of little concern to the corporations who are running the show: they're making out like bandits and laughing all the way to the bank. And the middle class continue to get scammed out of their wealth by those people who have power, and this wealth always seems to end up in the pockets of the very rich and the biggest corporations. So no matter what or whom one votes for, the result is still the same: massive wealth transfer from those who are barely scraping by to those with money squirting from every orifice, as the Founders turn over in their graves. (See The US is an oligarchy, study concludes.)
Our nation's actions are making the Founders turn over in their graves
So, given the rotten state of affairs just summarized, how can devolution and/or decentralization be far behind? In comparing blue Democratic states and red Republican states, one finds Republican states to be mostly Rural, Poor, Conservative, Dogmatic, Old, Regressive, No change, Religious, Less school, Creationism, Capitalistic, Afraid, Bellicose, Militaristic, Apocalyptic, and Isolated; and one finds Democratic states to be mostly Urban, Moneyed, Liberal, Open minded, New, Progressive, Change, Scientific, Educated, Evolution, Socialistic, Academic, Intellectual, Diplomatic, Peace seeking (more contact with outside world). Such a summary requires much stereotyping, of course, but it does furnish an idea of why the two groups and the parties that represent them will never peacefully coexist, cooperate, or respect the other's views. (Source: Red States vs. Blue States Summary; 2008 Election Results; and U.S. State Political Traits)
If all the liberals lived together in the blue states (and told the Bubbas: "get out of here you Bubba-flavored bastards!"), and all the conservatives lived together in the red states (and told the bleeding-hearts: get out of here, you bleeding-heart eggheads!) then we'd obviously need to create three countries: East Liberal-land in the east, West Liberal-land in the west, and Bubba-land in the heartland, with the liberals in New Mexico and Colorado, even though in the majority there, having to choose to move west or east, just like any other red state liberals; and blue state conservatives would shift to the heartland. The Soviet empire underwent devolution into several self-governing countries. Why not us?
The map below shows where the liberals and conservatives are in their 3 countries, but it is BEFORE the liberals in New Mexico and Colorado move east or west, so these two states are initially part of West Liberal-land—BEFORE their move. The reason it would not stay like this is because they would be a liberal island in Bubba-land, surrounded by the conservative hordes. How would YOU like to be surrounded by Bubbas? So they'd move west or east and the Blue island would disappear, and the heartland would be all Red. (Remember to avoid pissing off the citizens of Bubba-land: rumor has it they have a strong affinity for weapons and violence!)
U.S. Devolved Into Three Countries
Knoke sees the current generation of kids stuck with TV caretakers and without the right examples to emulate, and often with no one to talk to. “There’s no permanence in relationships, no culture of commitment.” In the past, character was formed in the family. Family had diverse functions. TV teaches all the wrong values: might is right, more is better, if it is uncomfortable then drug it, style beats substance, the impression you make is more important than the kind of human being you are, and violence is the best problem solver. But “Without civic morality communities perish; without personal morality their survival has no value.” This is a Bertrand Russell quote from the author.
He prescibes a complete revamp of our Second Wave, Industrial Age school systems. Kids need to think and solve problems and cooperate in teams. Our schools teach them to remember, compete as individuals, and learn things in short-term memory to regurgitate onto tests, after which all is forgotten. He sees computers, not books, as the key, once innovative software is written that will allow students to find out for themselves, be self-directed, and go at their own pace, with emphasis on cooperation and problem solving, not memorization.
The future will be scary, and Knoke tells us what instructors tell combat pilots: keep your fear; you’ll need it; it’s your edge.
The future will be scary, and Knoke tells us what instructors tell combat pilots: keep your fear; you’ll need it; it’s your edge