The other day I read Ed Raymond’s HPR1.com column “The Gadfly” titled Of elephants and Men. Ed leads off his essay stating, “When 2,500 billionaires and global leaders met in Davos, Switzerland, …to discuss who was going to get the largest slices of the economic pies baking in the ovens of capitalism, the dominant topic in both daily discussion panels and nightly bar rooms was TRANSITION to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Ed then asks, “What makes billionaires think they know what is best for society? Could it be lots of money?” Later in the essay he mockingly asks this, “Is it because making lots of money equals making lots of sound decisions about problem-solving and the improvement of societies?” I posted this and a link to Ed’s essay to Facebook and Steve Wroe asked these interesting questions: “Is a track record of success irrelevant? Do the less successful know better? Do total losers know more yet?” At the center of these questions and the “transition” into the next phase of the Industrial Revolution is the very definition of success. Is our society’s definition of success sane?
Economic historians since the day of Adam Smith’s famous book “The Wealth of Nations” (1776) have been studying “the transitional phases of capitalism.” At the center of these discussions is the “definition of success”. In a recent news interview someone was asked why he supported Trump, the response was, “I want to be like him, to have money to spend on stuff.” This predominantly held definition of success is no longer sustainable – for 6 billion individuals to aspire to this definition of success is suicidal. So, the answer to this first question is “Yes,” the track record of success defined as “Trump-success” is now irrelevant and dangerous to life. Just imagine a billion Chinese and another billion Indians dreaming of a two-car garage in the suburbs. Just disposing of all their garbage would to be a huge problem for global warming!
And then to the question “Do the less successful know better?” If our definition of success changes, then we have a very different type of individual with a different Maslow Need Structure – owning many cars, planes, and homes is no long defined as successful. So, then again Yes, “less successful” people actually now know better. What is it that they know and how did they come to know it, is what we are interested in?
The final question “Do total losers know more yet?” is also tied to the prevailing definition of success – owning stuff. I am not sure how one describes a “total loser.” I think a student of psychology and any serious person running for US President would never define a person as a “loser?” It is not a psycho-analytical concept. However, one often hears this from Trump so, I assume it means someone who is not able to support him/herself – all today on minimum wage and those on welfare.
These issues being raised are addressed by Erich Fromm’s book “The Sane Society” – his thesis, the American Society is not sane! The “total loser” is Society not its individuals and the question for us is, what is causing societal insanity? Ironically both Sanders and Trump seems to be “addressing” this insanity. However, I question “How ‘deep’ are their respective analytical methods?” It seems none in the media can yet penetrate the fog Trump spews and most American are simple ignorant and thus frightened of the concept of a “democratic socialism”. I am wondering if any of our “think-tanks” are addressing these issues, since we do not hear of this on the news. I began a deeper response to U.S. insanity in this Blog “The Sane Society – US?” that I suspect Sanders is most in-tune with. Viewing this post lays a foundation for a deeper probe into the challenges of Globalization 4.0.
So, what does it mean to adopt the deeper analytical method of analysis”? We begin with Raymond’s observation of what Trump and his fellow billionaires, all 2,500 of them, were discussing at the World Economic Forum in Davos – “who was going to get the largest slices of the economic pies baking in the ovens of capitalism” and the key issue for us is to understand analytically the “transition” now happening in what is called the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ or Industry 4.0 (Wikipedia). Youtube is full of clips of what took place at Davos that we can tune into what the “military-industrial-media complex” controlled by these billionaires are planning. Understanding this “transition” should give one the knowledge to understand “what it means to be a real revolutionary”. This blog post addresses the deeper analysis needed to understand what happens when the Davos billionaires’ voices all-of-a sudden rise an octave. What Slavoj Zizek foresees when Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and Donald Trump voices go up an octave is that when they look down they will notice that their balls have been snipped– no blood just a change in their voices. Bring off such a bloodless revolution is doubtful but one should imagine – this is what we are doing.
When teaching a course on Globalization 4.0, my class visited the World Economic Forum at Davos online, attended and participated in many of the steaming presentations. It is a very slick operation when you have the captains of industry, the political/military elite, and Hollywood mega stars talking mostly in support of the logic of capitalism. So, to begin we need to briefly identify what WEF is thinking and proposing in Industry 4.0 which is defined as “a collective term embracing a number of contemporary automation, data exchange, and manufacturing technologies. It had been defined as ‘a collective term for technologies and concepts of value chain organization’ which draws together Cyber-Physical Systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Services (Wikipedia). This further elaboration is then added:
Industry 4.0 facilitates the vision and execution of a ‘Smart Factory’. Within the modular structured Smart Factories of Industry 4.0, cyber-physical systems monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Over the Internet of Things, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real time, and via the Internet of Services, both internal and cross-organizational services are offered and utilized by participants of the value chain.
This very impressive PBS documentary “The Human Face of Big Data” give us another vivid peak at where Industry 4.0 is headed.
Okay, as these resources begin to fuel our “imagination” of where “Globalization 4.0” is headed, we can begin our analysis always mindful to be open to the dynamism of globalization and its unfolding evolution. Erich Fromm’s book To have or to be, presents a beginning and addresses society’s definition of “success”, which is at the center of the change that is needed.
Our society’s definition of “success” is “to have Stuff”, which Fromm suggests needs to move in the direction of “to be a Self”. Fromm suggests that people focused on “being” – that is Maslow’s self-actualization and Jung’s individuation, alters the behavior of Selves away from planetary violation that owning stuff causes. The individuating individual Trump seems to define as “total losers”. However, change Fromm speaks of is the next game changing “transition” global capitalism needs to move into. I agree with Raymond’s observation that Davos capitalist-billionaires were busy scheming to squeeze as many dollars out of their workers and the system as they can. Now Trump’s-got-his-gun and many are concerned. It is not the purpose of these recent blog entries to focus on Trumpism, it seems a side show, however, the election of Trump has implications for globalization that we need to investigate.
Let me end this blog entry with Mike Wallace’s interesting interview of Eric Fromm on April 25, 1958. This interview was 58 years ago when Fromm made the observation that “There has never been a better society than in the United States in 1958”. Looking at today’s global statistics on well-being, one can only ask how much lower will United States sink.
The Mike Wallace Interview: Erich Fromm (1958-05-25)
To be continued…