The last post on perception is a lead-in to this post about a great divide. What are our perceptions of the future – not the far future but starting now until 2050? An emerging perception is that millennials (born 1981 – 1996) will live their lives on the fence between two very different social and economic cultures. They will bear the burden of financially supporting both offspring and elders; their own careers and roles in society will be tumultuously tossed about and fraught with uncertainty.
Millennials started their lives in an Adam Smith world (he married capitalism to reformation ethics) and will end it in an economic and social world beyond description today – though many futurists believe the concept of ‘job’ will be divorced from Adam Smith’s marriage; artificial intelligence will disrupt existing class perceptions; Planet Earth will play havoc with resources from Helium gas to the disappearance of vast stretches of dry land, to a shift in weather patterns that will collapse significant agricultural markets.
Progressive economists suggest if the economy isn’t soon redistributed from its advantages to oligarchs, the US may experience rebellion similar to that in other countries in the news today. Data tech corporations are so pervasive and so uncontrolled that a new retail culture may evolve with a US Congress of self-appointed data tech CEO’s and Jeff Bezos as President. (mariner speculates)
Presuming all these hotspots of change may happen, what is the core cultural issue? What will people experience day-to-day? What persistent event will cause foment and disorder as society rewrites itself?
Greater than identity politics, greater than economic imbalance, greater than global warming – it is the educated versus the uneducated; the elite versus the useless; those who can participate in society and those who can’t.
These perspectives are not new. Social philosophers and futurists have suggested this great divide since the 1970’s. But today it is a fresh subject in journals, magazines and online science sites. There are characteristics of the divide that exist today. For example, those who accept that the successful will be successful and others never will be are the same people who don’t believe in welfare, Medicare and Social Security. In other words, if a person hasn’t made it, they are not allowed to have any value in society – they are useless even to themselves.
The French term is ‘raison d’êtra’, which means reason to be or role in life or in personal terms, why am I here? The feeling of uselessness is a struggle often among retirees, young adults without links to society, and especially those who by their class and education are denied the right to succeed or interact with the participating members of society. Psychologists long have defined the emergence of gangs in destitute neighborhoods as a result of not being allowed to participate in society therefore they create their own role within their neighborhood.
Society is only a decade from the first waves of white collar job loss. It is a common statistic that artificial intelligence may eliminate from fifty to eighty percent of jobs across every discipline, every skill, and every function that constitutes the ‘common workforce’ today. It does not help that income for middle and lower income people already is suppressed and hasn’t kept up with inflation. Donald’s base, suffering job loss and massive reduction in salary, is a current example of a segment of workers that has fallen on hard times and claim they are forgotten in today’s economy. Indeed they are.
As the months roll by, the issue of joblessness and especially the denial of the right to pursue happiness, success, etc., otherwise known as a raison d’êtra, will reach a breaking point where violence may be the proletariat’s only option.
The federal government has no choice even given polarized parties, wealth-driven politics and the cost of global warming, but to address joblessness which may be at a level commensurate with Venezuela today. The tax code, ensconced for generations as a capitalistic friend, must be dismantled in order to accommodate a very large portion of the US population.
Already in today’s democratic campaign for president, Andrew Yang has proposed a minimum income supported by taxes. A monthly distribution to citizens, especially those shut out of social participation, may be one way of preventing violence and stabilizing feelings of personal worth.
In a recent post mariner suggested that a new concept of having a job was to create a self-managed job. This is a job that a person assumes on their own for the good of their society. A pure example of this is a member of mariner’s family who has taken it on himself to improve the bare space around the base of trees along the sidewalk; he plants flowers and attractive greenery. He is satisfactorily employed but has taken on a role to improve his neighborhood. In the future, this approach to raison d’êtra will be a major way of defining work – and – it will need to be a source of income as well.
Another example is mariner’s neighbor who has chosen to maintain the gravel alley for his block. Again, income was not involved but, given the idea of a monthly distribution from the government, many otherwise unemployed citizens will find roles to play that will, mariner suspects, greatly improve the civility that is in short supply today.
If artificial intelligence and the corporations that control it are brought under control; if the tax structure shuts down abusive wealth and redistributes economic participation to the proletariat; if new job growth can be harnessed to deal with global warming; if international cooperation can be modified to support the economics of sustainability – maybe there will be some fun moments learning a new culture and new economics.