Tag Archives: George Orwell

THE SOCIETY OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (Re-posted)

Dr. John Psarouthakis, Executive Editor www.BusinessThinker.com;  Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, Scotland (2011-2013).
CV details: click on  http://bit.ly/2sXvygl

Unfortunately, we have entered a century in which many of the old cultures and societies that have been successful under the old technologies and cultural norms have fallen by the wayside.   We witness already  dramatic shifts in economic wealth, both within and across nation states.

There is still some debate about how the new changes in technology will affect some of the more prevalent twentieth century ideologies.   For example, will the new technologies and associated cultural changes support or retard the growth of the liberal democracies? Or, will the vision of George Orwell be realized, with a technology-induced return to a world-wide authoritarian state? Obviously, all the data are not in, and will not be in for another seventy-five years or so. The early returns, however, suggest that many of the new technologies seem to enforce democratic values and practices.   For example, one of the critical features of using information technologies and computerized systems is the rapid and transparent exchange of information across settings, cities, and nations.   This is highly compatible with democratic systems and values. However, we have also witnessed that China has been able to have an effective state control over these advanced technologies so that has been little if any democratization and is some cases it could be argued that we have seen a decrease in democratization! The Economist in a recent article has concluded that the democratization effects on China by technology could have been overestimated.

On the other hand, some of the new technologies will reinforce distinctions between individuals and classes of people, thus perhaps leading to a more hierarchical and elitist structure of society.   Moreover, the ability of the new technologies to successfully manage and facilitate diversity of tastes and markets, may lead to a fragmentation of societies such that it will be difficult to sustain larger goals and visions.   For example, it is unclear whether a television society can really sustain a long-term mission, or goal, or struggle.

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