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Author Topic: 20th Century was Unprecedented and Unrepeatable  (Read 1055 times)
RJBowman
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« on: March 29, 2016, 03:58:55 am »

Interesting Georg Will column reviewing Robert J. Gordon’s “The Rise and Fall of American Growth”:
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/will032716.php3

The thesis of the book, according to Will's summary, is that the period from circa 1880 to circa 1980 was a transitional period in human history with greater change than ever before and, possibly, than there will ever be again.

And it might be that the upward mobility experienced in the western world during that period was a function of change, and will no longer exist in the future; a very depressing pronouncement.

I thought that this tied into steampunk in a interesting way because the changes examined in the book; technology, fast transportation, instant communication, mass manufacturing, etc.; are a large part of the steampunk genre; a genre that often examines what could have happened had these changed taken place sooner or more rapidly.
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rovingjack
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2016, 09:35:59 am »

dear cogs, why would we want to repeat it? Prohibition, world wars, the dust bowl, the depression, McCarthyism, the cold war, assasination of world leaders, explosions in drug use and trade, the holochaust, Stalin, Vietnam and Korean wars, the rise of school shootings in the US, Castro and the Cuban missile crisis, Unrest in the middle east flairs multiple times into terrorism and war, AIDS, and Global warming. to name just some of it.

No thank you. Yes we made some great leaps forward, but I'd not buy a ticket for that ride again. I'd much rather see something a bit less jagged and scarring happen this century.
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2016, 10:31:31 am »

Hate to break it to you, bit all you need to do is read the news. It doesn't look like the 21st. C will be any more gentle....

My two cents:

The notion that wealth is fueled by technological progress is not new. But I doubt that technological developments and thus progress will be slower in the 21st. C. Most likely instead, it will occur outside of the developed world.

On a national level it is considered standard doctrine that producer nations, prior to transforming into consumer nations, experience an exorbitant rate of growth which generates a sudden upward mobility in their population. The growth is generally tied to the rise of an industry, and at least indirectly that dominant industry is directly related to scientific progress. Once that transition to a consumer nation happens, the exorbitant economic growth slows down.

The result of this growth in the first quarter of the 21st. C is the unprecedented emergence of the largest urban centers ever known on Earth, mostly in China, and a skyrocketing emergence of middle and high class bourgeois Chinese families. So shockingly fast is their upward mobility, that the Chinese government has established "schools" for young affluent Chinese, teaching them how to responsibly manage their considerable monetary assets.

As of the year 2016, China seems to be on the verge of ending their growth period, which in relative terms was incredibly short ("the candle that burns twice as bright, burns twice as fast" or something along those lines...).

In the developing world the growth of middle class is afoot again, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere and Latin America, and some regions like India are very well into their growth period, particularly fuelled by the development of IT and other industrial advancements.

Physical size matters in the developing world. Larger developing countries fare better, perhaps because they need a greater technical investment to feed a larger population (grater investment in infrastructure) and also because they have more natural resources. The latter two factors led to faster industrial growth for the larger countries. Good examples of this are India and Brazil.

For many developing nations, their growth period is just beginning.  It may be have been delayed throughout the 20th. C, but at some point these countries reach "critical mass" and begin an economic  "chain reaction" of sorts, fuelling in turn native technological progress - India again is a good example with their efforts on a space programme that includes probes to Mars and designs for a new Space Shuttle. A number of countries will reach critical mass in the 21st. C.

In the case of India technological advancement started with manufacture, and IT came in relatively late, while in other countries, the catalyst was less concentrated on heavy industry, as the rate of industrial development was relatively slow in the 20th. C, and instead high tech and IT take over the primary role of catalyst toward a formation of "critical mass."

For example, while Mexico's industrial growth was relatively mild in the 20th. C, it was a bit stronger for Brazil. Brazil's overall economy size lead Mexico by several decades. On the other hand the development of some of the largest wealth concentrations, e.g. Mexican magnate Carlos Slim, can be directly related to the introduction of new information and communication technologies (literally the re-wiring of an entire nation, in Slim's particular case)... so Mexico's critical mass may be reached sometime in the next 2-3 decades by means other than traditional heavy industry.



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creagmor
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2016, 10:40:09 am »

On the positive side my father was born September 1901, and died in November 1981. Just in those 80 years he was alive for, among other things, the first Kitty Hawk flight and the landing of man on the moon, the rise of the automobile and electronics, plus tremendous leaps forward in medicine.

However I fear I must agree with rovingjack. to paraphrase the Late C S Lewis, "Education, essential as it is, without [some kind of moral compass] only serves to make man a more clever devil. As long as human nature exists the spiral downward will continue. It is true that there are periods of what passes for progress, but "Power corrupts". Every single great "civilization" follows exactly the same patterns that ends in it's demise. How sadly true that old saying, "The only thing that we ever have learned from history is ... that we learn nothing from history".

Not to go off on a religious tangent, but there must be a reason that virtually every faith has some variant of the golden rule. It is a universal constant that should be pursued by all.  
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rovingjack
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2016, 10:53:17 am »

Oh don't I know it. I spend a lot of time with a community of futurology geeks. I'm a bit of a debby downer sometimes for the young ones there, because I take a patternistic view of the future and how it often maps nicely to trends in the past.

I don't know if I've mentioned it here before, but I see things like the Dust bowl being possible in the drought struck regions of the US, and McCarthyism in a the way countries act with regard to certain subsets of population. I see patterns of scapegoating ethnic groups that mirror the preludes to the holocaust. I even see the movements might spawn the art nouveau and art deco as the new generations bring back the retro historical romantiscim and then later cover over the crumbling empires with gaudy and glorious ziggaruts to show how definatley they are not struggling and failing as nations. I see threats of internment camps for citizens who are seen as too much like the 'enemy' in a war. and I see the sides building and starting to draw lines in the sand for how that war will come about and the end result nearly requiring redrawing all the maps and a floundering decade leading to new super powers and a cold war with ahir triggers on terrifying new world destroying tech, hell bent on mutually assured destruction staying the hands of world leaders.

I see it and it's almost like none of them realise they are replaying the same events over again. I even see young people today advocating things like eugenics, and social and political ideologies that spawned much suffering in the past. It's in many ways the arrogance of youth that they believe that the reason it won't fail is because they think they are smarter then those who made the calls last time.

Yes this century won't be without it's own deep wounds, but I do hold enough of my own youthful arrogance to think that maybe just maybe we can steer this ship a little more right and not come out the other side with quite so deeply made psychological damages.
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