This is indeed a time of change, regardless of how we time it. In the last quarter of this fading century, a technological revolution centered around information, has transformed the way we think, we produce, we consume, we trade, we manage, we communicate, we live, we die, we make war, and we make love. Castells, End of Millenium
In Castells‘ last volume of his trilogy, End of Millenium, the author begins with examining the Soviet Union collapse, then discusses the problems faced by Africa and the so called rise of the fourth world as a result of social exclusion. Africa is presented as the exponent for the Fourth World which consists in millions of homeless, incarcerated, prostituted, criminalized, brutalized, stigmatized, sick, and illiterate persons. [..] But, everywhere they are growing in number, and increasing in visibility, as the selective triage of the information capitalism, and the political breakdown of the welfare state, intensify social exclusion. In the current historical context, the rise of the Fourth World is inseparable from the rise of informational, global capitalism. Probably, some good examples in the western world would be the French riots in 2005 or UK riots of this year.
On the other side is the example of Japan where the income inequality is one of the lowest levels in the world. Although the social landscape was transformed by modernizing without Westernizing, Japan’s cultural identity was preserved. We discussed the importance of cultural attibutes of the information society in our previous post about The Power of Identity.
The most fundamental political liberation is for people to free themselves from uncritical adherence to theoretical or ideological schemes, to construct their practice on the basis of their experience, while using whatever information or analysis is available to them, from a variety of sources. [..] The dream of Enlightenment, that reason and science would solve the problems of humankind, is within reach. Yet there is an extraordinary gap between our technological overdevelopment and our social underdevelopment. Our economy, society, and culture are built on interests, values , institutions, and systems of representation that, by and large, limit collective creativity, confiscate the harvest of information technology and deviate our energy into self-destructive confrontation. [..] There is nothing that cannot be changed by conscious, purpseive social action, provided with information, and supported by legitimacy. If people are informed, active, and communicate throughout the world; if business assumes its social responsability; if the media become the messengers, rather than the message; if political actors react agains cynicism, and resoter belief in democracy; if culture is reconstructed from experience; if humankind feels the solidarity of the species thoughout the globe [..] maybe then, we may, at last, be able to live and let live, love and be loved.
We explored Castells views, the marxist leading analyst of the Information Age and the Network Society. In the following posts we will look into a more scientific book called Globalization, Uncertainty and Youth in Society by Hans-Peter Blossfeld, Erik Klijzing, Melinda Mills and Karin Kurz, in order to identify some key problems of our current society and find solutions to them.