If the provision of universal services to the citizenry was possible at a fraction of the cost to the government today, would the political right still be opposed to it?
Whenever a book has the term “socialism” in its title, it is bound to elicit emotive and impassioned responses from those who would criticize a certain political ideology. Let us be clear: we are politically agnostic in this e ort. Neither of us aims to sell you socialism as a political strategy. We simply seek to discuss how macro changes in our society will force changes in policy, economics, education, consumption, and culture in a way that would previously have been unthinkable. This book is meant to challenge sacred cows across the political spectrum. To make us all think.
What we outline here are the unintended consequences emerging out of strategies and policies implemented over the last 200 years. These are consequences of a media that sold the rest of the world on the lofty goals of the “American Dream” and of the race to technical dominance. What is perhaps less clear are the efforts seemingly intended to undermine the progress made by humanity in eliminating poverty, closing the gap in wealth inequality and expanding globalism. All this is supercharged by the power of the internet, social media and a constant, 24/7 row of debate and propaganda.
Whatever political ideology you align with, mankind is coming to a fork in the road for our species. Climate change, emerging Artificial intelligence (Ai), social upheaval and the clash between patriotic nationalism and the inevitability of globalism are coalescing into a crucible. How will humankind emerge from this battle?
The best way to describe the likely outcomes, we believe, is as we have articulated in these pages. is will be the rise of a technology-driven collective social consciousness and purpose. If that term makes you think of a classical right-wing conservative view of socialism, of debates around Venezuela’s economic collapse or the writings of Karl Marx, let us stop you right there. it is absolutely not what we are advocating.
We are simply looking at the fact that multiple trends, converging forces, and looming social issues will cause the entire world to challenge traditional views of functioning democracies, capitalism, and western political ideals as rolling crises continue to impact the globe. It could best be described as a global social movement that forces huge change in respect to inclusion and policies by government, the private sector as well as non-governmental organisations. If we could find a better term to describe the evolving geopolitical and economic landscape, we’d embrace it. Neo-capitalism? Nope—capitalism is a core driver of those unintended consequences, creating social division and poor incentives. Twenty- rst century democracy? No. it doesn’t get close to describing the impact social media, arti cial intelligence and technology have had—and will continue to have—on politics. Populism? No, populist movements are more likely symptoms of a failing system and—a reaction to globalization, not a solution to the political and social divide.
Consider the broad political spectrum we’ve experienced during the 20th century. while in the United States the Democratic Party is often considered somewhere between centrist and radical left, the reality is that from a global historical perspective they’re more centre-right than communist. Things like universal health care, free education and strong social security don’t make governments historically far left; in fact, many democracies that held these basic services would be right of centre today.
There are a few major forces that are likely to turn the classic political spectrum on its head during the 21st century. Firstly, high levels of automation will shift “Big Government” culture back toward the centre as technology allows us to provide all the services we’d expect from a modern government, but at a fraction of the cost and e ort we saw during the 20th century. Secondly, the e ects of climate, ongoing pandemics and growing inequality will push global governance to focus increasingly on broad collective rights and action. Lastly, changes in value systems will shift priorities of communities away from classic capitalism to more sustainable and inclusive options. More on this in our opening chapters.
Cooperation between governments globally to combat climate change and rolling pandemics must create more collaborative governance. Corporations in this future will be forced to mitigate high levels of automation that disrupt human labour with strategies that focus on their social commitment and environmental responsibility—otherwise their brands will be toast.
Economically, we are entering an era of explosive uncertainty. Over the last 40 years we have assembled a collection of the richest, most pro table individuals and companies the world has ever seen. But as change has accelerated we’re leaving increasingly large swathes of society behind. The number of wealthy individuals or the size of corporate profits within a geographical footprint can no longer be considered a singularly positive measure of macro-economic success.
As technology reshapes supply and demand economics, capital markets will adapt and labour participation will be turned on its head. if your economy hasn’t educated, retrained and supported your people sufficiently, along with investing in next-generation infrastructure and focused on 21st century competitiveness—the impact will be brutal. Technology-based displacement of traditional jobs is one thing, but the realization by the vast majority of your populace that they have no economic future, no real and valued stake in society, no share in the success they see others enjoying, is a more philosophical issue. All this, while new emerging and highly profitable industries suffer severe labour shortages due to lack of adequate planning, lack of access to education and misplaced immigration policies.
Technosocialism is not something entirely new, but it is a philosophy driven by the people, for the people, empowered by incredible advances in technology, and reinforced through constant challenges to the status quo. Both policy and technology will need to work together to ensure the collective basic needs of our communities, emphasizing greater societal cohesion and improved action against uncertainty and volatility. If socialism is characterized by the needs of the collective, and technology allows us to provide for those and at a much lower political and economic cost, then logically government and the universal common good will be much more efficient and economical.
In this book we look at a range of possible outcomes, but as a futurist and an entrepreneur and Academic we are most concerned about the adaptability of our social, political, and economic models to a future fast bearing down upon us.
History teaches us that this future is largely inevitable, and that we are, on the whole, woefully unprepared. why? Because we’ve spent the last 200 years creating, empowering and incentivizing the machinery and the systems that have birthed uncertainty and inequality. Our short-term focus on GDP, jobs, quarterly results and election cycles accentuates our inability to properly plan more than a few years out and leads to us kicking the can down the road far too often. is myopic short-termism is only getting worse, with greater dysfunction to come if collectively we don’t adapt to a new reality. Humans must shift to much longer-term planning cycles and broader economic participation if we are to survive as a species.
This book is about facing the harsh realities of our future. It is about understanding the evolution of the social movements we see today and how they will unfold, and having real grown-up policy conversations that mitigate risks to our stability, freedoms and a healthy future. We will also look at the possible outcomes if we simply double down on the awed broken systems of today.
We hope the Rise of Technosocialism gets you thinking about your future, your family’s future, and that of your community. As optimists, we hope you see that these changes don’t have to divide us and that we can build a more prosperous and inclusive future for all.
But first we need to get on the same page.
Brett King The futurist & Richard Petty entrepreneur and Academic