The Possible Evolution of Independence Day

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“We are no longer independent and self-sufficient-we have become interdependent.”

Disclaimer: Given the polarization of today’s America, this editorial does not represent the opinion of Meta Ops or Meta Experts. It’s just the musing of an old man and observer of today’s’ period in the potential evolution of our amusing species.

The Possible Evolution of Independence DayNormally, July 4th in the USA is a day of superficial celebration of a long-ago passionate goal of overcoming tyranny and starting a new experiment in democracy and the self-rule of equals. However, time has a strange way of perverting history. Indeed, good can become bad, bad can become good and what once worked no longer suffices. However, human nature does not like uncertainty and change. It’s in our DNA and our ability to adapt to changes. We fight change until we are forced to adapt. Most of the time, it is the actions of our own species that instigates the need for change.

For the past thousand generations, tribalism and the ability to organize special interests have changed the human landscape. Hunter-gatherers, wandering marauders, and pillagers and the need to form tribal unions-mainly for protection and trade has taken the local tribal model for survival to a much more complex level. Human characteristics such as ambition and cunning allowed for the creation of trans-tribal cultures to ramp up the economies of scale for state-sponsored plundering and that model also spawned global trade that motivated new tribal nation states. Local languages, religions, and history were the glue that bound the members of the nation-states. And then, the era of technology came along to add a new competitive advantage to certain nation states.

Overall, the evolving consolidation of tribes provided for a sustainable model for growth and prosperity. Indeed, populations grew faster than the ability of the agricultural based economies to keep up with the rates of population growth. We all know how Western Civilizations created a bloodbath and constant turmoil in Europe to the point of forcing many of the “less successful” or disenfranchised citizens to board little wooden boats and brave the journey to the new world where the status quo did not cast a long shadow.

Individuality and self-sufficiency (and local tribalism) combined with plentiful resources not dominated by established landholders and allowed the sturdy pioneers to prosper and live a better life than they could have back in the “motherland.” And that takes us to Independence Day, July 4th as it pertains the USA.

We are No Longer Independent, and self-supporting-we are interdependent

When the constitution became the foundation of our democracy, the USA had about 9 million non-indigenous citizens. Almost all were part of the agricultural economy and were very self-sufficient. Life was simpler and getting things done on the farm was a matter of survival. Not today. In the USA, only about 4% of the population provides the food supply. The rest of the 96% provide for survival by participating in providing services for others. If a person falls out of the interdependent system of the chain of commerce, just putting food on the table becomes problematic. Indeed, it becomes a matter of survival without the backup of being able to even provide food and shelter for oneself and family. Survival can greatly alter the meaning and significance of some of the words we hold dear such as Independence, Freedom and Democracy and the pursuit of happiness. The realities of survival are different today. If you have never lost your job or been threatened with losing your job or profession, it may be hard to understand how dependent we are on the interdependence of others.

It’s a simple fact, our constitution has some wonderful ideas, but the complexities of a modern industrial and post-industrial society require a review and realignment of our values with the context of our times.  Indeed, when the Supreme Court decided (Citizens United v Federal Election decision of 2010)  to  allows corporations and wealthy interests to hijack the process of democracy, it was clear that the “emperor of democracy had no clothes.”  Every day we hear how inept and corrupt our representative form of government functions and most importantly, we have no national vision on where we are headed and what are the values we need to implement to assure that we know how to accomplish those worthy goals of the pursuit of happiness. Indeed, we need to redefine what “happiness” really means much less how to get there.

Nobody will be safe from the changes that AI and Industry 4.0 will bring to the future world.

Human weaknesses need to be taken into account when developing a new economic system

Money corrupts, and human beings are way too corruptible. Indeed, the drive to be success and power is too easily twisted to one’s own benefit. A convoluted and expensive legal system has made it hard for the average citizen to demand and enforce accountability. The core of the problem is that for most of the citizenry if they lose their means of income, they view it as a direct challenge to their very survival and internal justification for reasons of accepting corruption on a vast scale. Unfortunately, in my opinion, we cannot have democracy without accountability. While that statement of accountability may not sound politically correct, there are too many who fear accountability. In fact, fear and lack of confidence in the judicial system allows those who know how to manipulate the system with certain subtle leverage that can play upon the fear of losing income. Let’s face it, when it comes to survival in modern society, we are mostly not self-sufficient and, in some form, interdependent on others for our survival and well-being.

Mankind’s ability to create an economic system built on interdependency is a remarkable achievement

Each morning when you head out for your job, just think of the billions of us who survive, raise our kids, plan for retirement and never give a thought to how we all manage to have expectations that exceed just being alive tomorrow. Indeed, our species has created a miracle based on economic interdependence and belief (pieces of paper are tradeable symbols of value). However, we still cling to the old values that the individual is the kingpin of society, and our lives are what we-alone- make them what they are.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness to one person may be very different from another person. Being able to consume material goods seems to be an empty proposition to motivate a life of happiness and success. Yet, in my opinion, that consumption may be the surrogate for “happiness” to many.  It’s a rather cliché conversation that happiness is in the heart, but our current social and economic system doesn’t seem to buy into that idea. In my opinion, this concept is at the heart of solving the coming of potential chaos when technology takes big bites out of our current economic paradigm. Nobody will be safe from the changes that AI and Industry 4.0 will bring to the future world. Then, we won’t even be interdependent on each other rather on unemotional, non-human algorithms controlled by a new cult of technologists and their taskmasters.

So, to prepare for the future world, we need to start with the basic question: What is happiness? For almost all human beings. Happiness is based on good health and a certain level of security. For others, it has the opportunity to develop one’s own potential while others just want to live stress-free and with no challenges. I believe we need to start having a public dialogue on how to provide a system that will provide happiness for all the ranges of definition. And the discussion has already begun with the likes of guaranteed income, new forms of socialism and other utopian concepts. Once again, the extremes are not the only solutions.

Something more creative is needed: “The Fusion Economy.”

I do believe that a system can be developed that can accommodate the range of human needs and desires. I call it the “Fusion Economy”, which has components of full economic state support (like the Israeli Kibbutzim system), socialism for a working folks who want to be productive but not driven by the need for consumerism and status and, finally, a system of wide open capitalism that will allow the important 20% to pursue their ambitions and become wealthy beyond dreams. It can be done, and people can move freely between the different paradigms.  However, it will all get down to leadership, which is in great need at his point in history.

The need for a national vision and business plan

As a longtime management consultant, we preach the need for vision first and a pragmatic plan on how to reach that vision. In fact, “best business practices” demand that all companies develop a business plan for actual implementation and modification as conditions change. The United States, the leader of business and Capitalism, does not have a vision or a plan. We are basically rudderless and driving down the road with a blanket cast over the front windshield.

Both political parties are devoid of any sort of vision or plan, and if they did have one, it would more than likely be very predictable. It’s time for new ideas and new political parties to begin to put forth the idea that we need a new, comprehensive vision and business plan to help the species move forward in its evolution…not backward.

Time for a new Constitution

Yes, I am suggesting the development of a new constitution that is proactive and based on a practical analysis of what citizens want and need in the modern world of interdependence and reforming our system of accountability that would provide for quick and fair resolution of excursions from the defined norms and help to create a new concept of not just happiness for the individual but recognizes we are all in this life together and a rising technological tide should raise all boats. As the Fermi Paradox suggests, intelligent species in our universe may not exist because they self-destruct at some level in their development.

I know my ideas seem to be a bit “out there,” but so what! We need to shake ourselves out of today’s confused malaise and start using the creativity and intelligence that got us to this crossroads in our development. If we don’t have the ability-or desire to meet this challenge-we may prove Fermi’s famous cocktail wisdom as true. If you think this a ridiculous statement, check out where we are now. If you know any history, it’s hard to deny the possibility.

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