In America, a revolution is happening now. Actually it is better to be called Evolution. It is not very much recognized by the public so far since it is has been going mostly peacefully. The impact of this evolution to human society is going to far exceed that of American revolution 200 years ago.
The evolution, is essentially to transform from a mass production society to a society of empowering individuals. And this transformation is achieved through the change from the mass production of physical product to the bottom up peer production of social product.
The old American system is to serve the mass production. The mass production requires that the workers work like part of the machine on the assembly line. Mass production demands a single national market. All these requires people to be dumbed down. Thus Scientific Management was invented. According to SM, we don’t need many people doing management in mass production. So we only need 10% of the population to be smart and work as the brain. The other 90% should be dumbed down and work as hands and legs and managed by the brains. Compulsory schooling is the mechanism to dumb people down.
But America is going through a historical transformation. The percentage of manufacturing is going down significantly for a long time. And the production of social product is exploding. The so called physical products are stuff like food and clothing. Social product is stuff like music or social needs. There are many levels of social needs, and thus we need many different social products to meet those needs. In the mass production of physical products, only product that is demanded on a massive scale will be produced. As web reduces the cost of transaction and connects people together, the production of social product is exploding in the scale of billions of times. Understanding of all kinds of innovation in web2.0 should be put under this context.
The production model of social product is very different from that of physical product. The mass production of physical product requires making 90% of the population dumb, and let the capitalists coordinate all elements of production. The capital is in the dictating position. But in the production of social product, individual creativity must be the center. It needs individuals capable of independent thinking and innovation. Money is reduced to a supporting role. In the production of social product, the musicians are no longer money-making tools of the capitalists. Because of web, the musicians can face their audience directly, and produce their own music.
Below I am going to describe some characteristics of the production model of social product. (The purpose of this article is to convey a message. So I am not going to do complex analysis. I will be very brief in describing these characteristics.)
In the mass production of the physical product, the physical product is a scarce resource. In the production of social product, however, people’s attention is the scarce resource. Social products are competing for people’s attention. People’s attention is limited. So the best solution wins.
There are many levels of social needs, thus there are many ways of organization to meet those needs. For example, these organizations can be made in-time, and exists temporally. Its birth and death depend on the needs of the society. The scope of the organizations can also be very different. It can be global. Or it can be very local, serving the local communities. (Hints: this is very much like computer programming.)
The production of social product is going to increase massively by billions of times, and the ways of organizations will also increase similarly. All these are the enrichment of the social sphere. They go way beyond what the government can govern and what the copy-right can take control. The production of social product must be a bottom up, self-organizing way of production, relying heavily on individuals creativity in meeting the social needs.
In the era of social product, individuals’ hobbies become the most important thing. People don’t have to work for survival. Most people are going to choose work that they really like to do. In the past, it can be very difficult to be an independent artist. But in the age of social product, independent artists are not going to be choice of a few, but mainstream way of life. The social idealism of many generations is going to be realized in our hands. Play, pursuit of love and beauty, are the peaceful forces of human society. In our time, these peaceful forces are going to be the dominate forces that drive the history.
In America, the corporates are getting stronger and stronger. They control the fabric of American life. The national identity of America is greatly strengthened. And the capitalists are using the state machine to exploit the people, such as huge national defense budget, sales of weapons, and stir up wars around the world. America is losing what is America. America is losing the independence and freedom of its early era. In the new era, the old system that was built for the mass production of physical product is no longer suited for the new production of social product. The tension is building up. In this crisis, Americans are reflecting on their system from many angles. The victory of Obama reflected people’s strong desire for change. However, the election of Obama can only make the crisis continue getting worse, since Obama doesn’t really represent the interest of people. Obama’s victory is the victory of the big corporates. Fortunately, the power of the grassroots is getting stronger with the help of the web. So I feel that this revolution in America, if there is no any accident, should keep going peacefully. This is going to be the first peaceful revolution of mankind.