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The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

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  • The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

    In the publishing business, a manuscript denotes a book-in-progress (before actual publication). I am working on my 4th book for the University of Toronto Press. Here is an early draft of the opening paragraph:

    What shapes human nature and our collective values? Can we change our nature and rewrite our values? These are timeless questions captured in humanity’s earliest written texts. While usually associated with religious thought and theological beliefs, these fundamental questions are also the subject of modern scientific inquiry in fields as diverse as economics, philosophy, neuropsychology, and sociology. A century ago social scientists compared the emerging modern world to a dehumanizing iron cage that greatly restricted the possibility of change. As the 20th century came to a close we developed a more flexible model of the social order – one that acknowledges that social orders both constrain and enable individual and collective action. Indeed, we are so adept at change that we have created a problem for ourselves. Homo sapiens have proven to be masters of instigating change yet poorly equipped to ensure that change brings the greatest good to the greatest number of people. This is an unfortunate state of affairs. The human race is caught up in accelerating change and accumulating crisis. As a result, our local and global social orders are in great need of transformation. The question remains: how? How does a social order, a way of life together, undergo radical transformation?
    More news later!

    Dr. Strangelove (aka E-Male)
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  • #2
    Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

    I am happy that there are people that can ponder such things because most of those I know can only wonder how closely they can get the ends to meet , most of the bills paid, family fed and clothed and a roof over our heads. The world needs thinkers and ponderers also.

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    • #3
      Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

      I think that would be the iron cage e-male is talking about. So much of our lives now are about making sure our lives are valuable to society. We are a resource that must continually validate its existence.

      As a ponderer its a sad state to exist in.

      As a person in charge it is a beneficial state for your worker to be in for they can't contemplate much beyond their job. There is a reason the slave was prevented from reading.

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      • #4
        Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

        For many people, the term "wage slavery" is very real. I heard/read somewhere that making 60k per year puts you in the top 10% of wage earners in the U.S. these days. Which is pretty pathetic, when you consider this is the greatest economy ever in the history of mankind. The whole wage disparity thing is very, very real and is one of the biggest issues we are facing as a society, and yet few people talk about it.

        Bernie Sanders 2016! :)
        "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw



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        • #5
          Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

          Keeping in mind that this is a very early draft, herewith is the second paragraph (cue special effects sound from Futurama)

          In the early twentieth century anthropologist Ruth Benedict surveyed the variety of cultures across the globe and concluded that human nature is plastic, readily molded by the surrounding social system. We take the shape of the container that holds us together as a community. Today we find ourselves in a very peculiar kind of container – one that is global, predominantly capitalist, and saturated with communication technologies and media. Herein I will argue that the Internet and digital networked technologies have the potential to reshape human nature and collective values and radically transform the character of the global world order. A tall task, perhaps, but the recent history of new media suggests that there is a intimate relationship between media technologies and social transformation.
          Last edited by E-Male; 01-28-2016, 11:45 PM.
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          • #6
            Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

            I disagree with you on many things E-Male, but I enjoyed reading your paragraph. Your thesis is a very short, but important question that is being answered in a manifested form in the United States of America's presidential election currently happening.

            Current ARMA Development Project: No Current Project

            "An infantryman needs a leader to be the standard against which he can judge all soldiers."

            Friend of |TG| Chief

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            • #7
              Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

              My theory is that to truly tackle our current day, and near future issues, requires, in the absence of reform of the developed/developing lifestyles, is a new focus on the undeveloped/underdeveloped regions of the world and using them as a means to implement the economic and societal changes needed from as close to entry level as possible. For example it'll be incredibly difficult to switch the US over to a heavily distributed energy grid, infrastructure would have to be developed to accommodate household->grid transaction. If we can find a New New World, and let them raise themselves into a new state of existence as a model beacon for the 22nd century lifestyle, I feel the rest would fall into place.

              The established powers wont want to change it fast enough, it'd be too radical to say for example: "All future Coal power Plants MUST sequester their CarbonDioxide." Not that it is truly radical but just that the market wouldn't like it. This is I guess the age old flaw with democracy; it is slow to act. It was true when Hitler was rising to power and it is true now.

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              • #8
                Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

                Originally posted by Ytman View Post
                \If we can find a New New World, and let them raise themselves into a new state of existence as a model beacon for the 22nd century lifestyle, I feel the rest would fall into place.
                I am concinved, in the middle of the third decade of my life, that poitics is ultimately about resisting change, violently and desperately if necessary.


                But I would love to see us start brownfield with a new place. The only problem is how are we going to get everyone to agree?!

                Current ARMA Development Project: No Current Project

                "An infantryman needs a leader to be the standard against which he can judge all soldiers."

                Friend of |TG| Chief

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                • #9
                  Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

                  Originally posted by E-Male View Post
                  In the early twentieth century anthropologist Ruth Benedict surveyed the variety of cultures across the globe and concluded that human nature is plastic, readily molded by the surrounding social system. We take the shape of the container that holds us together as a community. Today we find ourselves in a very peculiar kind of container – one that is global, predominantly capitalist, and saturated with communication technologies and media. Herein I will argue that the Internet and digital networked technologies have the potential to reshape human nature and collective values and radically transform the character of the global world order. A tall task, perhaps, but the recent history of new media suggests that there is a intimate relationship between media technologies and social transformation.
                  Very interesting thesis indeed.
                  "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw



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                  • #10
                    Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

                    And now, the much anticipated THIRD PARAGRAPH including bonus tracks fourth and fifth papragraphs!

                    Throughout the 1900s mass media played a central role in promoting and disseminating the social transformations associated with capitalism and the consumer lifestyle. ‘No century in recorded history,’ so argues the management guru Peter F. Drucker, ‘has experienced so many social transformations and such radical ones as the twentieth century.’ But what was the legacy of these radical social transformations? What type of world did they create? These questions are important because the way we use new technologies such as the Internet is influenced by the context in which we find ourselves. Past changes influence present and future choices.

                    At the close of the 1900s Drucker described the ‘lasting’ legacy of the twentieth century in glowing terms. Free-market economies within democratic nations triumphed and provided a model of success for the rest of the world. The ‘extreme’ social transformations of the twentieth century ‘caused hardly a stir. They have proceeded with a minimum of friction, with a minimum of upheavals.’ People wanted what capitalism had to offer. But there was a darkness to the twentieth century which of course Drucker acknowledges, ‘this century of ours may well have been the cruelest and most violent in history.’ This darkness was the result of three evil geniuses, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and for Drucker, proves one thing, ‘the futility of politics.’

                    In stark contrast to the futility of politics, the transformations brought about by capitalism caused little stir, ‘enormous transformations in all developed free-market countries were accomplished without civil war and, in fact, in almost total silence.’ Contrary to ‘the theoreticians and propagandists of socialism, anarchism, and communism,’ the rise of the industrial worker was ‘remarkably nonviolent.’ For the most part, argues Drucker, the rise of industrial capitalism was a peaceful process.
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                    • #11
                      Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

                      it's just a feeling I have but I believe human nature is universally applied across the decades and centuries and despite, or maybe in spite of the whirlwind of technological and cultural change the more things change the more they stay the same. Mankind will always be greedy, there will never be peace among us and selfish self preservation and greed is ultimately a bigger driving force than anything else before or after it. Everything else is just window dressing. I hope I'm wrong.
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                      |TG-1st|Grunt
                      ARMA Admin (retired)
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                      • #12
                        Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

                        Originally posted by Grunt 70 View Post
                        it's just a feeling I have but I believe human nature is universally applied across the decades and centuries and despite, or maybe in spite of the whirlwind of technological and cultural change the more things change the more they stay the same. Mankind will always be greedy, there will never be peace among us and selfish self preservation and greed is ultimately a bigger driving force than anything else before or after it. Everything else is just window dressing. I hope I'm wrong.
                        I've sunk quite a bit of thought into this and I have concluded that while we are indeed inherently selfish, greedy and opportunistic in unrestrained nature, we are capable of making great progress when enough of us decide to... Cooperate.

                        I think compromise and cooperation are the consistent factors evident in successfull societies throughout history.

                        Current ARMA Development Project: No Current Project

                        "An infantryman needs a leader to be the standard against which he can judge all soldiers."

                        Friend of |TG| Chief

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                        • #13
                          Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

                          Are you writing this as this thread progresses, E-Male? lol

                          NTTIAWWT... LOL
                          "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw



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                          • #14
                            Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

                            Originally posted by Randy_Shughart_ClwFL View Post
                            Are you writing this as this thread progresses, E-Male? lol

                            NTTIAWWT... LOL
                            IANTC (I am not that clever)

                            I am a few thousand words into the draft of the first chapter (the Introduction), 75 thousand words to go (give or take a few).

                            BONUS sixth paragraph:

                            Of course, when it comes to the legacy of the twentieth century, the glory of the free-market, and character of these present times, opinions vary. What if the legacy of the twentieth century is very different from the one suggested by apologists for capitalism such as Drucker? What role will the Internet play as an agent of change if the capitalist economy and dominant forms of political organization are also responsible for a good deal of the darkness of the twentieth century? Theorist of Internet and change tend to focus on the technical aspects of the network and the digital objects that flow through and connect to it. Yet the future is also shaped by the past and change is conditioned by our present context, so it is terribly important that we have a reasonable picture of the past and the present. Unfortunately, arriving at an accurate picture of the past and how it has structured the present turns out to be a remarkably difficult task. We do not agree on where we came from, where we are, or where we are going.
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                            • #15
                              Re: The Opening Lines of My New Manuscript

                              A little non-productive quibble with stylistic choice here: I'd use 20th Century over 1900s when discussing the mass-media explosion. Its completely arbitrary but I'd argue that 20th Century makes it seem more recent over the little more academic/pedantic 1900s.

                              ===

                              I know it is not your position but I'd completely argue against the rise of the industrialist worker as being non-violent as you quote from Drucker. Capitalism has been around for centuries and fought hard against the individual to make them into a commodity. I'll quote a book I'm reading:

                              "Evidently, for many people the apocalypse is already on our doorstep. It is here in enormous, inert bureaucracies consuming their energies in self-perpetuation. It is here in impersonal forces so powerful that they seem beyond human control. It is here in the subordination of men to things and abstractions. And it is here in the philosophy by which the subordination of men to things and abstractiions is rationalized: a positivism whose first premise is that human beings are themselves things, that the human spirit is a ghost in a machine, a relic of the age of superstition, that the remedy for social problems - assuming there is a remedy - is to treat human beings like so many Pavlovian dogs, to be conditioned and programed into docile acceptance of a do-it-yourself blueprint of the Good Life." (O.B. Hardison Jr. ,Toward Freedom & Dignity)


                              Globalization has been this miracle drug (akin to Viagra) for capitalism and, more importantly, this culture of perpetual consumerism. It allowed the developed nations to export their poorly received labor practices and to export their pollution across the world to areas where they claimed they were bringing wealth. This wasn't done peacefully, this was done at the expense of the marginalized, poor, and uneducated populations and nations of this planet. It might have occurred without war as the world expects war to be held (giant fights of good versus evil ala WWII) but it didn't occur without conflict.

                              In fact it occurred with the full adoption and acceptance of what was once a Cold War term relegated to nuclear fallout now refashioned for the victorious state-less and landless Corporation; Sacrifice Zones - and now - Sacrificed Peoples. That is the heritage of our current incarnation of Capitalism.

                              ===
                              Originally posted by Dimitrius View Post
                              I've sunk quite a bit of thought into this and I have concluded that while we are indeed inherently selfish, greedy and opportunistic in unrestrained nature, we are capable of making great progress when enough of us decide to... Cooperate.

                              I think compromise and cooperation are the consistent factors evident in successfull societies throughout history.
                              I agree entirely. The problem is that with all cases of historical cooperation (even good ones) some group is excluded. This can be something like the innocuous exclusion of other parties in the US political sphere due to bureaucratic heritage (or conversely entrenched economic-political bureaucracies that cooperate to maintain power which is not so innocuous), or it can be something pragmatic at the time but terrible in hindsight like the 3/5ths compromise which voluntarily counted a population for a group's benefit while simultaneously denying their existence.

                              In fact, to be awfully pessimistic, I'd argue that American History is a complete example of how cooperation of a peoples can greatly benefit themselves at the cost of others (the indigenous peoples and black slaves). In fact so long as you marginalize a population and exclude them from cooperation you yourself can be awfully prosperous - (because you don't have to share the inherent wealth that a market creates with non-citizens).

                              I flirted with Libertarianism once upon a time and there is at least one value I share with them still today, and that is the right to a universal individual freedom from oppression. (where I disagree now is the mechanism of such freedom) But what state we all benefit from today is one that forcibly exploits the lack of freedom of others to increase our freedoms. What we need isn't merely cooperation and compromise (both great things) we also need ethics and strong sense of shepherdship of the global human condition - because if we diminish the value of other humans' existence then we admit that our core premise of universal individual freedom from oppression is false.
                              Last edited by Ytman; 02-04-2016, 12:49 AM.

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