Generational politics are useless, for the most part, but you can see certain trends when comparing generations. Marriage and fertility rates are the two best examples. Go back to the generation that fought the Great War and you see very high marriage rates, even among blacks, high fertility rates and low illegitimacy rates. Examine subsequent generations and you see how all of those measures changed. The childless urbanite cat lady was many generations in the making.
You can tease out something similar by looking at how people ruled over people in the past versus the present day. A century ago, most men were directly ruled by other men in their daily lives. This is not about political structures, although that was often true, but rather the interpersonal relations of daily life. Men worked for other men. Whether it was in a factory, at the docks, in agriculture or anywhere else, men worked for men in a very direct and personal way. They had a boss who bossed them around.
A man working on the docks, unloading ships, would show up for the daily muster and a supervisor would assign him to a gang. He and the other men in the gang would be directed by some other man. Correction was in the form of yelling and threats. If there was some confusion, the man in charge took control and told the other men what they should be doing. There was no committee that issued a bland directive or a bit of software that compelled a certain type of behavior.
That is a big difference compared to today. While most people have a boss in their work place, the boss has no real authority. He is just a conduit for company policy. He gets trained in people skills, the sorts of passive-aggressive cajoling that passes for management skills in the modern corporation. Increasingly, he does not actually manage his people. He uses software to measure productivity and issues bland e-mails to his staff. He measures compliance with the software system.
This is most obvious in a warehouse facility. In the old days, men would pick pack and stack items in the warehouse, at the direction of a supervisor. If they screwed up or screwed off, the boss would yell at them. Today, they are directed by an algorithm that guides their work. A hand held corrects their mistakes in real time and provides structure to their movements. Software tracks their productivity. The people inside an Amazon facility are ruled by robots, not men.
This is not just the result of technology and the drive for efficiency. A big driver is the declining personal skills of modern people. Each generation becomes less secure in confronting their fellow humans. A century ago, the boss enthusiastically corrected his people and his people just accepted it. Getting reamed out by the boss was just a part of life on the job. Today, getting corrected by the boss could very well result in counseling sessions for both parties.
You see the generational aspect to this on the campus. This story about the University of Missouri monitoring their students like pets is a good example. Within living memory, instructors took attendance and confronted the tardy and chronically absent. Since neither side of that transaction in the current age could withstand the emotional strain of such a confrontation, software will do the job. The students will happily comply, preferring to be ruled by their mobile devise.
This is a dynamic, of course. As technology allowed businesses, for example, to improve error rates, they began to subtly select for different types of people. The hands-on, direct style of management slowly fell out of favor. Similarly, the best people to hire as workers were those comfortable using technology. Each generation was more tuned to the impersonal styled than the prior generation. This has continued over a few generations to where we are now.
Where we are now, however, is a curious place. Spend time on a college campus and some things jump out at you. One is the students are surprisingly compliant. The days of college pranks and rebellion are largely over, especially at the elite colleges. The students are consumed with adhering to the rules, as well as currying favor with their human superiors. The woke rage heads get headlines, but college life is now mostly a culture of banal conformity.
It has also made young people socially awkward. Young people have grown up interacting with one another through the medium of technology. Participation in sports, for example, is at all-time lows. Free play is unheard of today. Instead, the young generation has been raised to have a robot master gently nudging them along, even in their interactions with their fellow humans. One consequence has been the sharp decline in sex. It turns out that socially awkward weirdos have less sex.
A preference for impersonal rule and the collapse of interpersonal skills does not bode well for the future of western society. Prisons function along these lines. The guards are rule-following functionaries in a system. The system is designed to reduce socialization among the inmates, in order to maintain control and reduce conflict. A society built on such principles will inevitably lead to a similar authoritarianism. After all, there are no elections inside a prison.
That may be what we are seeing with the rise of the tech giants. The old organizational systems of liberal democracy no longer fit a people, afraid of one another, but comfortable with machines. Instead of a revolution and new political order, the machines are simply filling the vacuum. The politicians no longer have the will to create and enforce rules, so the tech giants have their robots do it. Again, most young people prefer it. They want the machines running their lives.
It has always been assumed that if mankind is going to off itself, it will be through the accidental use of technology. Something like a nuclear war or a man-made plague are the most popular options. It may be that our demise will simply be due to technology dehumanizing us to the point where we no longer have enough interest in one another to bother mating. Instead of fire, it will be ice, the icy stare of people looking at one another through the lens of technology.
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