Brave Neo World
By Ted Smillie on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
Features in QESP NewsletterVolume 29 , Issue 1 - ISSN 1325-2070
Back in the 1931, during the Great Depression, Aldous Huxley started to write a parody of the H.G. Wells utopian novel, Men Like Gods. As he worked on Brave New World, Huxley moved from satire to a serious message about how civilisation was to survive the crisis it then faced. Today we are again seeing parody turn serious. Helen Razer’s Jan 17, 2017 Crikey article, Devils and rust: it was Democrats, not the Russians, wot destroyed America, describes the current crisis as America’s
“painful life change from neoliberalism to neonationalism”, and we are seeing some earlier Donald Trump satire take on the mantle of serious political commentary. Here are some examples:
“In the late 80s and early 90s, Spy magazine carried out a lonely—and hilarious—war against the preposterous real-estate lordling it famously identified as ‘short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump.’”
This quote is from an August 12 2015 Vanity Fair article by Bruce Feirstein , Trump’s War on “Losers”: The Early Years. That article recognized that Trump was closing in on the Republican nomination but still believed that “Short-fingered or not, on so many, many levels, the presidency is beyond his grasp. “ Spy magazine satire also featured in a Nov 5, 2016 Business Insider Australia briefing by Paul Schrodt, How Donald Trump’s reality show paved the way for his presidential campaign. Paul references the April 1991 Spy magazine article “How to Fool All of the People, All of the Time: How Donald Trump Fooled the Media, Used the Media to Fool the Banks, Used the Banks to Fool the Bondholders, and Used the Bondholders to Pay for the Yachts and Mansions and Mistresses.” He notes “I recently rewatched the very first episode of “The Apprentice.” Seen in retrospect, it almost looks like a roadmap for Trump’s campaign strategy in 2016.” He concludes “Without “The Apprentice” and the carefully curated image of Trump it insinuated into millions of American homes, it’s hard to imagine how Trump could have ever sold the American people on his ultimate pitch: becoming president.”
An October 2015 Quora blog, Why Did Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom Fail?, suggests that the theme of TV production should have been ideal for Sorkin, giving him the opportunity to have the serious topics of conversation he’d developed a taste for with The West Wing. Instead, the blog notes that “Sorkin was still more interested in teaching than entertaining, which led to the really unfortunate choice in the first season of making every episode about how the ideal news team would have covered a story as opposed to how the real-life media did cover it.” Fast forward to 2016 and we find the initial scene from The Newsroom, The Most Honest Three Minutes In Television History, being circulated on social media as current political commentary. There seems to be growing support for the notion that a reality version of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom could offset Donald Trump’s reality version of The Apprentice.
Another example is a blatant piece of fake news in which Scotland’s Sunday Herald reviewer Damien Love equates the impending President Trump inauguration with a new episode of “The Twilight Zone”. This is now trending globally, see the January 19, 2017 article in The Indian Express.
In 1931, Aldous Huxley was optimistic about the technological advances which seemed to be restoring order in those troubled times. He was impressed by Henry Ford’s mass production methods in the US and by Sir Alfred Mond’s vast chemical plant at Billingham in the UK, which he saw as an “ordered universe… in the midst of the larger world of planless incoherence”.
Can we have similar optimism in the ITC industry which now underpins the global economy? Aren’t we supposed to be providing the technology and data analytics which give the policymakers a better view of the “real world”?
Helen Razer’s Crikey article quotes a survey, released in January which compared the lot of Millennials to Boomers at identical life stages, and found that the former group’s median wage has dropped 20%, and their net worth by almost half. That analysis “details a disturbing financial, generational gap that explains much of the anxiety that defined the 2016 presidential election.”
A January 20, 2017 article in The Conversation outlines Three theories for what’s causing the global productivity slowdown. Authors Roy Green, Dean of UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney and Renu Agarwal, Senior Lecturer, Innovation and Service Operations Management, University of Technology Sydney consider possible reasons for the global productivity problem. They conclude that “productivity-enhancing reform will be a key driver of long-term growth and jobs”, quoting advice from US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and from Australia’s Chief Economist on how such reform may be achieved.
Another area where the presidential election has highlighted ITC industry weaknesses is cybersecurity, with disputed claims of Russian attempts to influence the election result. It is not just foreign government that are causing concern. We are now faced with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks by teenage entrepreneurs who compete for global domination, see DDoS Gang Wars – The Millennial Mobsters in this issue.Tags: Aaron Sorkin, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Donald Trump, fake news, global productivity slowdown, Helen Razer, neoliberalism, neonationalism, Spy magazine, The Newsroom