We continue with the ninth in our series of excerpts from Barry Carter’s book Infinite Wealth. See: 1) The Rise of a Win Win Civilization 2) A Personal Journey of Discovery 3) Why Corporations Don’t Work 4) The Emancipation of Capitalism 5) Mass Privatization: Organizing in the Information Age 6) Decentralized Wealth Creation 7) The Infinite Wealth Potential of Liberated Humans and The Mandate for Win-Win Wealth Creation
“The science of natural change and growth shows that at critical points in the development of anything the rules shift. . . . At Breakpoint the rule change is so sharp that continuing to use the old rules not only does not work, it erect great sometimes insurmountable barriers to success.”
– George Land and Beth Jarman, Breakpoint and Beyond
Breakpoint: Why You Must Act Now
At the dawn of the Information Age there are serious questions to be asked. How and when do we make it past breakpoint? Can this occur without catastrophic violence, death and turmoil? Is there the likelihood that we will not make it into the new era? Can the transition occur through slow, continuous improvement, or is it an all-or-none proposition? Throughout the rest of this book, these questions shall be answered. However, in short, slow continuous change alone is a doomed strategy. The science of breakpoint as well as our precedence from the past indicates that the change will be abrupt and quick.
We will remain on the Industrial Age foundation of Centralized Wealth Creation, until we hit what George Land and Beth Jarman in Breakpoint and Beyond call breakpoint. It is a climax through which we must pass to make the transition from an Industrial Age to an Information Age and from the Win/Lose Era to the Win/Win Era. Breakpoints are natural phenomenon in the development of any evolving system, where the rules suddenly and sharply shift. The old rules no longer apply and even become counterproductive. In explaining the science of breakpoint, Land and Jarman say, “the science of natural change and growth shows that at critical points in the development of anything the rules shift.” After breakpoint, many things operate opposite of pre-breakpoint. Using science and social change, Land and Jarman build a compelling case, showing how breakpoints work. They show several things:
Σ As breakpoint is approached, actions that were once very productive begin to have diminishing returns, with systems becoming ineffective and inefficient. For example, today it is commonly understood that the management of people is quite an ineffective means of running a business though we have productively done so it for two hundred years. We have new books such as Managing People is Like Herding Cats and The Unnatural Act of Management documenting this trend. A second example can be seen with the focus on material wealth creation verses non-material wealth as explained earlier with IBM and Microsoft. Material wealth has been very productive for two hundred years, but now knowledge based wealth is far more productive.
Σ Once breakpoint is reached the old systems simply do not work and even become counterproductive. For example, serfdom and aristocracy after the French Revolution simply were not possible. Agricultural wealth creation after the start of the Industrial Revolution produced millions of failing family farms as people were herded into factories. Likewise we will see the failing of employment after breakpoint to Mass Privatization.
Σ Many things, which produced nothing and were liabilities before breakpoint, become the new producers after breakpoint. For example, workers in controlled economies are liabilities. This is from a financial perspective with the win/lose-standardized compensation of employment. This is because they are a cost. Workers, however, become the primary asset in the win/win value added compensation system of Mass Privatization.
Perhaps, the most compelling trait of breakpoints is that they are all-or-none and all-at-once propositions. We cannot safely and effectively “continuously improve” our way past breakpoint, since the Information Age is not a mere linear extension of the Industrial Age.
Based upon past precedence, we are presently near the breakpoint of a completely new wealth-creation paradigm and civilization. Because of our society’s level of advancement, this promises to be the sharpest and largest change in all of human history in the shortest time span. Based upon past historical precedence we can expect a dramatic, sharp and abrupt shift where controlled economies, employment, representative government and all other Industrial Age institutions are replaced, as the norms and power systems in society, over the span of a few years.
People who live in a civilization that has lasted for hundreds or thousands of years, or even just a few decades, tend to believe that the current institutions are all that is possible. Their thinking becomes straight lined and linear. The future is simply more of the past. Things will continue the same way indefinitely. As shown in the following figure every so often, after decades or centuries of straight, continuous, linear change, things move in a completely new direction.
The precedent also shows that these abrupt, directional changes result in massive death and destruction, as people are usually caught off-guard, thinking that things are destined to continue in a straight line. They, therefore, ignore or resist the change, producing pain for themselves. They literally miss the turn off to the future as they plunge into death and destruction.
As we look back in history we see people in a Hunter/Gatherer Age who had lived a simple tribal life for tens of thousands of years. They had the vast majority of the evidence showing that things would remain the way they’d always been. When we look at what happened in the United States when the Agricultural Age clashed with the Hunter/Gatherer Age we see 9.6 million out of ten million Native Americans dying because of a non-linear breakpoint. We see the same in Mexico with the Spanish, in Africa and many other countries as they were colonized by agrarian powers such as England and Spain.
We see the same straight linear thinking with the Agricultural Age to Industrial Age transition. This transition offers us several precedents of age wave breakpoint. In all of what would become the industrialized world, the Agricultural Age wealth-creation system of serfdom, slavery, monarchy and more was systematically replaced. In the French Revolution, those who resisted the new paradigm had their heads chopped off; Russia experienced the Bolshevik Revolution; in the United States a first breakpoint came with the American Revolution. However, the Southern United States committed to sticking to an agrarian civilization requiring a second breakpoint with the Civil War.
Southern plantation owners ignored and then resisted the steamroller forces of the coming and unstoppable Industrial Revolution, causing many people to lose fortunes, lives and family. Many lost all that they had built because of their out-of-date wealth-creation paradigm. Plantation owners had to be taken hostage and forced into the Industrial Revolution, with the Civil War. Their ignorance and unwillingness to shift paradigms and see the future cost 600,000 lives and the destruction of much of what they had created.
Throughout the world those who resisted or ignored the incoming Industrial Revolution caused mass destruction; a fate we can avoid by aligning ourselves with today’s shift. The precedent clearly shows that the true risk, at breakpoint lies in: 1) Linear thinking, 2) Not breaking out of old world views and, 3) Not getting into alignment with the collective change. As Peter Drucker says, “we must today be prepared to change everything.”
As we look at the United States, the most advanced of the industrialized nations and the leader into the Information Age, we see a society nearing breakpoint. A society that fits the first rule of the breakpoint concept—the systems become ineffective and inefficient. In our schools we have dropped to the bottom of the rankings of all industrialized nations ranking 19th in 1998. We have wasteful and declining bureaucracies not effectively meeting customer needs, gridlocked government, increasing taxes, gangs, drugs, corrupt leaders, high crime and violence, terrorism, homelessness, talk of session, collapsing traditions, collapsing infrastructure, declining families and far more.
Already more than 100,000 people have died in street violence and other violence crimes in the United States as a result of the shift during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Think of the magnitude of the disillusionment of southern plantation owners immediately after the Civil War. This is the pain we face without more alignment with an Information Age. What must we do to avoid this pain? We must abandon our present civilization and create a new one.
We should learn from the plantation owners’ mistakes. We need to protect our years of investment by embracing the Information Revolution and its new social institutions. We need to abandon the old institutions while creating the new ones in parallel. This is the only way in which we can protect our years of investment.
For more detail on the decline of Industrial Age society refer to the NeuroNet web page under The Collapse has Begun.
Since breakpoints are rapid and violent we need to consciously begin creating the new systems with all deliberate speed. Continuous improvement of present systems, alone, will actually create more problems than it solves. Upon hearing the statement above a friend of mine replied, “bunk!” He said up until the Civil War, plantations were still creating wealth. He was implying that we should follow our present course of slow continuous improvement within Centralized Wealth Creation. “If you’re making good money, stay with it and ride the system down until it falls apart and let others worry about the consequences.” I commented that we’ll be the ones who will have to worry about the consequences.
If we look back to the plantation owners, there was an illusion of wealth being created in the South directly before the Civil War. Five years before the war, the plantation owners were setting the stage for the destruction of much of what they had created.
Though each year their individual plantations and bank accounts may have registered a profit, they were in reality building huge deficits. These deficits were rapidly paid within a few years after the start of the Civil War with the draining of their bank accounts to fund the war. They paid with the blood and lives of their sons and themselves, the brutal destruction of their plantations, cities, infrastructure and civilization and the rapes of their wives and daughters.
Are we doing the same today? Are we, as companies and individuals, showing illusionary profits which we’ll have to repay in a few years? Are we setting the stage for millions of deaths and the destruction of much of what we’ve built? Are you setting the stage for the deaths of your love ones because you refuse to open your eyes, begin synthesizing information and taking action? Because of the enormous power bestowed on win/lose individuals in the Knowledge Era, we probably are repeating the sins of our ancestors.
The barbarians are at the gate as millions of empowered losing individuals want what you have and are gaining the power to violently take it. Either you begin win/win wealth-creation today and begin truly caring about others or you and your family stand to lose it all.
The plantation owners chose to improve the plantation—they chose to “care less” about those losers in pain and bondage. As winners they had years and decades invested in the old system. Their vision was a linear one—an aristocratic society that would last a thousand years. Because they saw opportunity as a threat to this investment and vision, they chose to protect their investment by staying within the old system. There was only one way for the plantation owners to have protected their years of investment, that was by abandoning their civilization and creating and embracing the new one.
What if the plantation owners had a powerful vision of the coming Industrial Revolution and had passionately embraced it? What if they had accepted the Industrial Age social institutions five years before the Civil War—a strong central government, companies, employment, factories, farms, mechanized farming, the nuclear family? What if they had voluntarily abandoned plantations, slavery and broad states’ rights for these new institutions?
They may have been able to profitable make the transition to factories and farms, their plantations could have supported them until the new investments became profitable. Perhaps they could have recovered their slave investments by selling each slave his own freedom. They could have hired slaves out, allowing them to keep a portion of the income thus purchasing their own freedom. They could have recouped much of their investment and had a relatively smooth transition into an Industrial Age. But all of this would have taken a powerful vision of what was occurring.
Instead the plantation owners took the thousand year old institution of serfdom and tried to stretch it into an Industrial Age institution. Plantations were feeble attempts at mass production within an Agricultural Age paradigm. It was the inappropriate mixing of two systems from two different social eras. We do the same thing today as we try Information Age systems within Industrial Age controlled economies—mass customization, self-directed teams, gainsharing, empowerment, virtual enterprises, information technology, continuous improvement and diversity enhancement programs. How silly future generations will think we were as were tried to empower people in controlled economies—the ultimate oxymoron. This effort is ineffective, and alone void of vision-based action, it is doomed to end in failure and possibly great disaster.
Today, we have the same opportunity as the plantation owners, but we are following in the plantation owners’ footsteps. We lack a powerful enough vision of what is going on. We cling to the old system without understanding that a completely new system is required. We protect our investment and illusionary personal profits by staying with the old paradigm. We accept the illusion that our present social institutions are all that is, or ever will be possible: learning in schools, working in companies, governing by representation. As Toffler says we are literally going to have to reinvent civilization, abandoning the old civilization while creating a new one. We must begin win/win wealth-creation with all deliberate speed.
Copyright 2000 by Barry Carter
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