Roland Dürre
Saturday February 6th, 2010

(Deutsch) Neue Welt – Alte Welt ♫

In my article on our presentation series OPEN2010 of this year’s IF forum, I rattled through my definition of New World versus Old World in note form.

Later, Axel asked me to give a clearer and better-formulated definition of how I understand Old World and New World. So here comes my attempt at defining the Old World and outlining my vision of a New World.

I chose the word vision instead of utopia on purpose, because as I see it, many recent events indicate that we are currently experiencing a phantastical change in values, probably even globally. We are already living in the New World a little bit. It is no longer a utopia.

The Old World was dominated by individual interests. As likely as not, this is not only true for our A.-E culture (American-European). In the Old World, individual persons determined whether or not they wanted to belong to a community according to how useful said community might be for them. People became members of social systems because they hoped to gain actual advantages through it. A good example is the ADAC.

Party membership is similar. People join a party because they expect to gain personally by their membership. The “shaping of political opinions” as laid down in the constitution to be the actual purpose of political parties does not bother them.

Enterprises of all sorts, too, assume that you can only motivate people towards enthusiastic dedication if you promise them a personal, material advantage. As a result we see, for instance, boni and royalties, often perversely high.
In the Old World, achievement is primarily exchanged for material compensation. A feeling of contentedness and happiness is won through property and consumption. It is every individual person’s absolute goal to advance his or her personal wealth and prosperity. The public good is dominated by the concept of one-sided gain. Whatever is good for me is good….

This attitude can be seen particularly well if you look at a quotation by the American stock-exchange players: “Greed is good”. This was the central dogma of the Old World during the last few years. Greed is seen as the central aspect for achieving our absolutely necessary growth rates!?

The Old World is a closed community. Both individual persons and collective units build thick walls around there spheres. “Gated communities” are constituted. The parties concerned want to protect themselves against the outside world and all that is alien. Fear is the motivating factor number one. Everybody tries to insure themselves against every possible event as artfully as possible.

To be sure, everyone knows that this is impossible, but this unpleasant fact is pushed aside with a huge effort. The permanent indoctrination process activated by various media superposes the realities of this world with second-hand emotions.

Homo sapiens has crept out of the world of nature and moved into a world of total culture. Somehow, we have managed to put ourselves onto a treadmill of unrealistic life. There we tread, following perma consumption and massive overstimulation, and putting more and more distance between our sensitive awareness for the simple joys of life.

One consequence of this is that we are no longer prepared to commit ourselves in stable partnerships. We fear that we might miss out on something or get too deeply involved. It is our life’s goal to combine all advantages. We look for the comfort of a relationship and at the same time want the freedom of detachment. Of course, this cannot work. As a result, we get a world of ageing singles. In Munich, we are talking about half of the population.

More and more people start understanding this dilemma. They try to leave their treadmills.

This is how it materializes, the New World.

It happens right here among us, but also far away. A change of values is under way. We need it badly; the discoveries of science are too oppressive. During the last few centuries, we made quite a few mistakes, the consequences of which will probably catch up on us even in this decade in a very brutal way.

More and more people enter social systems without first thinking about their direct, personal gain. Bona-fide work increases. Partnerships based on mutual responsibility get more popular. Even the wish to have a family and children seems to be more prevalent in the New World.  Perhaps even the understanding between the generations starts to improve. Cooperative behaviour is on the winning path, people understand that it is easier to solve problems in this way.

To be sure, many people still live in the Old World. The concept of the New World is incomprehensible for them and they fear it.

In the New World, people are prepared to practice renunciation and advance performance. They contribute to societies and communities without material ulterior motives. Enjoying yourself with and through the presence of others is the motivating factor. Profit is shared, both in the form of money and glory. Instead of showing off with ties and other status symbols, you display an open shirtfront.

Information is no longer kept a secret. Knowledge is shared and openly available. It is our most important “raw material”, and the only one that gets more as you divide it. Thus, a network of knowledge communities that communicate openly and let the entire world share their results quickly materializes.

Also, we witness a new ethical concept. More and more Non Government Organisations (NGOs) come into existence bottom-up. And the reputation of most of the NGOs gets better and better, often to the same extent as the trust in governments and politicians dwindles.

And with every day, the awareness among the population grows that we don’t really have a choice if we want to survive for a few more generations. Evolution seems to have implanted a survival gene into the brain (at least, that is how I understand the neurological research by Gerhard Roth). Incidentally, this mechanism works very elegantly: we feel well as we “do good”.

This is how values change. Here is an example to prevent frustration: just look at the pictures you see of the majority of Germans being enthusiastic about the beginning of WW-I. Today, any kind of war is ethically condemned by a huge majority of the population. Only few people still believe they have to justify or give reasons for a war like the one in Afghanistan or Iraq with rational arguments. We cheer in soccer stadiums, but no longer on battle fields.

In the late 1960ies, there were numerous peace movements. Yoko Ono and John Lennon yelled “Give peace a chance” with full force and were crucified by many for it. Now it seems that the seed slowly grows for reaping. And it is quite true that we have to end wars world-wide very soon, indeed, in order to have energy left for solving the other, really urgent problems mankind is facing.

I am well aware that what I write about the future seems too positive an image of our world and its course. And I already hear the comments telling me that I am far too optimistic. And I already see the arguments thrown against me that tell me how evil the world is and how great the misery. How many people go hungry and how many children starve and that humans are predators and much more… Or that sects and all kinds of extremists, again, take over.
Alas! I will continue to believe in the positive aspects. I will continue to be optimistic!

But it is true that we have to do something for the New World to turn into a success story. Especially when it comes to education and socialization of our children. That is the only way to ensure better thinking and behaviour across the generations.

My friend Werner Lorbeer gave a nice example in his article on Desert Tec #7. There is no doubt that we need to get rid of the carbon dioxide in the air. But why do we insist on finding a solution based on an industrial way of thinking, as conservatively as over the last centuries? The era of huge technology, such as seen in mega profits in virtual financial worlds, is over. Just like the concepts “my house, my yacht, my Porsche, my wife, my children” is over. Even though there are many people who will not believe it.

Consequently, we should remember the virtues given us in the age of enlightenment and individually and collectively question everything that we hear every day! It will not take us too long to see what nonsense we are subjected to on a daily basis.

Questioning concepts must become an issue in a constructive and critical education. We must not send our children into the future without the proper education, as a friend of mine in Switzerland once cynically said: “Send them into the Moscow winter wearing summer shoes”.

Last autumn, I heard a presentation by Professor Guy Kirsch that made a huge impression on me. Guy Kirsch was very proud of the fact that an important person in his discipline, Adam Smith, was not merely an economy expert, but also the founder of social philosophy.

Similarly, I – as one of the early students of computer science – am proud of the fact that our discipline came up with the concept of the New World. The New World came into existence through the “Open Source” movement of the 1980ies. I remember well how everybody working in the sector (including myself) was surprised to see these exotic creatures from California starting to write programs 25 years ago and not only publishing them, but even permitting unlimited free access. For me, that was when the New World was born.

There is much to do – let us start hands on! Let us throw fear, comfort and security-first concepts overboard and replace them by trust, activity and openness.

(Translated by EG)

So let us listen to the sound of his own voice – the great master. John Lennon, give peace a chance!

or even more beautiful in the interview:

🙂 And sorry about the length of this article. For me it was important, and as we have weekend there is some time to read.

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