Post-Industrial Age/Civilization Transition

By Chisichenyu Singizi

OUR epoch is inseparably connected with revolutionary technological, social and political changes that herald a transition to a new post-industrial civilization. This civilization transition is the third in the history of humankind. It has several peculiarities that are not completely clear and thus requires scientific description and analysis.

The present day post- Industrial transition present profound possibilities for the development of humankind, while generating new challenges. It is therefore important to identify these difficulties and try predict strategies that can be utilized to overcome them. Another pertinent problem concerns interaction between the civilization of a planet as a whole whose development is accelerating due to the universalization of post industrialization transition and local civilization. The way this interaction exists today, its prospects in the future and the question of whether local civilization will be preserved are of considerable scientific interest.

Collisions between civilizations during the agricultural stage of human development often led to the decay of civilization that had suffered military defeat. In this context, it would also be appropriate to mention a key idea from an outstanding British historian of the 20th century, Arnold Toynbee who says, if a civilization cannot respond to external and internal challenges, then it dies.  

The world civilization had begun to form by the start of 20th century when the world was divided among the colonial empires of the new time, led by key capitalist countries and based on their economic, technological and military dominance over parts of the world. Industrial revolution in Western European countries and the US contributed to the formation of a unified world market and predetermined industrial states striving for domination over the remaining agricultural societies and countries of the world.

Political systems that emerged in the west based on principles of delimitated power, adherence to human rights, equality of citizens before the law and the achievements of the natural sciences and education rendered these social models attractive, at least for the elites of colonial countries.

The process of post-industrial transition was conditioned by deep technological shifts and according to most specialists, began in the 1950-1960s due to gradual unfolding of the ‘computer revolution’. It resulted in the appearance of small and cheap machines for data processing, including personal computers and allowed companies and people to do things that were impossible before.

Post-industrial transition was not completed at this technological stage, it has continued throughout the ‘fourth industrial’ revolution that began around the turn of the 21st century, accompanied by technological breakthrough in numerous directions including mass application of robotics, the creation of artificial intelligence new biotechnology, new kinds of energy and improved computer technology. The new post-industrial civilization has not led to its automatic catering with the level of societies at lower stages of development, nor has this civilization unified the global social space in the short term.

At present, the population of 17% of the world’s territory is awaiting the second industrial revolution civilization as 1.3 billion of people still have no access to electricity.

About a half  of the population of the planet, or 4 billion people are awaiting the third industrial revolution civilization as the majority these are living in developing countries where there is no internet access.

According to Toffler who predicted the new basis of post-industrial development in his book ‘The Third Wave: The Classic Study of Tomorrow. To him, the Third Wave captured the birth of a new civilization, in the course of which a revolutionary changes would touch upon the technology and information spheres as well as the social and power spheres.

Tectonic changes in the techno sphere generated by Third Wave are connected with revolutionary changes in energetics and the development of technologies.

The consolidation of worldwide civilization in post-industrial transition would be impossible without the relevant ideological and political legal pre requisites. In this context, the paradigm of the “end of history” formulated in 1989 by an American political scientist Francis Fukuyama is significant. He developed the main points by hypothesizing that the historical defeat of the communist project  by liberal democracy may be followed by the “end point of ideological evolution of humankind “ and a final form of government in human society thus noting the end of history.

He continued by saying that although some modern countries may fail in the attempt to achieve stable liberal democracy, and others may return to other more primitive forms of government like theocracy or military dictatorship, but the ideal of liberal democracy cannot be improved .

It seems that the end of history should be seen as ideal prospect of post-industrial development consisting of a considerable but not absolute universalization of political and state orders that embody basic liberal values and principles of democracy in regulating social life. In other words, liberal democracy is seen as the optimal political and legal form of existence of a post-industrial civilization whose economic basis is global capitalism.

  • Chisichenyu Singizi is a political scientist based at the University of Zimbabwe and can be contacted on email: scsingizi@gmail.com

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