The New Barbarian Manifesto: How to Survive the Information Age

Kogan Page Business Books - 28 April, 2000 Buy here

Welcome to the future. Welcome to a world as different from the today, as today is from the pre-industrial age. Welcome to the Brave New World of the New Barbarian Manifesto.

This is a brutal and brutish world, a world of barbarians, where the certainties of the twentieth century, its power bases, its institutions are collapsing. Individuals, companies, communities and countries will either be catapulted into a new prosperity, or be relegated to poverty, obscurity and extinction. New technology is undermining societal stability. Our twentieth-century socio-economic institutions must either mutate or die.

The book is divided into seven sections. In the first, Impact of global telecommunications, I predict social collapse, and outline two choices: follow the ‘new barbarians’ and advance to an uncertain future, or obey ‘old barbarians’ and their fundamentalist gospel of a false past.

I then describe the destruction of the institutions of work and the workplace in: Work and employment. I claim the successful organisation of the future will be a virtual enterprise, an alliance of firms linked together by global networks: electronic, transport and particularly human. Each virtual enterprise is indifferent to, and unhindered by, national boundaries and barriers. It will relocate (physically, fiscally and electronically) to where the profit is greatest and the regulation least.

The idea of a job, a product of the industrial age, is changing beyond all recognition. Office workers are now ‘teleworkers.’ Homes, cars, airports, aeroplanes are extensions of the virtual office, merely mobile nodes in a telecomms network. The demand for office and factory space will be a fraction of the supply. Except for economic hot-spots, there are very bad times ahead for owners of commercial real estate. As for the jobs that support the workplace of the Machine Age, they will become endangered species in the Information Age. No company can survive without a talented workforce, but routine office and production work can either be replaced by robots or exported anywhere on the globe: so-called ‘social dumping’. BT directory enquiries for London is based in Scotland. British Polythene Industries closed its Telford factory and switched to China, and cut its payroll bill by 90%. ICL, the British computer company runs its main-frame help line from Poona in India. Regions are using regulatory arbitrage, less stringent legal requirements, and more advantageous employment and tax regulations to suck in the migrant rich.

Each state must scour the globe for elite knowledge workers, no matter what their age, sex, race or religion. Drag them off the planes if necessary. But nobody wants more service workers, who are increasingly seen as economic liabilities.

In Assault on the status-quo both the redistribution of wealth through taxation and universal suffrage are put under the spotlight. I foresee the end of progressive taxation. When Leona Helmsley said “only the little people pay taxes” she was making a prediction. I also claim that democracy will degenerate into being merely the means of governing the immobile and dependent service workers.

The consequential breakdown of our society is then mapped out in the Transition section. Transaction costs have dropped to a point where nearly a billion sub-employed people are now entering the global job market. Why should the world’s unemployed all live in developing countries? The West must now bear its share.

The section Recognizing the New Order, is dedicated to help the reader see a way through the decaying orthodoxy. The penultimate section identifies The winners (and losers). States will have to survive economically on the efforts of an elite few. Growth is created from the talent of knowledge workers not from the labour of low-grade service and production workers. Today, productivity is delivered by a technology needing only a few machine minders. Growth has been decoupled from employment. When will our politicians ever learn that technology is the problem, not the solution? But what can you expect from a bunch of oxygen thieves, who get their jobs by kissing babies, and keep them by kissing backsides.

State barriers will be thrown up everywhere to keep out alien service workers; each state has a surplus of its own to support. The alphas, tired of supporting the ungrateful masses, are on the move to hot spots modelled along the lines of Hong Kong, Singapore, Liechtenstein, Dubai. The medieval City State is being reinvented as the “Smart Region,” the E-ville, at the hub of global electronic multi-media and transport networks, but within electronic not stone walls. An independent cosmopolitan City State of London would be rightsized, and would make real economic sense.

Think of it! Home rule for London inside the M25 orbital motorway. The Free City of London can be a tiger economy attracting in global corporations, but only if we chop off the dead hand of the ‘Mother of Parliaments,’ the sleaze-machine of Westminster. Forget the mayor. If the House of Commons really wants to help London, then they should move to Birmingham … Alabama!

The final chapter will show you How to become a winner in the coming battle: how to be a ‘new barbarian.’ Always remember Baudelaire’s analysis of this brutal and brutish world: “one is punished for being weak, not for being cruel.” Welcome to the future. Welcome to the “Brave New World” of The New Barbarian Manifesto.