|An image from Bladerunner, of course.|
Contents of the 2075 best-seller What Went Wrong? Culture and Society in the Age of Affluence, 1980-2075.
It's the most important question of our time: what went wrong? How did we fail to prevent the Great Collapse of 2050? What were the people of the Age of Affluence thinking?
Chapter 1: Dupes, Devotés, and Racketeers: Capitalism and Credulity in the Age of Affluence
We begin with a discussion of the so-called Mystery of Economic Trust: why did people of the Affluent Age trust orthodox economics, despite its obvious dramatic failures? Were they dupes, deer in the headlights? Were they devotés, who abandoned their judgment to a cult of experts? Were they racketeers, who knowingly exploited their fellows for economic gain?
Chapter 2: Working For The Pretend: The End of Pay in the Age of Affluence
Where did our cultural expectations of 24-7 work for nothing in return come from? In the twentieth-century, there was a deeply embedded cultural idea of "work" for "pay." Certain ideas inherited from their ancestors -- that work should be limited to a certain number of hours per week, that work should be compensated with pay, that workers were entitled to breaks -- were part of their cultural framework. Eventually these came to seem mere superstitions. "Interning" was work without pay in hopes of future employment, but threats of being let go worked just as well. We trace how these developments, in a context of inequality, ensured the end of the quaint idea of payment.
Chapter 3: "Let Them Eat Beefcake: Technology and The Food That Can't Feed You
Next we turn to a consideration of the causes of the paradoxical hunger/obesity crisis of 2025. Long ago, hunger and starvation were caused by a lack of food, resulting from natural crises and ordinary poor planning. All that changed in the early twenty-first-century, as food technologists found their holy grail: caloric snack foods with no nutritional value that caused hunger instead of satiety. While a short-term boon for food corporations, the long term result was that plump people with kitchens full of food began, nonetheless, to starve.
Chapter 4: We Are All Hikikomori Now
You might be surprised to learn that people of the Age of Affluence loved to go out and spend time with one another -- literally, IRL -- and did so for fun and not just as a chore. In "restaurants," people ate in groups -- just for pleasure. There was so much socializing that our current typical life, spent indoors and alone, was considered odd enough to be considered a disorder worth naming. What went wrong? What caused the end of non-virtual interaction?
Chapter 5: Children in An Ownership Society: Where Do They Fit In?
Like us, people of the affluent age felt strongly that to simply give goods and money away to poor people would be wrong: it would simply encourage idleness and take away their sense of personal responsibility. But they made an exception for children: in the affluent age, so-called "helicopter parents" showered their kids with goods and attention, and even abandoned children were simply given food and shelter. But in our current 100 percent ownership society, we are forced to view children as simply small poor people -- especially as infants, they own nothing we don't give them. We thus explain the rise in child mortality in terms of the failure to find a justifying ethical reason or the political will to treat children in any other way.
If, after reading this book, you want to know more about the Affluent Age, just visit one of our local Nostalgia Centers™. There you can have a cocktail in a "bar," with "friends," read a book, play a musical instrument, and have sex.