“If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism, we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism.” – Vladimir Lenin
The global intranet has created a well-established means for leveling the playing field in many aspects of society. It has worked to accomplish three main goals: 1. Minimize the cost of information & transactions; 2. Shrink the disparity of media biases; 3. Eliminate the diversity of product and service through risk aversion and conformity. Thus, I’d like to make the comparison of the convergence of our modern day society to that of historical imperialism. More specifically, I’d like to argue the monopolistic traits of modern, technology-driven capitalism through increased specialization only spurs to increase the disparity in wealth & resources between the few and the many, and thus, furthers the flame of imperialism.
In any way, shape or form, the essence of imperialism has been driven by the principles of a higher nation or empire advancing upon other lesser nations for the committed use of its resources (whether by force, diplomacy or deceit). Thus, imperialism can even describe the current capitalist system that occurs today in the US, where the wealth and health gap has drastically expanded within the last 30 years, making the few rich and the many poor.
In the late 1990s, the boom of the global intranet created a stir in the modern day society. The new frontier created opportunities for a diversity of opinions and varying services which equated to millions of online start-up ventures. It was unexplored territory with a plethora of untapped resources. Suddenly the many had a voice, the few had an even bigger voice, and the unheard of could absorb it all. Now, a couple decades later, we have finally hit a turning point. After all of the hustle and bustle to this new frontier, we have finally started to take advantage of its resources properly. Small businesses are optimizing their online presence and big businesses are restructuring their global dominance. Suddenly, the learning curve has been minimized for 3rd world countries and the cost of transaction for new start-ups isn’t approaching infinity anymore. Thus, outsourcing is becoming more and more of a thing of the current again. Conglomerates are disbanding due to inefficiencies, and synergy is now referring to the specialization of multiple, independent, global entities (hence the use of the phrase global intranet instead of internet). Media biases are slowly being eliminated by sites (such as Wikileaks, Politifact, etc) that are willing to expose the truth and many outside media sites (like Youtube) and even blogs are gaining popularity due to interesting quips and insightful antics.
But what does this all mean? In a word. Nothing. It really doesn’t mean anything different, at least. The internet will help further the disparities between the few and the many, except that the few will get fewer (and richer) and the many will be even more (but still just as poor). The only difference is that instead of the constructs of an economical caste system, we’ll have a two tiered system of oligopolists at the top and cog-makers at the bottom. The wayward toward specialization will cause many inefficient conglomerates to disband almost to the point of disintegration because smaller, more efficient entrepreneurial businesses will be able to make Cog #14234 better and cheaper than a 3M producer because of low cost of informational transaction, lower transportation costs and the ease of gaining visibility. Furthermore, the opinions of the many will further cast out the substandard products of localized producers and manufacturers because of the ease of product and service evaluation through review sites and such. Therefore, the best manufacturers of, say, a camera (like Canon), will now be promoted much better in a country in South America rather than the local cheap knock-off. Thus, a good company such as Canon will only get bigger due to the conformity of everyone’s risk aversion to believe in the majority and purchase the “best” product. Essentially, diverse opinions will scintillate toward a statistical convergence upon the best product or service (i.e. white noise!).
The biggest obstacles that will remain will be cost reduction, namely, transportation, import/export, and efficiency costs. For the first two factors, specialization will prove to be even more important as each villager will resort itself to the feudalistic serf or the Renaissance shoemaker in becoming the lowest cost, specialized cog in the local market for this monopolistic empire. Efficiency costs will be a little more difficult to attain as statistical process control, marketing data & operational efficiency will be the main integration factors for maintaining high profit margins. R&D will become less important in horizontal integration, as entrepreneurial start-ups will have fewer barriers to entry and easier adaptability in new markets, and the most non-essential products will disappear into oblivion as the many become aligned into conformity and the increases to the cost of living due to inflated goods and oligopolistic pricing (not to mention this crap weasel of a market).
The creation of the global intranet has helped to define and transform the future of our capitalist society. Unfortunately, the future seems to uphold the imperialist wealth gap that has preceded it and the diversity of information and opinions out there will only further the conformity to the few. Therefore, within vertical integration markets, even with new products, services and ideas being highly visible, it’ll be more difficult to succeed because of the strong reach that the few will hold upon the opinions of the many. And within new markets, consumer spending constraints and convergence theory will prevent unnecessary goods from creating niche markets (think Japan 1990s – now). Thus, the status quo will remain intact, except that in our furtherance of technology and the excavation of this new frontier, we will further approach the age of imperialism.