New Barbarian Manifesto: How to Survive the Information Age

Ian Angell

When the Victorians plotted their evolutionary charts they placed the ape at one end of the scale and traced its development to proud 19th-century manhood at the other--the bowler-hatted Victorian gentleman, the pinnacle of evolution. Somewhere between now and then, that self-belief has evaporated leaving present-day futurologists despairing for our collective destiny. Ian Angell is one of them. His New Barbarian Manifesto is a bleak but compelling read--an apocalyptic vision of the future written in uncompromising style. Like High Tech/High Touch, the basic premise is that IT is not a pathway to the Utopia we imagine but a ticket to chaos, dislocation and conflict. The language tells the story: "I want to convince you that a 'brave new world' is being forced upon unsuspecting societies by advances in information technology. This is a brutal and brutish world, a world of barbarians, where the certainties of the 20th century, its power bases and its institutions are collapsing." Computerization is one of the principle villains according to Angell, promoting as it does the triumph of intellect over strength, the individual over the group. He observes that, "this ultimate automating technology, this destroyer of all jobs requiring physical strength, is totally dependent on intellectual labour. For the production of intellectual capital is the sole prerogative of the knowledge worker." More, "these talented new barbarians are realising their value and they are learning to invest their capital wisely." But Angell is no revisionist and this is the twist. He advocates a move towards new barbarianism--embracing this uncertain future for individual success. The book aims to "enable you to understand these forces and use them to advantage, with pointers on becoming a winner in this new age." The New Barbarian Manifesto rants in hugely entertaining and provocative style and few will come away untouched by the force of Angell's vision. His bleak predictions can be difficult to stomach but who doesn't look to the future with trepidation? Still, progress isn't all doom and gloom--at least we no longer wear bowler hats to work.

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