The class war of the Technological Revolution is the major unwritten story of the past 20 years. It's scantly been written about in novels, and not covered by the mass media, because Overdogs who would write about it haven't been touched by the change. They hardly know it exists.
I wrote about it in 1994 in an essay for Robley Wilson at North American Review: "Detroit: Among the Lower Classes." That the published essay which contained my most passionate writing had zero impact even on the lit world was one factor in my incentive to help create the ULA. I realized writers like myself needed a larger platform from which to address this great and awful civilization.
With jobs across the society transformed by computer technology, the bar of qualifications was suddenly and drastically raised for the average worker. I can testify that those jobs which weren't eliminated became harder, more hectic, the worker required to do more work at a vastly quicker speed.
Millions of decent-paying jobs were eliminated; the lives of millions of individuals and families destroyed. As a result, the industrial working class in America has nearly vanished. The prospects for unskilled workers, for those at the lower end of the socio-economic scale, has become frighteningly bleak-- one reason for the growth of the underclass, which exists today in worse condition and with poorer prospects than at any time since the 1940's. (Even given the millions of people warehoused in this nation's prison system-- people no one wants to see.)
The choice is stark: Compete from Day One by becoming an absolute slave to the technological beast, or fall by the wayside. The mantra of the modern workplace the past decade: "Change or Die." This is not meant by those who say it to be taken metaphorically.
Even shitty $7 telemarketing jobs are now being outsourced overseas. When they vanish: nothing. Revolution or starvation?
Our totalitarian media over the past year has convinced us of a phony split between "Red" and "Blue" people in this country. It's a divide which exists mainly for the Overdogs of the Left and the Right IN media. Their split is on the order of an intramural dispute, a conflict between elites over social mores more than anything. They're still fighting the battles of the debate halls of Harvard and Yale over attitudes toward dating. (On REAL issues, such as NAFTA and the global economy, the elites of Right and Left are on the same side.)
The real divide in this country is between the affluent and the rest of us-- a divide which grows greater by the day. (The fight of the ULA against the Overdogs of literature is a true reflection of this reality.)
One of the ironies of change is that Detroit, the great creation of the Industrial Revolution, has been destroyed by the Technological one. THERE is a good place to view the economic disaster that's been wreaked on large unseen segments of this nation.
It's ironic that I write these words on-line. (Sorry if I've decided to fight; that I've refused to die.) I'm reminded of the scene in Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano when men put out of work by machines eagerly volunteer to fix them when they break. We humans have an innate love of gadgets, even when they make us obsolete.
I'm reminded also as I write this essay of another novel, Food of the Gods by H.G. Wells. Well's novel is a metaphor for the change of the Industrial Revolution. Its quirky narrative captures well the feeling of sudden dislocation and change; the realization that the world is no longer the same.
The theme of the book applies even more to the ongoing Technological Revolution-- and to what lies ahead. Within a couple decades geneticists will be able to change man himself. By manipulating human codes, they'll manufacture people with superbodies and superbrains.
Will there be any doubt that the affluent Overdog class will partake of these Frankenstein benefits-- that they'll eat the "food of the gods," and so leave far behind everyone else, who'll they'll view with inevitable and increasing contempt? America and the world will then be divided not into two classes, as is happening today, but two species.
The result, based on the products of our current Overdog writers, is not promising for literature. A great writer is made not by a giant overpowering brain but by the empathy of a giant heart and the ability to recognize and speak the truth.