Freedom of speech and protection of a counterculture are more than just abstract features of a Western liberal morality. Freedom of speech and protection of "deviants" comprise essential economic infrastructure in the twenty-first century. As we move into an Information Age, societies that offer strong protection of freedom of speech and individual expression will trump those Confucian societies that emphasize obedience and silent submission to authority. As unlikely a winner as oft-benighted India may seem to be, I would still put good money on India and the individualistic U.S., in collaboration with the European Union, as the future leaders of the non-local sphere of Information and Cyberspace, leaving the Confucian societies not yet visited by glasnost far behind. Freedom of information should be treated by Khanna as one of the most important traits of an economic superpower, far more important than good roads, canals, and oil rigs. Confucianism, as it exists today, is a mimicry engine producing only commodities; free societies such as India have the potential to become creativity engines, producing entirely new economic niches.Economies open to harnessing the (positive) Black Swans, as Taleb would say.
Unless we are driven into a new Dark Age by war or resource disasters, the relentless Information Age will reward societies with strong creative classes (Richard Florida's term); reward societies with a protected counterculture and bohemia; and will punish societies ruled by conformity and fear of "deviance"; will punish societies without their equivalent of Mad Magazine; will punish societies that imprison dissidents. Until Chinese glasnost emerges, the United States, Europe and India will rule cyberspace, and hence the future.
Miller's points are compelling. Global access to a global pool of knowledge (and, so far, an unlimited amount of output able to be put in to it) -- the effects of this have yet to be really sifted out to their long term implications.
Related is this Nature article entitled "Conformists may kill civilizations."
"Whitehead and Richerson's models highlight the perils of cultural conformism in red-noise environments, particularly when populations are small, but also show how other styles of learning can mitigate the problems. For instance, 'prestige bias' means that people only copy successful role models, rather than simply imitating what everyone else is doing.
"Societies should promote individual learning and innovation over cultural conformity, and the models for social learning should be individuals who have demonstrated that they understand how to live with the current environmental trends," says Whitehead."
clik for bigger- source: Flickr
PS- Is "entitled" more pretentious than "titled"? hopefully