This thing is a global disruption.
It’s an established principle of economics. The model is flexible, but it works like this: You have a company that produces something that people want and need, and the owners manage to invest in the technology in such a way that they beat out a lot of other people and companies doing the same thing. So even if they aren’t quite a monopoly, maybe they are part of an oligopoly — handful of powerful competitors who decide not to compete too awfully hard, but divvy up the market. This goes on for a long time, and the owners and managers begin to feel entitled to their market.
Then someone comes along with a totally new technology that destroys that market. Worse, it makes it possible for almost anyone to afford to invest in this new technology and produce the same thing far cheaper, and more precisely to their individual wishes.
Would anyone be surprised that the old cartel would try to make this new technology — often called “disruptive technology” — illegal? The old cartel could even be a labor union, since the product is a specific form of labor. New concepts and new technologies can destroy the foundation on which the union controls are built. And it also works in other kinds of services, like communications. If the right people with sufficient power get behind the disruptive technology, the old will simply wither and die if they don’t find a way to move operations into the new ways. But it’s often easier to use politics and lobby for regulation.
That never works for every long. Government suppression of technology generally forces it to advance even faster with features that defeat enforcement.
Oh, and if something humans do for whatever reason takes on a cartel-like economic control, and if the least bit of money gets involved, it will also likely suffer the same dramatic challenges sooner or later — like religion. Of course, with something like religion, there is another factor involved so that the old “cartel” may continue limping along but without the monopoly controls. Instead, you will simply have a new market in religion open up. While it may well draw some of the captive market from the old, it often creates its own new market. We’ve had several dramatic shifts, some over short periods with some fun labels in history books. Recently the shifts and changes tend to be less dramatic in substance as there is less and less market to exploit. There is a sense of convergence that makes them all pretty much the same market.
That’s because we are on the verge of a disruptive moment, so disruptive it will hit religion only because religion is just a part of something far bigger. It qualifies as a new civilization entirely. Meanwhile, you and I are already partaking of some portion of this new religion thing, and it currently doesn’t have a shape that allows us to use the term “market” to describe it. Still, we cannot pretend it doesn’t share some elements of previous market shocks in religion. It’s just hard to pin them down right now. The ferment and flux is too wild for that.
And we are on the front edge of that first wave. Part of what makes it truly different is that this thing makes use of global communications so as to be global in itself. We’ve never had any time in recorded history when virtually the entire human race has held in common such a significant portion of their daily social existence — that being the portion that can be shared via networked communications.
I can’t promise you that the Internet will remain quite so wide open as it has been up to now. What will make it difficult to shut down is the global sense of entitlement to that wide open network. We have today movers and shakers who were born after the Internet was already working. There will surely be attempts to create bottlenecks and controls, but the feverish pace of technological development will make most of that stuff short-lived. It’s that whole disruptive technology that democratizes essential elements of networking we see even now. Tomorrow’s 3D home printer will create the entire networking device to specifications that are way ahead of the attempted throttling. The nature of government implementation of such things will ensue it never catches up.
Right in the middle of that we are building a new way of doing religion. It’s also intentionally democratized, but for the first time, even a bewildering array of variations may serve very little hindrance in a very real fellowship. That’s because something in the nature of the networked world changes how we think about such things. Not many religion blogs, or even philosophy blogs, talk about that effect. I’ve made a few tries at describing it in previous posts. It’s more than heart-led existence, but a radical shift in society itself that permits a frank discussion of heart-mind and cosmic moral reality. More people today, by far, are ready to receive that message than would have been possible even a decade ago.
If you aren’t provoking it directly, you won’t even be able to watch it happen.