Sunday, September 28, 2008

The risk of modernity

Giddens identifies four risks of modernity embedded:

1. The expanded ability of those with power to engage in surveillance in the interest of controlling information and monitoring and controlling people.
Because the surveillance capabilities of the state and capitalist enterprises have expanded dramatically in modern time, the ability creates increased risk of the growth of totalitarian power.

2. The rapid escalation in military power brought about by the industrialization of war. The development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapon, have created high consequence threats to human beings.

3. The potential collapse of economic growth system. The recent financial crises triggered by subprime credit crunch had vividly painted us this picture. For years, the lucrative banking industry suddenly crumbles, and the trust on banking and financial institutions has diminished. Thousands people lost their lifetime investment and facing the desperate future. While the US Federal government had in principle agreed to inject US$700 billion bailout funds, it is still unclear whether this “abstract system” will be functioning properly, whether market will response it positively, whether the confidence and trust towards these “abstract systems” will be restored. No matter what would happen, the reality has given Giddens’ positive notes of modernity a heavy blow.

4. Ecological disaster. This is quite obviously indeed, from industrial population to global warming, the human beings are reaping the bitter fruits of their own inventions, namely industrialization and capitalism economy. Whether we can finally combat these battles remains very uncertain. Giddens certainly hopes that a system of planetary care will be built up. Habermas hopes communicative actions will finally lead to harmonized development of modernity. These hopes are apparently very dim.

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