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Chapter Eleven: The Educating Society

Section 9: The Feasibility of Friendship



The question that has to be asked at this point is: "Is a political friendship, let alone a transcultural one, feasible?" Skeptics could point to the educational demands on the masses, and even more so to the apparently inordinate amount of time that would have to be spent communicating perspectives and interests every time a decision had to be made. Even if the system works in small groups, it is incredible that it could be extrapolated to systems of millions and billions of people.



In the first place, these objections are analogous to those made by autocrats toward democracies. While democracies remain imperfect, they do appear viable. While they are in some respects inefficient, their advantages apparently outweigh such disadvantages. At one time, large-scale democracy may have been impossible. Before the printing press, it may have been too difficult to educate and inform the masses to participate in policy formation. Given the right methods of communication, grand democracies have been achieved.



Communications technology is developing so as to make global friendship a foreseeability. Already a system called "Qube" has been installed in an Ohio town so that residents can communicate their reactions to issues presented on their television screen within seconds, the various responses can be analyzed by computer and fed back to the presenters and respondents. Such feedback can improve the functioning of democracy -- make the populace more participative -- eliminating some of the negative aspects of republicanism.



However, "Qube" pales in significance when compared to the possibility of a worldwide interactive television system that could allow two-way communication of complex messages between any two points. Such a system would vastly increase our capacities for sharing cultures and perspectives and our educational competencies in general. We could know so much more about each other faster than we do now; and we could anticipate each other's perspectives and interests much more faithfully than we do now. A given decision might not require all that much communication if our mutual under-standings are accurate and precise. Our consciousness would have become collective:



Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the extensions of man -- the technological mutation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society, much as we have already extended our sense and our nerves by the various media (Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, p. 1).



One can often accurately predict the way a friend or loved one will react or decide in a given situation. In this age of information, communications technology is improving education to greatly expand this understanding and empathetic ability. A transcultural friendship is at least an approachable pragmatic utopia.







Book Contents

Transcultural Friendship: Our Political Future


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