The Digital Millennium 1000 to 1999
My pick for the greatest person of the past digital millennium is Johann Gutenberg, who in Germany in 1452 was the first European to create movable type, making it possible to reproduce books with a printing press. The first book he printed was the Bible.
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
We will be celebrating two millennia, the calendar millennium which runs from January 1001 to December 2000 (because the first calendar millennium ran from January 0001 to December 1000), and the digital millennium which runs with the thousand-year digit 1, thus from January 1000 to December 1999. Most folks are marking the digital, not the calendar millennium, and computer programs will be marking the digital year 2000 also, or 00 if they have not been corrected. The first digital millennium ran from 0001 to 0999, so actually it was a "millennium less one".
The great event of the second digital millennium was the rise of Europe towards global domination. In 1000 there were great Empires in China, Africa, the Americas, India, and Indonesia. Europeans began exploring the world and conquered the planet. That started with the Portuguese, who have just given up their last colony, Macao in China, also the last European colony in all Asia. Portugal and Spain divided up South and Central America, Great Britain took North America, and Britain, France, and other Europeans carved up Africa. Britain had India, the Dutch held Indonesia, and France grabbed the Pacific Islands and pieces of land in all continents. Tiny Belgium got a big chunk of Africa, the Congo, and Germany and Italy took what was left in Africa and the Pacific Ocean.
Then in two great world wars, Europe self-destructed. Europe's weakness has been perpetual warfare. The Austrian and Turkish empires crashed and broke into fragments that are still causing the world grief. The European powers lost their colonies. The United States of America rose to become the world's great power.
Two great themes of the second digital millennium were liberty and technology. The Age of Reason after the Renaissance yielded both science based on rational method, and political philosophy based on reason rather than authority. The electrifying concepts of natural rights and democracy led to revolution in America and France. For a time, there was a branch of the revolution leading to socialism, but that degenerated into totalitarianism. Fascism self-destructed in war, and State Socialism collapsed from its inner contradiction.
Two great religions, Christianity and Islam, conquered most of the minds of humanity. The Jews were chased, killed, and assimilated, yet they survived to create again the independent state of Israel. Hinduism and Buddhism have spread their influence world-wide, while local tribal religions and customs suffered crushing defeats. Primitive peoples world-wide, from Africa to the Americas to Asia, have fallen victim to conquerors and their empires. A few pockets of primal people still exist, such as the Efé Pygmies of Africa and some Indians in the Amazon, threatened always with extinction.
Now at the end of the second digital millennium, the advancement of technology accelerates. Gutenberg's revolution of printing made it possible for the masses to get literature and information. Data are now available globally in the internet. But technology has also both made destruction cheap and civilization vulnerable. Little progress has been made in the practice of social technology, the technology of how a liberated society can live together in harmony.
The knowledge is there. A universal ethic by which humanity can live in peace is known. The economics by which people can prosper with justice is known. Ethics and economics have advanced, but with all the great knowledge and education achieved by this millennium, the masses and even the savants remain ignorant of the most basic principles of social harmony. The rulers and chiefs of state want this to be so.
Three great principles need to be known by humanity in order to have social peace. First, there is a universal ethic by which good acts are welcomed benefits, evil acts are invasive harms, and all other acts are neutral. Second, the economics of social harmony require that workers keep their wages and that humanity shares natural land rent. Third, true democracy begins in small local communities that elect higher-level councils, all voting taking place in small federated groups. If you grasp these three principles, you will be among the leaders who may yet bring peace and universal prosperity to the third millennium.
-- Fred Foldvary
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Copyright 1999 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.