Megatrends by John Naisbitt
A Book Review
“Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives”
“A Road Map to the 21st Century”
This book review was written in May 1990.
Megatrends was Published in 1980, 1982 by Warner Books.
Megatrends, an extremely popular and widely quoted book, has been considered by many people to be a mainstream book with great significance to the business community. John Naisbitt is known as a “futurist”, and many have considered him to be an objective observer of trends in society.
Actually, far from being objective journalism:
- Megatrends presents the social tenets of the New Age movement.
- John Naisbitt uses a form of propaganda called “bandwagon” propaganda. He is saying, in effect, “Come on everybody, this is the way we’re all going, so everybody get on board!”
- In the jargon of the Human Potential movement, which John Naisbitt applauds, he is, in a sense, trying to reprogram our national subconscious to give us a vision for the New Age.
Between Two Eras
- The main premise of Megatrends is that we are between two eras, i.e., we are in a transition from an old era, an industrial society, to a new era, an information society.
The Global Village
- “We must now adjust to living in a world of interdependent communities”.
- Naisbitt says that the “Global Village” has been created by computers and satellite communications technology.
- “Satellites have turned the earth inward, upon itself.”
- Naisbitt repeats the popular New Age rallying cry, “Think Globally, act locally.”
- Highly personal value system “Our response to the high tech all around us was the evolution of a highly personal value system to compensate for the impersonal nature of technology. The result was the new self-help or personal growth movement, which eventually became the human potential movement.”
- Human Potential “Technology and our human potential are the two great challenges and adventures facing humankind today.”
- Spiritual Demands “We must learn to balance the material wonders of technology with the spiritual demands of our human nature.”
- Human Potential Movement “We created the group-therapy movement, which led to the personal growth movement, which in turn led to the human potential movement (est, TM, Rolfing, Yoga, Zen, and so forth- all very high touch).”
Networking and Ancient Tribes
- The Aquarian Conspiracy “Networking, notes Marilyn Ferguson, who has written extensively about the subject in The Aquarian Conspiracy, is done by ‘conferences, phone calls, air travel, books, phantom organizations, papers, pamphleteering, photocopying, lectures, workshops, parties, grapevines, mutual friends, summit meetings, coalitions, tapes, newsletters.'”
- Ancient Tribes replacing Family and Church “The strength of traditional networks such as family, church, and neighborhoods is dissipating in American society. The gap is being filled with new networks functioning, as Marilyn Ferguson puts it, as the spontaneous modern-day equivalent of the ancient tribe. Networks fulfill the high-touch need for belonging.”
Global Peace: Human Potential, Networking, Interdependence
- The New Era “We are living in the time of the parenthesis, the time between eras.”“Do we have the innovative ability to venture forward into the future?”
“Even while we think globally, the place to make a difference politically is at the local rather than the national level. Whether the issue is energy, politics, community, self-help, entrepreneurship, the consumer movement, or wholistic health, the new creed is one of self-reliance and local initiative.”
“This newly evolving world will require its own structures. We are substituting the network model of organization and communication.”
- Computers will keep track of us “We created the hierarchical, pyramidal, managerial system because we needed it to keep track of people and things people did; with the computer to keep track, we can restructure our institutions horizontally.”“Today we live in a world of overlapping networks, not just a constellation of networks but a galaxy of networking constellations.”
- Participate in our own Evolution “That is why the human potential movement that advocates both discipline and responsibility is such a critical part of the high-tech/high-touch equation. By discovering our potential as human beings we participate in the evolution of the human race. We develop the inner knowledge, the wisdom, perhaps, required to guide our exploration of technology.”“With the high-touch wisdom gained studying our potential as human beings, we may learn the ways to master the greatest high-tech challenge that has ever faced mankind – the threat of total annihilation by nuclear warfare.”
“High-tech/high-touch. The principle symbolizes the need for balance between our physical and spiritual realities.”
“The new leader is a facilitator, not an order giver.”
- Our Great Hope: Global Interdependence “Instead of resisting increased economic interdependence, we should be embracing it wholeheartedly. In my view, it is our great hope for peace.”
John Naisbitt and the “Aquarian Conspiracy”
- The Aquarian Conspiracy was written by Marilyn Ferguson in 1980.
- Called the “Handbook of the New Age” by “USA Today”, it describes an “underground network” that is “working to create a different kind of society based on a vastly enlarged concept of human potential.”
- John Naisbitt wrote the foreword to the 1987 edition.“My book, Megatrends, was the soft-core document on change; The Aquarian Conspiracy was the ‘hard-core stuff'”.“During times of great change, people seek some kind of structure. Such a search for parameters accounts in part for the current religious revival. Hundreds of new churches have been established during the last two decades, helped in part by electronic media; many of these churches have highly structured fundamentalist beliefs. A similar proliferation of new religious groups occurred 150 years ago, when we were in the midst of another basic shift, from an agricultural to an industrial economic base.”
“There is, however, a rapidly growing population to whom such external structures are not appealing; these are the “inner-directed,” people inclined to reach down inside to their own spiritual resources. So we are experiencing a simultaneous revival in personal spirituality. The individualism of the new spirituality is fed by the individualistic nature of an information society, and also by the trend I have called the ‘high-touch response’ to all of the high-tech in today’s society. It is to this spirit that The Aquarian Conspiracy speaks.” (click on the title)
The New Age Catalogue
- The New Age Catalogue, was published in 1988 by the editors of “Body, Mind, and Spirit” magazine.
- The catalogue includes books on channeling, Edgar Cayce, crystals, tarot cards, meditation, yoga, etc.
- Megatrends, along with The Aquarian Conspiracy, is featured in the section called, “The Planet”.
Megatrends 2000: Ten New Directions for the 1990’s
- Another more recent book by John Naisbitt, written with Patricia Aburdene. Published in 1990.
Between Two Ages
- John Naisbitt’s views in Megatrends are actually just a popularization of ideas already expressed twelve years earlier.
- In 1970, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era (click on the title).