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Foundation is the starting phase of the The Millennial Project. It's objective is to establish a social and economic infrastructure upon which subsequent phases are based by communicating TMPs vision of the future to the global society, rallying those inspired by it to concerted action, developing the financial and industrial systems needed to accomplish it, and establishing the initial physical communities and facilities to host them. It is also the starting point of a cultural transformation intended to evolve the current dominant western culture and civilization into something more functionally suited to the concerted development of space and a more sustainable way of life on Earth. Foundation's primary tools for accomplishing these objectives are three institutions; the Foundation Community Network, Foundation Media, and the Foundation CIC.
Foundation Institutions Edit
The Foundation Community Network is a program focused primarily on the advocacy of marine, space, sustainable, and Post-Industrial development through the cultivation of community networks of communication, promotion, and other group activity with a preference for Internet use as a social networking medium. This is the 'digital community' alluded to in the original TMP. It is currently embodied by the Living Universe Foundation -successor to the previous First Millennial Foundation whose name was changed due to a mysterious American bureaucratic aversion to the use of the word 'millennial'...- and its various on-line forums, web sites, and this very Wiki project. It will eventually develop into a host of community projects and institutions intended to refine the strategic planning of TMP and develop its various new technologies and resources.
Foundation Media is a media production firm developing and publishing a variety of professionally crafted media to promote the vision of TMP and provide news and entertainment associated with its themes. It is also a revenue-generating facility based on the market value of its media products. It's most critical role is to develop and distribute a visual depiction of TMP and its many settlements, systems, vehicles, and technology and will serve as a source of initial architectural and industrial design.
The Foundation CIC is the critical core mechanism through which Foundation engages in actual development of physical facilities and industrial capability. It is the financial institution upon which all later TMP development will be based. It is derived from the notion of the Community Investment Corporation as devised by economist Louis Kelso and is based on the idea of creating a mechanism of community co-investment in the real property and industrial capability that has traditionally been the province of private speculation. CICs were originally intended to be focused on a single community such as a city. But the Foundation CIC is intended to encompass all communities and associated facilities TMP may ultimately realize, becoming a powerful yet socially equitable engine of finance that will be able to cultivate a number of additional financial institutions in support of TMP development and the financial needs of its communities citizens.
The Second Space Age Edit
The great scale of TMP, physically and temporally, demands a large community of like-minded people able to pursue a shared vision of the future across generations and a large community of cooperative and interdependent industries working toward shared goals. In the original book, Marshal Savage anticipated the need for cultivating a new culture to accomplish the objectives of TMP -a culture with a "laser-like focus" on space-, owing to the fact that objectives which take generations to accomplish must be culturally embodied and because contemporary culture tends to surround us in life/time squandering distractions that can hinder a community's focus on collective goals. Accomplishing an expansion of civilization into space requires a society for whom this idea is a core cultural imperative, in the way that industrial and technological 'progress' was a cultural imperative of 19th and 20th century western culture and parity with the western standard of living a cultural imperative of post-war Asia. But realizing this is complex. A new culture cannot be engineered like a machine and adopted like a new suit of clothes. It must be cultivated in an organic fashion, superseding older dominant cultural elements through a competitive evolutionary process.
Western culture nearly realized a space imperative during the First Space Age, the notion becoming the ultimate expression of the imperative of industrial/technological progress. It was lost, along with that imperative, in the generational disillusionment produced in the social upheavals of the 1960s, the paranoia of the Cold War, and the overwhelming millenarian dystopianism of the turn of the century. All notions of optimism toward the future as well as the ideal of building legacies for future generations have now become regarded as -often childish- anachronisms in the contemporary culture. Mainstream western culture has become obsessed with nostalgia, fantasy, consumerism, and self-indulgence. This is reflected in a mainstream media that revels in nostalgia, fantasy, violence, and shadenfreuden. Often attacked for its apparent obsession with it, even sex in the contemporary media is miserable sex. The character of science fiction media, once the vanguard of popular futurist interest, also changed to focus primarily on future-fantasy; implausible alternative realities rather than an actual possible future. Wherever the future has been more-or-less realistically portrayed in the contemporary mainstream media, it is chiefly in a dystopian context of post-apocalypse or oppressive neo-fascism. Throughout the western culture there is an essential -if not often openly admitted- undercurrent of belief that civilization is in an unstoppable death spiral. We are all just waiting for apocalypse -some ardently praying for it. This must change if we are to realize the potential of the emerging Second Space Age, but it will not be easy for there remains much and growing disillusionment about and resentment toward our primitive Industrial Age cultural imperative of progress for its own sake. For the environment and far too many in the global society the Industrial Age has proved a tragically bad deal and much of the strife, conflict, oppression, and exploitation we see in the world today relates to the essential dysfunction of Industrial Age paradigms in the contemporary context. For space this is particularly problematic because the remnants of the First Space Age are hopelessly tainted culturally by their association with the military industrial complex and the dystopian politics of the Cold War. Even the purely scientific exploration of space, which even in the moribund state of our current space agencies has produced an incredible burgeoning of knowledge in recent times, is commonly seen as the folly of a political/social elite.
Post-Industrial Culture Edit
Though Savage lacked the specific name for it in his writings, it appears that the type of culture he anticipated and saw potentially emergent in the contemporary culture is what we now refer to as a Post-Industrial or Third Wave culture. This is not to be confused with the common mis-use of the term among economists for western nations that have off-loaded industrialization to the Third World through Globalization or for the non-industrial neo-primitivist cultures often advocated by environmental fundamentalists. What it refers to is a culture where the Industrial Age paradigms of unlimited growth, zero-sum economics, and large scale centralization of industrial production, economic exchange, information distribution, and political power have been obsolesced by technologies of energy, industrial, information, communication independence which enable counter-trends of balanced growth, non-zero-sum economics, 'long tail' markets, cultural divergence, the emergence of industrial ecologies akin to that of the computer industry, and a progressive decentralization and ultimate obsolescence of industrial, economic, and political power. Mid-century intellectuals and futurists recognized the inherent environmental and social unsustainability of the western Industrial Age culture, anticipating the imminent social upheavals later in the century but underestimating the power of the existing systems to buy more time through Globalization and resist cultural change through the inertia of a consumerist American middle-class. But in the very industrial/technological tools of the Industrial Age lay the seeds of its own ultimate obsolescence through the evolution of those tools for the sake of bottom-line imperatives. The simple compulsion of greed within a competitive market environment -now aided by steadily worsening resource shortages- compels the evolution of industrial technology toward increasing cost-efficiency which results in systems that are progressively shrinking and smartening with time, and in so doing becoming less easy to control the ownership and use of.
We now live in an age where very few of the artifacts upon which a western standard of living are based actually require facilities larger than a two car garage to produce. Job-shop production now produces -by a slim but steadily growing margin- more of the goods we buy than large centralized factories do. Though we are still largely dependent upon distant fossil energy sources, electric power production is now becoming increasingly decentralized in response to the worsening decrepitude and unreliability of existing infrastructures. Every large corporate facility now has its own power plant and, though still limited to the predominantly wealthy, off-grid living based totally on renewable energy is a practical reality for many. The phenomenon now known as the 'long tail' where the majority of market share in a given industry is contained in a large diversity of specialty small volume products rather than a dominant large volume few is becoming the recognized reality in a steadily increasing number of industries, compelling manufacturers to produce larger diversities of products than they have ever produced before and testing the very core paradigm of the Industrial Age -that of a higher standard of living for more people being attained through the economy of mass production. This is demanding a revolution in industrial process and technique to accommodate it that is only hastening the demise of traditional centralized production. And so we find ourselves on the cusp of a second industrial revolution. An Industrial Reformation. A point where the old order and its vested interests start losing their grip, and increasingly respond with acts of desperation.
Marshal Savage saw in this evolution an opportunity to cultivate his space-focused society by virtue of a Post-Industrial Age's single greatest social virtue; time. The key benefit of the emerging Post-Industrial culture is the increasing amount of personal time it affords the individual who is decreasingly working to profit another. The old cliche that 'time is money' is quite true. The value of money, and therefore the margin of profit, is measured in human time. The salary worker never really gets his 'time's worth' in pay and never gets his 'money's worth' in consumer goods. The difference is the margin of profit sacrificed to others. Profit margin is not just money out of one's pocket. It's time out of one's life. As industrial production is increasingly decentralized, localized, and even personalized this margin shrinks. The closer one gets to being able to make goods on demand for oneself rather than buying them in the store the more time one recovers for oneself. The benefits of automation, one confined to mass production but trickling down to the on-demand level as such systems shrink in scale, becomes a further bonus in time. Throughout the western world -with the one critical exception of the US- vacation times are increasing with salary levels. People all over the world are starting to realize that they need less to live better and that standard of living in measured in personal time and as a result the value of of labor grows almost exponentially, which has compelled corporations to try to Globalize labor just as they previously Globalized resource acquisition. (an ultimately futile effort because, just as with resources, the process of exploiting geographically isolated pockets of undervalued labor -or other resources- simultaneously homogenizes those cost differences. Companies invent a middle-class wherever they go -a middle-class with ever-growing labor cost and the necessary technical skills to employ those companies own tools to compete against them on their local and the global markets)
By encouraging the development of planned communities where Post-Industrial technologies can be fully developed and exploited -owing to the fact that with present technology not all of them can achieve a personal scale- one can recover huge amounts of squandered human time and direct it to other more socially and culturally progressive tasks -and specifically the task of space development. Savage's notion of Aquarius was the ultimate expression of this idea. Here we see a large community where -by the compulsion for industrial self-sufficiency created by the demands of relative isolation in the marine environment- one is forced to adopt and advance Post-Industrial technology, a Post-Industrial attitude toward consumer goods, and a materially lean mode of living resulting in a generation suddenly gifted with enough free time to pursue the further development of science and technology and the dream of living in space. This is how the sea becomes a means to cultivating a space-focused culture.
But this process must start much earlier than Aquarius and that is the greatest role for Foundation. Using its three functional arms, Foundation is challenged with the task of cultivating a vision of a space-faring civilization that can compel the attention of a large segment of society, leverage what little spare time the more talented and capable among them can muster toward the development of initial industrial and financial capability, start turning that into self-perpetuating facilities that can begin turning the objectives of TMP in paying careers and places to live and work, and begin exploiting and advancing the nascent Post-Industrial technologies of the present and expressing them by way of example in its new planned communities. Foundation thus becomes, quite simply, the functional foundation of everything else in TMP.