Regional inversion and technocapitalism


Regional inversion can be part of a larger process of paradigm shift.


Paradigm shifts involve radical change in various economic, social, institutional, political and cultural dimensions. Typically, a paradigm shift breaks with the paths and structures set in a preceding historical period. The predominance of economic sectors, social orders, institutional, political and cultural power structures can be radically changed during a process of paradigm shift.


Paradigm shifts are therefore revolutionary in character. The process of change encompassed by a paradigm shift is seldom evolutionary or incremental. Instead of building on the structures of a preceding era, those arrangements are often overturned or replaced. Changes that result from a paradigm shift are also often irreversible, in the sense that the old order cannot be restored once the new structures become established.


Regional inversion can be the geographical manifestation of a process of paradigm shift. The possibility that regional inversion may be part of the emergence of technocapitalism must be considered. Technocapitalism is a new form of market capitalism involving a departure from the structures of what may be referred to as industrial and post-industrial capitalism. Because technocapitalism can be considered an emerging new era, many of its features are still to be discovered. Nevertheless, it is possible to discuss some aspects that can link regional inversion to the rise of technocapitalism.


How does regional inversion fit in with the rise of technocapitalism?


Among the various aspects that can link regional inversion to technocapitalism, the role of intangibles is a fundamental one. Regional inversion is driven by intangibles. New knowledge and creativity are the most important intangibles supporting regional inversion. Those intangibles are essential for spawning the new sectors and activities upon which much of the dynamic of regional inversion depends.


Technocapitalism is also driven by intangibles. Creativity and new knowledge are to technocapitalism what tangible raw materials, factory labor and capital were to industrial capitalism. Today, the intangibles that drive technocapitalism are acquiring the highest economic value. They already account for three-quarters or more of the worth of most products and services. Those intangibles are at the core of the kinds of activities that are most likely to be representative of the twenty-first century.


Second, regional inversion relies strongly on a new ecology of activities and organizations. Those organizations are highly creative and generate much new knowledge, whether in industry or services. They have high levels of innovative capacity and must sustain continuous streams of new inventions and innovations to survive. The new ecology of organizations is most visible today in emerging new sectors and activities, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, bioinformatics, software design, genomics, molecular computing and biorobotics.


The new ecology of organizations and the sectors it is spawning are also playing a very important role in the emergence of technocapitalism. Their impacts are likely to be felt in most every aspect of life and work in decades to come. It is very likely that those new sectors and activities may become to the twenty-first century what aerospace and electronics were to the twentieth. The process of regional inversion can draw much of its dynamic from those activities.


Third, regional inversion depends greatly on the long-term accumulation of creative talents and skills. Those talents are built up through the massification of educational access, particularly in higher education. The massification of educational access therefore creates a platform from which creativity, new knowledge and eventually those activities mentioned above are spawned.


The massification of educational access is also a major factor in the emergence of technocapitalism. The intangibles upon which technocapitalism depends rely on massive access to education. The generation, reproduction and sustenance of those intangibles are largely a function of long-term investments in expanding access and providing educational infrastructure. This aspect is therefore common both to the process of regional inversion and to the emergence of technocapitalism.


Fourth, regional inversion depends greatly on networks to assemble and expand the resources needed to launch its dynamic. Networks are vital to overcome many obstacles to the process of regional inversion. They, for example, dilute hierarchies that are supportive of the status quo, and allow organizations and institutions to have access to resources that they would not otherwise be able to obtain.


Decentralizing and fragmenting the means of control are important functions of networks. These functions are vital for regional inversion, since they can help overcome or dismantle the structures that support the status quo and prevent change. Predominant regions often secure their position by creating structures that make it very difficult for lagging areas to advance or contest their hold on institutions, economic sectors, and the social and political order. Oligarchic structures are often the means by which those aspects are controlled. By allowing the possibility of bypassing or dismantling those structures, networks can accelerate the dynamic of regional inversion.


Networks are also playing a very important role in the emergence of technocapitalism. Their tendency to dilute hierarchies and to decentralize or fragment control, have allowed new activities to emerge in a relatively short time. Networks have become a means to access resources, acquire new knowledge and reproduce creativity, in ways that many organizations and institutions would not be able to do on their own. Their scale advantages have defied long established assumptions on the limitations of organizational size and scope. By providing greater value through the rapid expansion of access, networks have defied the belief that value can only be derived from scarcity. All of these characteristics have supported the emergence of technocapitalism, and they are also relevant to the process of regional inversion.


Fifth, the globalization of technocapitalism can be related to regional inversion. It may be possible for some regions to bypass the structures of the status quo in their respective nations by linking up with larger global processes. The containment imposed by a predominant region in a national territory may thus be broken or bypassed by reaching out and establishing international links. This possibility might have been considered unrealistic not long ago, but the spread of networks, the new logistics of exchange, advances in communication technologies, and an emerging global order where intangibles displace material resources may make it more feasible.


All of these aspects indicate that the process of regional inversion might be related to the larger dynamic of technocapitalism. Much remains to be known about both of these processes. However, it is becoming apparent that there can be a potentially significant correspondence between regional inversion and many aspects of technocapitalism.


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Copyright Luis Suarez-Villa