European colonization displaced a lot of people. The rise of industrial societies displaced a lot more. They or their descendants are still here, and displacement is still happening. For example, China’s industrial rise displaced millions of people now roaming the country looking for work. China cannot find the resources to keep on building a new China forever just to keep them busy.
In much of the world, burgeoning population and inability to cope with a market system have pushed many “subsistence farmers” off the land into cities, urban shantytowns. Indeed, the United Nations projects that the biggest population growth will be urban poor from this global rural-to-urban migration.
Much of the world has not adjusted to the encroachments of industrial societies, much less the kind of societies that must begin to replace them. This global surge of human flotsam could swell into a tsunami, ignored at great peril. In industrial society cities, hordes of young men with little to do has long been a harbinger of increased crime rates. It is no different elsewhere.
Feeling no responsibility for any larger world, and having a limited concept of it, most of the displaced take up menial jobs and street vending. Some seek a bonanza in riskier ventures, like drug dealing or pirating. Statistics on shadowy doings are suspect, but despite various “wars on,” media reports on unsanctioned economic activity seem not to have decreased during the past decade.
Terrorism from marginalized groups is always possible. Terrorist rationale may be incomprehensible to those terrorized, but an industrial society paralyzed by its own fears and security systems tears itself apart. Making heroes of terrorists in their own minds feeds the incentive to disrupt further.
Improving the quality of life of masses of people may be a more difficult challenge for vigorous learning organizations than any other. Not all vigorous learning is by for-profit corporations as we see them today. Enabling the down-and-out to make a better quality of life for themselves will take imagination that encompasses more than technical solutions. Non-profit organizations have some experience with this — and some success. They need to learn a lot more — fast.