Posts Tagged ‘Positive World Future’

Looking back from the year 2050

December 14, 2022

[What follows is not a prediction, nor is it a program that I advocate.  It is a thought experiment. I attempt to answer the question: If the USA in the year 2050 is on a better path, what might have been the reason?]

Back in the early 2020s, things seemed hopeless to thoughtful Americans. Their government was controlled by oligarchs favorable to big business monopolies and by militarists committed to maintaining U.S. dominance by any means necessary.

Material living standards were falling.  Addiction and mental illness were increasing.  So-called “deaths of despair” – suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol-related liver disease – were increasing.

The manufacturing economy was being hollowed out. The political system was unresponsive to public needs or the public will.  Few expected the next generation to be better off than the present generation.

What Americans back then had no way of foreseeing was the religious movement we now call the Third Great Awakening.  It took a religious movement to transform lives and thereby transform the nation.

Historically, in the English-speaking world, this has always been the case.  Periods of moral and social decay evoke religious revivals in response.

So it was with the rise of Puritanism and Methodism in 17th and 19th century Britain and the first and second Great Awakenings in the early 18th and 19th century USA.

The core values of the Third Great Awakening were (1) putting the needs children, mothers and families first, (2) help in overcoming addiction of all kinds and rehabilitation generally and (3) sympathy for the poor and suspicion of holders of great wealth.

It was a combination of Pentecostal spirituality, Mormon emphasis on community, family and self-reliance, Twelve Step rehabilitation and Latin American-style liberation theology.  It was strict (though forgiving) in terms of personal conduct, but embraced a no-frills Christian theology that made it compatible with diverse denominations.

The core supporters of the Awakening movement were African-Americans, Hispanics and Bible Belt whites, but the movement appealed to people in every niche of American life.

The rise of the movement took place against the background of the Greater Great Depression of the late 2020s.  Governments and corporations went bankrupt and ceased to function.  This time the banks were “too big to bail.”

Confidence in major American institutions had been falling all through the early 21st century.  As they ceased to function, they lost all moral authority.

 Americans were forced to self-organize to cope with the emergency.  They joined together through their local religious congregations, and also through newly-formed labor and community organizations.

About this time the Jeffrey Epstein client files were published by Wikileaks.  They revealed how many high-level politicians, business executives and celebrities had sex with under-age, exploited young girls, and also how Epstein was part of a network of sex traffickers that had continued to function.

This resulted in a great backlash and a drive to track down and punish the guilty—many of whom were also guilty of financial fraud and war crimes.  Financial, political and sexual corruption became conflated in the public mind.  

Some people called what followed a witch hunt, but it weakened, discredited and, to an extent, emptied out the power structure.  New institutions and movements arose to fill the vacuum.


Who, if anybody, has a vision for the future?

November 8, 2019

Political debate in the United States is based on nostalgia—a desire to return to a former era.

Donald Trump’s motto is “Make American great again!”  He doesn’t specify when America was great.  My guess is that his favorite era would be the 1920s, when the country was prosperous, big business was respected and the U.S. was free of entangling alliances.

The Clinton-Biden wing of the Democratic Party simply wants to turn the clock back to 2015.  Bernie Sanders wants to complete the unfinished business of the New Deal of the 1930s.  Elizabeth Warren wants to go back to a time when capitalism worked the way it should—perhaps under Eisenhower.

The closest thing we have to a positive vision of the future is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal.  Her idea is to meet the challenge of global warming and resource exhaustion in ways that avoid or minimize hardship on working people.

Her key idea is full employment through a 1930s-type public works program that builds a green infrastructure and meets the country’s other long-deferred needs.  This is the only way the coming bad years can be made bearable.  I don’t blame her for not thinking out all the details in advance.

The government of China, in contrast, has a definite, feasible plan to make China a powerful and prosperous nation.  It includes an industrial policy to make China a technological leader and a foreign investment program to bring about the economic integration of Eurasia.

For the past 15 years, Pepe Escobar has been writing about the overreach and coming collapse of American empire and how China, along with Russia, will pick up the pieces.  I think that is highly possible, although my view of China is not as uncritical as his.

I think the socialist vision of a utopian centrally-planned economy has been discredited, both in theory and practice. All the uprisings going on all over the world seem to have a vision of radical democracy, which I think is hopeful, but I don’t claim to understand them well.

Science fiction offers visions of the future.  There is a lot of excellent, dystopian, near-future science fiction – Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife; Ken McLeod’s Intrusion; and Cory Cotorow’s Radicalized.

For a positive SF vision of the future, I recommend Kim Stanley Robinson’s work.  Cory Doctorow’s novels are said to be good, but I haven’t read them.

The trouble with extrapolating present trends into the future is that there are foreseeable crises that are likely to change everything in unpredictable ways;

  • a climate and renewable resources crisis, as global warming becomes unbearable and fossil fuels and certain raw materials become unobtainable;
  • an economic and financial crisis, as the system of global finance and fragile global supply chains breaks down; and
  • an international crisis, as the world turns against the United States and the dominance of the dollar.

I don’t know whether the change will be for the better or the worse.

If the future is unpredictable, what is the point of even thinking about it?  It is because your vision of the future gives you a compass point for the present.

One Page on radical humility

March 12, 2013


earth-from-space-artThe Universe is vast, and our Earth is small.  But from Earth we see the unfolding over billions of years of increasingly complex life, including our lives.  A wonderfully patient process has brought us to the present moment.

I believe cooperating with this process will bring us a wonderful future:

A world peace system based on democracy, justice, and freedom, with sustainable prosperity.  Technology protecting clean air and water, and enhancing long-term life.  Both economy and government serving humanity.

Friendly people, loving parents and engaged citizens. Satisfying work, healthy food, adequate housing, and a doctor when we need one.

Oceans teeming with life.  Enjoyment of diverse humankind cooperating to increase global happiness, health, vitality, goodness, and beauty.

But arrogant stories society has told itself have brought us to climate change, corporate-controlled government, unsustainably high population, and unsustainable economics.  We have built doomsday weapons.

Our teachers, corporations, religions, governments, media, friends, and families have told self-congratulatory stories about our exceptionalism.  But they, and we, were wrong.

To reclaim our positive future, we must set aside the comforting certainties we grew up with, and observe the world around us with innocent eyes.  We must create, together, a New Story for our times. We must practice RADICAL HUMILITY to realign ourselves with the Universal process:

•    Because we can “know” things that are not true, we must respect reason and the scientific method of observation and testable hypotheses.
•    Because honest people can disagree, we must dialogue with people with differing ideas to find the truth.
•    Because there are limits to what we can know, we must tolerate ambiguity.
•    Because we share one Earth, we must cooperate with individuals, groups, humankind, and nature.

The Internet has made us all nodes in the web of the world.   An idea whose time has come can circle the world overnight.

We can have a New Story, and new institutions for our positive future, because we get to choose the stories we believe.

We honor the investment the Universe has made in us when we humbly try to create a sustainable, just, and peaceful world.

Hank Stone


Click on What Does a Positive World Future Require? for more One Pages and an explanation of what they are.

One Page Solution No. 10

February 13, 2013

My friend Hank Stone issued a challenge to write on a single sheet of paper what a positive world future requires.  I offered to post the One Pages on this web log.  Click on this link to read the entire set.


nasa_earthBuckminster Fuller said there were four critical steps to re-contextualize the present reality system in which we are  mired. The first is making a go-for-broke commitment to do what we can, where we can, when we can, and the best we can. Our daily lives show the level of our commitment. The second step is education. Any commitment needs information to decide what action to take.

The third critical step is to unify the planet economically. Fuller proposed the creation of a global energy grid to provide an abundant supply of clean power to raise the standard of living for the entire planet.  The grid will provide a market to buy and sell power around the globe and make possible the eradication of hunger, poverty and pollution.

The fourth step is to unify the planet politically. With no overriding constitutional authority, the countries of the world are free to wage endless war. But within constitutional societies, there is relative peace. The time has come to rise to the global level of existence. Seeing the planet from space, sovereign nationalism has become obsolete.

Jonathan Schell in The Fate of the Earth stated that peace never exists between political units but only among them.  Unless the planet is integrated into a constitutional system of politics, economics and social organization, then it is only a matter of time and place as to where war will be.

As the creators of the present nations unified smaller political units to form a larger, more peaceful political unit, so now we are faced with the same challenge of creating one nation from the present smaller countries. Countries are okay to know where to send the mail, but they are counter-productive to world peace.

This re-contextualization of the planet’s reality system will not only provide a context for a peaceful future, it will also open the door to a whole new human epoch. It will be the beginning of a planetary civilization as different from our present reality as it is from the Stone Age.

Michael Kessler

What does a positive world future require?

February 3, 2013

earth12My friend Hank Stone is collecting one-page answers to the question:


I offer my web log as a place to post these One Pages.

Submit your One Pages as comments, and I’ll promote  the comments to inclusion on the page.   Please, no profanity, vulgarity, hate speech or libel.

We now have 11 One Pages.  The latest one was added March 12, 2013,