A book is about to be republished: 2010: Living in the Future by Geoffrey Hoyle. It was written in 1972 and made predictions about the year that is just on its way out. Written in the year of my birth, 38 years seems like an eternity in terms of how fast the world travels. And not at all in other ways.
1972 brought many things: the first hand-held scientific calculator, the first woman judge at the Old Bailey, Bloody Sunday, the Miners’ strike, Richard Nixon, The Godfather, war in Vietnam, Watergate, war between India and Pakistan, the expulsion of Ugandan Asians, the beginnings of problems in Zimbabwe and the height of Idi Amin’s rule.
Since then, we’ve moved to the internet and palm pilots, laptops to ipads, the calming of ‘The Troubles’, the disappearance of coal as power and the emergence of nuclear and environmental power, Bill Clinton, Titanic, war in the Middle East, wikileaks, continued problems between India and Pakistan, the return of peace in some African nations and the emergence of disruption in others.
Will dictatorships cease? I don’t think so. There’ll always be an Idi Amin – some tinpot, crackpot dictator. Now we have Mugabe and Kim Il-Jong. Things won’t change. Somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, some dictator will rise to power and effect massive unrest, but the world will watch, because they’re unimportant. Korea has been problematic for over 50 years – I think it has yet to become the problem it could yet be. Sub-Saharan Africa has yet to find a governmental model that works for them better than dictatorship. I think we have to accept Democracy isn’t for them – and that we supposedly democratic countries are not democratic at all. Democracy has failed, just as Communism did. Trouble is, we don’t have anything on standby.
Will corruption at Governmental level stop? Not at all. In fact, instead of being shocked by Nixon and his type of corruption, we will all just accept that’s the way it will be. The problems of economics will worsen. Maybe paper money will die out – the dollar or euro or pound will disintegrate, and gold will be the currency of the world once again. I can forsee hyperinflation in some unexpected currency, be it pounds or dollars or euros. Qualitative Easing is just a polite route to hyperinflation if you ask me. In the next 38 years, I’m sure some ‘established’ once ‘hard currency’ like dollars will become worthless, devalue and people will return to real hard currency and bartering. Nothing is too big to fail. Germany, Hungary, Yugoslavia – all European currencies that failed in the past. It will happen again. Japan is only 70 years out of hyperinflation.
Power supply will become another 21st Century issue – whether to go nuclear or to go for environmental power. Of course, oil supplies will be hugely limited by 2048, and so I wonder whether we’ll have gone back to pre-1900 methods of transport and lifestyle, with cars becoming less and less feasible and people moving to live near their places of work, staying nearer to family, or relying on the internet to communicate, rather than travel. I can see the age of the car being over – the population growth means that it’s unsustainable. And whilst self-sufficient power and households are perfectly feasible, it’s not in governmental or power agencies’ best interests to go solar or wind or tidal, because it doesn’t make money and if people don’t need to pay for fuel, then they can’t tax it. So… biofuel and nuclear it is.
But, if we’re producing biofuel, we can’t produce grain for cattle, so I can see meat becoming more and more expensive as the world’s population explodes. This means a return to all-but-vegetarianism for much of the world. Beef will become outdated or more intensively farmed in more vile ways – and China will probably lead the way in creating something entirely man-made.
In many ways, I can see almost a full-circle back to the early 70s, where cars were one per household, usually, if you were lucky, and people used public transport a lot more. I can see the same disenchantment with the government as in Britain’s Winter of Discontent.
I think as we get bigger, we’ll become more unmanageable. The wider your boundaries, the bigger your population, the harder it is to manage. So nations will divide. I can see the end to ‘Great Britain’ – a concept only existing in the last 300 years, as British people become increasingly disenfranchised with this ‘Big Society’ – and Governments will let smaller bits, like ‘The North’ and Cornwall, rule themselves, because it’s just too unwieldy. Small is easy to manage. Big is not. Only China has managed to hold it together all these years.
Personally, I see a growth in South America. Once they have ended corruption, as Brazil attempts to do, they will have the resources to become dominant. I can see China going the way of the USSR – although to be fair, they’re much better at being an empire than the Russians were!!
I wonder if there will be big wars, and other nations will stay out of it? I can see big problems in Iran these next ten years or so, and in North Korea too. I think Vietnam and Cambodia will cast off their shadows and step up to the global table, too.
I can see a global ‘winter of discontent’ – but I know little will change. Women’s Lib has been softer than it promised, but has achieved a lot. Human Rights are perhaps more important – I know many countries are further away from the death penalty than they were. Racism, whilst existing still, is less likely to be sanctioned by law. Racism, I think, will play second fiddle to ‘religionism’ or ‘culturalism’ and it will no longer be about colour as it was in the 60s and 70s, with black and Indian sub-continent racism, but about Muslims and ‘Non-Muslims’, just like it was about ‘untermensch’ and ‘ubermensch’. We’ve been here before, too. Did we learn nothing from the Crusades, global holocausts, Inquisitions and persecutions? Racism was just a neat little side-track between the battle between the ‘Abraham 3’ – Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Anyway… this has ended by being one of those blogs my Nana says are too political! I’m sorry!
Maybe I should have written about us taking vitamin pill food and wearing jumpsuits?
What has shifted, it seems, between 1972 and now is hopefulness. We used to see a world of hoverboards and flying cars, a world where we lived on the moon and went on holidays to Venus and Mars. We were all about digital fonts and silver suits. We used to see the Jetsons as our future, and self-cleaning kitchens, a world ruled by benevolent computers and automated for our service. Now automated just means those incredibly frustrating ‘now press 1’ lines and automated has come to mean humourless and barely functional. We realised automated isn’t really ‘auto’mated, but ‘people’mated and therefore, it works sans empathy or sans altruism – those qualities that divide us from the animals.
I’d like to see a shift, driven by fuel and power, back to the local. I’d like to see a more human place. I think we’ve perhaps become so cynical that any future just seems tainted by the problems of today. Or is that just governmental conditioning leading me to think that all we are doing is creating a world of problems for our progeny.