Friday, February 17, 2012

What the Future Will Be Like


I don't have a better idea than capitalism or socialism.  I just have an idea.  My idea is that all forms of human society contain contradictions, injustices and frictions.  Formulating an ideology of how to best organize society so as to resolve and end contradictions is utopianism, a fool's errand.  Human societies are inherently unstable so no choice of social order will stay put.  
There is no right way to do it, not even a best way.  Societies are mixmasters of evolving forms.  

All one can hope for is a general tendency of societies to evolve toward less violence - notably the diminution of slavery, persecution, authoritarianism, and so on.  I really believe that there is progress in human life, just not linear and not according to anyone's notions of how things should be. 

Specific reforms, like prison reform, treatment of the insane, abolition of slavery, diminution of wife-beating, abolition of child labor, have no     ideological content.  

They are reductions in the level of violence with which people are treated.  Universal education, abolition of smallpox, typhoid, malaria, cholera, diphtheria, and so on, are all improvements in human life that are 


independent of choices about ownership of the means of production and distribution of incomes.

Even in our own time we have seen a diminution in the prevalence of war.  While there have been wars aplenty, it is 67 years since there has been a 


 global war of the scale of those that wrecked half the world in the first half of the 20th Century.  Already wars seem largely confined to the more backward and undeveloped parts of the world.  After a millennium of wars, Europe has at very long last largely disarmed.  There have been few wars between countries in the Americas in living memory.  This is not 

a matter of ideology - capitalist America and  communist Russia were equally belligerent.

One can hope that as living standards rise around the world, including in Africa and the Muslim countries, birthrates will fall, childhood mortality will fall, literacy will rise, hunger will abate, the status of women will improve, religious fanaticism will decline, and overall social violence will diminish.

Last night Rita asked me what time in history I would most like to live.  I unhesitatingly and without coyness said, "two hundred years from now".  Whether there will still be corporations and capitalists and Republicans then, matters less than whether there is still war and disease and social violence. 


  1. The future will be shaped exactly as Marx predicted. We are the late stages of capitalism and the proletariat will rise. Your argument is flawed and very simplistic, its essentially nihilstic. Sillyness. You call yourself Israeli, you're a typical Israeli, stupid narrowmindedness.

  2. Anonymous10:44 AM

    Two hundred years from now people not even exist as the wars get more computerized and the chemicals stronger. The Smarter we get the more chance there will be that we will implode. You get one crazy person in the mix and the cocktail becomes lethal. Just ask Whitney!

  3. How lovely that Rez, apparently an Iranian, has gotten wrong pretty much everything he could get wrong, and in the face of plenty of clear evidence. For starters, as I have made abundantly clear, I am an American, not an Israeli.

    What we see is the exact opposite of what Marx predicted. There is a continued waning of class consciousness and identity both in the US, in Europe, and in the Muslim countries. In Europe, and even more in the US, we see the working class more and more supporting not leftwing but rightwing parties. In the US, the Reagan Democrats of the 1980's have morphed into the much further right Tea Party. In Europe we see workers supporting the National Front in the UK and the Front National in France. In Muslim countries we see poor people supporting the various chapters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salfists, which are a mask for reactionary plutocracies struggling to maintain their power over societies rapidly evolving out of their control. Does one really imagine that the fellahin will fare any better than women will in Islamist-run societies?

    More fundamentally, the advanced capitalist countries are all evolving away from industrial manufacturing toward service economies. Factories and the economics of manufacturing were the basis of classical/Marxist economics throughout the 19th Century. Both Lenin and Marx assumed without reflection that imperial countries manufactured and that colonial countries provided raw materials. That is getting to be a harder and harder argument to support as more and more of our goods are marked, 'Made in China', 'Made in Korea', 'Made in Bangladesh', and so on.

    In China it would have been hard indeed for Marx to have predicted the emergence of a major capitalist economy controlled by a Marxist-Leninist Communist government. Those of us not inclined to believe what we are told tend to see a recrudescence of a Confucian scholar-administrator elite under the guise of a Vanguard Party of the Workers.