I finished my last post without actually answering the question I set out to answer. Instead of the possible futures, I ended up talking about immigration. While it is an important subject playing an important role in our future, it is far from being the only source of risk and uncertainty. The future is indeed a mystery, but it clearly has some directions.
The fortune tellers
Just about everybody who quotes Yogi Berra will go ahead anyway making asses of themselves with silly predictions. Barely understanding the present, they predict the future.
Do you remember Alvin Toffler and John Naisbitt? Megatrends created a whole industry.
A few days ago I spent hours watching TED talks about the future of work.
There is a whole subculture expecting the impending demise of monetary systems, international organizations and whole civilizations. Hollywood is pretty gloomy too. I must have seen at least a dozen dystopian future movies in the past few months.
What is most fascinating about the prognosticators is their tunnel vision. Historians can’t look at science, technologist fail to consider the economy, economists ignore sociology, just about everybody ignores culture and biology while Hollywood is absolutely clueless about everything beyond our primal instincts.
The most spectacular fail was probably Francis Fukuyama’s “The End of History and the Last Man” written after the then latest ‘change du jour’, the fall of communism. As a reviewer describes it: “Fukuyama asserts that history is directional and that its endpoint is capitalist liberal democracy.”
Farid Zakariah’s The Post-American World starts saying: “This is not a book about the decline of America, but rather about the rise of everyone else.” But then it goes on with the naïve assumption that the existing dominance of liberal world order will only be rebalanced without a significant change in its nature of more ore less peaceful international cooperation.
David Friedman’s The Next 100 Years makes bold predictions with little regard to scientific, technological and the related demographic, social and cultural changes. It is yet another projection of the present and the past onto the future.
Most of these books, presentations and documentaries fail the same way, as they all consider trends and changes within the boundaries of single ideas.
The greatest problem we are facing is NOT the clash of civilizations, but the suicide of the West.
Its stupid and misplaced guilt, its loss of self confidence, the curious mixture of blind faith in its immortality (as exemplified in “The End of History”) paired with the arrogant irresponsibility of destroying every one of the values that made it great.
The welfare states of Western civilization
The Judeo-Christian secular democracies with free market economics that created the civilization loosely described as “the West”, slowly morphed into socialist welfare states. In the 20th century, in most developed countries, the government’s share of the economy grew from under 10% to close to 50%. Most problems we have to deal with today are the results of this socialist transformation. NONE of the developed countries have sufficient reserves to cover the cost of the promises they made to their citizens. Some sort of collapse, some sort of correction is inevitable.
The state grew at the expense of the family and civil society as it became a surrogate replacement for both. Women were encouraged to enter the work-force, as the growing state needed more taxpayers. The result is the sharply declining birth rate threatening the viability of the system.
Socialism is a cancer, it does not know how to stop growing and will likely kill its hosts without radical surgery.
If socialism is a cancer, then Islam can best be described as a parasite. Islam has always been a parasitic culture. It conquered civilizations, lived off their glory for a while, then slowly devolved them into dreary economic and cultural insignificance. The only times Muslims cultures were ‘successful’ was when they had something to pray on. The control of trade routes or natural resources. The latest target of Muslim predation is the weakening Western world which they plan to take over with demographics and violence.
Islam is a parasite that will not stop abusing its hosts until it brings it down to its own level of dysfunctionality.
The problems of Africa were created mostly by Western civilization. We gave them the tools of growth but not the tools to maintain it. We gave them infrastructure, vaccination, basic health care, free food and money for their natural resources, but we left them to their own devices without teaching them how to build modern societies.
The population of Africa is expected to double before the growth will subside. Since they do not have the tools to build modern technological societies, a fair bit of that overpopulation will spill over to the developed world.
The rest of the world is not a problem inasmuch as they are not a threat to Western civilization. The Russians, the Chinese and the Japanese, the Indians and the South Americans all have their specific problems, but they are not a threat to Western civilization.
While I am more on the pessimist side, I am not without hope. The world around us is ripe with many different and contradicting possibilities. Let me sketch out a few:
- It is quite imaginable, that we can solve our energy problems and permanently get off fossil fuels.
The quick adoption of LFTRs and other 4th generation nuclear technologies may resolve large scale energy needs; while the quick evolution of alternative energy source technologies may prove to be enough to satisfy local needs. Electric and Hydrogen fuel cell cars, LFTR powered transport ships may free us from the need for fossil fuels.
Oil is the only economic power Muslims have. Without it, they will not have the money to finance terrorism and radical mosques in the West.
Will that happen before they irreversibly change Europe? It can go either way.
- The international monetary system is in a crisis. The role of the US dollar as the international reserve currency may end any day. The collapse of the dollar would mean the collapse of he world economy. The two possible ways out of such a crisis would be a gold based currency or the use of SDRs, the fiat currency of the International Monetary Fund.
What will win? The sensible solution (the gold standard), or the fiat money of the globalists? It can go either way.
- Advanced liberal democracies are in a deep existential crisis. It is getting increasingly obvious that they are all Ponzi schemes approaching some sort of collapse.
Will reason and freedom prevail or will we end up in the biggest bankruptcy of human history? It can go either way.
- International institutions are in crisis. The EU may fall apart, NATO’s role and functioning can be best described as confused, the IMF is deeply distrusted and the UN is slowly turning into a joke that no one takes seriously.
Can these institutions reform themselves and survive? It can go either way.
- The very nature of work is changing. The real threat to the manufacturing jobs in the developed world is not the cheap labour of the third world, but the robots. But the problem is even more serious than that. Artificial intelligence is a threat to the jobs of professionals as well. This represents problems in more ways than I can address here. We will have armies of unemployed and unemployable people. We’ll run out of taxpayers the state needs to fulfill its irresponsible promises made to the older generations. This will be the biggest change since, and bigger than the industrial revolution. It will be a challenge to figure it out even without illiterate and unskilled immigrants.
Will we be able to adjust to the changes, or will this change just hasten the fall of the mirage? It can go either way.
- While I do not believe that Islam can reform itself, I can see the possibility that it may just implode and whither away.
Will Islam destroy Europe, will it reform itself or will it just deflate into insignificance? It can go either way.
The two greatest dangers humanity faces at this point are the self-destructive overreach of liberal democracies and the aggressive conquest attempts of Islam. If both goes ahead unchecked, we may very well face a new dark age. The worst possible outcome for the not so far future is the political takeover of Europe by Islam. In the best case, that would result in a civil war. I call it best case because Muslims may actually lose it. The worst case is that they will turn Europe into typical Muslim countries with stagnating economies and ecological disasters. The worst case is the death of Europe with a series of devastating wars as Muslims will try to consolidate their power.
What irritates me about the ‘long view’ the most is its implication. The suggestion that there is nothing to do, that nothing can, and therefore nothing should be done.
What irritates me is the insinuation, and often outright accusation that this is about race. It is not. It is about possible future outcomes of the changes and decisions that we are implementing today.
The future is not written. What we do today is what makes the future into whatever it will turn out to be. “The future ain’t what it used to be”, but it isn’t written yet. We can always do something.
- We can hasten technological change, advocate (for example) for the move toward 4th generation nuclear technologies. We can fight for the simplification of the regulatory regimes that slow down the adoption of new technologies.
- We can fight for the radical reduction of the state’s size and power. Since the state is clearly not able the deal with the problems its size created, that size must be reduced.
- We can stand up against the Islamization of the West. Not against the people, but against the accommodation and tolerance of the very bad ideas in their heads.
- We can fight for the adoption of sound money.
- We can fight against policies that destroy families and weaken civil society.
….and I could go on. The future is more confusing than it has ever been in history. It is bleak and promising at the same time. It can turn out to be the best of times or the worst of times.
But the future is always about the present. It is always about understanding what is happening today. We are only interested in the future because we want to know what to do today, how to prepare for it today.
If somebody tells you that some future is inevitable, it only means that they either like the direction of the present, or feel powerless to change it.