There is a special study of the accuracy of the most famous prophecies. It shows correct predictions mainly dealing with the future 100 years, but the ones referring to the period of 20-50 years are hard to find. Predictions on the "medium distance" for some reason, are the most difficult.
Here are the most recent examples. I'll start from “The End of History
” by Francis Fukuyama
. His article was written under the influence of communism, and then the book prophesied the end of large-scale conflicts. After 11 September 2001, it must be awkward for the Russian aggression as well as the ISIS to remember this prophecy. They say that when Fukuyama gives a lecture at a university, the first thing he is asked is "How are things going with the promised end of the world?
Another forecast is “The World is Flat
” by Thomas Friedman
. The subtitle of this book sounds no more and no less but ‘A Brief History of XXI century’. The main thesis: as a result of globalization in the 2000s new factors entered the game equalizing opportunities for different societies. The thesis was empty from the start. You do not need to be a geographer to know: the world as it was and still is round that is uneven. The roughness of it is not reduced, but increased, and the rich are getting richer and the poor - poorer.
Not true are not only utopias but dystopia are untrue as well. Another bestseller in recent years – “Clash of Civilizations
” by Samuel Huntington
- also has the potential to become one of the most stupid modern books. And the best counterargument against Huntington - Ukraine. Despite the forecasts of "civilized
" Serbo-Croatian conflict, there was nothing like that. The failure of the Russian spring - the latest proof.
These three books are written in a similar manner. Their authors are betting on one trend, as during the horse racing betting on a horse and driving it to the end. But the history works differently. It lays eggs in different baskets. And none of us can know in what basket the future will hatch out –too many baskets and even more factors that determine what will be the first.
In other words, we have entered a world where there is no, and won’t ever be confidence. This is probably the most accurate forecast and the most honest which can be done over the next 15, 25 or even 100 years.
Therefore, it’s time for us to look at the world from a different perspective. It is nowadays considered normal to think by structural dichotomies like "beginning-end
", and “West-East
". But our post-industrial age should be the age of post structural knowledge. When the "beginning-end
" are not two mutually exclusive options, but opposite poles in a wide range of different possibilities.
I offer a simple, but hopefully not over simplified scheme: the global vector of development of the next 20-25 years can be represented as a sum of motion in two axes. The last points on the first axis - 9/11, the date of the peaceful fall of the Berlin Wall, and 11/9 - the day of the terrorist attack on New York. In the second axis, the points of "flat world
" and "round world
" are labelled. The amount of movement on the two axes, as I mentioned earlier, is impossible to predict due to great amount of factors and a too rapid change. But what is obvious is the most horrifying scenario of the future which is the simultaneous movement towards 11/9 and quite a "round world
". And this scenario, as we can observe, has been gaining momentum in the last 10-15 years.
On the other hand, we cannot keep the situation constant near the points "9/11
" and "flat world
". This would be a utopia as evident in Fukuyama’s and Friedman’s writings: nice in theory, unrealistic in practice. Realistic scenario should be in keeping the golden mean between the extremes.
I say "we
" because it applies to Ukraine. I would even say in the first place - Ukraine. Two years ago, the three closest persons to me, not saying a word, wrote about the same thing: postmodernism ended, and it ended in Ukraine in Euromaidan. One of them, Briton Peter Pomerantcev characterizes Putin's Russia as a certain type of postmodern dictatorship where the postmodern denial of truth has been brought to perfection. Euromaidan also showed that there are values that are true, and that are worth defending. Against the background of changes in the world over the past decade, it has become one of the brightest spots.
However, I doubt that Euromaidan light will turn into a torch, leading humanity forward. For the sake of believing in it I would need to stop being a historian. As history proves that there are no such noble intentions that cannot be twisted and spoiled. This is called the devil in history.
But what we can and must do is to keep Ukraine - and the whole world with it - from the worst. And it's real. Fortunately, the worst scenarios may not happen in the history, as well as the best ones. Otherwise, we would no longer be living on this earth.
We have no reason to believe promises that everything will go well. But this, in turn, does not absolve us from the obligation to reject everyone who frightens us the collapse and the apocalypse. Overcoming these two extremes makes us sane cynical optimists and gives a real program of action when trying to plan our actions over the next 15-25 years.Oleksandr Shalupyna