Long-time readers know that one of the things I'd love to have happen in the future is to actually get paid in the service of being a corporate futurist, someone who essentially predicts the future for companies and non-profits and helps them establish long-term strategies designed only to pay off in another ten to twenty years. So I thought it'd be fun, then, to keep track of all the various little predictions I always seem to be making about the world as I do my daily reading; that way I can point back to it in the future and say, "Look, I correctly predicted that gasoline-starved suburbanites would begin eating their own babies in 2030!"
Anyway, I've decided to just jot them down here at my blog, to at least keep track of them and also share them with friends; you can see the full list at any time in the future simply by clicking the "BLOP" tag at the end of this entry. I'm starting things off today by listing the first three right in a row; they each have different timeframes and agendas, so will hopefully give you an idea of how varied I plan on making this goofy little nonfiction series. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves!
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PREDICTION 1: The "Obamian Age" will instead turn out to be "Weimar 2.0."
MADE: November 2010
EXPLANATION: Instead of ushering in a new long age of an overall Progressive structure on the government, like how Roosevelt influenced his own times all the way to the 1970s, the Obama administration will instead be seen as the short-lived nadir of an American "Weimar Age," marking a brief lull between two giant disasters that each fueled the other. It's a reference to the liberal Socialist structure that ran Germany in the brief decades between World War One and the rise of the Nazis, an intellectual disaster of sorts wherein a group of insular policy eggheads endlessly debated the fine points of constitutions while the country fell apart around them. The "Obamian" obsession with the subtle details of diplomatic ritual, in the face of a growing economic disaster, is seen by his champions as it happens as a brilliant display of intelligence and global savvy, but in the future will be cited as a folly of out-of-touch wonks that directly brought about the election afterwards of a charming yet fascistic populist who will once and for all plunge the American economy into an unstoppable sinkhole, making the economic crises of the Bush years look like the same kind of simple warm-up that World War One now seems in the face of World War Two.
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PREDICTION 2: The US's coming "Suez Crisis" will involve pissed-off Chinese and a very public spanking.
MADE: November 2010
EXPLANATION: No matter how much they want to deny it, all empires eventually come to a close, finally marked one day by a normally routine military matter that ends up becoming an unmitigated disaster, and with that former mighty power clearly no longer rich or powerful enough to take care of the problem; for the British Empire, for example, that was the Suez Crisis of the 1950s, with the American version bound to come in 20 to 40 years from now, and likely to have something to do with a rapidly ascending China. It will likely not involve mainland China territory, but like the Cold War be a proxy or even virtual battlefield; say, for example, that American ships are finding themselves regularly harassed by overzealous Chinese sailors in the Indian Ocean, and the US has decided to send in the navy to quickly take care of the problem, which turns into not just a slow-motion disaster like Vietnam but literally a quickly embarrassing debacle. Because of the slippery nature of the conflict, the US will be at least be able to spout a few platitudes and walk away relatively harm-free; but unofficially, it will be a sobering moment in American history, as the population finally realizes that America has lost the title of hegemony, and will never again be able to automatically do whatever it wants.
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PREDICTION 3: The next "Great Age," known as "the Synthesis," will be a thousand-year grand reconciling between East and West.
MADE: November 2010
In the vastest terms available, the 12,000 years of recorded human history we now know about can be broken down into a series of "great ages," with the last several (the Classical Age and Middle Age) lasting roughly a thousand years; if this turns out to be the case with our current age as well (the Scientific Age, starting with the Renaissance circa 1500), that will have it ending around 2500, and with humanity at that point in the middle of their next great age of history. That will be known as the "Synthesis," and will reconcile Eastern and Western civilizations into equal partners of the planet for the first time in several thousand years, resulting by the end in two halves of the planet now almost entirely equal in money, resources, infrastructure, religious fervor, and global influence. The reason this will take so long to achieve is that both hemispheres will eventually have to learn to deeply embrace whatever from the other culture is missing from their own, which we're seeing the very beginnings of in the East right now in places like Turkey, a country rapidly adopting such rational Enlightenment ideas as truly free elections and a truly transparent justice system; but in the West, this is going to involve the much tougher idea that secular democracies are simply proven not to work in the long run, without the traditionally Eastern concept of an "official morality" dictated to the public by the government, a lesson that will take centuries longer for Westerners to embrace than the ones from the West currently being adopted in the East. But that said, this very well might not involve Western governments adopting an official state religion (although it certainly will in some cases -- we're fairly close, for example, to seeing the rise of the world's first modern Christian Republic); by this time 500 years from now, you may very well see for example a way to use Platonic philosophy to espouse an official set of moral absolute rights and wrongs, or some sort of Zen/Quaker/Pagan hybrid.