SciFi&Eco: Back to the Future?

From: Randy Smith (
Date: Sat Jan 13 2001 - 00:16:04 MST

Why did Sci Fi fail to miss all the important developments of the future?
And analysis, etc...

>From (this URL may be in 2 pieces):

An excerpt:

But why was the renascence of a red-blooded, fundamentalist capitalism not
foreseen? Why, indeed, did Huxley in Brave New World (1932), Orwell in
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and Clarke and Kubrick in A Space Odyssey (1968)
have so little to say about economics, given its centrality to human life?
Why, in effect, did they assume that technology or planning would take care
of economic issues?

The answer, I think, is that none of them imagined that the clock could be
turned back. Converts to the market often imagine they are embracing a new
philosophy. In reality, they are old fogies who are uncritically recycling
ideas first popular in the 17th and 18th centuries.

That was the era when the leading philosophers, influenced by Newton's
mechanistic physics, created the myth of the atomistic individual that
undergirds the market ideology. The intellectual history of the 19th and
early 20th centuries is largely one of a heroic struggle to demonstrate the
flaws in that superficially appealing story.

[Comment: is randism et al supported by the hardwired respect we as social
animals have for the alpha beast? Hero worship etc ...]

Huxley and the others never conceived that politicians would again become
slavish adherents to a framework of ideas that had been found wanting by
leading philosophers and sociologists.

Taking the long view, they were probably right, which is not to say that
their totalitarian fantasies were realistic. Our ultra- individualistic,
market-led society is probably a historical aberration. It will evolve into
something different (dare I say something more advanced?), even if we avoid
an economic or environmental calamity.

Looking forward 50 or 100 years I find it hard to imagine that societies
will continue to place so much confidence in brash young traders and
round-the-clock casino-style financial markets. I doubt they will accept our
wealth differentials or the psychological stress and social upheaval
generated by unrestrained competition.

If I believed there were any point in futurology, I would predict a more
sane, stable and just form of social organisation. There is something called
progress and we won't be constrained by an 18th century template forever.

What's old is new....(meet the new boss, same as the old boss...)

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