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Tuesday, December 30, 2008
your choice of unappealing futures
Cheney (my guess, anyway) - world descends into chaos as resources become increasingly limited in a 9 billion person world. US preserves its capitalist fantasy by projecting power and incredible violence abroad, total surveillance and control at home. the triumph of authoritarian capitalism
Kunstler - everyone lives in a boring gossipy American small town (I don't know why he didn't just say "let's all become Amish!")
Kaczynski (as I understand it) - let's all become Amish!
Friedman - technology solves all problems, green utopia of "sustainable capitalism" (an oxymoron if there ever was one). intelligent grids! self-driving cars! blah blah blah It would be like living in the Star Trek: Next Generation - bland people pushing buttons and having meetings.
Gernsback - (with credit to The Gernsback Continuum) - we all live in orderly domed cities with cars going in tubes between shining towers - of course this requires a totally conformist, authoritarian society in order to keep the towers shining and the tubes unclogged
That's just great. I don't want to live in any of those futures. They're either boring, or terrifying, or a bit of both.
The sad part is Cheney's vision may actually be the most probable one.
It's basically predicated on the majority of Americans being unwilling to change their lifestyles in any major way. That's probably a pretty reasonable assumption.
Of course, Cheney certainly helped his vision along by working obsessively towards it for the last 8 years, but even if we'd had some shiny Green Gore 8, I'm not convinced it would have made a huge difference.
As for Friedman, for god's sake man, have you learned nothing from the last 50 years of covers of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science? There are no flying cars and vacations to the moon. THAT FUTURE ISN'T COMING. Technology didn't change people. Making your book a plea "Dear America, I want my shiny bullet trains and modern airports, please please please" isn't going to turn America or Americans into Europe or Japanese. Not only is the future unevenly distributed, America doesn't believe in that future any more. Writing your wishes in a book (Hot, Flat and Crowded) and labelling it non-fiction doesn't make it so.