VISIONS OF THE FUTURE - An essay
REALITY - WAR AND PEACE
Prediction -The second world war will be won by the physicists
- radar and the atomic bomb will give decisive victory. Science
and government will become inseparable.
1939 came the first American broadcast TV (April that year) and George
Wendt was wondering if TV might change how we perceive war (...can war
itself be brought within the actual experience of those who stay at
home, complete with cannon, screams and horror?') (Yes but we'd have
to wait for the Vietnam war for this to happen). In 1939 hardly anyone
actually had a TV set. There was a World's Fair in New York that was
all about how good the future would be. (26,000,000 million visitors
in the first year). It was a future of highways, faster cars, suburbs,
'Futuramas', 'World of Tomorrows'. In the same year however you could
have seen cattle grazing in a field near the Chrysler building.
Nylon stockings arrived in December 1939, rayon, cellophane quickly
followed. What's new in 1939 photo-electric-cells, electon beams, radio
direction beams, wire photos, lucite, plexiglas,jet engines (Italy I
believe can claim the first to build a flying aircraft, followed by
the Germans) fax machines arrived (the world's biggest at the fair,
fluorescent lighting, rockets, primitive robots. In case you think the
1930's were sexless, the World's Fair had exhibits of Women's Magazines
of the future, 'Living Magazine Covers' had topless women posing as
if on the cover of a magazine. Soft-porn was very much part of the that
If you wanted to buy an economic car, the Crosley would do, a two cylinder
12hp car for $350. Most people didn't want such a small car.
in 1940 sees the first sign that the world is now too small for dictators.
The price of removing them would be high, for sure, but Europe after
1800 years of conflict since the Romans withdrew has finally tired of
It is in 1942 that sees the our present future begins. When America
enters the war, simultaneously, against Japan and Germany. At last America
becomes the superpower that it would be for the next 65 years (and hopefully
The 1939-46 war saw the next big surge in technology that would fuel
the second half of the 20th Century. Alongside radar and the principles
of the laser, came gas turbines, the jet engine, computers, rocketry,
second generation antibiotics, food engineering, high strength polymers
and plastics and atomic power. All of the above were ideas and concepts
already conceived, but it took the second world war to put the necessary
funding and urgency behind them. Just one of those ideas would have
changed the world, the fact that all of them came along at once guaranteed
that the peace would be radically different to the previous between
The war itself had a huge sociological impact upon the UK. A society
that so nearly was defeated ( we know now how close it was) yet had
found the resources and more importantly the will to fight and with
Americas help, defeated the enemy. Nevertheless, the virus that
stormed Germany still infects the world and is in some cases reviving.
The war killed less British nationals than the first war, but the impact
was greater because of the aerial bombing and the huge loss of life
in our cites and the destruction of property. It made us callous too,
as we inflicted even more destruction on Germanys cities, firebombing
Dresden and other places. War redeems no one.
Women once again had to work in the factories, run the civil service,
do mens jobs. This time they were determined not to be put
back in the box after victory. You will search in vain for predictive
literature that talks of equal rights for women at work or in the home.
No visionary text of the rise of the women at work or in politics. Certainly
no one predicted that single mothers would form a majority of mothers
by 2000. The war unleashed a desire for freedom of expression, a need
for abolishing the past and the old ways empowerment of the individual.
Yet all this would have to wait until the 1950s and a new prosperity.
After 1946 the world found itself split. The Communist East (later joined
by China in 1948) and the West. To look for the visionaries, it is easier
to find those who didnt have a concept about the post-war years.
Yet just as the war had been planned for (but hardly acted upon) so
had the peace been planned for. The UK, badly damaged and financially
crippled struggled to regain markets it had lost, realising pretty rapidly
the problem of surrendering so much of their technological lead to the
USA (the jet engine, computer and atomic research to name three). Manufacturing
went back to making the same shoddy goods it had before the war. The
world had not only changed, but now the loser countries would receive
greater inward investment than the victors. This would lead to a resurgent
German economy and Japanese economy that would meet the UK economy head-on
ten years later, then rapidly overtake it.
On the social economy, the ideas of the prewar years finally took root.
Free education, free medical health for all. Opportunities for all.
The great social housing boom took place. Enemy action had destroyed
or made uninhabitable 360,000 dwellings. There were judged to be 450,000
buildings short for the 13,100,000 families in the UK in 1946. Planners
saw a need to build two million homes between 1946-50. A further two
million between 1951-55, and another four million homes between 1956-1971.
Eight million homes! They actually planned to destroy all housing stock
built prior to 1914, entailing demolishing 7,125,000 homes. How would
this be paid for, given that the average rents in 1946 were between
8 shillings and 12s.6d..per week? The building plan was begun in the
UK, but ran into funding difficulties once the government changed in
1951. This was fortunate, for many places where the planners had not
yet destroyed , but today cities such as Coventry, Birmingham, Bradford
are as much scarred by the planners clearings as the bombs that fell
The UK and USA were filled with such plans. No regard was made for the
rehabilitation of older houses, or building neighbourhoods near shops,
or privacy. In the UK and USA and in many places where war damage had
been severe, great estates were built to house the displaced and the
poor. It is these places that lay the foundation for the future deprivation
and spiritual desolation of those forced to live in them. A vision of
a future that reduces humans to units of consumption is doomed and social
planning on vast scale as practised in the Soviet Union and elsewhere
lies much discredited.
Source M.A. Abrams Housing and Homes in Post-War Britain Future Books
Number of UK civil servants in 1944 1,400,000
The futures imagined for atomic power are well known. Everyone studies
the promises of electric power too cheap to meter! In 1933 Ernest Rutherford
father of atomic research remarked One timely word of warning
was to those who look for sources of power in the atomic transmutations
- such expectations are the merest moonshine. Nature vol 132,
Sept 11th 33 pp 432-33
*As we examine the year 2002 from the point of view of the stock market,
capitalism has never been so popular and America never so prosperous.
Indeed, the US economy is almost at its strongest for eighteen years
with desperate shortages of labour in all areas of the economy, and
an apparent virtuous circle, no signs of inflation. Interest rates are
very low and deflation could be a greater danger. (Japan knows all about
that).The trauma of September 11th is behind it and reconstruction will
begin soon enough. Rethinking has also begun about what really threatens
the USA in the 21st century.
Terrorism will be the key problem.
The close election of 2000 was a choice is between two very similar
parties that have converged. Electoral choice has become that of McDonalds
or Burger King, in the end it's only the price of the trimmings that
makes the difference. In this case you got a hot sauce and an old team
of warriors. Right men for the times or wrong. History will tell if
Geroge W Bush was the right choice. (Dead wrong as it turns out) He
responded with the right emotions to the New York and Pentagon attacks
- but the jury is out on the war on Afghanistan. Victory was swift,
but the enemy slipped away to fight another day. Never a good omen.
Will electronic voting make a different next time around. Will people
feel more empowered if they can vote in their own homes? Can the outsider
ever penetrate the American two-party system? Perhaps e-voting might
break the log-jam? Certainly it has to be better than the paper system
and corrupt Florida counting methods.
The financial predictions for now are very similar to that of 1929.
We are in a virtuous cicle, a new paradigm in the world economy.
The US stock market went past the 11,000 mark on August 11th 2000. It
stands at 13,500 in 2007.
It is now hovering around the 10,000 mark (April 2002)and everyone believes
there has been a recession, yet Americans have never been richer. K-Mart
has gone into Chapter 11 and a slew of over-priced dotcoms, but it was
all froth anyway. It is so long since a real recession, no one can remember
or indeed, no one wants to believe that the law of nature has not been
repealed. Yet, the seeds of future have already been sown. People believe
the internet dragon has been slain and it won't affect their futures.
But the electronic revolution is still ongoing and it will bite back
**. In fact, it is predicted that almost none of the early web pioneers
will survive and that name brand companies will wade in and take over
everything once this initial phase is over, buying in cheap when the
technology is perfected.
It is already happening.
My guess is that AOL-Time Warner will become plain old Time-Warner sometime
in the future. Old economies will adapt.
© Sam North 2000 (update 2002)
To continue reading Visions of the Future:
Place To Die
by Sam North
The Next Great Flu Pandemic is coming. Are you prepared?
will keep readers in suspense, laced with gritty-gallows humor'
plausible, and sickeningly addictive, Another Place to Die
will terrify you, thrill you, and make you petrified of anyone who
comes near you...'.
Roxy Williams - Amazon.co.uk
frightening and compelling, Another Place to Die is the ultimate
page-turner which I guarantee will result in many late nights under
the bedside light with you uttering, just one more chapter!!
the first chapter on line
Order Now direct from Publisher : Another
Place To Die
< Back to Index
© Hackwriters.com 1999-2007 - all rights reserved