H. G. Wells wrote The Way the World is Going in 1928. I have not read it but it seems to me from the link above that I should. Meanwhile I am more concerned about the way the world is going in 2013. It might be fun to try to play H. g. Wells and look at the world today using the link as talking points.
The book is a compilation of 26 articles and a lecture published in the United Kingdom and the United States throughout 1927. The topics range from politics to science and from social affairs to economics. Originally published in the Sunday editions of prominent newspapers, the articles provided Wells with the best medium to air his social and political agendas. In his opening notes to the book Wells expressed his frustration at the “editorial interference” that resulted in his work appearing only after “suffering a certain amount of mutilation.”Having just had a book signing for my own book that tries to look at our present situation, I feel motivated to see how much things have really changed. My book with Jim Coffman spans the centuries of Western thought that lead up to today's situation so it has a much broader time scope. Read on below and let's have a little fun.
The articles are a mixture of predictions and commentary based on the science and politics of the time.
from the link above:
The following is a list of the Chapters (articles) with their original publication dates:If you have read through the list you might have experienced the cold shiver down your spine that I did. I find it fascinating that without going into the content of these chapters that the titles are so close to being appropriate for 2013!
Man Becomes a Different Animal. Delusions about Human Fixity. (January 9, 1927)
What is Happening in China? Does it Forshadow a New Government in the World? (January 23, 1927)
What is Fascism? Whither is it taking Italy? (February 9, 1927)
Doubts of Democracy. New Experiments in Government. (March 20, 1927)
Democracy under Revision: a Lecture delivered at Sorbonne on March 15, 1927.
The Absurdity of British Politics. A Shadow on the Whole World. What has to be Done about it? (August 7, 1927)
Baldwinism a Danger to the World. Wanted, a Coalition Government. The Deadlock and the Way out. (November 7, 1927)
Communism and Witchcraft. (August 21, 1927)
The Future of Labour. The Struggle between Capital and Labour. Controversial Hallucinations. (September 4, 1927)
What is the British Empire worth to Mankind? Meditations of an Empire Citizen. (September 18, 1927)
The Present uselessness and Danger of Aeroplanes. A Problem in Organization. (February 20, 1927)
Changes in the Art of War. Are Armies needed any longer? The Twilight of the Guards. (March 6, 1927)
Delusions about World Peace. The Price of Peace. (June 12, 1927)
The Possibility of War between Britain and America. Such a war is being prepared now. What are intelligent people to do about it? (October 2, 1927)
The Remarkable Vogue of Broadcasting: will it continue? (April 3, 1927)
The Silliest Film. Will Machinery make Robots of Men? (April 17, 1927)
Is Life becoming Happier? (May 1, 1927)
Experimenting with Marriage. Legal Recognition of Current Realities. (June 26. 1927)
New Light on Mental Life: Mr. J.W. Dunne’s Experiments with Dreaming. (July 10, 1927)
Popular Feeling and the Advancement of Science. Anti-vivisection. (July 24, 1927)
The New American People: what is wrong with it? (May 15, 1927)
Outrages in Defense of Order. The Proposed Murder of two American Socialists. (May 29, 1927)
Some Plain Words to Americans. Are the Americans a Sacred People? Is International Criticism restricted to the Eastward Position? (October 16, 1927)
Fuel Getting in the Modern World. (October 30, 1927)
The Man of Science and the Expressive Man. To Whom does the Future Belong? Some Thoughts about Ivan Pavloff and George Bernard Shaw. (November 13, 1927)
The Future of the Novel. Difficulties of the Modern Novelist. (11 December 1927)
Is a Belief in the Spirit World growing? Why many Sensible Men continue to doubt and disregard it. What is immortality? (December 25, 1927)
Our own book deals with the evolution of the human mind and the hubris it has come up with. It is not full of optimism even though we struggle to maintain hope for the future. Wells' book changed little. I suspect ours will not change much either and there is an interesting circularity in this statement.
This is but one of many diaries where I try to use the systems concept to explain what our condition is. The systems concept is a rather simple one yet few catch it. It is part of the circularity referred to above.
Human thought is something that has evolved over time. It has no measure for comparison for the experiment, like American Democracy, only gets run once. As a biologist who has followed the evolution of our concept of biological evolution (more circularity of the same kind) I find the attempt to evaluate where we have come from, where we are, and where we are going rather fascinating. No rules are being followed other than the obvious fact that on a very simple mechanistic level the laws of science are certainly not violated in any of this. For some this is sufficient. That is sad for the laws of science apply at the lower levers of a very sophisticated hierarchy of organization and function and have little to say about the higher levels where the real meat is.
Hence we have have the idea if a complex "self organizing" system which is very descriptive and has almost to explanatory value except in a limited context. What is interesting about systems is that they are a collection of subsystems and lots of functions feeding into other functions. Causality of the simple "cause ----> effect" kind is useless here. It distorts rather than explains. Complex causality is just that: complex. This is a topic for a series of books so it can not be done justice here. Rather I want to focus on one very clear and very important property of complex systems and that is the near irrelevance of individual system components other than their performance of their role in maintaining the system.
That is why look back to what Wells wrote about is so interesting. The thing he was concerned with was the system. He, as all of us do, focused on the players and the things in the system. He tried to see ahead from that perspective. We all do the same today. The names and places have changed but the drama remains.
What I have been led to see is that the system will grind on, one way or another, no matter who the players are. Here is where we usually come to odds with reductionist thinking. I am scolded and reminded that if Obama, Bush, etc. had not been elected, things would be different. A truism if I ever saw one!
Yes "things" would be different. How could they not be? Yet the system would be grinding on much as it is now. That's the point. Until we realize this important truth about systems we will continue to focus on the players and the parties and the Nations, etc. Yet is is clearer than ever that the global economy and all things interconnected with it are going to keep on doing their thing, whatever that is. The Human system is intimately part of the earth system and had profoundly changed it. That will go on too. Are we helpless? There is fundamental question. I won't live to get the answer and that is the only thing about my mortality that really bothers me. You younger folk may see. Maybe it will take even longer. What seems certain to me is that the system keeps on grinding on.