Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Future Perspective

The following account is a view of the contemporary era through a fictionalized observer. Its purpose is to attempt to perceive current political action in terms of its long term consequences rather than in terms of immediate effects. The piece is meant to be a quick introduction to the early 21st century that would be similar to a brief introduction that you could find today on a history website, wikipedia, or perhaps high school history textbook. At times the language will be a little over technical, my fictional observer would have the use of terminology to reflect a new fictional reality that would be readily accessible to readers, terminology that would only confuse things more if I invented it myself.

The observer is imagined as a future American from what I consider a plausible outcome of current struggles. The setting isn't meant as a prediction, I am choosing extrapolations from trends I think will play a large role in how our society develops but I can make no claims about what likely outcomes of these trends will be, this is simply a selection of what I regard as many possible contingent outcomes. Some aspects of the society this observer lives in I consider quite likely, the breakdown of the strong image of state vs. private that dominates today I consider inevitable for instance. Other outcomes I throw in to reflect the unpredictable nature of historical development, I don't consider a Great Moral Revival that redefines the relation of religion, morality, society and social norms likely for instance; though given the crisis of religious and moral identity today I consider this not impossible. 

This is an America that has become one of the big four global powers but not the dominant one of those four. The writer sees this relative decline as highly regrettable and can't help a few criticisms of us due to this decline. Non-state actors play a more significant role in this world, the observer considers their rise as one of the more significant developments whose importance was not fully recognized today. Our two primary contested political identities, capitalism vs. communism and democracy vs. authoritarianism, are considered somewhat quaint by this observer, similar to how we view religious identity and politics today (when was the last time anyone talked about Christendom as a major political division but people were fighting and dying over this mere decades before democracy vs. authoritarianism, and the loosely linked concept of nationalism, swept these ideas away). Still important today but not defining in anything other than some marginal perspectives. There has also been a general moral revival where religion has more fully engaged with modern philosophy and ethics to take a more explicitly ecumenical turn and explicitly rejected much of the sectarian tendencies of today. This has lead to religion having a much more deep and pervasive influence than it does today with the social breakdown of our day being ascribed to our narrower outlook and inability to engage our beliefs with broader social change. This is a religion more of flexibility, interpretation and worldview than it is one of eternal prescribed rules.

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