The course of human society only goes in one direction, bucko. We’re going thataway. Evidence on every scale: evolution of life genetically, a progression of religion types across centuries, and ever increasing complexity in our political structures. Kinda obvious by now, that we’re getting more in tune with each other with every passing century. A crime in Europe could get you beheaded in the 1600’s, imprisoned in the 1800’s, and only sued in the 2000’s.
Once, we thought that spirits inhabited each lake, forest, mountain and stream. Then we thought gods who looked kinda like us divided the labor of running a world full of flatlands, uplands, skies and oceans. Next we thought that one god lorded over other gods, and finally we thought that there might only be that one god after all. It’s a progression, and we really can’t stop it.
That’s the reason i don’t believe in conspiracy theories. There are inexorable forces at work in our genes, in our history, in our brains, so any nefarious plot to steer the future is futile. The best any illuminatus can do is make a prediction, hold onto the board, and hope the riptide empties into the next lagoon over. Oh, and try not to look like a seal from below.
There’s the why of course, why is all human society moving in one direction? That’s a basket of complicated simplicity, it would be daft to spend eight paragraphs to fail describing, something that is a single sentence but not of words. The closest i can come is “life will do” and that’s damned inadequate.
The only useful thing now, is to learn from the future. Look at the way political structures have evolved over the centuries, and combine that with the Information Age. Obviously, the future is Tuesday Night Voting online every week, on a range of binding and non-binding resolutions from local to federal to global levels. Democracy will win out, it’s in our heads. Egalite will win, it’s in our genes. And eventually, Islam will stop producing more hotheads than Christianity.
It’s the progression, the course, and it is unstoppable. I feel bad for us now, knowing what is to come. Aggressive islam will wane only after many more deaths, a lot of innocent happy people dead because Allah apparently hates airplanes, god knows why. But we can count on a thinker arising in Islam, one who bends the roots of the discussion to a deeper level than any psychopath can go. How do i know this? Because i know the progression.
Every crescendo seeds its own demise. For example, look what Trump is doing in 2016. He has succeeded in what decades of Democrats have failed: awakened the political power of Hispanic Americans. From now on it’s not going to go away, and they will long remember that it was the Republicans who threw up Trump. The KKK has not been as excited for a candidate since Goldwater, how can you possibly force more heavy Democratic turnout? Trump is a godsend for Hillary in 2016. Nothing like a sharp voice of xenophobism to alarm both the minorities and the college-grad suburbs.
But that’s only a sideshow. The real story is what people are going to do with the world that’s left over when the last remnants of 19th-century ideas are finally wiped away by the internet. Russia moves past neo-fascism, China outgrows it’s infatuation with emperors, the Roman church completes internal reforms and turns outwards with a new mission of tackling poverty in Africa. About then, America finally gets democracy.
There won’t be anywhere for despots to hide. In both scale and perception, war morphs into a police matter. Daesh is forcing that change as we speak. Once we at last leave the 1800’s behind, it will be clear as day: which politician or warrior has goals and which one has greeds. Luckily, there is a roadmap for us, already laid out in the 1990’s. The clattering crash of communism is a blueprint for what to do with despots. Once their bad ideas are bared, there really isn’t a way to stand against their own people. Used to be, that internal propaganda was enough to keep power. No mo.
The coming wave of connectivity ruins the effectiveness of propaganda. Watch North Korea in 2021. Mark it down, a red-letter year, when news of the opportunities ushered by new media penetrates to the level of regular folks. Korea town’s gonna pop like a mud bubble. Today it’s a herculean effort to keep North Koreans in the dark, and again, a crescendo can’t help but seed it’s own demise. This is a big flashing siren for Iran, and China will do the dumb thing: loosen information control without also loosening political control. 2021 is not just the end of the Kim dictatorship, it’s also when Iran and China start stumbling in the direction of the rest of the world.
And that’s it. When Bush II outlined an Axis Of Evil, his club had far fewer members than Reagan’s “evil empire” in the 1980’s. In Bush’s time, we were down to Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran, and North Korea. Obama removed Libya, put Iran in stasis, and Syria is out of Assad’s hands, thanks to Obama inspiring the Arab Spring in North Africa. For better or worse. Even Burma is coming back from exile. The only one left is North Korea.
The only one left is North Korea. That bears repeating. The dying gasp of the Domino Theory will be its progression in reverse: as North Korea flowers back into the real world, they will choose the route of South Korea. And they’ll be pretty ticked off at Russia and China for propping up the Kim Dynasty for so long. This domino falls, this pen-penultimate domino, and it soon turns Iran upside down from within… long before the oft-bemoaned “15 year” limit of the current detente with Tehran runs out.
Clack, clack the dominoes march on. China, as noted, will try to go halfway. They’ve built a class of business mandarins who like the stability of an emperor but are fully aware of what an open system enables other countries to do, and how that lack hobbles China’s long-term economic growth. When the Koreas unite and look to North America, then Iran ditches theocracy, it is impossible to underestimate the pressures which will build within Chinese politics. I don’t know which faction will reach power first, but i do know that it ends up as the world’s largest democracy. An elephant easily crushes a gazelle, it’s just rare that they do so.
Clack, and Russia is alone on the Security Council. By 2021 Putin has no influence in Syria, loses relevance in Korea, Cuba is fully over that phase, and Iran looks like it’s about to churn over. Thus the demise of Putin. Not sure if they’ll hang him or let him retire to Sochi, but there is an even chance that Russia will split in two along the Urals. It depends on how hard it is to dislodge the current tsar, whether that strain tears open the old rivalries then or later.
On a side note, this is decades away, but Russia eventually will split in half and the Eastern half will become cozy with China, almost incestuously cozy. If there is ever going to be a World War III, it will start over ownership of Northeast Asia. WW3 seems unlikely in general when considered alongside other progressions of human culture, but NE Asia is something to watch in the 2040’s.
But that’s later. Both the empire and the axis are gone in the 2020’s, just as the nutzo jihadis peter out. Right soil for a wholesale reframing of the human story. Unfortunately, also the right mulch for sprouting new gods. Check the progression, and it’s always forward, but along the way there are plenty of new gods which are tried and failed, and left misery in the failure. So, expect that. Sucks, i know.
Don’t know what the first global religion will be, but might reasonably expect there to be 5 of them until one outlikes the others. The criteria are already in place, however. The next step of religion has its basis in the cracks of science: Heisenberg’s uncertainty, pre-Bang cosmology, spooky actions and event horizons. It will have to explain mankind’s place and purpose, complete with popes and saints, and spell out new and improved principles of P2P interaction.
And it’ll have to explain some sort of afterlife, though i can’t imagine how, since all the good ones have been taken already: forty virgins, placid cloudhouses, elysian fields. But i expect they’ll manage. Maybe the new afterlife will be an algorithm playing your fave gameapp just as you played it, for eternity. This stuff only goes in one direction, bucko.