THE FUTURE IN PLAIN SIGHT by Eugene Linden

THE FUTURE IN PLAIN SIGHT

Nine Clues to the Coming Instability

KIRKUS REVIEW

Linden, a writer on science and technology for Time magazine, argues that we have been living in a period of stability that cannot last. To predict the direction of future instability, he outlines two sets of scenarios: nine contemporary “clues” that suggest problematic forces likely to shape the future, and eight imagined “scenes” from the year 2050 that suggest the character of a future stability. Linden’s clues are indeed in plain sight, for they point to concerns—e.g., climatic change, infectious disease, economic inequality, and market dynamics—familiar to anyone not living under a rock. The root causes of these potential problems are also familiar: the overconfident belief in rationality and science as means to control the universe and the dynamism of a consumer society. The projected future scenes are original but nevertheless predictable extensions of the clues. Linden’s vision is of a world that has been devastated and is now rebuilding on a much more humble scale, with a much greater appreciation for natural and spiritual forces beyond human control. Does this effort present anything new? Actually, not a lot beyond an imaginative pulling together of several different but related concerns. This is a thoughtful treatise, not a Unabomber-type manifesto, however, for it’s rooted in common sense. In a world with several different potential sources of fundamental instability, is it more realistic to assume that no insurmountable problems will ever develop or that eventually, as has always happened in the past, fundamental changes in our physical and social environment will overwhelm existing institutions and send us into a period of instability undermining much of what we currently find familiar and pleasing? While “the doomsayers have been wrong in the past . . . there is no reason to believe that they will be wrong in perpetuity.” An above-average effort for a doomsayer.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-81133-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1998




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