THINGS TO COME: Thinking About the 70's and 80's by Herman & B. Bruce-Briggs Kahn

THINGS TO COME: Thinking About the 70's and 80's

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A shorter-range companion to The Year 2000 (1967) by Kahn and Anthony Wiener, this assemblage, based on Hudson Institute papers, speculates about the coming years to 1984. It exhibits no chilling think-tank rigor at all. Instead of open-minded appraisal of basic trends, it timidly sticks to mere intensifications of the current surface of things, i.e., the nicer parts of the surface. The most strikingly ""ideological"" aspect of the book, which no government or business decision-maker could take seriously, deals with economics. The authors claim that Third World modernization and industrialization will ""continue,"" ignoring evidence that their resources are being drained and ""take-off"" has failed to occur. Insofar as any such problem is acknowledged, it is attributed to endogenous factors like bad leadership, not world market dynamics, loans, etc. In the U.S. economy the authors predict GNP growth and further technological innovation, but they neglect to examine the GNP's composition or to even mention Nixon's New Economic Policy and the conditions which produced it. The possibility of trade war is faintly noted; an international monetary crisis is postponed past 1985. These bromides are coated with trite, unsupported projections of an imminent ""post-industrial"" society. The most interesting parts of the book center around the counterculture's affinities with some aspects of anti-bourgeois and anti-Establishment movements, e.g., community-control localism, which tends to fragment the population into competing interest groups in times of crisis. The left is tendentiously equated with Weathermen and abortion is classified under the rise of ""vice and crime."" The authors are spotlessly pro-Establishment and freely advise it not to lose heart in the face of criticism, else it may go the way of earlier ruling classes. Despite its alternative scenarios, at bottom the book represents a sort of Coueism -- every day in every way things are getting better and better -- and confirms the methodological principle that projection from ""here"" to ""there"" requires a sound idea of what and where ""here"" is.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1972
Publisher: Macmillan