THE 2025 REPORT: A Concise History of the Future, 1975-2025 by Norman Macrae

THE 2025 REPORT: A Concise History of the Future, 1975-2025

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

In Looking Backward (1887), Edward Bellamy surveyed historical developments from the year 2000 and saw the inevitable growth of centralization in politics and the economy. Taking a shorter view, Economist deputy editor Macrae sees instead a kind of free-market libertarian utopia perched on the edge of economic abundance and the dissolution of nation states. While Bellamy couched his fancy in the form of a novel, this purports to be a transmission (from Tahiti) on the reader's ""telecomputing"" system. Macrae imagines that a Soviet leadership faction, dismayed at Kremlin plans to foster a confrontation with the US as a way to quell domestic disorder, solicits help from President George Bush (the year is 1989) to facilitate a counterrevolution. With this comes dismemberment of the USSR and creation of a Confederation of People's Democratic Republics (CPDR), a fraction of its size. The new CPDR leaders are free marketeers who join with US leaders to root out corrupt and dangerous Third World dictators in a new, positive form of gunboat diplomacy. Peace is finally at hand when the US develops an anti-missile technology based on ""telecommuted beams"" that turn incoming missiles around and send them back where they came from. President Kemp (it's now 1999) shares this technology with the CPDR, but the two big powers keep their nuclear weapons around in case anyone else gets out of hand. With peace secured, Macrae really gets going. In 2025, under first woman President Roberta Kennedy, the Centrobank is established as a refitted IMF. (The details are worked out, through telecommunications-computer terminals, during a global town meeting: when World Council of Churches proposals go into the computer, red lights flash, signalling their negative effect.) What emerges is a system of funding human-services entrepreneurs in the Third World: people who set up Health maintenance Organizations or land reclamation projects on contract at the lowest competitive bid. From then on, with free trade, market-set prices, and entrepreneurial competition, it's all wealth and comfort. The Centrobank becomes a substitute for world government, and once the Third World gets to a $40,000 average income level, there will be scant reason for nation-states at all. Macrae packs in a lot of rosy projections on genetic engineering, improvements in health maintenance, etc.--framed by a distaste for ecologists, Third World politicians, peace activists, and others he considers on the dole. For those who dream of telecommuting from Tahiti to Hamburg, this may be an enticing vision. To those not addicted to future shock, it will look a bit silly.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1985
Publisher: Macmillan