A vision of things to come, with emphasis on the character of those who will bring them.
According to the authors, we’re on the brink of a new era, a shift as profound as the one that separated the agrarian from the industrial age. In describing what the new era will comprise, they predict negative developments (overpopulation, global warming) as well as positive ones (access to information, discovery of new communities). But they miss a tremendous amount as well. Their assumptions don’t take into account the potential for famines or plagues, for example, or the growth of the new technologies (such as the Internet) that have arisen almost out of nowhere. Much of the study, in fact, seems informed by a vaguely 1970s-style alarmism, in the tradition of Limits to Growth (and apparently impervious to how badly this tradition has withstood the test of time). The authors divide the culture into three groups: Moderns, Cultural Creatives, and Traditionalists. Moderns are constantly on the go, earning and spending and never giving much thought to the life that mainstream popular culture has chosen for them. Traditionalists are cultural Luddites, rejecting the “modern” way, but also not looking very deeply into their lives. Cultural Creatives are those of either rank who have stopped to smell the spiritual roses. Although Ray and Anderson maintain that Creatives could be either conservative or liberal, those they interview invariably fall to the left side of the spectrum: New Age types (although many would eschew the label) who have dabbled in crystals, channeling, earth worship, and Wicca. It’s pretty clear, also, into which group the authors would place themselves.