12.1 A Caveat Concerning Futures

This book has been relatively optimistic about the advent of the fourth civilization--even taken some aspects of it for granted. There may be a certain inevitability to some of the trends that have been discussed, but one should not suppose that a kind of utopia is being suggested. Far from it. Instead, the necessary conditions for the establishment of any civilization following the late industrial period are being put forward, and it is obvious that these too have been filtered by a particular world view--that of the author.

Depending on the way its etymology is taken, "utopia" can mean either the "best place", or "no place". The fourth civilization may turn out to be some place, some time, but it will not be the best possible society. Some of its potential is described here, and an attempt made to show why certain trends exist and what their outcome might be, on the whole. However, all the cautions advanced in Chapter 1 concerning the study of history apply even more so to the study of potential futures. The trends and predictions discussed here are just potentials and even after one of the possible futures has come into being and it turns out to be different from all those forecast by every futurist, it might not be entirely clear to historians even with the benefit of hindsight why society changed as it did.

Thus, this chapter will pursue the integrative themes of the last few chapters, summarizing them and attempting to tie them together in additional ways. However, it will also present major obstacles to the kind of future foreseen herein, and in addition provide a short list of specific problems for which the next civilization may be interested in seeing solutions.

The Fourth Civilization Table of Contents
Copyright © 1988-2002 by Rick Sutcliffe
Published by Arjay Books division of Arjay Enterprises