Visions of the past future in the present

Fifty years ago I used to read in comics and in books about visions of the future. Some visions frightened me; some could foresee a totalitarian control of people’s lives in western democracies where individualism and free though were sniffed out by the thought police, or books which had the wrong kind of writing were burned by the fire brigade and where all animals were equal but some, inevitably, were more equal than others.

Other, more benign visions, foretold of an age of plenty, when war, famine and drought were abolished and when machines. Cheap to build and easy to employ, took the drudgery out of every day lives, leaving spare time for leisure, sports and the pursuit of the arts.

Things have not worked out the way anyone imagined, but rather with a combination of different visions which have blurred into one reality. The thought police now brand it racist if you suggest that travelling folk should clean up the dirt and mess they create before moving their caravans on to another place.

Apparently we have the wrong kind of writing from which we need to protect people and few now say that they disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it. And so we justify the banning of meetings with which we disagree.

It seems that we condone bad things, like torture, but secretly enable or permit them or collude with those that carry them out.

As for equality, it is clear that the political class, like Orwell’s pigs, are more equal than everyone else. They surround themselves with such luxuries out of the public purse and justify their wrongful actions on the grounds that the rules they create are not broken thereby.

Those with benign visions have been less successful. Certainly the invention of machines, such as the one at which you now sit, have made life easier and better in many respects and have provided some with more leisure time, but as clever as our machines have been, they have not been able to abolish work, effort, starvation and drought.

Fifty years ago the theory of Arrhenius and what he called carbonic acid (which we now call carbon dioxide) was little know and even less read. His first thoughts were published in 1896, and contained a hint that burning of fossil fuels might well increase global temperatures. His later papers were more explicit but the world largely ignored the warnings and the calculations that Arrhenius made, until it was too late.

And so we seem to have arrived at a present which contains many of the worse fears of the future without the advantages that we expected.

This week in London my home city the leaders of the twenty wealthiest and most prosperous nations of the world are meeting. It is not expected that any good will come of this meeting, unless you count the mutual massaging of egos that the leaders will give and receive.

Many hundreds of thousands of people will demonstrate their protests at the meeting of the Group of 20 – the G20. These demonstrations may be attended by people with many vastly different ideas. Some will come to protest climate change, others third world poverty, others the scandal of the banks and financial institutions, others the gap between the richest and the poorest, others against globalisation.

The thread that joins the hundreds of thousands that will demonstrate their protests and the hundreds of millions across the world that will agree with the demonstrators is that they are protesting the weak, self serving and corrupt leadership of our politicians. It is entirely fitting that they should do so.

3 Responses

  1. […] music8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? Photography and Culinary Arts Visions of the past future in the present – robertkyriakides.wordpress.com 03/29/2009 Fifty years ago I used to read in comics and in books […]

  2. […] Robert Kyriakides’s Weblog added an interesting post on Visions of the past future in the presentHere’s a small excerptFifty years ago I used to read in comics and in books about visions of the future. Some visions frightened me; some could foresee a totalitarian control of people’s lives in western democracies where individualism and free though were sniffed out by the thought police, or books which had the wrong kind of writing were burned by the fire brigade and where all animals were equal but some, inevitably, were more equal than others. Other, more benign visions, foretold of an age of plenty, when […]

  3. Robert , We ARE now currently living in to quote Gordon Brown, George Bush etc “A NEW WORLD ORDER”
    I managed to request a copy of “The Pink Swastika” ordered fro the British library from my local library, which is by the way a different prespective of the the second world war. This was however as you would expect treated with derision which I could sense !
    Book-burning or biblioclasm happens all over the world Fahrenheit 451 but then we would be lucky to have the books to read censorship is sometimes that books are never even published if they disagree with the status-quo.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: