The speed with which the political landscape has changed and regimes havl tottered during the last decade makes the business of forecasting future of mankind a very hazardous venture. But hazards always lend a spirit of adventure to a pursuit and make it an exciting and worthwhile task for men of spirit.
The thoroughgoing transformation that has occurred in the orientation of perception and behaviour of men of affairs throughout the world, particularly in the hitherto communist regimes, has also unambiguously demonstrated the futility of reductionist ideologies to either bring about or predict a change in the destiny of nations.
The prophet of rationalism and pacifism, Bertrand Russel, whose written and spoken ideas loomed large over the intellectual horizons of the world for well over a half century (1920-1970) and actively contributed to the making of the future, has been proved wrong.
Had he been alive to see this day, he would have felt relieved and fulfilled watching his predictions of a gloomy future for mankind go wrong. It is not the force of arms and nuclear weapons which has eliminated one of the superpowers from the world stage. It is the arrogance of human beings to presume to determine the course of human destiny which has received a lethal blow. Howsoever autocratic and powerful a regime may be, it can only restrain the bodies of men; it cannot hope to shut the minds or extinguish the desires of men. The disintegration of the Soviet Union is by no means a victory of capitalism over communism; it is a decisive victory of forces of consumerism over the forces of Utopian communist ideology.
Consumerism is proceeding relentlessly on its inexorable march adding substantially to the number of its adherents. The new recruits are mostly from the orient which for centuries had been identified with a disdain for material pursuits. Just as the producers of goods and services had fashioned the world for a hundred years since 1850 according to their desires, the world since 1950 has been made in the image of consumers.
The market forces, aided and abetted by the governments irrespective of the ideological prejudices, have spawned the most important institutions of the second half of the twentieth century (they are likely to have their say at least for another generation). One significant category of consumers that has emerged during | the last 40 years, is that of people the world over who want to consume a pollution | free water, air and environment.
The communist and sociologist ideologies have played a much more significant role in fashioning the electoral fortunes of political contenders than the fortunes of people who were destined to live and work under communist regimes. The ideologies are potent weapons in the hands of agitationists and the proponents of change. They are a liability, and more often a disability, in the hands of the rulers who, before they proceed to do any good to the people, have first of all to secure and perpetuate their stranglehold on instruments of power.
Bureaucracies cannot be energised by doctrines, howsoever lofty these may be. They run with their own momentum and stagnate due to their own inertia as they negotiate self interest and public interest respectively. The record of bureaucracies does no credit to the communist regimes. The children of communist bureaucrats have had differential access to higher education, luxuries, living conditions and job opportunities just as the children of civil servants have in capitalist regimes. The managers of public sector in socialist countries enjoy almost the same privileges and service conditions as those of the so called capitalist countries. The lure of the lucre is in no way less strong among the people living in the eastern rather than the western part of the globe.
Just as political imperialism determined the shape of the world between 1850 to1950, the economic and more aptly the financial imperialism has been determining the present and future of mankind the world over. The Scientists had yoked their talents to the war machines of powerful countries in the first half of the present century. The present generation of scientists is subserving the technology of the powerful corporations to enable them to seize markets, national as well as international. Science has no conscience. It can serve the megalomaniac with the same loyalty as it wills the beneficent and the merciful. The forces of conscience at best can deter a power hungry regime from the path of (self) destruction; it can not re-orient their actions and directions.
In the market culture, which is sweeping the world, keeping of appearances is more important than adhering to ideologies and self- professed values. Even the mafia- gangs and the underworld dons would like to pass for respectable men of affairs. They would rather indulge in wars of wits and diplomacy, of pay-offs and kick-offs than take to arms of which they have abundant provision. But as the stakes they fight for grow high and competition grows keener, their skirmishes may assume the dimensions of war.
The drug lords are virtually controlling, if not actually ruling, parts of some countries. They operate with tacit or implicit connivance of the legal powers. If the super-profits of the armament makers and the drug-lords are threatened, they may be forced to play a more active political role in some countries and pose a .danger to civilized life. Since they function outside the pale of national or international law, their growth cannot be checked by Norma), routine enforcement of the law.
Max Weber, the sociologist, has discovered a close relationship between Protestantism and growth of capitalism. There is something in the religious temperament of the Protestant Christians which makes for hard work and tenacity in economic pursuits. Conversely, it may be said that the making of money or proliferation of goods and services furthers the spread of the forces of the religious spirit. A cursory glanceai the moral conditions prevailing in countries, which have made it big in the world oi riches during the last half century, shows that moral concerns are as strong, if not stronger, in these countries compared to the countries which have remained relatively poor.
They have also shown a greater awareness of linking their prosperity with the development of less developed countries. For sustaining the growth in prospects of the developed countries, a continuous expansion in markets is an absolute pre-requisite, If underdeveloped countries begin to develop and prosper, they can provide bigger and bigger markets for the developed and prosperous countries. It will not be surprising, therefore, to expect a progressive increase in development aid and loans from the prosperous to the less developed countries in the coming years.
As the countries engage in commerce, they shed off animosities and prejudices and develop workable relations. Commercial exchange is followed by cultural exchange. Cable TV, Star TV and BBC networks have effortlessly become middlemen between the affluent West on the one hand and the backward Asian, African and Latin American countries on the other.
Through music, cinema, art and advertisements, gulfs that separate nations are being spawned. There is a bombardment of fascinating images on pre-disposed minds of men and women. Not only things and articles are being exchanged between nationals of different countries, troubles and travails of calamity or war affected people are also becoming a matter of concern to the diverse people inhabiting the globe.
The human misery, caused by floods in neighbouring Pakistan is bound to evoke sympathy among the sensitive Indian masses howsoever indignant they may be over Pakistan’s role in aiding militancy in Kashmir.
The common concerns of humanity, if properly modulated, ex-pressed and transmitted through electronic and print media, can promote a feeling of oneness among the diverse peoples of planet earth. The way the floods and the earthquakes affect the different nations causing pain and distress will not fail to unite the mankind to find out ways and means of fighting common misery.
The environmental pollution looks threateningly in the face of men in the rich as well as the poor countries of the world. No country can negotiate the environment in isolation. Common threat of environmental degradation is bound to stir peoples out of their complacency and bring them together in unions, associations and organisations for initiating a long term course of action to save the enrivonment and themselves. Recent deaths of hundred of people due to heat wave In USA have demonstrated in no uncertain term® that they are no less susceptible to the ravages of the environmental Frankenstein than the backward countries of the world.