I moan a lot over the futures we wish we had. Flying cars Halfway across the world being not much more than flying to the next city in time or cost. Unlimited energy.
And I yield to no one — except maybe Jeff Greason — in my wish that we already had the space colonies Heinlein wrote about. (Though let’s be honest, he was on an extremely accelerated/non-plausible time line for the same reason the Greenies are — to keep the attention of kids for whom the future is maybe 20 years. You have to tell them something is going to happen in the next 20 years, or they’re not interested.)
However, even in Heinlein’s books there were some serious horrors leaking around the edges of history and the world set up. Like, you know, whole world government, everything centralized and of course overpopulation, food rationing, etc.
The futures that seemed inevitable, until they weren’t.
1- World government.
To be fair, it seemed an absolutely sane and inescapable prediction for people who had seen the centralized nation states of the twentieth century consolidate. With faster communication, would come total union, right?
I note Heinlein stopped believing this after his world tour. In fact in Friday he has a fractured USA.
That second vision is more likely. There are too many cultures int he word and too many competing interests to have a world government. Even on the administrative side, a world government might be absolutely impossible, unless it’s a nominal government and the sub-governments do everything really.
In which case, you know what? It’s no different than what we have, except we call any war a civil war.
The only people this idea still makes sense to are people who think they can change reality by changing the words.
Yeah, I know what the population “counts” are, but we don’t have overpopulation. We don’t have any of the signs of overpopulation, and it’s becoming plainly obvious, country by country, locality by locality that there’s no overpopulation.
Malthus was an unpleasant fatalist. he was also wrong. Humanity doesn’t keep reproducing like mindless rabbits.
To be fair, this makes perfect sense because we’re a scavenger species. For scavenger species the population curve is the bell curve, not an exponential climb.
3- Total depletion of resources leading to the “rusty future” in a lot of eighties science fiction.
A lot of resources are in fact depleted, but we have found others This is something that the “Greens” seem unable to grasp. Humanity is a continuous depleting of resources, and discovering new resources and new ways to use them. For instance, given our population, I don’t think we have enough flint to knap for knives for all of us. It’s an obvious crisis.
In the same way, do you think it’s even possible for all of us to have a horse? Our cities would be hip-deep in horse poo.
But we are the ape that adapts. Things change. And the future will be as shiny as we want it. Unless fashion calls for dull, of course.
4- The world isn’t a communist state, or filled with communist states.
There are some yes, but the ones there are are in obvious trouble, and only the propagandized and the ignorant believe it is a way to live, or a way that brings about paradise. In fact, most of today’s communists are merely wanting to reign in hell.
They know they’d unleash hell, tehy just think they’d be king.
As bad as it is that people are still fighting for this, it’s miles ahead of the status quo till the eighties, where people actually believed planned centralized states were better.
We still have a fight ahead of us, and we might still fail, but there will never be a whole-word communism. and those of use devoted to freedom will eventually win. It just will take probably more than my life. At least on a world-scale.
5- We don’t have some sort of central authority that contols all of something: genetics; who is arrested; etc
A lot of places have crazy authorities, but not the whole world. we’re not enslaved by the Tech Lords (and what a pitiful lot those turned out to be) and the agencies trying to subjugate us are not all powerful, more along the lines of a bunch of venal chuckleheads. Annoying, with no morals and insane, but not all powerful. It could be worse.
And I’m sure my readers can think of other horribles that didn’t come to be.
It could be worse. It will get worse for a while. It is up to us to make it much, much better.
Get to it.