Megatrends 2000

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

As the year 2000 approaches, forecasts of impending crisis and disaster have increased. The greenhouse effect, scarcity of natural resources, burgeoning populations in the underdeveloped world, and the rise of militant religious nationalism figure among the issues to which the prophets of downfall point. Naisbitt and Aburdene dissent. The 1990’s will see a sharp increase in worldwide prosperity and happiness.

The authors contend that the world economy was much stronger in the 1980’s than most people believe. Emphasis on short-term fluctuations has hidden from popular view the fact that economic growth during the past decade has been substantial. Things will be even better in the decade ahead, since the superiority of capitalism over its socialist rival has gained near-universal recognition. Even professed socialists call for a market socialism that differs from capitalism in little but the name.

Economics and politics develop hand in hand. The Cold War has ended, and the United States and the Soviet Union will become cooperators rather than antagonists. A world system of free trade will greatly enhance economic prosperity. As for the environmental problems brought to the fore by less sanguine analysts, these indeed are troubling. The alliance of the erstwhile superpower antagonists, however, will insure a concerted effort at their resolution.

Prosperity and happiness are not the same thing, as the authors are well aware. The roseate outcome they predict for the world economy is nevertheless matched if not exceeded by their hopes for individuals’ well-being. Persons rather than large groups will become the focus of policy, and the importance of the individual will win general recognition. As people become more secure and prosperous, the arts will replace sports as the dominant leisure-time activity.

The authors do not gaze into the 1990’s with untroubled complacency. New problems posed by genetic engineering, as well as the more familiar difficulties referred to previously, will continue to plague mankind. To confront these, a rebirth of religion is needed. The personal and emotional sides of religion must come to the fore. It will occasion little surprise that the authors believe that the religious evolution they advocate will come to pass.

MEGATRENDS 2000 offers an antidote for too much gloom-and-doom. Although always provocative, it at times substitutes assertion for argument.