Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hunger Games: Being Afraid Of The Future?

This weekend the highly anticipated film "Hunger Games" is opening in many movie theaters. It tells a dystopian science fiction story based on a series of dark novels. Movie and books are parts of a broad trend: The majority of science fiction shows a future that is getting worse than the present. The science fiction author Neal Stephenson ("Snow Crash" argues, that today’s science fiction is fixated on nihilism and apocalyptic scenarios (smithsonianmag).

I guess this is a part of the gloomy "Zeitgeist'" and reflects a common pessimistic belief. Many seem to believe that we will become poorer, will run out of oil and other commodities and that the climate and the environment will get naughty. It looks now that it is popular to be afraid of the future.

I do enjoy dark movies like "Blade Runner" & "Mad Max" and post-apocalyptic novels like "A Canticle for Leibowitz". They are fun like eating very bitter chocolate or chewing sharp curries. But they are just fairy tales, I don´t share the gloomy outlook.

History shows quite the contrary: The wealth of the Western world has been rising since the 14th century.  In Europe and the U.S. the income growth has been accelerating since World War II and many nations in Asia and Latin America are catching-up now. This is a result of technological progress, which is raising the efficiency of the economies, and globalization, which fuels the world trade. In Western Europe and the U.S. even the welfare recipients have a higher life standard than average people at the beginning of the last century, including TVs and refrigerators. In European & U.S. cities the environment is better than 50 years ago thanks to the technological progress and the higher life standard which finances tougher regulations.

History also shows that nations get more democratic when they get more mature and wealthier. For instance the U.S. got rid of slavery as the wealth rose and the nation approached equal rights in the recent 50 years. The Soviet Empire broke down because the rigid system couldn´t compete with the Western nations and even the communist China adopted parts of the market economy in order to accelerate the economic growth.
There is no reason that the growth of the global wealth should come to an end soon. Globalization and technological progress, the engines of wealth, are still accelerating. There is now a flood of innovations and improvements in many fields  (iPads, robotics, medicine, engineering, nanotechnology etc.) which confirm Moore`s law that describes that the power and speed of computers, smart phones and many other devices double every 18 months. All these trends should lead to more efficiency and a better future.

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