spiked readers provide their thoughts on the survey and their own ideas on the challenges facing humanity in the coming years.
What is desperately needed is some sort of space in society where trusting conversations can take place between people of different opinions and from different places. If – and it’s a big ‘if’ – the Christian tradition can lay aside its rhetoric of triumph and authoritarianism and dare to cross a few boundaries, that might be a start. But having endured hostility from fundamentalists when working as a chaplain in a British university, I have my doubts about. I got more support from the atheist dean of students than from the churches. Alas, the latter are often embattled groups futilely attempting to legitimise themselves by fleeing to an invented past. I don’t think they have much interest in 2024!
Revd. Tim Gouldstone, Beckington, UK
Firstly, we need more forums like this one to debate these issues. Today’s pessimism and miserabilism are evident even amongst the readers’ responses on this page.
Secondly, we need to promote a more grown-up society that encourages us to engage with it in a manner not characterised by irrationality, risk-aversion, technophobia or misanthropy, but with a belief that humanity should (and can) strive for a better world. We are going to require an ever more intellectually agile population, capable of appreciating and formulating opinions upon complex points of policy, and the science or data behind them. Part of this challenge will therefore reside in improving standards of education and journalism, but also upon renewing faith in the political process.
And, quite frankly, it’s time we started to blow our own trumpet. Not just in some complacent celebration of what we’ve already achieved, but as a recognition of our immense capacity to comprehend what our problems are and to develop the means to resolve them. The challenges we face from climate change today are less troublesome than those that our ancestors survived, and the energy ‘crisis’ is one of our own making and, therefore, resolving. It is not a question of whether we are able to rise above such difficulties, but of whether we will be diverted by the kind of juvenile neurosis that is currently fashionable.
Jason King, London, UK
Of course we want to hear positive, upbeat visions of the future. But the multiple crises in global warming, energy and attacks by industrial societies on the biosphere – our planetary life-support system – are unlike any others we have faced before.
The great movements for increased rights, including the Magna Carta, freedom from slavery, women’s right to vote, and the expansion of other human liberties, were physically achievable. The great changes needed to save humanity from self-inflicted extinction will require huge changes in behaviour and they ways in which wealthy societies live and obtain sustenance.
This is assuming that it is not already too late to avoid the worst consequences of global warming and massive overpopulation. The challenges we face this time around cannot be met with technological fixes alone, but must come from massive human understanding of how the earth operates and what we must do to stop destroying the earth’s physical, chemical, and biological systems on which we all depend.
We do have the means to accomplish such a huge educational program The greatest mechanism for mass public education that the world has ever seen is in place and operating over much of the world, but currently it is used mostly for encouraging the expansion of our most destructive tendencies. Even if we could switch the powerful mass media toward more positive pursuits, the educational program must be followed by massive political reform.
The political changes required to stop our massive and systematic destruction of our life-support system are, I fear, beyond possibility in the near future. And it is in the near future that they must be achieved – before we have destroyed too many valuable species, lost too much of our critical fresh water resources, taken global warming beyond a point of no return and spent too much of our precious fossil fuel reserves to sustain us through the needed transition.
A successful conversion to a renewable and truly sustainable way of life requires a new enlightened and effective leadership. Unfortunately, denial and false optimism reigns supreme, with but one small sign that the needed new leadership might be possible – Al Gore’s massive public education campaign in the US to convince us that global warming is real, serious, and correctable if we act now. Where are his counterparts amongst the leaders possessing real political power, in the US and elsewhere? I do not see them and so I have to remain pessimistic about the possibility that 2024 can be much better for humanity than 2006.
Dr Ross McCluney, Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA
Your capricious readers have stumbled on something that the honored contributors have gracefully avoided - the role and future of religion. It appears that this traditional mainstay of virtue and ethics has collapsed and become irrelevant to our children.
Solutions to the world’s problems lie not in man’s cunning, but in his heart. The impetus to eliminate extremes of wealth and poverty must be a token of his humanity and not his desire for profit. The desire for the elimination of war must come from his love for peace and not his lust for commerce. Education must stem from a love of knowledge, and not the need to justify superiority.
Religion engenders these higher sensitivities. It ennobles and illuminates man. Devoid of religion, we see our material progress becomes meaningless, our philosophy empty and our prowess satanic. Our children’s true happiness depends on an education of both soul and intellect, of both virtue and science.
Alas, children cannot educate themselves. Our duty is to find and embrace such a divine philosophy, free from the dogma and superstition of a tottering orthodoxy. We cannot fail, for our children’s prosperity depends upon it.
Cantwell Carson, Atlanta, Georgia, US
Stop the research, development, manufacturing and trading of weaponry. Weapons are not a deterrent, their purpose is only to kill. If you don’t believe me, ask owners of weapon factories who surely don’t want to risk bankruptcy.
Religions that divide society should be stopped. The teaching – or, rather, brainwashing – of patriotism should also be stopped. Sports should not be used to promote nationalism.
Video games, television programmes and films designed to create a violence loving society should be terminated forever. Science fiction films that show non-stop galactic wars should be banned. Futuristic films should only show a loving, caring, happy, peaceful society. Of course they could contain real human stories, of love, lack of love and individuals with normal or eccentric personalities, but they should be free from rifles, grenades, bombs, cluster bombs, landmines, missiles, mortars, air-fighters, warships etc. The only guns to be seen would be in the hands of the police, and they would only be stun guns used to catch criminals who can run faster than policemen.
Alberto Portugheis, London, UK
What I find disturbing is what seems like an undercurrent of something I’m struggling to describe. Hatred is perhaps too strong a word, but it is a real sense of dislike and dismissal of any form of religious belief. In my personal view, when people discuss religion, science, education and so on, then it’s as if faith should not even be allowed to breathe. When people attack religious belief, or more commonly the pope, it is assumed that religious dogma must be dismissed, while scientific dogma, on the other hand, must be promoted.
I find the current heated exchanges between pro and anti-Creationism groups quite astonishing. Whilst the scientific community demands to be loved, why does it at the same time hate any form of expression of belief that is not science-based? Again, it seems to me, and I am no intellectual, that as time goes by new ideas and theories are formed that may not totally contradict each other, but are different from current accepted norms. This gives rise to the relativist idea that ‘truth is what I think it is, what I want it to be today. Tomorrow’s truth might be different’.
Why can’t faith and science live side by side, why can’t people with faith in a God be accepted just as readily as people with a faith in science? Surely the role of science is to unlock the secrets of the world around us and put it to the benefit of mankind, rather than just doing something ‘cause I can and I want to’; that’s the sort of thing my children would say!
Keith Pearse, Aylesbury, England
The majority of people you have used as so-called experts and opinion makers have gained their so-called expertise via books and academic study. Until they have been through the system of either the social services or family law, they are in no way qualified to speak or indeed give a view on the state of society to come. According to the Home Office, 100 children per day loose contact with their fathers. Add to this the over one million grandparents who have no legal presumption to ever see their beloved grandchildren after separation or divorce should an acrimonious mother so dictate. The future of 2024 will undoubtedly see dysfunctional and antisocial offspring the like of which has never been seen before because family law has totally removed the paternal side of a child’s life in favour of that of the mother.
Mike Ellis, Bideford, UK
The history of human society is a study of climate dynamics. Unfortunately far too few ‘modern’ students of the physical sciences have a good perspective on these processes, and the recent clamor over “Green House” warming and ‘Tipping Points” leaves a lot of room for debate and contentious bickering that continues to threaten credibility of the global science community.
Another unfortunate fact is that careful, systematic observation of the world’s climate is only now emerging, after more than a century of building an observation capability from the surface well into the atmosphere. NASA and cohorts have a mere two to three decades of information/data - which is NOT adequate to even discuss Climate Change. It is from Paleoclimate research efforts, and integrated top-down /bottom-up empirical studies that we will eventually attain sufficent understanding to provide realistic forecasts, on real world tiame and space scales. The 70 percent of the planet that is ocean, and that contains more than 95% of the sensible heat in the fluid envelope of the planet, including the atmosphere, remains poorly measured, mostly near the surface, and for such short periods in those places where measurements are collected in any routine fashion, that no credible projections, or even hindcasts, can be made.
The fact that vast ocean ecosystems are directly affected by these dynamics, with or without fishing, is clearly recorded in various sediment records, collected and analyzed around the globe. The fact that there has been a well recognized expansion of pollution from industrial, agricultural and urban sources, that is enhancing the formation of aquatic anoxic events - thus leading to ‘Dead Zones” and declines in local foodfish populations should cause the refocusing of efforts toward the upstream issues. The recent recognition of the genetic consequences of micro-amounts of various ingredients in cleansing and even ‘beauty’ products, added to these other contaiminants should be a major topic for discussion in all levels of education and media direction.
My book - Out of Fishermens’s Hands… - coauthored with world reknown masterfisherman Menakhem Ben-Yami and social anthropologist James “Russ” McGoodwin, provides a long overdue fully illustrated perspective of the evolution of fishing cultures, as they responded to continuous environmental changes, climate and population related. The failure of much of the ongoing and past aquatic resource management has been due to the lack of appreciation by senior scientists as well as the emergent corps of poorly exposed college graduates of the roles of myriad processes - beyond simple fishing effort - in the coming and going of components of aquatic ecosystems.
What we are finally beginning to appreciate, only from the recent century of ocean sciences, is that what initiates and sustains biodiversity is Change, not ‘Stability’. These changes range from seasonal weather, to interannual, decadal, centennial and millennial shifts in forcing, mostly well beyond human influences, that promote competition, physiological stress, and in many cases, transport/migration of various species into new locations, or away from their original birth places. Micro-climates and evolving substructure go hand-in-hand.
Unfortunately, there is a major disconnect between the knowledge of ‘from where’ and ‘how much of what’ relative to our many contributions to the underlying stress on living aquatic ecosystems and those empowered to make decisions about getting these under control so that we can cope with those changes over which we have no power. Oddly enough, it is poorly recognized that humans are also very responsive to these longer-term changes, and despite our large brains and evolving technologies we must continue to adapt, or suffer the ‘Darwinian’ consequences. It is certainly time to
reassert both historical emphases, as well as in situ experience back into all aspects of every student’s education. Being out there, and seeing/measuring what is ongoing is important. Simply sitting behind a computer, playing with small and short data series is not really science, nor worthy of much more than a sad sigh…
The future depends upon those with real world knowledge, and more focus on priorities and problem solving, rather than finger pointing.
Gary D Sharp, Salinas, California, USA
Matthew Parris writes: ‘Resist the arguments for increasing state control of individual lives and identities, and relentless information gathering’.
I totally agree with this. However, what Matthew Parris has failed to recognize, is that state control goes hand in hand with private sector control and the power of corporations to lobby governments. Systems of identification and control are outcomes of corporations’ vested interest in selling their products.
As Findlay argued in 1999, governments, as custodians of the economy, can put in place regulatory policies which benefit certain commercial sectors and organisations that are amenable to the utilisation of opportunities (e.g. ID cards, speed cameras and NHS supplies) to achieve profit.
Equally, governments can put in place regulatory policies that prevent the private sector from reaping rewards. In order to do this there needs to be far greater regulation of corporations and a distinct separation of the public and private sectors.
Another of your respondents criticises bureaucracy. In this instance, too much bureaucracy is debilitating, though this is really reliant on lack of transparency and corruption.
Douglas argued in 1994 that bureaucracy is oriented towards it own vision of life, expressed in its traditions and in the procedures which enshrine them. She believes that bureaucracy fabricates buffers which allow members of the organisation to override or forget their personal differences. The market, however, thrives on confrontation. Bureaucratic procedures, Douglas argues, insulate members from outside political spheres and tend to be insensitive to political outcomes.
The fundamental difference between these two organisations is that the market is hopeful about the ultimate successful working out of its constitutive principles and its latent goal is to preserve individual freedom to contract. Bureaucracy is hopeful about the power of human reasoning and its latent goal is a secure internal structure of authority.
Elaine Hardy, Rugby, UK
I think the biggest threat we face is summed up in the dismal low horizons evident in the feedback of Janette Lydon (see below). The idea that we would live in some dreamy utopia of peace and equality if only we stopped competing with each other for a better life is naïve and shortsighted.
We are all touched by tales of self-sacrifice, but this blind veneration of meekness, humility and selflessness establishes a vision of utopia based around a lobotomised, risk-free world, where no one dares better themselves for fear of disrupting the precious code of equality.
We need to understand that properly harnessed self-interest (as opposed to selfishness) is the most powerful, creative, productive and socially beneficial force available to us. The sky really is the limit. We just need to throw off the shackles of fashionable self-loathing and challenge blinkered attitudes to personal ambition.
Russell Tayler, Slough, UK
As far as I am concerned there are seven main issues of concern:
1. Climate change and the world’s response to it.
2. War in its various guises, but mainly the asymetric conflict we have now between extremists who deny and shun any notions of constitutional or diplomatic approaches to conflict and those who see law, diplomacy and democracy as sine qua non for civilisation.
3. The outrageous and growing inequalities in the human condition, especially between societies in the Third World and those in the West.
4. Epidemics and pandemics: AIDS and possibly bird flu, etc.
5. Religious extremism.
6. The crisis within Islam: a religion in desperate need of a reformation.
7. The crisis in the West: a culture which needs to restore some of its civilising values, now that it has largely ditched Christianity.
Hugh Dillon, Sydney, Australia
The blind audacity of the respondents’ self-deceiving optimism astounds me. Their faith in the flawed enlightenment belief in progress is truly a sight to behold. To think that mobility, science and technology and a healthy attitude (these are Spiked’s themes) can somehow alter human nature is to misunderstand history. Civilisations have come and gone. Technology has occurred before. Ours has simply become the most complex civilisation the world has ever seen, but this does not alter the cyclical nature of human history. ‘The belief that human life becomes better with the growth of knowledge’ is according to John Gray, Professor of European thought at the London School of Economics, the root of this enlightenment folly.
But all is not lost. There is of course room for optimism. The coming oil crisis (world oil production will very possibly peak in the next 5 years) will force people to live locally, to engage with others in mutual co-operation instead of living lonely lives, where the only passion they have is to buy more of the junk that keeps them enslaved in their depressing jobs.
One key challenge for the next 18 years relates to the media. More people than ever before have access to a wealth of information that would have been unthinkable 18 years ago. However, at the moment this information seems to only generate fear, intolerance, confusion, and aversion to medical and technological advances and an obsession with ‘rights’ without any concept of responsibilities. It is critical that the media find a way to enlighten and guide society, while becoming impartial and challenging. Unless this happens, progress will remain to many people a dirty word, and 2024 will be very similar to today.
It is interesting to see that Matthew Parris – a former conservative - is much more optimistic about the future than many neo-luddite ‘progressives’. That’s a real sign of the times.
Many small countries have developed nuclear devices. Medicine is not developed in this way. So I’m very upset about this new generation.
Jose C. Guerra, Brazil
All of your respondents are both right and wrong. They are right in the sense that they have used their own expertise to create a world that is better in their eyes. They are wrong in the sense that some of their ideas are contradictory to others’ ideas.
That’s the great strength of the human race, especially the areas where freedom of speech, ideas, faith and commerce applies. The world is a chaotic place. Ideas compete, they are modified and variations are adopted in some places at some times. It will ever be thus.
Some consistencies will remain; people will be slightly concerned about preserving the status quo, people will want to protect and support those they love and will want to pursue happiness, and will continue to ignore doomsayers. The only thing that would really change the world in a bad way is for any one of your respondents’ views to be adopted in totality.
So 2024 will be the same as 2006, only faster.
To Mick Hume: I guess I don’t get it, this generalized ‘unhappiness’ you sense, at least not here in the US. Oh, sure, there’s the usual troop of Jeremiahs and grim social critics comfortably inhabiting academia, but by and large our insularity protects us from dwelling too long on the more discomfiting features of the world - you know, Iraq, persecuted Palestinians, the large numbers of folks without health insurance, the growing inaccessibility of higher education. Stuff like that just doesn’t seem very ‘present’ to the consciousness of most Americans, at least not enough for them to be in the streets as in the 1960s. No, it’s all about American Idol and a thriving entertainment industry etc. which keeps everyone just fine and dandy. After all, since we got rid of the bogeyman over in Iraq, we’ve learned it’s better (at least for the US) to fight ‘em ‘over there’ rather than ‘over here’.
Don’t worry, be happy!
So this invoked ‘we’ of your piece is, by and large, quite a presumption.
George T. Karnezis, United States
Great idea, but make the results more permanent than a website. Could a book of the results be published? It would then reach a wider audience.
Long before 2024, possibly before 2010, another tilt of the planet occurs with catastrophic results along all continental coastlines. According to National Geographic and geo scientific sources, the planet has suddenly tilted on its axis more than 250 times. The last tilt occurred around 10, 000 years ago and the flood legends can be found in the oral history of many indigenous peoples.
The Antarctic western ice shelf is seriously undermined and is ready for sudden collapse, which can immediately raise all oceans by about 1.5 m. If this weren’t enough, the central core is unstable and within six months of a massive eruption of Mt Etna and then Mt Pele - they are at opposite ends of the planet - the molten core will erupt in the most unstable volcanic areas.
As if this isn’t enough, in August oil prices will pass through the record selling benchmark and the major world economies will be in turmoil. This is due to Iran’s attempt to close the Straits of Hormuz, cutting off Iraqi and Saudi oil passage. However, there’s more! Stay tuned.
Byron Kaufman, Canberra, Australia
Rationally speaking, I can say that it seems manifest that the roots of the problems in the world today are because of uneducated peoples’ reliance on culture and tradition. The philosophy is that tradition takes us back in time, instead of forward. What we need is to be going forward. Thankfully, the future’s bright, people are beginning to think, people are beginning to refine their everyday lifestyles. Once we stop mixing religion with tradition and culture, everyone’s’ way of life will improve. We need to keep on spreading intellectuality, and if it continues to increase at a nuclear speed, by 2024 our 18-year-colds will be throwing gold around like dirt.
I want to put on record how valuable and encouraging I think this exercise is. I write for business and, in a recent graduate recruitment video for a global consultancy, included the following:
‘Century twenty one, decade one. What time is it? Is it the first time in history that men, women of all colours and creeds are able to work together on an equal basis in a meritocracy? What’s everybody else thinking?
Is it also the most exciting time ever to be in business? It’s edgy: consumers can ride search engines and business customers can trawl the world for better deals. So how best to focus on growth and customer-oriented strategies? How best to get results in the shrinking timeframes that the markets allow? Are you up for the challenge?
And how best to get things done? Creative thought is the engine that drives progress and finds questions to answer. They say Einstein didn’t talk till he was three. What was he thinking about? Perhaps it’s time you shared some thoughts. Asked some questions. That’s life, you know. Life asks more questions than there are answers. You’re out there trying to find answers. The first step? Find the questions.’
This is a great time to be alive, and the miserabilist tendency needs vigorously to be countered. Congratulations on this initiative.
In the short term, and lets face it - 2024 is short term, it would be enlightening if we could begin to develop culture and value systems that were not homocentric and based upon unsustainable growths. It would be enlightening if we could begin to see sustainability (of ourselves) as dependant on the sustainability of our wider earth systems. New technologies allied to greater planet-system knowledge could begin to take us there. If the human condition (within developed countries) could reject institutionalised consumerism then a long-term future could be fulfilling, bright and clear to us all. If so, then ‘nothing is impossible’.
Governments and the ‘human services’ will need to rid themselves of the dominant orthodoxy which holds that citizenship is about entitlements before duties. Duties, as David Selbourne noted, are ethically and historically prior to rights. Finding an appropriate way to get this message across before civil atrophy goes too far in a highly relativistic age is an enormous challenge, but one worth taking on. The ‘rights and responsibilities’ mantra isn’t the answer, but is just a contractualised version of dependency: ‘you be good and we’ll give you this, this and this entitlement’. Acknowledgement of citizens’ duties (for example the non-negotiable duty of parents to their children) will become more deeply rooted through open discussion between reasonable people than by prescription. And while we’re at it, we’ll need to get rid of that awful accompaniment, ‘non-judgmentalism’, which sees an open mind as an end not a means and which, unless we can explode its pretensions to tolerance, will continue to get us absolutely nowhere.
People all over the world need to understand themselves and others better in order to break down prejudice. Anything that can help to do this is of great value.
Bee and Alastair Mundy-Castle
Your survey reveals the problem facing the Western world more in what its quoted respondents are unequipped to say, rather than in what they do say. Their remedies outline but fail to confront the problem, just like the way a human-shaped arch of bullet holes on a wall outlines a tidied-away firing squad victim. This problem - which affects the rest of the world also, in so far as it is influenced by Western values - is that religion, science and politics have all reached the ends of their tethers.
We seem to be in an interim period as a balance shifts between two intellectual and social paradigms, which explains why this time is characterised by uncertainty. However it also offers opportunity, provided that a mental shift is undertaken. This ‘shift’ requires questioning some fundamental assumptions about life. Since academics shy off such self-interrogation, having had to commit to current assumptions in order to achieve their credentials, the academic respondents you quote pussyfoot around airing their pet complaints in their fields of interest without getting to the core issue.
To explain the core issue, the tethers, and the nature of the shift, that dreaded word ‘spirituality’ must be introduced. If seeing it causes habitual mental associations involving religious fundamentalism or new age fuzziness, this only measures the extent of the personal shift that you, gentle reader, will have to undertake.
Plato is the first person known to have pointed out that all people can be put into one of two categories: those who believe ‘matter’ is the basis of life; and those who hold that ‘mind’ is fundamental. Currently the former philosophy holds sway, despite its manifest inadequacies, and it is the ‘tether’ that religion, science and politics must let go of if they are to progress.
The trouble is, though, that the second philosophy, spirituality, for its part is burdened by three problems. First, it has been hijacked by institutionalised religion (despite, or perhaps because of, their mutual antagonism) to the point where ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion’ are now virtually synonymous, and the Pope or your local imam are termed ‘spiritual leaders’, which they are not; they are religious leaders - a big difference. Second, the scientific establishment has not progressed psychologically beyond Galileo and Newton, and is dominated by a materialism that refuses to acknowledge the non-materialistic scientific disciplines within spirituality. And third, spirituality has become, for materialistically convenient reasons, represented by that superficial and emotionally driven aspect of it called the ‘New Age’ movement, which does little to represent the rational core of spirituality.
I predict that by 2024 an ebbing of materialistic philosophy will be manifest in all areas of society, including the scientific and academic. This shift will no longer be represented as threatening by the mainstream news media, for a spirituality shed of religious dogma will be becoming by then widely acknowledged as more rational and scientific than materialism. (The irrational and unscientific basis of materialism is so easy to demonstrate that it’s astonishing it’s so rarely pointed out.)
Your 18-year-olds in 2024 will be even less certain about where they’re going than their parents are today, because their choices wont be merely career-, social-, or technology-based, but will involve fundamental outlooks on life. The perennial conflict between reactionary and progressive forces will go far deeper than the political or religious. Institutionalised religion will itself be riven and the difference between the conflict occurring then and that occurring now is that the issues then will be better defined and will cut across such historical perimeters as religion versus science. It’s likely that the extreme, irrational and deliberately inflammatory views being aired today, across a spectrum encompassing Richard
Dawkins on one end and a Bible Belt evangelist on the other, will by then be approaching a peak of absolutism that’s definitely scary but seems to be an inevitable part of change. We will see an intensifying, winding-up, cramming-together of things to the point of detonation, an instigatory violence that involves one, some or all of intellectual, emotional, spiritual, national and physical expressions. The world will in fact be in the throes of a profound mental shift that is already underway, only suppressed by those whose lives are ideologically and professionally based on materialism.
By way of preparation, it would really help if the more intelligent news media (subtle hint) would present spirituality in an unbiased, informed and true way, rather than just passing on without question the views of those for whom materialism is in psychological terms tantamount to a religion. Spirituality is not the answer to all the world’s problems, but it does help considerably, and since the materialistic philosophy has obviously failed in terms of providing society with moral, conceptual and governmental frameworks, spirituality is highly likely to take over from it during this century and become the ruling paradigm. So any attempt to gaze into a crystal ball without taking it into account as a rational, scientific model of reality is extraneous.
David Palmer, New Zealand
I’ve got a couple of observations to make.
1. I can’t find the questions that were posed in the survey. Am I to assume that the question was simply ‘What are your views on the key challenges for the next generation up to 2024?’.
I think it would help to articulate exactly what you are asking. For instance, what’s important for Norway by 2024 isn’t necessarily the same as what Equatorial Guinea will face. What’s important for business leaders is going to be different for a farmer in Spain. So, are we specifically talking globally here? And if so, what’s so interesting about 2024?
2. This all sounds a lot like the kind of thing that was done in the 1960s - with similarly obscure futurising. I wonder if it might be interesting to study what futurologists thought might happen 20 years ago, against what really did happen.
Especially given the sponsor, I think the results are going to be skewed towards a technocratic viewpoint. Whilst that’s potentially interesting, those people who are unlikely to engage in this survey are the ones I’d like to read about the most. What does Mr. Osama Bin Laden think are the challenges that face the world by 2024? What about spiritual leaders across the globe? I fear that a lack of objectivity will creep into this debate given the business interests of the sponsor.
Mick Hume, I have been as admirer of yours sine 1991. Your choice of deputy editor Brendan O’Neil is excellent. I have such fun with your articles. I discuss them and blow them up to put them on the union notice board. They cover all aspects of life. You guys are cutting edge. You have your finger on the pulse. Your new endeavor- what can I say? Why am I not surprised? You lighten up my life. You make me laugh, you make me indignant. In essence you make my adrenaline pump!! You’re always there. You put my feelings into words that I use in my daily life to trouble those around me. I have noticed over time how your views are being quoted in the mainstream media. And you can’t get any more mainstream than The Times. That’s a praise and not a criticism. Cheers comrades!
First we need to educate the present generation, inculcating automatic respect for others - you can’t legislate it, only educate and demonstrate - so that moderation in all things becomes a way of life. There will be times when people break away, but they will know that they are doing so, because there will be a norm that they can recognise. Simple things, like not dropping litter and being responsible for one’s environment, including the council property one occupies, will be the accepted norm. People will know they have a responsibility in these areas.
Not until there’s (1) a proper international money supply (2) a 100 percent reserve banking system (3) abolition of personal income tax and (4) a better system for sharing the natural wealth that the world offers, can we expect to see any real improvement in the standard of living for those at the bottom of human society. The philosophy Globalism, not to be confused with Globalisation, is the way forward.
Michael Smith, Australia
Physical and intellectual effort is needed to make the world go round. But too many westerners believe they are superior to ‘underdeveloped’ ‘meztizos’ or ‘aboriginals’, because they are dedicating themselves to purely theoretical or intellectual activities, even loving the need to some physical exercise to keep their belts under control.
The modern western world is in a crisis of identity. Consumerism seems to be the absolute law globally - and the rule is ‘the cheaper the better’. Even Asian countries are following the same path. They are rushing to become economic powers, supposedly to become equals or superior to other, already ‘more’ developed, countries.
What will the future be like on a depleted, exhausted, overpopulated planet if we keep believing making a profit through the help, exploitation or domination of other people and countries is the unique purpose of our existence? Is there a solution, except in waiting for another climatic, viral or food related catastrophe to reduce the population and then let the natural wealth of this planet that the human race is destroying make a gradual come back?
Will there be a mutated animal race, in thousand-odd years from now, to replace those silly humans who will have been destroying themselves for two centuries in a blinded annihilation? That wouldn’t be surprising. The planet will still be around for millions of years, even if we are not smart enough to understand that at the basic level and keep using it as a garbage can.
Patrick H. Sovet, Mexico
We desperately need a system of government that inspires trust and confidence in the way our affairs are managed. All governing is a dreadful failure if we rely on professional politicians to do the job for us. The first priority of any government is to maintain power even if this is at the expense of the people represented. This reflects itself in a social depression. We urgently need to design a different way to manage our lives.
Sam Stein, Australia
Although we will still, in 2024, labour under the misconception that progress is inevitable and ‘positive’, we may have come to the realization that Islamophobia is a mental illness, much like agoraphobia, which can be treated by a combination of ‘therapy and pharmaceuticals’, allowing society to really offer its bigots the care and support they need.
One thing which is guaranteed to remain the same is that we will continue to conduct surveys which allow the ‘intellectual elite’ to have their own little masturbatory fantasies about the future!
The key questions facing the next generation:
1. Rising intolerance on the part of both establishments and the public
2. Violence & terrorism
3. Dangers of the so-called therapists selling solutions for everything
4. The obsession with the self, as evidenced by increasing focus on happiness, stress, yoga etc.
5. Rapidity of technological developments, the inability to cope and the fear of becoming obsolete.
6. Global mobility, with the increasing pockets of settlements of foreigners in many countries and the cross-cultural and son-of-the-soil issues arising thereof.
I think the key challenge is to get off the planet.
The Earth is the ark of humanity, a single one-size fits all lifeboat. While we may find such leadership as Captain William Bligh, who navigated an open boat more than 3,600 miles with the loss of only one, we are better served by a flotilla.
Critical to this is the development of pliant energy sources, improved materials and capable manufactory.
The rest is fluff.
British schooling has been mis-educating and de-educating Muslim children for the past 50 years and for the first time the Muslim leadership has openly declared that the British school is a home to institutional racism, where there is no place for foreign culture and languages. Institutional racism is depriving Muslim children of the chance to go to their own faith schools. It leads LEAs to reject or delay approval of Muslim schools. Policy makers like Mr. Graham Lane and others like him do not want to see even a single Muslim school in the United Kingdom. British teachers have no respect for Islamic faith and the Muslim community. The western education system can easily deprogram Muslim children and force them to adopt un-Islamic values. Let the Muslim parents decide how and where to educate their children. According to MORI social research institute on behalf of Bristol LEA, nine out of ten
Muslim parents agreed with the model of an Islamic secondary school set up within the state system. I rejected British schooling for Muslim children in the early 1970s.
A child who has English as a second language is seen as having a special need, not as having a skill to be lauded. Bilingual children think in a different way. Language has a profound effect in shaping the way people think and act. Certain concepts are embedded in words that do not translate. There are repertoires of phrases which exist in Arabic or Urdu with no English equivalent. State schools are slaughterhouses and are not suitable for bilingual Muslim children. Muslim children in the UK may lose out when they join reception classes because the school’s values and language reflect those of the dominant native culture, rather than those of their home. Almost all recent research literature agrees that if you want children whose home language is not English to excel in English medium schools, it is important to nurture and acknowledge that first language along side their English development. Cultivating bilingualism could and should promote pupils’ linguistic development. Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models.
Taxpayers’ money spent on schools should be handed to parents as vouchers to be used for their children’s education as they wish. Funds may be given to parents to set up their own schools. Lady Uddin argues strongly for the benefits of faith-based schooling, rejecting claims made in reports on the 2001 riots in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford that polarised schooling contributed to community division. Culturally separate groups, communities and institutions do not have to be the causes of social instability. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. All such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools to be managed and controlled by Muslim Educational Trust and Charities.
Teach music, singing, positive poetry, the rivers of blood and art. Teach the planet awareness. We must switch off from governments who articulate the world to us for their own gains and tune into those who know. Build schools in farms and woodlands. We must understand the nature to be able to nurture. We are the words. Our children must be taught the deeds. More and more I see thoughtlessness, or maybe selfishness, in action - people scrambling for money and status. We will not be able to breathe those two words or drink or eat them in future wars, which will be about drinking water and which will awaken us from our comfortable apathy. Well, what will we say to each other then? That ‘I witnessed it happening to others in my newspapers and on my television screen but did nothing because it was not me’? When a mother and father can say honestly ‘I want the same for all children as I want for my own’, then the world is saved.
One other point: I spoke to my local council and asked why on earth no one has recycling bins in Christchurch and they pointed out that the pilot scheme was failing because of the elderly rich residing on St Catherine’s Hill. They were refusing the bins as they took up too much room. As money seems to be their only interest, then for every rubbish bag collected people should be fined as everything is recyclable, including us.
I am worried. No, that word is not strong enough - I am petrified of tomorrow’s world. Even typing this has me consciously aware of the energy used and the co2 gases, but then Radio 4 told a story of a man on a bicycle somewhere in Africa peddling into a small town where children came running from their homes to charge up a laptop from a device attached to his bicycle so they could use the internet for their homework.
Let’s go even further and have less censorship to journals both on- and off line. For instance, if responses are edited this should be indicated with the reason why. If letters/responses are rejected, information about rejections should be given. This need not take up huge resources in time, discussion etc. but would give valuable information to the wider public. So for example rejections and editing might be done using general categories including one for exceptions to those which do not fit the specified categories. If respondents take the time to input to journals it should be possible to give them and readers this information.