Visions of the Future: The Distant Past, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Robert L. Heilbroner, Author Oxford University Press, USA $23 (144p) ISBN 978-0-19-509074-1
In this short, stimulating essay, eminent economist Heilbroner argues that humanity's expectation of a future measurably better than the past became widespread only with the rise of capitalism and its handmaiden, technology, beginning around 1700. By contrast, from the emergence of Homo sapiens to the dawn of the modern European nation-state, he contends societies preached acceptance of the status quo. Since roughly 1950, in Heilbroner's estimate, optimism about the future has given way to pessimistic resignation, partly because of decline in real incomes and growing political unrest. Predicting that capitalism will be the principal socioeconomic system in the 21st century, he ponders ways to prevent structurally or technologically induced unemployment. Given the requisite political will, he maintains, the U.S. could undertake a massive government-led program to create jobs and rebuild slums, while coordinated international efforts could stabilize population growth and eradicate poverty worldwide. Sadly, he surmises, the requisite political will is missing. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/1995
Release date: 01/01/1995
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 144 pages - 978-0-19-510286-4
Open Ebook - 144 pages - 978-1-4294-0628-4
Show other formats
Discover what to read next