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Entries in politics (18)

Tuesday
Apr262011

Government of the Future (1981)

Children of the 1980s were presented with two possible futures for government in the book World of Tomorrow: School, Work and Play. The first scenario is a nightmarish dystopia where governments track their citizens' every move and computers are curtailing freedoms across the globe. The second possible future is a utopia nearly achieving some form of direct democracy, brought on by the home computer and videophones, which enable citizens to become highly engaged in the political process.

It would appear that those of us living in "the future" wound up with a bit of both. Governments all over the world are certainly using technology to spy on their citizens -- though I would wager that Visa, Apple and Google know more about me than the U.S. government. But the evolution of tools like Twitter and YouTube has also provided your average citizen with easier ways to politically organize and educate.

Whatever your feelings on technology's role in government, I think we can all agree on one political truism... I'm right and those other guys are idiots.

Some people fear that computers will rule our lives in the future. They believe that information on everyone will be stored in computers, and that government officials will be able to find out anything about anyone at any time. It is possible that this will happen, and that some governments will use computers to limit people's freedom. However, it is just as possible that computers will make governments more open in the future, and allow people more say in the ways they are governed.

In a future where every home has a videophone computer system, everyone could take part in government. People could talk and air their views to others on special communication channels linking every home. These people would most likely be representatives of some kind -- of a political party, a union, an industry and so on.  But when the time comes to make a decision on any issue, everyone would be able to vote by instructing their computer. A central computer would instantly announce the result.

 This kind of government by the people is a possibility that the computer will bring. It could take place on any scale -- from village councils up to world government. In fact, it is more likely to happen in small communitites, as it would be difficult to reach effective national and international decisions, if millions of people always had to be asked to approve everything. Nevertheless, the computer will enable really important decisions to be put before the people and not decided by groups or politicians.

The computer could also affect the ways in which politicians will work. They could discuss the issues that affect the people they represent over public communication networks that would replace governemtn assemblies. In this way representatives could live among their electors and get to know them and their views much better.

 

Monday
Dec282009

Montreal, U.S.A. (1901)

According to the February 11, 1901 Akron Daily Democrat (Akron, OH) the official program of President McKinley's inauguration in 1901 was to leave no ambiguity about the ambitions of the United States; complete domination of the western hemisphere.

After doing some quick research it seems likely that this "futuristic" inaugural program described in the article, which imagined the year 2001, never saw the light of day. Though I'm no presidential historian, I'd guess that this article was simply a tool used to slam McKinley (a Republican) and his re-election. 

The full text of the Akron Daily Democrat piece is below.

Washington, Feb. 11. -- An unique feature of the coming inauguration will be the official program now being prepared by the inaugural committee. The elaborate designs for the front and back covers and the wealth of half-tone and other illustrations within, will make it really remarkable as a work of art and valuable as a souvenir. Besides a full description of the parade and the inaugural ceremonies the book will contain several interesting and timely articles by writers of note, among which will be a picture of the inauguration of the year 2001. The author assumes that the United States, then will have acquired the whole of the western hemisphere attaining a population of 300,000,000; that the President will be from Montreal, U.S.A., will have forty cabinet members to appoint; that the Senate will consist of 300 members and the House 800, and that Washington on that day will entertain 3,000,000 visitors, most of whom view the inaugural parade from airships.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

Sunday
Dec132009

Looking Forward to 2010 (1910)

The 1910 film Looking Forward, directed by Theodore Marston, imagines a crazy dystopia where women rule the world. Because, as this film accurately predicted, women naturally became a political majority after getting the vote.

The description below of Looking Forward is excerpted from Eric Dewberry's paper, "A Happy Medium: Women's Suffrage Portrayals in Thanhouser Films, 1910-16." [pdf]

The comedy Looking Forward (1910) centers around Jack Goodwin, a chemistry student who discovers a liquid compound which allows people to fall asleep for a determinate period of time without the pitfalls of aging. One day, Jack drinks the potion and wakes up in the year 2010. In addition to the marvels of futuristic “rapid transit facilities,” Jack is shocked to discover that men are in the social and political minority, and do not have the right to vote. In an attempt to “restore order,” Jack becomes a ‘suffragehim’ and is sent to jail for his activities. The female mayor of the city falls in love with Jack and offers to free him from prison if he will marry her. Jack wishes to restore “the rights of men,” however, and refuses to leave prison and accept the proposal unless the mayor signs a decree giving men their liberty. Upon signing, the end of the film shows Jack correcting the bride during the wedding ceremony, leading the Mayor down the aisle instead of vice versa and transferring the veil from his head to her head.

The image above is from the January 30, 1911 Centralia Daily Chronicle (Centralia, WA).

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Wednesday
Jun242009

Lady Vice President by Year 2000 (1955)

The November 21, 1955 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Fairbanks, AK) ran a short piece with the predictions of Mrs. Ivy Baker Priest. She predicted that by the year 2000 there would be three female members of the Supreme Court and a lady vice president. Priest also predicted that half of congress would be female.

Sonia Sotomayor would be the third female Supreme Court justice in U.S. history, though there has never been more than two women on the court at one time. Sotomayor's confirmation hearings are set to start July 13, 2009.

According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, there are currently 441 members of the U.S. Congress that are male (83%) and 92 that are female (17%). For more information, check out the Women in Congress website.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Tuesday
Aug052008

Harry Truman and the Year 2000 (1950)

The year 1950, (as we are wont to do with "round" numbered years), provided plenty of predictions of what the second half of the 20th century held.

An angry editorial critical of President Harry Truman, (a Missouri native), and his vision for the year 2000 appeared in the January 6, 1950 Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, MO). An excerpt appears below. You can read the entire article here.

Mr. Stalin and the Moscow planners never offered the comrades anything nearly as good as what Mr. Truman promises. The pie he puts in the sky would really be worth waiting for, if it could be had by the year 2000.

 

In international affairs, there will be world peace. The atom will be under international control. The United Nations will be a going concern and will have forces to preserve international law and order. World commerce will be regullated under the new International Trade Organization. Other nations will share America's prosperity through an expanded Point Four Program of technical assistance to under-developed countries. Communism will be suppressed, not by force of arms, but by an appeal to the minds and hearts of men.


See also:
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)
Hubert H. Humphrey's Future (1967)
Hubert H. Humphrey's Year 2000 (1967)
Negro President by Year 2000 (1965)

 

Wednesday
Apr162008

Power and Wealth (1984)

The late, great Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote about hope in the 1984 introduction of his book, Profiles of the Future. Specifically, Clarke wrote of his hope for a future without concern for politics and economics. An excerpt from his introduction appears below.

I also believe - and hope - that politics and economics will cease to be as important in the future as they have been in the past; the time will come when most of our present controversies on these matters will seem as trivial, or as meaningless, as the theological debates in which the keenest minds of the Middle Ages dissipated their energies. Politics and economics are concerned with power and wealth, neither of which should be the primary, still less the exclusive, concern of full-grown men.


See also:
Negro President by Year 2000 (1965)
2008 Presidential Campaign (1908)
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)
Hubert H. Humphrey's Future (1967)
Hubert H. Humphrey's Year 2000 (1967)
Governor Knight and the Videophone (Oakland Tribune, 1955)
Edmund G. Brown's Californifuture (1963)
Television: Medium of the Future (1949)
Fruition of Ideals of Democracy (1923)

 

Monday
Feb112008

James B. Utt on Space Travel (1963)

California congressman James B. Utt wrote a short piece for the time capsule book 2063 A.D., which was buried in 1963.

The honorable James B. Utt first says that he could not even make an uneducated guess as to the future of space travel but then, in true politician form, makes one anyway. His contribution appears in full below.

The Honorable James B. Utt
Congress of the United States

 

Your request with reference to a prophecy for your space capsule, I can only say that I do not have a Buck Rogers imaginative mind and could not even make an uneducated guess. The cost of escaping gravity will probably always curtail any commercial space travel, but the time will come when the scientists will be able to change the molecular body system and reduce the weight to zero and reconstruct the molecular system at any place and any time. Travel will then be as rapid as the mind can conceive. Personally, I do not look forward to this with any sense of enjoyment


You can find the book 2063 A.D. listed here on Amazon but I wouldn't count on copies becoming available anytime soon. Only 200 copies were printed and distributed to various universities.

 

See also:
General Dynamics Astronautics Time Capsule (1963)
Broken Time Capsule (1963-1997)
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)
Edmund G. Brown's Californifuture (1963)