Critical Review Desk

There is a strong connection between futures studies and fear studies. In science fiction, we have dystopian and apocalyptic narratives. In the formal futures research, the collapse or disaster scenario is not missing from a usual range of alternative futures that are generated. Existential risk centers and their scholars also deal with and use fear on a large scale for policy recommendations.

Weak and strong signals, from diverse and independent sources, point to an imminent global consciousness, suggesting spirit, mind, and ethical revolutions. On the horizon, we observe a new rush hour of the prophets, ideologies, and cults calling for first values and first principles. In 2100 the planetary consciousness will push machine-humanity towards increasing freedom. In 3000, at the dawn of the cosmic age, the myth of the sacred rock will be re-defined around the entire planet Earth. 

Almost all reasonable futures studies scholars will agree to condemn the war and aggression and are peace loving people. However, we need to understand the deeper historical causes of war before negotiating perpetual peace. In Washington DC the dominant narrative is that this ongoing horror is only a personal choice by Putin (assuming many Russians have nothing to do with it). The question is whether the Ukraine war is triggered by an individual or is it an outcome of some sort of underlying structural, social or collective consciousness struggle. 

A crucial product of Halal's long time career in management of technology and corporate foresight is the development of his Life Cycle of Evolution chart that visualizes the consecutive stages of social evolution beginning from the geological age leading to the knowledge age and beyond, culminating eventually in the beyond the planet and space age. 

Humanity needs emotionally and motivationally inspiring narratives of the future that are informed by contemporary concepts and theories; presenting numbers, graphs, and abstract rational arguments about the future is not enough to convince or move people. We need psychologically engaging stories of the future, with personal characters and gripping drama, grounded in modern science and modern thinking. 

Victor further proposes to replace the neo-liberal term of globalization by the more integrative and inclusive term “planetary era”. Finally, he suggests “integral wise strategies”, whereby we all maybe transformed to become “enlightened individuals [that] can then lead and pull the entire world to a higher and better level of integrated consciousness. 

Thesis of a pantheistic worldview ranges widely and wisely across the important themes of our times, to provide a vision of an “anticipatory planetary era”, there is no significant recognition of the complex and, possibly, insurmountable difficulties of how this vision might come to pass. Geopolitics, institutional barriers, social change and identity politics will all influence the prospects of obtaining the transformative shifts required. In so doing, Motti risks joining other idealistic visionaries from many cultures across the ages in providing a highly appealing vision of the future that inspires but leaves to others the daunting, and potentially unsuccessful, task of stimulating, harnessing and ultimately delivering change. 

This is especially interesting in the context of how to reduce violence in humans and the frictions between cultures, with the goal of moving toward a planetary outlook. Motti does a thorough, systemic analysis of the factors involved and how to better understand them, which could prove useful when examining the often unrecognized cultural gulfs between East and West and their impact on planetary dynamics. But the discussion goes far beyond the binary cliché of Eastern interdependence versus Western independence and examines how these gulfs could be better identified and addressed. 

Each of the book’s seven chapters chronicles Motti’s informed views on what is indeed an expansive journey into many of the essential philosophical and contemporary theoretical underpinnings found in foresight/futures studies. It’s an excellent book for any futurist or futurist aspirant, and can serve as a useful introduction to the field as a course textbook. His analytical frameworks are especially useful in providing rigor and structure to what is too often perceived as a field that can drift excessively towards, fad, fashion, subjectivity and speculation. 

As someone who has just launched a project which attempts to embrace an optimistic view of potential futures, I feel that this book has come into my view at just the right time.  As a child, probably fuelled by repeated watchings of the ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’, and similar, I often fantasised about the idea that an invasion from outer space would make us all realise that we all live on the same planet, and that we would start to treat each other accordingly. I was quite a serious child, who felt ‘unfairness’ very keenly, and found it incomprehensible that people would hate or treat others differently because of superficial differences like race, or disability, for example. I never arrived at a solution for what we would do to throw off the yoke of our new alien overlords, but it was my fantasy, and I just took the bits I wanted from it.