Saturday, March 31, 2012

Futurology as bourgeois ideology: from the Cold War to now (2)

In my previous post, I mentioned this book:

The Future of Society: A Critique of Modern Bourgeois Philosophical and Socio-political Conceptions, edited by Murad Saifulin. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1973.

Completing my quick scan of the book, I concluded that it was even more bankrupt than I had imagined. The book is saturated with such grandiose propaganda, the ideological content of western futurism pales in comparison to such bombast. It is also remarkable how poor a critique of bourgeois futurology this is.

Bourgeois futurology conceals any systematic understanding of society, renders the underlying properties of capitalism invisible so that it is not even raised as a question, and projects technocratic solutions as triumphing over whatever laundry list of questions it addresses. The occlusion of social critique by the techniques of forecasting is perhaps comparable to the pseudo-scientific basis of bourgeois economics.

Yet the Soviet approach delineated in this book is concerned primarily with defending its side of the Cold War, demonstrating the superiority of its system and the inevitable victory of communism. Otherwise the Soviet vision is equally as technocratic. As the Soviet system is competing with the capitalist system almost on its own terms while disguising its own nature, its critique of bourgeois futurology must itself be truncated.

The missing prediction of the demise of the Soviet Union itself is itself a commentary on the validity of this perspective.

How different the presuppositions of an unlimited future seemed back in 1973 (though it must be noted that the energy crisis threw serious doubt into the viability of such a prospect). Here is one futuristic vision from the Soviet Union of 1973 that parallels even the current fantasies of the West. This is a section on the future colonization of outer space:

Future problems of the exploration of the Earth and outer space

Best laid plans of mice and men . . . then, and now?

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