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#23 - JRL 7004
Argumenty i Fakty
No. 51
December 2002
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
"The reserves of the present civilization are going to last only for another 20 years," believes president of the International Future Studies Academy Igor BESTUZHEV-LADA.
Here is a short interview with this prominent Russian futurologist
by Vyacheslav KOSTIKOV.

Question: It seems that the revolutionary scenarios of the human progress have failed utterly. Do you agree?

Answer: Marxist-Leninist ideology is becoming more and more a subject of ridicule. However, the ideological struggle that had caused the "Cold War" looks like a poorly written screenplay compared to what awaits us in the future. In essence, the "Cold War" was World War III. But because both the United States and Russia feared mutual destruction, that war had been lurking at the periphery of peace. At present, our civilization is facing a threat from a different direction.

Question: Would it be the Islamic world?

Answer: The roots of this threat are not in the confrontation between the Islamic and the Christian world. They are not even in the American striving for world domination, as many people mistakenly assume. A great demographic misbalance is looming over our future. The population growth in Europe and North America is coming down to dangerously low levels. The family as a social unit, which for centuries has been a foundation of moral stability, is dying out. There is an enormous tension between the two poles of the world community. On one side, there are technologically developed countries where working force is needed less and less. On the other side, there are developing countries that breed millions of people in search for food and work, yearly. A powder keg charged with a billion of unemployed has been rolled out onto the global stage.

Question: That's not a new phenomenon. Unemployment and poverty have been known ever since the Roman Empire...

Answer: The urban civilization in the last half-century undoubtedly allowed more freedom of expression. The children of the poor finally got access to the basic education, at least. The wider access to information revealed the inequality and imperfection in the world, and became a catalyst for hatred. Hatred and desperation, in turn, create a wave of radicalism.

Question: Where do you think this wave will be heading?

Answer: In the second half of the 20th century it was partially absorbed by the dynamics of social development in Europe and the United States. Nowadays, both societies have almost lost this potential. In essence, we are facing the beginning of World War IV. The war in Kosovo, and in case of Russia - in Chechnya, could be regarded as small episodes of the global conflict.

Question: What are the sources of this global conflict?

Answer: Poor countries plagued by overpopulation have an intrinsic propensity toward the external aggression. A typical example is Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The goal is to take control over somebody else's riches. Or somebody else's land, like in Kosovo. The demographic pressure had turned into aggression there. And that's only the beginning. In reality, Europe (and Russia as part of it) is facing an ultimatum: let this demographic wave spread without putting any obstacles on its way.

Question: How religion could aggravate the danger of this war?

Answer: Traditional religions, even relatively young and dynamic, like Islam, for instance, do not necessarily present any significant threat. It's the religious sects that are really dangerous. Those are, in essence, an explosive mixture of fanaticism and fascism. Another part of the global threat is the international crime syndicates. They control the global markets dealing with illegal drugs, weapons, slave trade and prostitution.

For that they need open spaces preferably without borders. Therefore, they try to create disorder and chaos on the territories of sovereign states. Take, for example, the events of September 11, 2001 in the USA and, on a smaller scale, the hostage-taking in Dubrovka in Russia. The whole of Transcaucasia is a potential minefield for Russia because three quarters of the population there are unemployed.

Question: What do you see as possible developments of the conflict?

Answer: There is a real danger that radical groups might acquire miniature nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. We saw such a possibility when the Japanese AUM Shinrikyo sect attacked Tokyo subway. The European cities, including Moscow, are extremely vulnerable. I believe that computer hackers from terrorist ranks also present a certain threat.

Question: Can we protect ourselves from those threats?

Answer: The global fight against terrorism and the elimination of all radical elements is a necessary, but only an interim solution. The universal understanding of the global threat could lead to the creation of a "supra-national" state with a global parliament, government and tribunal. That's a political side of the issue. However, there is also a moral side to it. Humanity must stop the excessive consumption of energy, food, and natural resources. We should reestablish such fundamental values as family, labor and harmony between man and nature.

Question: But who would want to abandon the traditional ways of living?

Answer: Other solutions could be taken into consideration. They deal with the use of computer technologies in the sphere of psychology and medicine. Being a hybrid of human and computer intelligence, the "ultimate human being" would be able to control not only the outside environment, but also his own desires, thinking, behavior and even the longevity. In this case, all bad behavioral traits could be eliminated as early as at the fetus stage of development with the help of computerized commands.

Question: How would you call such society? Heaven or Hell?

Answer: A new civilization...

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