This annotated bibliography was compiled by Sohail Inayatullah, Professor, Tamkung University, Taiwan; Adjunct Professor, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
Avtk. Ananda Mitra Ac., The Spiritual Philosophy of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti. Denver, Ananda Marga Publications, 1981.
Outstanding exegesis of Shrii Shrii Anandamurti’s spiritual philosophy, including spiritual stories, the theory of layers of the mind (from the body to the superconscious), with extensive commentary. More rewarding reading than a library of New Age literature.
Avtk. Ananda Rama Ac., Neohumanist Education. Mainz, Gurukula Press, 2000.
Beautiful, inspiring book on education for children based on gender partnership, ecological sustainability, alternative futures, planetary spirituality. Lovely photos, packed with short essays on how to really create a better world. Easy reading, appropriate for any educational level.
Ravi Batra, The Downfall of Capitalism and Communism. London, MacMillan Press, First Edition, 1978. Second Edition, Dallas, Venus Books, 1990.
The main thesis of the book is that the age of acquisitors, better known as capitalism, was soon to come to an end in the West. This dramatic change was to be followed by the downfall of the age of commanders in the Soviet Union, more commonly known as communism. While his predictions for capitalism to collapse within a few decades due to rampant inequality and speculation have not come true, his prediction for the collapse of communism, due to inner stasis and oppression, arrived in 1990, sooner than expected. The key reason that capitalism, as a self-perpetuating social formation, was seen to be on an unsustainable path, was the relentless drive of the acquisitors to acquire ever more capital. Over time, this activity was seen to gain momentum and result in financial booms and busts. A depression would then follow, and as it came on top of extreme inequality, it would quickly bring social chaos and revolt. As anarchy was not a normal state of affairs, the class of military leaders would step in the breech and re-establish order and thereby usher in a new age of “commanders”.
In this context, Batra reviews a priori such social change, which occurred two millennia ago, when the Roman Republic was transformed into the Roman Empire. At that time slave uprisings were common but were violently suppressed. This period became known as the Servile Wars. At the same time, the military was in ascendancy as the Roman Army continued to expand the empire. The pivotal figure in the development was the military leader Julius Caesar, who wrested control from the Senate by diluting its membership, but was in turn murdered by disgruntled Senators. The military class, led by his adopted son, Octavian, cemented the new social order.
Batra thinks such a scenario in the future will refocus the social motivity, away from the acquisition of money to a mastery of technology and physical bravery, including the conquest of space, heralding a new age of commanders in the West. These ideas contrast starkly with those of thinkers like Francis Fukuyama who argues that capitalism, as it is based on democracy and freedom, represents the pinnacle of human social development. For Fukuyama, the collapse of Soviet communism could have been inevitable, but not that of capitalism. Review from www.wikipedia.com.
Riane Eisler, Sacred Pleasure. San Francisco, HarperCollins, 1996.
Decent macrohistory, great feminism, very readable. Brings in chaos and complexity to the argument that we have moved from a partnership (the chalice) to a dominator (the blade) cultural system, and that now, through human agency, we can move back to a partnership system. Calls for transformative knowledge. An excellent and important book.
Writes Eisler: “Human evolution is now at a crossroads. Stripped to its essentials, the central human task is how to organize society to promote the survival of our species and the development of our unique potentials. A partnership society offers us a viable alternative.” Partnership is a commitment to a way of living, it is a way of life based on harmony with nature, non-violence, and gender, racial and economic equity. It takes us beyond conventional labels to a future of flourishing untapped human potential. It is part of our human nature to be caring, sensitive and creative, to seek pleasure and avoid pain. During much of our prehistory, humanity was rooted in the partnership model. This is our lost heritage. Through a cultural shift, history became the familiar tale of violence, injustice and domination. We need to restore our Earth and renew our communities. We need social and economic inventions based on partnership. Also see, Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade. San Francisco, HarperCollins, 1988. In this book, Eisler develops her theory of macrohistory.
Duane Elgin: A Vision of Hope and Action for Humanity’s Future. New York, William Morrow, 2000.
Elgin asks a simple question: If humanity was a person, what age would he or she be? He concludes that humanity is a teenager: no sense of the future, cliquish, materialistic, impressionistic, self-concerned (and at the same time idealistic). Humanity needs to make the transition from teenager to responsible and caring adult. Also see Elgin’s macrohistorical, Awakening Earth, New York, William Morrow, 1993. (Stage theory, evolution and the role of awakening consciousness.)
Duane Elgin with Coleen Drew, Global Consciousness Change: Indicators of an Emerging Paradigm. San Anselmo, California, Millennium Project, 1997.
Continues the earlier work done in the 1970’s with Oliver Markley and Willis Harmon on indicators that humanity’s image of self, other, nature and future is undergoing a dramatic shift to a more spiritual, ecological and planetary paradigm. Indicators for global consciousness change, global ecological awareness, postmodern values, experiential spirituality and sustainable ways of living are presented. The survey of the many empirical reports is quite useful but the study could have gained by citing and using sources from non-Western cultures. Still, the report provides hope for an alternative future, even if the data is mixed (as the authors do point out).
Johan Galtung and Sohail Inayatullah, eds., Macrohistory and Macrohistorians: Perspectives on Individual, Social and Civilizational Change. Westport CT: Praeger, October 1997.
Macrohistory is ambitious, focused on the stages of history and the causes of change through time. The ideas and lives of 20 macrohistorians are analyzed: Ssu-Ma Ch’ien on cycles of virtue, St. Augustine on the river to judgement and then eternal bliss or damnation, Ibn Khaldun on the strengthening and weakening of asabiya (human unity), Giambattista Vico on fluctuations between reason/wisdom and barbarism/selfishness, Adam Smith on upward progress from nomadic hunters to capitalism, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel on dialectics and the world spirit, Auguste Comte on three stages of history (theological, metaphysical and positivistic), Karl Marx on six techno-economic stages from primitive communism to full communism, Herbert Spencer on progress from barbarism to industrial society and then an altruistic world without government, Vilfredo Pareto on cycles of democracy and autocracy, Max Weber on history as the interplay of rationalization and charisma, Rudolph Steiner on history as development toward emancipation and freedom (involving seven macro stages, seven cosmic periods and seven epochs), Oswald Spengler on maturation and decay of cultures, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin on five ascending stages from cosmogenesis to the noosphere, Pitirim Sorokin on the dynamics of cultural mentalities (ideational/ascetic, sensate/active, idealistic), Arnold Toynbee on challenge and response from genesis through dissolution, Antonio Gramsci on materialist evolution from secular liberalism to socialism/communism, Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar on Progressive Utilization Theory (Prout) and the four stages of the social cycle, Riane Eisler on shifts between male dominator and gender partnership over time, and James Lovelock on the Gaia hypothesis and planetary evolution. An Appendix provides a very useful pictorial representation of the 20 theories.
Inayatullah compares the macrohistorians, finding that the model of four or the double dialectic is central. Galtung distills key points and contradictions that each macrohistorian could teach and learn from others, and describes social macrohistory as a metaphor for world macrohistory (“their warnings on what can go wrong should be taken seriously”). In the introduction, Galtung asks why there is so little macrohistory (or nomothetic generalizing), and answers that it is intellectually difficult and it is politically problematic (unlike the history taught in schools, it does not provide identity, dedication and optimism). The macrohistorian also has a strong personality, coming on top of God or in place of God. “The macrohistorian is to the historian what Einstein or Hawking is for the run-of-the-mill physicist. It is certainly not a very modest enterprise.”
[Note: An awesome analysis, worthy of its immodest topic.] Reviewed by Michael Marien, Future Survey, www.wfs.org.
Ac. Gunaprakashananda Avt., Togo: A Proutist Approach for Solving the Problems of Lowered Living Standards, Unemployment and Rural Poverty. Lome’, Togo, Prout Research Institute, 1991.
A comprehensive report on how to transform poverty in Africa. It was commissioned by the Togan President but used by the opposition once he rejected it. Concern for spiritual, cultural and economic variables. Practical and policy details of Prout are articulated in this report.
Sohail Inayatullah, Situating Sarkar: Tantra, Macrohistory and Alternative Futures. Maleny, Gurukula Press, 1999.
In this unique analysis, Inayatullah examines the narratives of Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar from historical, comparative and poststructural modes of analysis. Inayatullah’s inquires into Sarkar’s works, and compares him to such diverse thinkers as Ssu-Ma Chien, Ibn Khaldun, Montesquieu, Aurobindo, Gandhi and Foucault. Sarkar’s social movements are contrasted to ecological, capitalist and local models of society and economy. Inayatullah also applies Sarkar’s theories to various problems in modern social theory: the problem of representation and governance; the issue of agency versus structure; the politics of language and the real; the tension between the local and the global; and the science/culture debate. As with Sarkar’s works themselves, Inayatullah takes a balanced approach, investigating economic, social and transcendental discourses along with a critical interpretation of Sarkar’s vision of the future.
Sohail Inayatullah, Understanding Sarkar: The Indian Episteme, Macrohistory and Transformative Knowledge. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, January 2002. (Order from email@example.com or www.metafuture.org.)
Inayatullah provides an extensive analysis of P. R. Sarkar (1921-1990), a controversial Indian philosopher, guru and activist. “On one level we can boldly state that Sarkar’s theory is more creative, inclusive and holistic than other attempts by macro-thinkers throughout history. Within the Indian context, along with Gandhi, he stands out as the premiere thinker of this last century, if not the past few hundred years.” The notion of opposites is central to his metaphysics, and his rationality is grounded in a universal humanism, or Neohumanism, that has as its goal a consciousness personally considered as blissful, beyond pleasure and pain. To Sarkar, modernity is the irrational, and the rational leads to the spiritual – the maximization of individual and collective “happiness”. To create a new culture, a new map of knowledge, is required, that frames self, society, other, nature and the transcendental.
In 1955, Sarkar began his spiritual organization, Ananda Marga (or “The Path of Bliss”), and a few years later he started Renaissance Universal and the more directly political Proutist Universal. Until his death in 1990, Sarkar remained active in Calcutta, composing over 5,000 songs of the new dawn, giving talks on spiritual life, lecturing in over 120 languages on spiritual and social theory, providing leadership and managing his organizations, and helping to create self-reliant ecological communities.
Chapters discuss Sarkar’s unique contributions, Prout strategy (a central element is movements that organize the oppressed), Sarkar in the context of the Indian episteme (the goal of his theory is to create a condition where the physical, social and cosmic worlds are in harmony), Sarkar’s theory of history (the classic cyclical historical viewpoint, with the possibility of spiritual and economic transformation allowing an exit from history), Sarkar in the context of other macrohistorians, and his social laws critiqued from various positions.
[Note: An impressive tour de force, clearly enabling an appreciation of a significant but completely non-Western worldview in several dimensions. Also see the chapter on Sarkar in Macrohistory and Macrohistorians: Perspectives on Individual, Social and Civilizational Change edited by Johan Galtung and Sohail Inayatullah (Praeger, 1997; FS 19:11/501). Sarkar’s texts are available at www.prout.org.] Reviewed by Michael Marien, Future Survey, www.wfs.org.
Sohail Inayatullah, World System Futures: After the Terror. www.wfs.org, 4 pages, September 2001.
This terrifying crime against humanity can be explained (but never justified) by the equation of perceived injustice + nationalism/religious-ism + an asymmetrical world order. To survive, humankind needs to move to a new level of identity. As Phil Graham (Unversity of Queensland) writes, “We are the Other. We have become alienated from our common humanity, and the attribute, hope, image, that might save us – the ‘globalization’ of humanity.” There are crucial differences between Bush and bin Laden, but there is a similarity: the US and England are the main exporters of weapons, creating increasing levels of planetary insecurity, as do the terrorists. Each distorts what it means to be human by focusing on one dimension. We need a dialogue of civilizations, and within religions, between the hard and soft side. Social movements must continue challenging the asymmetrical nature of the world system – the structural violence and silent emergencies – and push for a new globalization while protecting local systems that are not racist/sexist/predatory. Resolving the equation of terror must deal with crimes against humanity (which cannot be tolerated) as well as perceived injustices, the “isms”, and world system structure.
Three scenarios suggest the near and long-term future:
- Fortress USA/OECD: this gives a short-term illusion of security, but will result in poverty and sham democracies where real power lies with the right wing aligned with the military/police complex. The Islamic world will respond with Fortress Islam, becoming even more feudal and mullahist, and forcing individuals to be “with us or against us”, denying the multiplicity of selves that we are becoming. Without root issues being resolved, terror will find other vehicles of expression. “Fortresses are remembered in history for being overrun, not for successful defence against ‘others’.”
- Cowboy War – Vengeance Forever: Bush has evoked the Wild West and the consequences are endless escalation in a war that the US may win (or get mired in a new Vietnam). Cowboy War will work in the short term, but eventually could slowly lead to global fascism. There are fortunate signs that Bush and others are listening to their soft sides and building friendships and seeking long-term solutions.
- Gaian Bifurcation: we cannot make traditionalists modern; rather, we must move from tradition to a transmodernity inclusive of multiple, layered realities – a Gaia of interdependent civilizations plus a system of international justice. A new equity-based multicultural globalization means moving to world governance, human (and animal) rights, economic democracy, gender partnership, a transformed UN with increased direct democracy, and an emergent healing discourse (toward others, toward the planet, and for future generations). “In workshops around the world, this is a desired future.” We must have the courage to create this integrated planetary civilization that moves us beyond the capitalist West and the feudalized, ossified non-West. “I hope it will emerge through ahimsa (inner and outer non-violence), and not versions of endless terror. We need to choose life.”
[Note: Inayatullah is a widely-published futurist scholar who was born in Pakistan and raised in New York, Indiana, Geneva, Islamabad, Kuala Lumpur and Honolulu. This work is part of the MP scenario effort 23:10/473).] Reviewed by Michael Marien, Future Survey, www.wfs.org.
Sohail Inayatullah, The Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) Reader: Theory and Case Studies of an Integrative and Transformative Methodology. Taipai, Taiwan, Tamkang University Press, December 2004, 575 pages.
Causal Layered Analysis, first developed by Jim Dator’s student, Inayatullah, is described by Dator as “the first major new futures theory and method since Delphi, almost 40 years ago… a very sophisticated way to categorize different views of and concerns about futures, and then to use them to help groups think about futures far more effectively.”
CLA consists of four levels:
- The Litany: quantitative trends and problems, often exaggerated and used for political purposes, and often leading to a feeling of helplessness or apathy (assumptions are rarely questioned);
- Systemic Causes: technical explanations and academic analysis based on social, technological, economic, environmental, political and historical factors (the data are often questioned, but the language of questioning does not contest the paradigm within which the issue is framed);
- Legitimating Discourse/Worldview: the deeper social, linguistic and cultural processes and assumptions (showing how the discourse we use is complicit in framing the issue at the stakeholder, ideological, civilizational and epistemic levels);
- Metaphor/Myth: the deep stories and collective archetypes (the frame of questioning must enter other frameworks of understanding, e.g.: assumptions about the nature of time, rationality and agency).
CLA can be used both in academic settings and in action learning settings such as a futures workshop. “The strength of CLA is its capacity to move beyond the superficiality of conventional forecasting methods, insofar as these methods are often unable to unpack worldviews, ideologies and discourses.” CLA can expand the range and richness of scenarios, lead to more comprehensive strategy and sustainable policy actions, assist organizational leadership, and develop community capacity.
Essays are in three sections:
- Methodological Comparisons: Sohail Inayatullah on deconstructing and reconstructing the future, Johan Galtung on the social costs of modernization, Zia Sardar on medicine in a multicultural society, Rick Slaughter on reconciling breadth and depth in futures inquiry, David Turnbull on moral space futures and deep dialogue, Marcus Bussey on critical spirituality;
- Case Studies on Causal Layered Analysis: Alan Fricker on genetic engineering in agriculture, Ivana Milojevic on abundance and relative poverty and on hegemonic education discourses, Marcus Bussey on unpacking educational futures, Jennifer Gidley on global youth culture, Philip Daffara on sustainable city futures, Patricia Kelly on “Futurelandia” as effectively colonized by scientists and technologists (e.g., the Cosmic Evolution imagery on the Foundation For the Future home page);
- CLA as an Evolving Methodology: four critical views and a 15-point response by Inayatullah.
[Note: Book-cover blurbs include Ted Gordon (“a liberating method”), Peter Bishop (“a cornerstone of futures methodology”), Graham Molitor (“pace-setting work”), and community futures practitioner Katie Donnelly (“cutting edge, interior, in depth and simple to master”).] Reviewed by Michael Marien, Future Survey, www.wfs.org.
Sohail Inayatullah and Jennifer Fitzgerald, eds., Transcending Boundaries: Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar’s Theories of Individual and Social Transformation. Maleny, Gurukula Press, 1999.
This collection of essays is the first book to explore Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar’s social, scientific and spiritual contributions to the knowledge base of humanity. The authors not only examine how Sarkar has addressed issues in diverse fields such as political theory, health science, macrohistory, women’s studies, art history, communication theory and ethics, but also how he has redefined current disciplines. Indeed, Sarkar gives us a new paradigm, a new map, of how we see ourselves, others, nature and the future. Written by leading academics, experts and writers, these essays truly transcend boundaries – they open up a new frontier where Sarkar’s own concepts of Tantra, microvita, Neohumanism, coordinated cooperation, bio-psychology and the social cycle can enter relevant areas of academic discourse. Among others, contibuting authors include: Johan Galtung, Craig Runde, Ramana Williams, Roar Bjonnes, Marcus Bussey, Ac. Ananda Nivedita, Ketana Bardwell, Ac. Ananda Gaorii, Jitendra Singh, M.D., and Steven Diver.
Sohail Inayatullah, Marcus Bussey and Ivana Milojevic, Neohumanist Educational Futures: Liberating the Pedagogical Intellect. Tamsui, Tamkang University, 2006.
Neohumanist Educational Futures breaks new ground by linking Neohumanism (the expansion of humanism to include nature and deep spirituality) with pedagogy and futures thinking. Inayatullah, Bussey and Milojevic, all educators, theorize the ethics of inclusion and exclusion; situate Neohumanism in Tantric and transcultural futures; map out issues in Neohumanist pedagogy (including: education for world futures; from information to wisdom; social cohesion in South Africa; speciesism and vegetarian pedagogy in Sweden; alternative indicators for Neohumanism; integrated intelligence, peace and non-violence, and partnership education; and the politics of historiography); and provide case studies of Neohumanist educational practice.
Interspersed throughout this text are short pieces by Indian mystic and author, P. R. Sarkar; Gurukula Vice-Chancelor, Ac. Shambhushivananda; and an interview with Paulo Freire conducted by social activist Ac. Maheshvarananda. Along with Inayatullah, Bussey and Milojevic, contributing authors include Ac. Vedaprajinananda, Tobin Hart, Marcus Anthony, Riana Eisler, Marlene de Beer, Helena Pederson, Vachel Miller, Peter Hayward, Joseph Voros and Mahajyoti Glassman.
The authors argue that the current paradigms of uni and multiculturalism (and the tensions between them) have reached their limits – a new approach, as in Neohumanism or transcultural and transcendental sustainability, is required for humanity to move forward, and while doing so include those it has pushed aside. To create this alternative future, a new educational philosophy and practice is required; one that inspires but does not become yet another method to be tamed and imitated. Neohumanism intends to awaken the intellect from its narrow boundaries (nationalist, religious) toward planetary spirituality. Education in this future would be holistic – physical, mental and spiritual; ecologically and technologically driven; global and local in its orientation; and person based, meeting the changing evolutionary and developmental needs of each child and adult, teacher and student-learner.
Jake Karlyle and Michael Towsey, Understanding Prout Volume 1, Essays on Sustainability and Transformation, Proutist Universal, 2010.
The first edition of Understanding Prout: Essays on Sustainability and Transformation was published electronically in 2009 to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Progressive Utilization Theory by the eminent Indian philosopher Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar (1921-1990). The paper back edition was published in 2010.
Prout, an acronym for Progressive Utilization Theory, is arguably the only socio-economic theory to emerge out of the Third World that has direct applicability to the developed world. It offers a new vision of society based on cooperation rather than competition and domination.
The essays are described as about sustainability and transformation because in society as in individual life there is a constant struggle to maintain equilibrium (sustainability) while at the same time to adapt to and to learn from the new experiences that life throws at us (transformation). Transformation also has a deeper, inner sense, as the contributors to the first volume make clear.
The first essay in Volume 1, “The Biopsychology of Cooperation”, explores cooperation from an ethical, social and cultural perspective. The second essay, “Education for Liberation”, introduces Sarkar’s philosophy of Neohumanism as the essential ingredient of an education for cooperation and liberation. The third essay, “The Three-Tier Enterprise System”, introduces cooperatives from the traditional economic perspective and compares them with the more usual private and public enterprises. Finally the fourth essay, “Water and Land Management”, explores the implications of ecosystem management and biotechnology and examines how to work with ecological and biological processes rather than usurp them.
George Lakoff, Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives. White River Junction VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, September 2004, 124 pages.
A collections of essays by the author of Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, which explained the deep “red-blue” divisions of US politics as two ways of understanding the world: Strict Father morality vs. Nurturant Parent morality. In the first essay, “How to Take Back Public Discourse,” Lakoff describes a basic principle of framing when one argues against the other side: do not use their language. Don’t think of an elephant, because every word, like elephant, evokes a frame. Framing is about getting language that fits your worldview, e.g., the repeated use of “tax relief” and “family values” from the Bush White House.
The Strict Father model assumes that a strong father is needed who can protect the family in a dangerous world and teach his children right from wrong. You have to reward the good people with a tax cut, and make it big enough so there is not enough money left for social programs (as Grover Norquist says, it “starves the beast”). Right-wing radicals thus see Bush’s huge deficit as good. They are not against government subsidies for corporations, which reward the good people, but they are against nurturance and care social programs. In foreign policy, “the US, being the best and most powerful country in the world – a moral authority – knows the right thing to do. We should not be asking anybody else.”
The nurturant values of progressives are freedom, opportunity, fairness, honest two-way communication, community-building, cooperation and trust. Every progressive political program is based on one or more of these values. But from the point of view of a cognitive scientist, there are six basic types of progressives, each with a distinct mode of thought: socio-economic progressives, identity politics progressives (who say it is time for their oppressed group to get a share), environmentalists who think in terms of sustainability, civil liberties progressives, spiritual progressives, and anti-authoritarians.
Conservatives, through their think tanks, figured out the importance of framing, how to frame every issue, and how to get the frames out in the media all the time. In contrast to Grover Norquist’s Wednesday meetings [see 27:8/385], where differences are worked out, “nothing like this happens in the progressive world, because there are so many people thinking that what each does is the right thing.” This is self-defeating. Worse is a set of myths believed by liberals and progressives: the truth will set us free if we just tell people the facts, conservatives are stupid, it is irrational to go against your self-interest, and progressive candidates have to become more “centrist” by moving right. The conservatives do not move to the left, and yet they win by using language to mollify or attract people with nurturant values: “compassionate conservatism”, “The Clear Skies Initiative”, “Healthy Forests”, and “No Child Left Behind” (this is use of Orwellian language that means the opposite of what it says). Concludes with 28 guidelines for how to respond to conservatives, e.g.: stand up for values, show respect, avoid cheap shots and shouting matches, be calm and good-humoured, always take the offence, deal with stereotypes when they come up, reframe claims (e.g., view taxes as wise investments in the future), never answer a question framed from your opponent’s point of view, be prepared (see www.rockridgeinstitute.org for analyses of frame shifting), etc.
[Note: A good complement to Robert Reich. In a very brief Foreword, Democratic leader Howard Dean reminds us that “Language matters”, and predicts that “Lakoff will be one of the most influential political thinkers of the progressive movement… he shows us the way out of the morass.”] Reviewed by Michael Marien, Future Survey, www.wfs.org.
Ivana Milojevic, Educational Futures: Dominant and Contesting Visions. London, Routledge, 2005.
Educational Futures provides an overview and analysis of current tensions, debates and key issues within OECD nations, particularly Australia, the USA, Canada, Aotearoa/New Zealand and the UK, with regard to where education is now and where it should be going. Using a broad historical analysis, the book investigates ideas and visions about the future that are increasingly evoked to support arguments about the imminent demise of the dominant “modern” educational model. The text does not engage in either prediction or prescription, rather it analyzes ways in which the notion of the future circulates in contemporary discourse. Five specific discourses are explored: 1) globalization, 2) new information and communications technologies, 3) feminist, 4) indigenous, and 5) spiritual.
The book demonstrates the connections between particular approaches to time, visions of the future, and educational visions and practices. The author asserts that every approach to educational change is inherently based on an underlying image of the future.
This fascinating exploration of futures education will be of interest to academics and students of Futures Education, members of futures organizations, and academics interested in educational change throughout the world.
P. R. Sarkar, Human Society. Calcutta, AM Publications, Second Edition, 1999.
Human Society contains two parts. Part one, first published in 1959, analyzes modern society from the vantage point of universal humanism, while part two, first published in 1963, analyzes human history from the perspective of collective psychology.
In part one, the author demonstrates at the outset that society must be built on a foundation of ethical values and must move progressively forward in order to establish itself in universal humanism. Then from the vantage point of universal humanism, he examines the issues of education, social justice and the judicial system; and probes the impacts that practitioners of various professions may have, for better or for worse, on society as a whole, depending upon the expansiveness of their minds. Part one, in effect, provides humanity with a vision with which to build a society in the true sense of the term.
This is one of the first occasions the author developed his notion of universal or spiritual humanism, subsequently framed as Neohumanism. A key element of universal humanism is genuine love for humanity. Writes the author: “Like any other problem, great or small, there is only one way to solve economic problems, and that is through genuine love for humanity. This love will give people guidance; it will show them what to do and what not to do… The only essential requirement is to look upon humanity with genuine sympathy.”
In part two, the author sets out his famous theory of the social cycle. In each age of human history, people of a certain outlook dominate. Despite the positive contributions they may initially bring, this ruling class will increasingly exploit the other members of society and even the weaker members of their own class. The conflict they create within those whom they exploit cause some of the exploited to develop their minds in characteristic ways, enablng them to bring about evolution or revolution, and dominate the next age of history. The author concludes by arguing that the liberation of class can only occur when some of these exploited people move beyond the constrictions inherent in collective psychology itself by embracing universal humanism.
Human Society is a foundational book, and key to understanding Prout, Neohumanism, the author’s macrohistory, and his socio-economic vision for the future.
P. R. Sarkar, The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism. Calcutta, AM Publications, Fourth Edition, 1999.
Liberation of Intellect argues that we need to relocate the intellect outside of the self, race, nation and humanism, and embrace plants, animals, humans and inanimate life. A compelling series of essays, it articulates the identity ills of today – geo-sentiment (or nationalism), socio-sentiment (or attachment to one’s society or religion) and humanism (it is progressive but does not include the rights of animals and plants). Sarkar argues that for a progressive spiritual society, Neohumanism is foundational. Neohumanism is an ethic, a practice, and a way of seeing self and other.
A seminal work; the inspiration for numerous articles and books that explore various facets of Neohumanism.
P. R. Sarkar, Prout in a Nutshell, Parts 1-21. Calcutta, AM Publications, First Edition, 1987-1991.
The parts are a compilation of P. R. Sarkar’s provocative works. Chapters present his major ideas (the social cycle; Proutist economics; factors for successful civilizations; Neohumanism; coordinated cooperation; cooperatives; spiritual ethics; and more). As well, there are many short essays on very specific topics, such as the coming of the ice age; trade and barter; afforestation; leadership; vocations; crime and justice; water conservation; and the history of Indian languages.
This is a must read and have for any student/practitioner of Prout. Contains 180 discourses and over 1,500 pages of text.
P. R. Sarkar, Proutist Economics: Discourses on Economic Liberation. Calcutta, AM Publications, First Edition, 1992, 399 pages.
Proutist Economics is a series of essays that apply universal ethical and spiritual concepts to develop a sustainable economics. Based on ideas such as dynamic balance, economic democracy and limits to capital accumulation, in contrast to other spiritual economic perspectives, it supports advanced technology. It also strikes the perfect balance between globalization and localization. Parts include: Key Principles; Economic Progress – Beyond Materialism; Rurual Development for Collective Welfare; Economic Decentralization – Elevating the Standard of Local People; Multipurpose Development; and Case Studies – Bengal and Adjoining Areas. Collects nearly all of the author’s discourses on economics into one book.
Arthur Shostak, Viable Utopian Ideas: Shaping a Better World. Armonk NY: M. E. Sharpe, February 2003, 295 pages.
Viable Utopian Ideas are an energizing resource for helping meet the never-ending challenge to “complete the work”, an artful combination of dream, detail and determination. Our dreams help us focus beyond the present, and require us to define what we are really seeking. The task is a moving target, with each generation defining it and pursuing it anew, in every area of life.
The 47 brief essays, in 14 parts, serve to introduce this many-faceted subject:
- Challenges: Personal in Nature: private dreams and collective ideals, obstacles on the path to a viable utopia (why altruism is considered deviant behavior, while materialism and egoism are seen as basic aspects of human nature);
- Challenges: Conceptual in Nature: Michael Marien on trends in betterment thinking and recent betterment proposals (also in The Futurist, March-April 2002), Joseph F. Coates on utopia as an obsolete concept (would-be utopians must supply complex and detailed images if they are to have any credibility in directing the evolution of society), Tsvi Bisk on the value of vision and the rehabilitation of utopian thought, Roger Kaufman on the importance of being able to define and measure a clear vision;
- Methods: Even Better Tools: Ross Koppel on modest steps toward an ideal world, Lane Jennings on the value of utopian poetry (including three of his poems from Virtual Futures, 1996; FS 18:10/457), Harris Sokoloff on rethinking rules of engagement by building common ground, Robert Merikangas on the utopian university of the people that helps create better lives for all of us;
- Methods: Information Technology: human utopia and the web, how the Internet will revolutionize democracy by making government smaller and more localized, the new meaning of “the Collective”;
- Looking Inward: understanding opposing viewpoints, co-creating a utopian world with the “mirror effect”;
- Looking Homeward: utopias and city planning, distributed floating cities as a laboratory for exploring social utopias (hundreds or thousands of self-supporting and eco-friendly floating cities across the planet), the vision of Resort Circles (a network of communities bringing together the best elements of an ecovillage, a small college, and a modern resort), the effect of technology on the meaning of home;
- Schooling Possibilities: the utopian public school of tomorrow, neo-utopian ideas to reform delinquency programs (e.g., a Youth Center with counsellors as friends);
- High-Schoolers on utopia: visions from a class of 25 Pennsylvania students, personal visions by two teenagers;
- Choices: Very Personal: a transformative view of nine abortion possibilities, overcoming challenges that keep males and females apart, Wendell Bell on choosing your future (by considering what is possible, probable and preferable, and then pursing your goal with tenacity);
- Choices: Societal: building deserving organizations, the social democratic society that unions can build with greater public wealth for all, Jon Van Til on utopian conceptions of the voluntary sector;
- Nation-Building Aids: cultivating the possibilities of grassroots movements, survival of a traditional non-Western culture in Yap, national policies to prevent ethnic conflict, a proposed World Senate with nine elected members from each of the world’s 15 regions [also see the proposal for a Global People’s Assembly, FS 25:1/005] and a World Corps Academy;
- The Big Picture: Global Transformation: Jacque Fresco and Roxanne Meadows on social design for a global civilization, soft solutions for hard problems, Sohail Inayatullah on P. R. Sarkar’s eutopian Prout vision of the future [see FS 24:2/100];
- Looking Forward: combining a spiritual perspective with social action in the developing world, creating a US Department of Peace;
- Drawing It Together and Moving On: our future as a species, prospects for immortality, utopias and dystopias in outer space.
[Note: A bountiful buffet of ideas for college students, clearly showing that utopia ain’t what it used to be. Each essay has a brief introduction, and Appendices suggest follow-up reading and web sites. An earlier volume of 44 essays edited by Shostak, Utopian Thinking in Sociology (American Sociological Association, July 2001; FS 23:7/344), overlaps only slightly with this volume, which claims 42 of the 47 essays published here for the first time.] Reviewed by Michael Marien, Future Survey, www.wfs.org.
B. M. Sinha, India Faces Shudra Revolution: Violent or Peaceful? A Study Based on P. R. Sarkar’s Law of the Social Cycle. Neohumanistic Education Foundation, New Delhi, (D-163/1, Khirki Main Rd, Malaviya Nagar,) 1991.
A senior journalist predicts a radical change in India in the near future, based on the writing of P.R. Sarkar. The revolution will be caused by a dehumanizing process throughout Indian society that has reduced a majority of people to a shudra, or proletariat, class. The shudras are disgruntled and exploited persons who may belong to any caste, even that of Brahman. Chapters describe the balkanization and criminalization of Indian politics, Mafia dons active in hundreds of India’s cities, the politicization of the police and the bureaucracy, biased development in favor of the industrial sector, deadly foreign debt and the strong feeling that India will soon face a financial collapse, the four-stage social cycle in India according to Sarkar, the inevitable shudra revolution leading to governance based on Neohumanism and the Progressive Utilization Theory (Prout), the 16 Principles of Prout, and “symptoms galore of a mighty change occurring in India soon in almost all spheres”.
[Note: A lusty polemic and normative vision.] Reviewed by Michael Marien, Future Survey, www.wfs.org.
Ac. Tadbhavananda Avt. and Jayanta Kumar, The New Wave. Calcutta, Proutist Universal Publications, 1985.
Examines Indian history, particularly the figures of Shiva and Krishna, with an eye on creating a new spiritual vision for the future. Takes a critical approach to major philosophical schools in Indian and European philosophy. Outstanding historical, philosophical and futures approach to social theory. Articulates Proutist ideas in easy step-by-step fashion. Develops a vision for the future and strategies to achieve that vision. Chapters include: The Development of Civilization, The Rise of Capitalism, The Basis of Communism, The Spiritual Renaissance, Toward the New Society, and an Appendix with the Principles of Prout.
Immanuel Wallerstein, The Decline of American Power. New York, The New Press, August 2003, 324 pages.
The US has always been an expansionist power – first across the continent, then across the Caribbean and the Pacific. But contrary to the view that the US is in a position of unprecedented global supremacy, “there is little doubt that the US will continue to decline as a decisive force in world affairs over the next decade.” Indeed, the US has been fading as a global power since the 1970s, and America’s response to the terrorist attacks has merely accelerated this decline. Five realities about the US must be faced: the limits of its military power, the depth of anti-American feeling in the world, the hangover from the 1990s economic binge, the contradictory pressures of American nationalism, and the frailty of our civil liberties tradition. “The US is a lone superpower that lacks true power, a world leader nobody follows and few respect, and a nation drifting dangerously amidst a global chaos it cannot control.”
“Capital is running into three structural asymptotes which are cramping irremediably its ability to accumulate capital:
- the deruralization of the world, ending capitalism’s ability to check the rising share of expenditure on labor power as a percentage of world total value created;
- the ecological limits of toxification and non-renewal of resources, limiting the ability of capital to reduce costs of inputs by continued externalization of these costs;
- the spreading democratization of the world, evidenced by ever-expanding popular pressures for expenditures on health, education and lifetime income guarantees, which have created a steady upward pressure on taxes as a share of world value created.”
The neoliberal responses of the last 20 years have been to counter those pressures. An alternative “left strategy”: expand the World Social Forum’s spirit of Porto Alegre, push democratization unceasingly, make the liberal centre fulfil its theoretical preferences, make antiracism the defining measure of democracy, and move toward decommodification.
Three geopolitical cleavages will define the 21st century:
- the struggle among the US, the EU, and Japan to become the primary locus of capital accumulation;
- the struggle between North and South;
- the struggle between the spirit of Davos and the spirit of Porto Alegre about the kind of world system we will build (the most fundamental cleavage of the three, concerned with the future of the world over the next 500 years).
Speculations about the future (“the likely loci of acute, sudden change in the next decade”):
- “nuclear weapons will be used and become banalized as a mode of warfare”;
- the US dollar as the world’s only real reserve currency may come to a sudden end;
- the drive toward Korean unification is strong: a reunited Korea would be a powerful actor in East Asia, and might make possible an East Asian trinity of China-Korea-Japan;
- the collapse of Saudi Arabia or Pakistan would have a rolling impact throughout the Islamic world;
- the growing rumble of rebellion in Latin America, such that the taming of Latin America by the US “may suddenly collapse”. These changes would strengthen the spirit of Porto Alegre.
[Note: A provocative neo-Marxist analysis. Also see: The End of the American Era: US Foreign Policy and the Geopolitics of the Twenty-First Century by Charles A. Kupchan of Georgetown University and CFR (Knopf, October 2002, 391 pages), who focuses on the ascent of an integrating Europe.]