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From WMUR found in Washington D.C. the future of another in a series of discussions of alternative futures. Your moderator is Joe coach of the world future society. Mr. coats Good evening this is Joe coats of the world Futures Society presenting another new series of discussions of alternative futures. The savings discussion youth looks at the future is a round table discussion with several students from Washington area universities. I'll ask them each to introduce themselves named John who both my sociology graduate from Howard University. My name is Michael Rothschild from engineering student from George Washington University. My name's Stephen Yarnell I'm a political science major at George Washington University. Well I don't think that either I or they would make any claim that they're representative of youth. There are only three people who are here today to discuss their own opinions and views of the future. There are no blacks no women. I don't think there are any conspicuous minority groups represented his just three young people talking about their views of the future.
Perhaps we could begin the following way I had an interesting occasion a while back to ask some younger people how they felt about the world let's say in a generation from now when they were as old as their fathers. Do you people think that the world will be a better place or a worse place. Young I think the major question and survival. It's either going to be survival or it's going to be a better place because the way it's heading right now survival isn't very likely. It doesn't get better. Mike I don't know when you talk about population problems and the even the possibility of an atomic war. I think the humanity will survive it's just a question of you know at what level for how long we do we do have an atomic war. I think the humanity will survive but it may be at a much lower level for some time before we can rebuild society as we know it.
Still I find I find myself in a position of on the one hand being very cynical about the prospects for the future about population and pollution and racism in the country. On the other hand I just sort of have a feeling that in fact things will get done. Things will be solved and we won't have a war and somehow we're just going to make it and going to come through and sort of a combination of cynicism optimism I guess I'm not sure what kind of a hopeful pessimism really. Well I think you were talking earlier Steve about what you saw after we are if we get over these hurdles of war and population and you know you had over a longer term view what do you see there 100 years away let's say in terms of nations. I saw the developed nations now Russia U.S. France the continent becoming very integrated not necessarily through any kind of world governed but mainly through programs the bureaucracy integrating themselves and being opposed
by the group now I guess you could call the underdeveloped nations especially Asia and the Middle East and being led by China I think and these would be two opposing blocs of nations that would be vying for power in the world. So you see that as perhaps a continuing state to even if we overcome these these impending disasters of war and I assume no war and that we're not going to be wiped off I assume that will somehow get through the pollution and maybe not necessarily the population problem because I think that will be one of the points of. You know tension between the presently underdeveloped nations of the developed nations and what do you see if we get over these these hurdles. I really have a hard time visualize. I was getting over these hurdles but you know I can like ask you what you think the daily sort of life will be in these developed countries that are integrated you think like you have a mass consumer society or are we going to have a more free society. You know what are your general views of that.
Well I tend to see it as one of the very Mundine kind of existence people being primarily concerned with whether I guess people the way they are now and they have been for centuries and very primarily family oriented self oriented and just getting through the day. I dont see freedom in any sort of sense of participating in government or in policy I think the word freedom itself will lose meaning in that sense that the government will be like God or a big brother I guess that using 1984 but I think I think that's really what's happening and I think it's inevitable that that's going to happen and in all the developed nations. I was going to say I don't I can't see it. If we do overcome the hurdles we've been talking about I can't see society you know continuing the way we are now I think it would have to kind of revert back to not really the farm type thing but I think the values have to change so that we're not so concerned with you know give me give me what can I get it has to be that people
have to learn to to realize that if they're not more concerned about their their fellow people you know we're just going to destroy each other. When you say that Mike you mean people in our own country in the United States what do you mean that is a worldwide movement or want well I think it's it is worldwide but I think it's much more important in a country like United States or Russia where we control all the resources. So I think that I don't think society could develop after I would suppose like we do have a famine or an atomic war I don't think society will redevelop the way it is now. I don't think it could I think we'll have to. Our values have we'll have to go possibly backwards towards you know a more simple type society. We're not sure whether the word backwards is doubtful but I'm basically agreeing with you I don't think that we can have a society in the future with you know the self orientation you're talking about and have survived I don't think self orientation can possibly deal with the ecological struggle for survival right now self orientation means you more personal consumer goods for you and
for the industrialists expanding their industries go for themselves without concern of what happens to the larger society. It seems to me that if we are going to survive one of the things we have to learn is cooperation. That means not power and it doesn't mean going by rules it means by cooperation with the human community and realizing that you know how to John down to you know no man is not in the end himself We're going to probably really realize that you know there's a practical consequence of that though you know what how will the world in fact be different. Does it mean we will no running water and houses I mean we won't have gas or electric heat. What does it mean to you young I do think that within our particular society at the consumer level will have to go down then I don't think we can can you know I don't think people like musky understand the issues or talk about conservation and the cost about increasing the gross national product and those are two contradictory things right now and I don't think you can even increase the gross national product through anti pollution industries because you know like one from what I've read about of anti pollution industries in themselves will create as much pollution if not
more pollution too little electricity in technology. But I raise a question and when you meant when you asked the question rather to yawn What is the practical What are the practical implications of this. I immediately thought when you said practical of technological you know or at least in terms of national boundaries dying living but I think what Yon's talking about is sort of the quality of life issues not so much whether we're going to have running water or not have running water but the style of living the relations with other people those are the important issues will be specific those day there's a certain miasma that effects that kind of discussion and exactly what will it be. You know are you are you picturing a monastic type of life were you picturing the world converted into an enormous nunnery. Are we going to have for you a commune So what does this as a practical matter of your day to day living mean when you when these things become
embodied in in your life. Well I'm not really I'm not really sure. I'm not really sure that I agree that that's going to happen and I tend to think that it won't happen. I don't think people I don't think people in this country for example or any country would talk about that if they're they themselves are. Satisfied terms of just eating food shelter clothing I think anything past that. There are certain group of people that want more than that but I don't think most do and I think that's true. Steve would you elaborate on it. Yeah well I think that's the problem sorry Mike. That was my thing. I think that's the problem we have now where most people are not satisfied with just food and clothing is that most Americans or most people I think most people but again it's most obvious in Americans where we have the resources for and we have the you know the technological
advancements. I think people would be satisfied with you know just like a subsistence type living you would eliminate a lot of problems. I think we have to reach a point where it does have to be a subsistence survival but something more on that level where you know every household doesn't have to call the TV sets into cars. Sure but what do you Mike see the embodiment of this being suppose we achieve this this state of general awareness of responsibility for your fellow man and restraint on consumption and desire. What would your wife actually be like. What would you dwell in. Who would you do well with. What might be different from the way it is today. One way I could see that it would happen I don't know if this is what will happen I can see one possibility is that reverting to a more rural type life where people are much more independent in the sense that they are they don't depend on society for their their basic needs.
Which would you know you obviously eliminate a lot of you know everybody's growing their own food you know transportation type problems things like this. You delineate the the urban problems you would move a lot of people out of the cities. There are vast open areas that is you know like are unused where you can grow rocks. Well knowing is another. Is this a feasible solution to you to use the Q Yana you Steve. We kind of go back to a bucolic life. This seems to me it's only feasible if we cut the population in this country by more than half. First of all and that's going to be brought up by one of two ways. You see if you brought up through education which is so to speak family planning which in the past has always been a dismal failure. And the other alternative is you know step towards 1984 and which I think in the long run is a non feasible alternative as I think 1984 as a society that cannot survive in this world I think it's a society that will destroy this world. I see it as I don't know I don't know exactly what yon means by 1984 but let's come
back to that in a minute Steve. But do you see this return to the bucolic life as it is a feasible alternative for mass man know it. Well getting if you're going to talk about just like tensions and divisions and things like that. When my father's age or something like that not returning to the college life but take for example if I want to return this to the media that blacks get it was the way to solve that many people suggested not agree is through changing the structure making you know if people living in middle class structures and. And then they will have middle class attitudes and this kind of thing I think is very true. And in terms of those kind of divisions even with underdeveloped nations if you can increase their standard of living then I think the values will change accordingly. You know and they'll be less involved and restricted by their ideology in this kind of thing and more willing to integrate into some comment on how sticky its problems get you raise your standard of
living you increase the gross national product as a consequence they will therefore you know pollute the society that much more per individual like you know each problem you know brings you to the solution each problem brings upon new problems. Let's turn a moment to this this issue or this. This catchphrase 1984 I think one hears it very frequently in the fearful looks of the future or the fear. We'll look to the future and I wonder what it means obviously it goes beyond the meaning of Orwell's book. What 1984 mean to you you used the term first. Yeah I just had to kind of repeat that for me it means something it's unfeasible it's it means something much more than the book it does know what was the content of it you know you're you saying it's unfeasible What do you suppose the world or 1984 world what would that be like to you. Because I do I have a difficult time you know viewing what heaven would be like because I'm an atheist and I have a difficult time viewing what makes me a for the fight because I don't think it's something I can really picture people.
But there's too much rebellion with some people for ever to really come around to that and stay that way first of all and in the end within those processes of rebellions you lead towards wars and all the rest and I think that you know the meaning of war in this modern society is a completely different meaning that ever has had before. What's Nagy for me to you Mike. I always think in terms of of control where like if society reaches a point where there is no other way that we're going to survive that the government will have to take control of things like birth control and you know just forcing people to have certain numbers of children. This type of thing. I just think in terms of control government something other than self control. Right. I mean replacing exactly replacing self-control with government control where the people who refused to be educated refused to accept the you know the reality of the situation. And you see that is bad. Yes but you were the one of the three of you who is most
concerned about the population issue. Well I am but I don't have conflicting concerns. Well yes it is because you know it is. I think the population is a critical problem but I don't think it should be the government it should solve it I think it should be through the education of the population through family planning which is as you had said been very unsuccessful in the past but I think it has to be successful. I mean we have no choice. A little glow of optimism here. Let's not lose that one. Well it's not it's really I mean if we're going to survive it ought to be that education can accomplish something I don't want Lauries glow there's no I think it's a rush it has to accomplish something or else we're in trouble. We are energy and we are in trouble. Steve I tend looking 1084 or something. It's the illusion of freedom and the illusion of choice that a society has I believe in that the kind of control I don't think it's a blatant control I believe in choices will be available and I'm going to I'm going to major in this or that.
OK fine you have a choice there am I going to marry this person or that person that those kind of fundamental choices that revolve directly around that most directly affect me will be left to me but I think we will have the illusion that. We have freedom in the sense that people won't fact be able to decide anything in terms of major government policy. And when you say well you really lose in this political freedom but that seems to be a pretty accurate description of the present for me. That's right frightening. I mean that's why it's a frightening thing but I think about that that though then in fact maybe today we are we have this it is in fact an illusion of democracy an illusion of the Democratic creed that in fact it does not exist. But it's an illusion to me that's 1984. Let me ask you each a question. You each seem very pessimistic that we may be on the brink or we may actually be at this stage in which we've lost political freedom and any of you ever had any experience in attempting to exercise that are real or alleged democratic system. Now what's the basis of your pessimism.
Well I would throughout the presidential campaign for McCarthy and I switched over to Kennedy and I think it's pretty obvious the democratic process failed there you have. I don't think comfortable in a single primary and yet he got the nomination. It's quite the opposite of you know the people's choice in states like Pennsylvania you lost four hundred thirty five thousand votes to 30000 votes and you got every single one of the delegate votes in the nominating committee. So you know that's one one he wasn't fighting a landslide against another candidate. I wonder whether you're licking your wounds. Not being ready to take a political shellacking which is part of the system you know somebody always ends up losing. Humphrey took a shellacking in terms of popular vote and he got the nomination. Not just the chemo I think the democratic process has failed miserably. Steve I tend to disagree. And in terms of the primaries and the other thing with Humphrey I think of the people
that had their choice and that that in fact we might have gone especially in a presidential race might have been further right the next day if the people really had their choice I think was the the convention system that may have saved us in this case from our from something else I think the McCarthy Kennedy people would have been disappointed if every state had a primary if we had had a national kind of primary thing I think people have been very disappointed. So you're saying in part Steve the young the evidence is not very convincing that it's not convincing to me at all and I think the studies have shown about the will of the people you know the evidence isn't convincing that the will was thwarted or not in that case right. The but you know the president presumably does represent at least the plurality of opinion. Believed it well anyway the question of whether the system it is or has failed I think it is one that it's still up in the air. Let's turn to this other issue that your two fold. The basis for pessimism is population and war and I presume by war you really are talking about a nuclear holocaust. Do you all three really see that war is
is a substantial risk. I think it's almost inevitable now. I want I think like for instance or having the SOT meetings you know coming up. But I think like those are bound to fail with you know Layard moving towards you know deploying your own ABM systems in advance it makes it almost impossible to retract that. But we're only one country as many other countries that are slowly developing nuclear power. I think it's what we have an over kill of. We can kill like every Russian 10 or 11 times now I think it's pretty absurd. I think any large scale war eventually means that he who is losing it's probably going to unleash the tower to try and stop him. Well where do you see the large scale war starting. I presume you see a little war getting bigger and growing bigger. I think I think we're United States is involved in so many places there's a lot of possibilities. It seems that if something isn't done in the Middle East eventually to solve the problem it's going to place attending to what with Russian soldiers and advisors
now in Egypt in positions where Israel is you know are bombing fortifications you know Russian soldiers are can be killed eventually I think that's a very good place for escalation right now. Mike how do you feel about wars and its inevitability. I really don't know. I think it's the kind of thing where I don't think of the atomic war as like the end I think young kind of things are you know like once we have a war that's it you know it's just the end of everything. And you know I don't I don't think in those terms because I think we will we probably will eventually have some type of a time of war I don't think it will be like it just the destruction of the world could be perhaps even a therapeutic cleansing given I think I think take us back to scratch. I think that's a possibility and I think it's if you if it would work like that image if I if that were a certainty I'd say would be good. You get a laugh from both of your parties here and I just said see I think people hold on to the illusions you know keep them going and I think that's an illusion that keeps a lot of people going I
think. That you have faced with the possibility of nuclear war and the probability from what most scientists are showing that it would really just about totally annihilate this universe. But this world that is you know through you no longer affects a radiation mutation and you know the destroying of food nor that it's it's people it's pretty ridiculous to say that it really would be cleansing and you know it. No I don't think that as a you know cleansing I I just mean that like society develops to a point where it is so complex that you know your point would be for you to try to solve one problem and you create a new problem and I think you reach a point where it is so complex that you can't get anything done you can't solve problems with society is kind of breaking down in that sense on all levels Bell Telephone can't keep their system together write your exam then you have to then I think we have to find some way of kind of. I know that back tracking I used that word before enough that's right we're not but kind of going back to a simpler type thing where we can where we can organize where we can you know have some type
of education we're not on so we can get back to a simpler type thing we can control rooms as they simplify things with like a you know a really really interesting is as Mike you're an engineer and you talk of anything that when you mention you know a Bell Telephone falling apart you might well maybe we're going to have to back up and coming from an engineer that's really something. I mean go back to I don't think backing up means getting any any less advance in technology I don't think you know I think you're correlated so I don't think that's I don't think you have to know would you could you could simplify the system through computers. If you want to you know you can say you know it's not a simplification of technology it's a sense of occasion of the social system. What happens with the computers after all they get so massive that no one really knows what they're doing with Jeff what's happened to Bell Telephone no one has knowledge of where all the computer hookups and lines and connections go and something goes wrong that's you know maybe that will be simplified if they just raise the rates 100 percent. Well that was I think I think.
Are you sure it's yeah your pessimism I suppose is not surprising but I'm going to see if I can force you to greatly comment. Yeah I think some are trying to force you three into two big optimistic at this point and let me ask you what is now to be a rather standard question. Imagine you had at your disposal for yourself or your family or nearby for use anything or capability that you could imagine what might that be that could totally transform the quality of your life for the good. It's funny like I said before I tend towards being an atheist it seems to me that some sort of new religious reach to the nation would bring forth a vast change and values might be the answer that doesn't necessarily mean it has to believe in any supernatural force but it has to be something that people can put. You may choose to believe it was the way I was not my choice. No but I mean what my point is that is that anything like a religion as a set of Cisco recently and
there's you know not that I'm into mysticism either but like there's a whole different way of looking at life there now and basically that way of life leads toward survival it may not be accurate in terms of the truth of what this universe is but it's it's a way of life you know had to do with crafts not having to do with love and cooperation it seems you know much more viable for survival. Mike about you do you see anything other than Grant's religion mysticism. Oh I was so I was thinking this in the same terms a yawn was and not so much of what being a bad but of the kind of thing where you would have an education people would would be willing to cooperate I don't know how that would come about I don't know religion would do or not but I think just a matter of making people realize that they have to cooperate with each other. Kind of like you're OK you know this is the direction it's going well you're going to be in the bill you're going to kill yourself is going to announce that this well if you do I would make things so much better for you would
be almost beyond your imagination is beyond my imagination I'm almost almost I mean I'd like to see I've read I'd like to see some leadership some sort of moral political leadership something between if you're Martin Luther King I guess so but if I don't see the education that Mike talks about coming unless the some sort of impetus and some sort of leadership to to lead us there you know I'm not saying I'm not going to abdicate my mind to this leader you know. You know leadership has to be have and you sort of can't be directing it has to be a list of role model that we you know would want to fulfill as a way of life and that's closer to the way of religious leaders and political leaders to me assure you three it warm the hearts of the religion department you know can you I wonder if they know about you. Yes but the legend the five and you know it's probably not really that much and two I don't know how many we've had at some time and designed a religion for the year 2000. The I think perhaps in some ways Christianity is just fine. There
is just so we don't have never been tried. Yeah I think you well I think it's interesting that not only have we all hit on basically the same kind of optimism the optimism through Marl transformation leadership and so forth but you have all clearly shied away from technology science if you'll pardon the expression intelligent behavior. You know what are you three separately or together you see is the future of science and technology. It isn't all just pollution is it. I think the reason I think the reason I've shied away from technology you know I am an engineer is like I think you know like you read books in math you know they say it's a tool. What exactly would you know technology is just a tool I don't think you're going to it's going to be the solution to the problem or the cause of the problem and I think like technology will it they will continue advancing you still people are still doing research but
it's not going to be the solution to any problem. Suppose we have a social responsibility bill that you took twice a week you know in the same way that you can have a birth control pill that you take seven times we can't technology develop social responsibility pill that you take x times a week. Wow. I just have to take a pill. I haven't looked into that but the notion of technology that I remember I think I'm talking to someone and they mentioned some of the inventions I think in the 1900s for e was that the elevator and. We'll I will the elevators want to come to my mind of sort of determine the structure of our city's upwards so that other inventions of the idea of technology and concern over technology are something that I think is very valid because you know they'll think if it's going to be developed it will be used you know it and I think that's something to concern ourselves with or misuse or misuse
but it will be it'll be all right. But you are weighed heavily now on the misuse of it. Yeah it's happened so far. And but again you get back to not the technology itself but this is science in which it's being used and what you can. Sure you're right that everybody doesn't like. The thing is you can't say that. It would seem to be saying is it we shouldn't do research because the possibility exists that it's going to change a society in a way that that's bad. Well I didn't say that but the one of the things is being that perhaps people on cause war but arms do I mean that they think that's physical things. Well I think it's something that I'm beginning to consider that you know let me try to wrap up our discussion this afternoon by asking each of you perhaps an unfair question. What would you recommend each of you what would you recommend that the young and the not so young individually do. To allow us to have a future.
Read on. Read the missive says sophist and go out in whichever field they want to work for social justice. Mike Steve I see the only viable thing right now is trying to find other people who think the same way you do and then try to get into the political system on a very local level and try to build from there and try to always know that a faith in democracy there is to you. I'd have thought you were very good. Mike what about you. I guess I think in terms of that you have to realize everybody has to realize their individual responsibility to society in terms of you know family size and pollution control and things like that. Well very good. Thank you yahoo bell. Thank you Steve you are now. Thank you Mike Rothschild. This has been another in the world future society series of discussions on alternative futures. Those of you who would like to have more information about the society are invited to write to me in care of this station or to the world future society.
Post Office Box 1 9 2 8 5. Washington D.C. Thank you and good night. You've been listening to the Future off of another in a series of discussions of alternative futures with Joe coats of the world future society. The preceding program originated from the studios of WMU Af-Am American University Radio Washington D.C. This is the national educational radio network.
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The future of
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Youth Looks at the Future
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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