Crystal Ball

I lost it. My crystal ball, I mean. Now I have to rely on that messy subject, history, to arrive at any guess about the future. It doesn’t look rosy.

I knew a young historian in the mid-sixties who put together a list of events that had occurred during the rise and fall of every civilization. According his list, Western Civilization would decline into another Dark Age after prolonged and futile foreign warfare. He was advising a group of investors who wanted to escape that fate. I don’t know what happened to any of them, I couldn’t afford to run in such company, but I never forgot this historian’s method of guessing the future. (As far as I know, it was never published.)

I spent the Vietnam years working, studying, and raising a family. I refused to own a television, so I missed the graphic displays of murder and mayhem, but I followed the news, and I guessed that this might be the harbinger of the end. The civil disruptions and massive inflation provoked by that war served to further convince me. I was wrong. Civilization managed to survive, and we produced another new generation of people.

Incidentally, I will always wonder how much the unanticipated popularity of Ayn Rand’s novels served to slow down the growth rate of the neo-mercantilist welfare state between 1945 and 1985. I will also always wonder how much the innovation of Steve Jobs and the marketing skill of Bill Gates served to save this new generation from oblivion.

Today the Dark Force is clearly ascendant in the District of Criminals. World populations watch nervously. Americans seem to be mesmerized, or asleep. Or do Americans secretly approve of the senseless slaughter of children, their own included? Do Americans secretly approve the evil of Abu Ghraib? I wish I knew, for it would signify much about the future of civilization.

I don’t look for enlightenment in November either. Of course, when the DC gang promises further "attacks," I believe them, but if the election happens, when the choice is between Bonesman A and Bonesman B, both pledged by pagan rituals to a secret society, the only sensible thing Americans can do is stay home. A vote of zero confidence would encourage me.

Now where did I lose my crystal ball?