Future Prospects of the Human Society
Presented to The 2nd Seminar: Dialogue Among civilizations
Between Japan and Islamic World
Tokyo, on 8-9 October,2003
The exploration of the future prospects is essential inasmuch as it is risky. It is essential for it is required to mind our future steps & determine the aims which could help us maximize the prospective gains & advantages & minimize the potential harms & disadvantages. It is risky for it always involves errors which could lead to ill attitudes & inapt behaviors.
- The future of human society is closely linked to the future of the Universe as the persistence/existence of the former depends totally on persistence of the latter. Though it follows that the exploration of human society’s future becomes meaningless unless it is taken for grant that the Universe will continue to exist at least for the period of the explored future, unfortunately we are not in a position to make sure even whether or not the Universe will allow us to follow through this very session of our seminar.
- The human society’s future stretches out between two points: the ultimate point which some try to predict what it may be while some others maintain, sometimes dogmatically, that it is well specified & well known & the near point which most & perhaps all people would like to know about for sure or at least by guess.
- Conceivably, the so far inevitable starting point in any attempt to explore the future prospects of human society is to assume that as the present of the human society looks very similar to its recent past in many aspects it is most likely that the future of the human society will come also similar to its present which is in the process of formation. Though this assumption is merely a notice-based deduction it is not yet possible to dispense with it in any attempt of exploration of human society future
- Another scientific difficulty is that the ultimate products of the on-going reactions which would presumably give shape to the future of human society are hardly predictable. This unpredictability is due to that the involved elements are not only too numerous/changeable to be followed by the human mind but also many of them are obscure or concealed making it uneasy to ascertain their present realities let alone their future.
Considering the forgoing limits, the following points may be brought forward on the way to explore the future of the human society especially in respect of peace, human development, modernization & encounter of cultures- which are the main discussion points of this seminar.
The futures of the peace, human development & modernization are closely interlinked. The human development & modernization are interrelated processes which require peaceful environment. On the other hand, the enhancement of the peace is highly dependent on the progress achieved in respect of the human development & modernization.
The prognosis of the peace looks unpromising rather gloomy due to many factors including:
- A large number of armed conflicts continued to mar the peace in various parts of the world. According to some statistics there have been as much 30 to 20 major armed conflicts in the world during every & each year of the last decade (1993-2002). The same statistics show that the total military expenditure increased during the last decade by about 38% in ME, 30% in Africa & 23% in Asia. Such increase denotes that at least some of the parties to the existing or potential conflicts in those regions most likely would tend to stick or appeal to the military option in settlement of their disputes.
- The global tension has been escalating considerably during the last few years amidst the increasing number of the trans-continental/ trans-civilizational armed conflicts & attacks, struggle over the leadership of the world, dispute over the UN role & over various international issues, exchange of provocative political remarks, assertion of conflict-promoting intellectual dicta, growing international role & capabilities of small but well organized armed groups &increasing possibilities of misuse of the potentially more destructive technologies gone awry such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology & artificial intelligence.
- Some of the on-going international & local changes such as the rapidly growing processes of globalization, modernization & democratization are most likely to, in the short term, increase the respective global & local tension which may prompt armed conflicts at some stages.
It is, therefore, most likely that the present situation of the precarious security & fragile peace would continue, & may even deteriorate further, for years to come. Nevertheless, it is believed that such situation can’t continue endlessly nor last very long, such belief is based on a number of facts / observations including:
- Throughout the history, the security & peace have been tending to prove a progressive, even if slowly, improvement on long terms despite the fact that this progressive improvement has been always punctuated with cycles of temporary deterioration. To my best knowledge, there are no good reasons to believe that the progressive improvement of the world security & peace might have ceased to exist or that the present deterioration is not a temporary episode.
- The mounting public consciousness of & role in the public affairs including deciding the security & peace issues both locally & internationally is expected to continue & gradually contribute to checking the plunging of the peoples by some few decision makers into unnecessary armed conflicts. The international community has begun to play a growing role in advocating & supporting peaceful settlement of international as well as local disputes & conflicts.
- The increasing momentum which the idea & process of human development is gaining throughout the entire world & the ever-expanding processes of modernization & democratization in the developing world / traditional societies would ultimately have a positive effect on the global security & peace.
Whatever may be the ultimate outcome of the above-mentioned intersecting two groups of factors, it is believed that the future of the human society would remain dependent basically on the collective/prevailing will of the same human society. This makes it possible for those who are solicitous about the future of human society to try to contribute to making this future more secure, peaceful, progressive & prosperous best through, firstly, enhancing & rationalizing the collective will &, secondly, invigorating & empowering the collective will as to ensure its prevalence.
The mission of rationalizing & invigorating the collective will & improving the future prospects of the human society requires many various tasks of which we may mention here only some of those are most relevant to the theme of this Seminar. These include:
- Reidentifying & reshaping the inter-culture & inter-civilization relations as to enhance the cultural & civilizational concepts of self & otherness & to remove the misunderstanding & misconceptual reasons of clash & encounter of cultures. This requires, inter-alia, encouragement of revision of the school & universities textbooks, media & religious discourse with a view to divesting them of any misrepresentation of the others or misinformation on them.
- Broadening of our understanding & definition of the peace. The prevailing definition which tends to confine the peace concept to its military aspect (military peace) is to be replaced with a broad definition which takes into consideration the various aspects & dimensions of the peace.
- Redefining the human development & modernization concepts. Out of the reasons which necessitate such redefinitions we may refer to the fact that the, mainly Western, societies which have been developed & modernized on the basis of the prevailing/ had been prevailing definitions of human development & modernization are increasingly manifesting some major drawbacks- not only side effects- which origins are traceable to those definitions & conceptions .The need to broadening the concept of human development & the acceptance of the idea of not only the possibility but also the usefulness of diversity & plurality of the modernizations are some of the important parameters to be taken into consideration while reconstructing the new sought definitions. We may evolve proper understanding & appraisal of the modernization &, thereby, contribute to its further rationalization only as long as we apply objective critique approaches in study of the modernization just in the same manner we supposed to do in study of the traditions.
- Deepening & enhancing our conception of the encounter of cultures & its root causes. The prevailing explanation of the encounter of cultures on the single basis of the common modernity-tradition dichotomy is rather a misleading simplification. The overstressing of the presumed inevitability of the contradiction & encounter between the traditions & the modernization has mostly overshadowed the possible coexistence & smooth adaptation between the traditions & the modernization, led to misjudgment of the traditions & possibly attempts of using them for ill purposes & impaired proper considering of the other possible causes of the encounter of cultures. For instance, reportedly this country, which is famous for its car industry, was once ill advised by the World Bank in the 1950s not to attempt the automobile industry only because, as claimed, the Japanese people traditions do not support such industry. Similarly, as a result of their overstressing the modernity-tradition dichotomy, many usually fail to realize that the opposition which the modernization encounters in the traditional societies is not always because of the contradiction between the modern culture & traditional culture; in many case the opposition to the modernization is prompted by the injustices memories & related apprehensions which some traditional societies still maintain via-a-vis the societies understood to be the source of the promoted modernization.
- Support of the peace, human development & modernization through proper ways & peaceful means. Though very essential for our common present & common future, neither the human development nor the modernization can be optimally promoted or achieved by force. The attempts being made here or there with the proclaimed aim of introducing certain styles of modernization, democracy or secularism.
- by force is not more than a bizarre repetition of the same methodological mistakes of the fundamentalist groups which try to impose by force their rigid religious visions. Equally the peace cause cannot be advocated only by the armed force & financial measures. The administration of justice & promotion of enhanced concept of peace culture are some of the essential, though not sufficient, conditions for settlement & maintenance of the world peace.
- Furtherance of the legalism, democracy, transparency & morality in the international order. In this connection, the current attempts to expand the security council & the intention recently evinced by the Secretary General of UN to reform the UN deserve support & should be directed to achieving further democratization of the UN & strengthening & invigorating its positive role. Such efforts should be coupled with greater efforts to strengthen the role of the peoples, civil society institutions & NGOs in management of the national public affairs as well as the international interactions.
- Bearing in mind the many values & traditions which the people of Japan & peoples of the Islamic world have in common, the Japan’s rich experience in the fields of modernization, human development & recent peace – oriented policies could be further highlighted by organizing common /bilateral activities such as this Seminar with an eye to making use of it in provision of guidance & momentum to the processes of modernization & human development as well as the peace attitudes in the Islamic world in a manner that helps strengthen the relations between Japan & Islamic world, save the world any potential awful event such as the one which this wonderful country once had experienced in Hiroshima & Nagasaki & ensure a better future for the entire human society.