Argento and Sterling on the Future

Writers and thinker Bruce Sterling, and his alias Argento Bruno*  have hypothesized about our current century.

In Argento’s reading of history, there was a gap between the last century and the current one:

Eight years late, the 20th century has finally departed us this year. It will never return.

The “true” 20th century — the Communist century — began in 1914 and ended in 1989. We are now in the true 21st century.

After 1989 we enjoyed a strange interregnum where “history ended.” Everyone ran up a credit-card bill at the global supermarket. The adventure ended badly, in crisis. Still, let us be of good heart. In cold fact, a financial crisis is one of the kindest and mildest sorts of crisis a civilization can have. Compared to typical Italian catastrophes like wars, epidemics, earthquakes, volcanoes, endemic political collapse — a financial crisis is a problem for schoolchildren.

Argento considers differences in American and European sentiment: How a shared political and economic history, foremost the wars of the 20th century, give members of the two continents very different answers to political and cultural challenges of the future and the economic turmoil that will surely overshadow the next decade. He is, nonetheless, optimistic:

The year to come is best approached as a learning opportunity. It offers a golden chance to bury our dead prejudices and learn how to properly feed the living. Once we stop shaking all over and scolding Americans, we will recognize the tremendous potential this new century offers the people of the world. The sun still shines, the grass still grows, we are still human. If we stopped pretending to be puppets of an invisible hand, we would not fret over the loss of the 20th century’s strings. We might see that life is sweet

* It’s classic, but 21st century use of a pseudonym— Bruce Sterling is Bruno Argento.

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