Could, or even should, present-day political leaders, let alone political scientists, try to predict the consequences of present developments? Yes, of course they should in so far as ‘governing is foretelling’ (gouverner c’est prévoir). And, of course, they could do so if, after they have tried to put the consequences of the past in the right order of priorities, they could then try to discern the ways which the red thread of consequentiality will follow in the future.
This was already difficult and, indeed, it was seldom achieved even in past political periods. Since not everything could be known of the happenings on this planet, forecasts were based on a maze of ignorance—and even what was known was assessed ‘from inside-out, i.e. in terms of national or local interest. Now the knowledge of the world is ‘globalized’—and everything that happens in the world visibly forms a circular chain of reactions, an active circumambience of consequences of consequences. Forecasting has become easier both for meteorologists and for political analysts.
The recent political past has so abounded in significant historical events, developments and phases that it has rapidly come to seem remote. However, it appears that the end of the ‘cold war’ is generally considered as the crucial date which separates the recent past from the new present.
‘The post-cold war’ is now as current an expression of historical demarcation as ‘between the wars’ was for the period 1918-39. This periodization, to use a professional expression of the historians, is justified especially in terms of political psychology. The moral relaxation of countless human beings, especially of those from the USA, Western Europe and the whole of the former Soviet empire, which was produced by that empire’s collapse