Freedom and progress are contagious, and societies that have them in abundance are role models to those that do not. In History of the Future, Hudson Institute co-founder and senior fellow Max Singer forecasts that modern civilization--as Japan, the United States, and other industrialized countries know it--will take root in every country around the world.
"Modernity is not a choice. It is coming whether we like it or not, whether the price is too high or not," he writes.
Singer sees a new era ahead: high life expectancies, universal education, comfortable living conditions, gender equality, information-based economies, small families, and people living in personal freedom and safety from severe weather, diseases and pestilence, and other harsh elements of nature.
The industrialized democracies are already in that era. By the time that it has completely emerged--which should occur within three centuries, Singer predicts--every other country will be, as well.
"It is difficult to imagine that any country would choose to remain traditional and poor for generations while watching other similar societies become free, urban, and wealthy," he writes.
There will be some additional improvements upon today's industrialized world. First, glaring income disparities will not exist. Living conditions will be similar country to country, and the richest people in any country will be no more than three to four times as wealthy as the poorest.
Also, democracy will be the universal form of government. An authoritarian country cannot maintain a prosperous, information-based, modern economy indefinitely. The entrepreneurs and inventors who create that economy exercise great degrees of freedom in their personal lives and inevitably demand it in their political lives.
Nor does China disprove this rule, according to Singer: China is not a modern country. Life expectancy and education levels are too low, and agriculture still constitutes 40% of its economy. China will need to fundamentally reshape its political system if it wants to keep its economic growth going.
"China is likely to become modern and democratic before it is wealthy enough to equal U.S. military power/' he writes.
And war will disappear, Singer avers. The global community might still experience crime and terrorism, but people will recognize war as counterproductive and will set it aside to pursue peaceful wealth creation.
"International conflict, and aggressive instincts, will be expressed by other means than the threat or use of military force, just as in domestic life aggression and conflict are expressed largely non-violently," he writes. …