In Visions Of The Future, the author Robert Heilbroner explains why the time period of “Yesterday” (1750-1950) is so sharply different than what is being referred to as “Distant Past.” He believes three historic forces are what set this time period apart from the previous period. Those forces are being referred to as technology and science, capitalism, and political will. These forces are said to drive what we now call “Progress.” He also explains that these “changes that now emerge are not once-and-for-all, but continuous, so the the social structure is never again stationary, its tasks constantly altering…”
These dynamics were not just playing their hand in America but all over the world; revolutionary inventions, scientific discoveries that “reveal a hidden design behind its apparent accidental order,” the law of supply and demand, transportation improvements (steam engine, canalization), the different forms of political movements; democracy, communism, socialism and Marxism.
This period of time was one of optimism, and the people were excited about their future. Lives were perceived as better; vibrant cities, longer lives thanks to medicines, widening access to education and the “gradual acceptance, even embrace of political democracy all seemed to embody a profound, unique, and irreversible change in the human condition.
What type of view do you have about your future? Believe it or not, in the subsequent chapter, the author, and other researchers label our outlook as pessimistic. I am a pretty optimistic individual, but with the country so divided, I believe I align more with the author’s perspective!