Synthesizers, Futurologists and Anticipators

             A few years ago, a book called Sapiens, written by Yuval Noah Harari, became very fashionable. Millions of copies of it have been sold, in all imaginable languages, and it has left a great mark on the collective imagination of Humanity. Relevant personalities from around the world have said of him: “Interesting and provocative. This book gives us some perspective on the short time we've been on Earth, on the short life of science and agriculture, and why we shouldn't take anything for granted” (Barak Obama); “I would recommend this book to anyone. It's entertaining and challenging, you can't stop reading” (Bill Gates); "An absorbing review of human adventures, written with rigor and illustrated irreverence" (Antonio Muñoz Molina); "I am fascinated by this guy's way of thinking" (Risto Mejide).

             These panegyrics denote a very clear idea. Sapiens is a work that somehow establishes a "story", which adjusts to the objectives and needs of all those it benefits. In short, I am convinced that if both the work and the author have gone so far, it is because it fills a "gap", a "need", in the propaganda apparatus that has designed the colossal marketing campaign that has made it successful. throughout the world. To put it simply, it establishes the "sign of the times", which began with the end of the great crisis of 2008 (supposedly, what was to be the "last crisis of capitalism"). Sapiens marks the story of "neo-capitalism" (not "post-capitalism", as some claim), characterized by the dominance of super-millionaires, who control the sources of technology and science (I'm talking about Bill Gates who praises this book, but especially about Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and the like). The “global” market is dominated by multinationals, yes; and also for financial power; but with a special role of the "technological gurus", who set the pace of future developments. Well, this is the framework in which Sapiens appeared, after the rupture of “casino” capitalism (before 2008), and the consolidation of the visionary capitalism of “super-entrepreneurs”. 

             Sapiens is not a conventional history book. It is a book of "historical synthesis" that marks a story. Like any "synthesis" book, it tries to order and group a series of data, extracted through "analysis"; which -from my perspective- is not a bad thing, except for one detail. His "narrative" does not enrich the discourse, but rather simplifies and impoverishes it. Partly because of its omissions (and it is well known that "omitting" is a form of lying). As we will see below, it is not an “omni-comprehensive” (or “holistic”) story, but rather a “one-dimensional one”, carried out from a certain perspective; which is no longer a mere propaganda exercise, at the service of the dominant “worldview” among the elites that control not only technology and science, but also the global market. Sapiens is his "gospel", the one that will spread the "good news" of modernity among the masses deprived of hope, after the crisis -already forgotten- of 2008-2013. These masses have adopted such technological "gurus" as their "messiahs" (the saviors of the world), and Harari as their prophet. But such "messiahs" are not for the task of healing o taking care of the planet, the ecosystems, or the economy, but rather, as Kevin Spacey (playing the role of the evil Lex Lutor) said in Superman returns:

"Do you know the myth of Prometheus? Of course not. Prometheus was a god who stole fire from the gods to give it to mortals. In short, he gave us the technology, he gave us the power… You see, who controls the technology controls the world… I only want what Prometheus wanted… And no, I don't want to be a god. I just want to be the one who delivers the fire to the people… And get a slice…".

Sapiens is not just another book. It is the reference work of the new times, its "road map", and therefore it has had and will have an impact on the events of the present and the future. This book marks an "ideary" that will serve as the basis for certain policies, which will affect millions of people in one way or another. These policies will have social, ecological, economic and human consequences. In one of my books (I don't remember which one) I once said that the intellectual, if he claims to be independent of power, has the responsibility to avoid, under any circumstances, an interested and erroneous use of his ideas, by those that they can use them to promote their particular goals and policies, sometimes opposed to the objectives and ideals of the beforesaid intellectual. I don't know if this is the case with Harari; that is, if he intended to "illuminate" or "serve as a beacon" to the elites who will undoubtedly use his book to justify his actions; or else if he has been unconsciously overwhelmed by the consequences of the dissemination of his work. In any case, his responsibility is evident, since what he wrote will serve as intellectual cover for all those who will practice certain ecological, economic, technological and social policies based on – or inspired by – his “story”.

In short, Harari is an accomplice –voluntary or involuntary- of the new “neocapitalist” framework that he has helped to create. I will refer to this below.

Yuval Noah Harari, the "synthesizer" of "neocapitalism"

Harari himself establishes, as an essential point of his theory, the idea that the “narrative”, or the “story” (“the myth”, according to his own words), is behind the continuity and persistence of societies. These are some of his ideas: humans cooperate thanks to shared myths, which vanish -as is logical- when people stop believing in them. Thus, it is not force, but propaganda, which ensures the survival of political regimes. In the same way, the hierarchies (the elites, the dominant powers) survive as a result of the continuity of the myths; which, today, are divided -in the West- into four categories: romantics, nationalists, capitalists and humanists.

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Harari is not an independent, or objective, "observer." He is a supporter of the "liberal" (or capitalist) myth, which he bases on the following assertion: "Economic growth is the highest good, or at least a substitute for the highest good, because both justice and freedom, and even happiness, all depend on economic growth” (page 346). And he adds: "We may not like capitalism, but we cannot live without it" (page 366). His position is based on the fact that in the dichotomy between freedom and equality, capitalism is committed to freedom, which is in contradiction with the other universal principle: that of equality. In this way, he ignores that there is a commitment that can reconcile both positions: “equal opportunities”, which levels people at the base, not in their future development; This is the fundamental principle of the “welfare economy”, which the new “neocapitalist” paradigm seeks to dismantle.

The author's commitment to neocapitalism is clear when he states that "the market protects us" and that "money is the apogee of human tolerance." (To this he makes a small note saying that, although money is one of the great engines of History, which through the market avoids war and conflict, people and the environment must be protected – he does not say what a way- to fall into a slavery of money.) We can observe its alignment with the “neocapitalist” positions in the following paragraph (page 413):

Most of today's ideologies and political programs are based on rather trivial ideas about the real origin of human happiness. Nationalists believe that political self-determination is essential to our happiness. The communists postulate that we will all be happy under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Capitalists hold that only free markets can ensure the greatest happiness for the greatest number by creating economic growth and material abundance and by teaching people self-reliance and entrepreneurship".

I bet the reader will agree with me that the author sides with capitalism, which he paints for us in more favorable terms (in relation to nationalist self-determination and the dictatorship of the communist proletariat). The proof?: "Soviet communism was no less a religion than Islamism" (page 254); or: "The nationalist virus was presented as beneficial for humans, but above all it has been beneficial for itself" (page 270). Thus, against the paragon of virtues of the free market, which ensures the greatest happiness for the greatest number, the author describes communism as a "religion" and nationalism as a "virus". This is the level of objectivity that can be expected from Yuval Noah Harari.

Focusing on his vision of nationalism, imperialism and globalism, this author leaves us the following pearls: “Conquered peoples do not have a very good record when it comes to freeing themselves from imperial masters. Most of them have remained subdued for hundreds of years. Normally, they have been digested little by little by the conquering empire, until their different cultures have finally died out” (page 216). This is not undesirable in itself; indeed, it is inevitable: “Considering the big picture, the transition from many small cultures to a few large cultures and, finally, to a single global society has probably been an inevitable result of the dynamics of human history” (page 264 ). Which is accompanied by a -natural- cultural genocide, expressed in the disappearance of languages and cultures: "Today, most of us speak, think and dream in imperial languages that our ancestors were forced to accept by force of the sword” (page 218).

The author considers that the new globalist elites are "pacifists", but nevertheless, "we are witnessing the formation of a global empire", led by said elites, which, given its intrinsic pacifism, "like previous empires, also it enforces peace within its borders. And since its borders cover the entire planet, the world empire effectively enforces world peace” (page 410). This is so because all countries share the same geopolitical, economic, legal and scientific system (pages 191-192). By the way, this global system is the work of the Western powers: "The European imperial expeditions transformed the history of the world: from being a series of stories of isolated peoples and cultures, it became the story of a single integrated human society" (page 320). Integrated by whom? Harari makes it clear to us: "For a multi-ethnic elite, whose common interests and a common culture would hold together" (page 231).

So, dear reader, if you are lucky enough to live in a society not infected by the virus of nationalism, and if you are a westerner and a capitalist, you are in luck. Yuval Noah Harari marks the path of your happiness, which is given by the global empire of the pacifist elites, which are the ones that determine the course of Humanity. On the other hand, if you speak a minority language (that is, if you are a "nationalist"), if you do not believe that capitalism can solve the problems of the world, and especially if you are not a westerner, you have a problem, because you are an obstacle to progress. inevitable "neocapitalism", which will lead us to the global paradise marked by the elites, in which a single language will be spoken, a single culture will exist ("post-imperialism", that is, "globalization"), and it will be seen as religious fundamentalism the desire for greater equality (equal opportunities), which disturbs the sacrosanct principle of neocapitalist “freedom”. Which, on the other hand, is poorly reconciled with the "necessity" (almost "teleological") of capitalism on a global scale that the author postulates.

I must mention an omission that stands out greatly in this work: Harari mentions the most relevant events in world history, except for two: the Shoah (the Jewish Holocaust), one of the most unfortunate episodes of Humanity, and the Arab-Israeli conflict (which he summarizes in the phrase "... manage to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians..." in a paragraph on page 425). A more detailed analysis of phenomena such as environmentalism, feminism or the right to free sexual identity is also missing. Everyone is free to think what they want. For my part, I find it extremely significant.

Be that as it may, the author draws a conclusion, which is an example of futurology: since society is following the peaceful path marked out by the capitalist elites, driven by money and technological development, it is not foreseeable that we will contemplate a war to large scale in the foreseeable future: “Today, humanity has broken the law of the jungle. Finally there is real peace, and not just the absence of war” (page 408). Although at the end of the work he insinuates: "The future is unknown and it would be surprising if the prognoses in these last pages were fully realized" (page 452).

In the following pages I will explore what an interested "synthesis" like Harari's can lead to, and I will face the attempt of a renowned "futurologist" (Francis Fukuyama) to guess the future, which, as in the previous case, has been proven completely wrong. Although, everything is said, Fukuyama has made an effort to correct his mistake, in recent years, with a more refined analysis -and from my point of view accurate- of reality.

Spengler and Gurdjieff: the calm before the storm

In the 1920s, after the end of the war that was to end all wars (World War I), two authors, Oswald Spengler and G.I. Gurdjieff, presented in two monumental works their respective synthesis of the reality of their time. We can consider both, then, as individual "synthesizers", who in no way intended to make a forecast of the future, but simply to make known their vision of the world that they lived. Both, of course, showed in this "synthesis" their own worldview; that is, their attitude towards life.

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The first of them, Spengler, adopts a nationalist and expansionist attitude, very typical of the Germany of his time. His conception of reality can be summarized with the following epithets: vital and heroic attitude, romantic ideal, allusion to the "collective soul" and the power of "intuition" (over reason), since it "animates and vivifies". His sense of the world is based on the role of Providence, which he calls "fate", "fulfillment of the soul" or "predestination" (this is a principle recognized by Adolf Hitler, according to his contemporaries). His vitality materializes in the “audacity to live”, which is by definition “young” and “vigorous”. Literally: "War is the primordial policy of all living beings, to the extent that deep down, struggle and life are the same thing, and being is extinguished when the will to fight is extinguished" (Volume II, page 512) . (Note the title of Hitler's main work: "My Struggle".) In this way, the will overcomes reason, and the intellect. It represents the "vital force", the "action", and is contrary to "morality", since this is contrary to "life". All this bundle of ideas is directed towards an end (volume I, page 453):

"We must distinguish in everything modern, on the one hand, the popular aspect, dolce far niente [sweet laziness, or inactivity], health care, happiness, carelessness, universal peace, in short, the aspect called Christian; and on the other hand, the superior ethos, which only esteems action and which for the masses is neither intelligible nor desirable; the grandiose idealization of the end and, therefore, of work".

This heroic ideal is only attainable through propaganda, since "slogans are banners, and are superior to philosophical systems." Once again, it is not through reason, or philosophy, how the ultimate ends can be achieved, but through the story, the myth, the particular ethos to which Spengler refers. Ideals drive the masses, who thus become “fit” peoples. On what are these ideals based? In an ideology of blood, race and power (volume II, pages 587 and 588):

Universal history is the tribunal of the world: it has always given reason to the life of the strongest, fullest, most self-confident; it has always conferred on this life the right to exist, without caring that this is fair to conscience. He has always sacrificed truth and justice to power, to race; and it has always condemned to death those men and peoples for whom truth was more important than action, and justice more essential than forcé".

The foundations of his doctrine are well known: his cyclical theory of the rise and fall of nations inspired -according to Francis Fukuyama- one of the most relevant strategists of modern times: Henry Kissinger (The End of History, page 111 ). Being one of the ideologues of the German conservative ideology that was adopted by the National Socialist party (although without its charge of anti-Semitism: Spengler was not an anti-Semite), he was against all globalism or cosmopolitanism, which he considered as "unnatural" (in the sense of “anti-war”, without race or hostile to “life”). According to him, history is aggression, not conscience. War is inevitable, since it is "creator of all great things." The right of the strongest is the right of all. The nobility, the aristocracy, and the patriarchy are the foundations of society.

These are the foundations of his doctrine, which, as can be imagined, gave an enormous boost to the future Nazi party, since they gradually penetrated the arguments and ideas of the most reactionary "spokesmen" of Germany in his time; which, with the support of the active forces of his country, ended up prevailing at the polls ten years after Spengler finished his book. The latter's ultimate goal is to “continue the war” by other means; in his case, through propaganda: "... Imperialism, today's intimate aspiration, quite manifest in the world war, which is not finished, far from it" (volume I, page 425).

Spengler was a militant of the expansionist and nationalist values of his country (Germany). Hence, he wrote The Decline of the West as a lever to promote the implementation of his irrationalist, conservative, warmongering and wildly aristocratic ideology. (All told, Spengler was a staunch admirer of the English parliamentary system, for the opposite reason than one might imagine: "This undemocratic origin [of the English system] is the secret of its successes." Volume II, page 470.) From him is the phrase "knowledge is power", which justifies the raison d'être of his work: global knowledge of the reality of his time, in political, cultural, social, economic, artistic and human aspects, helps to fulfill a great mission: the victory of his homeland over its rivals; and that of the powerful (the aristocratic elite) on the ideal of democracy, justice, virtue and equity. This is the great future dreamed of by Spengler, which the Germans, in the thirties, ended up buying, and signing with his vote. Such is the power of propaganda. Such is the power of ideology. Such is the responsibility of intellectuals and thinkers.

As regards Gurdjieff, a great "esoteric" thinker of the interwar period, he wrote his work Letters from Belzebuh to his grandson as an attempt to reflect his own ideas, in an entertaining and certainly original way (these are presented by a "extraterrestrial" residing on Mars, who explains his experiences with earthlings on their visits to planet Earth, from the most extreme antiquity to the world of his days).

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His ideology is characteristic of the most conventional esotericism (although far from Freemasonry): the world is an illusion; the unconscious is true consciousness (an allusion to Freud's ideas so in vogue in his days); divine ideas are housed in the unconscious... His conception of knowledge is very particular. He considers that education constitutes the propagation of falsehood, through the educational system, and that true knowledge is in the hands of the authentic initiates. This is transmitted from generation to generation to other initiates, since time immemorial (in fact, since the period of the fabulous Atlantis). Only the initiates know the keys to occult knowledge (which he calls "legominisms"), hidden in certain occult symbols (or in objects and traditions), readable only by the initiates. But since the uneducated masses do not admit excellence, they have been in charge of persecuting and exterminating the initiates, for which reason a good part of the hidden knowledge has been lost (or extinguished). Since "true science is in the hands of a small minority" (volume II, page 628). His elitism, then, is not about money, nor about blood, but about (esoteric) knowledge. On the other hand, it is not written, but oral. A representative of this chain of initiates is Leonardo da Vinci, of whom he says: “Un autre être du continent d'Europe ayant fait les mêmes remarques, et s'y intéressant de jour en jour davantage, parvint par son labeur et sa persévérance, à déchiffrer parfaitement les oeuvres de presque toutes les branches de l'art. Ce sage être terrestrial tri-cerebral se nommait Léonard de Vinci” (volume I, page 500).

Regarding his vision of the world, Gurdjieff considers that "the main objective is to help the common good", although it is difficult to decipher how this is possible, taking into account that, according to him, the two great evils of society are the abuse of "onanism" (or masturbation, for which he promotes -among men- the spread of circumcision, following the example of the Jews and other oriental peoples) and the persistence of the consequences of what he calls " kundabuffer organ” (this is his name for what esotericists call “kundalini”), which –according to him- are summarized in a single concept: human vanity, pride and egoism (volume I, page 379). The author considers that to overcome pride, and to access knowledge, it is necessary to be initiated, which also means "dying to what constitutes everyday life" (volume II, page 674). This initiation is superior to morality, and of course also to profane education. Only in this way is it possible to overcome human problems, the product of selfishness, pride and vanity. The three scourges of the "kundabuffer organ", still active in our being, are the following: 1) the well-being of some is based on the poverty of others; 2) the world is divided into masters and slaves; and 3) happiness is in a continuous fight against pain. Only freedom (liberation from the world, that is, "initiatory" death) can lead to happiness.

This is the "esoteric" ideology of an "initiated" of the twenties, which is in stark contrast to that of Spengler. Despite its particularly strange, not to say eccentric, aspects, there is one certainly innovative point in Gurdjieff's ideas: his conception of the "kundabuffer organ", whose translation into earthly language (from the alien language he uses in his book) is equivalent to the motivating principles of the human person: pride, vanity, ego, and in a more positive reading, “recognition”. From my point of view, Francis Fukuyama, despite his mistakes, gave the importance it deserves to this factor (the "recognition") in his reflection on the role of the human being in the world, in such a way that he manages to overcome - and correct- the great deficiencies of the “synthesis” of Harari and Spengler.

Francis Fukuyama: the futurologist denied by the facts

We have already seen (above) that Spengler leads the way for synthesizers who seek to influence the world through propaganda. His "synthesis work" (his book The Decline of the West) would help create the breeding ground for what would later be known as "Nazi ideology." Such is the responsibility of the "ideologues" in shaping the reality of their time. On the other hand, Gurdjieff is an unexpected precedent for perhaps Fukuyama's greatest contribution to modern historical and sociological analyses: the concept, adopted from Plato, of the "third part of the soul," the thymós (spirit, courage, anger, vanity, pride, and the desire for recognition), which is added to the other two parts of the soul, just as Plato, in the mouth of Socrates (in dialogue with Adeimantus), exposes in The Republic: reason and the desire (Fukuyama, Identity, pages 33 and 34).

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This concept (the thymós) is basic, according to Fukuyama, because, according to his own words (page 18): "The desire for recognition and the corresponding emotions of anger, shame and pride constitute critical parts of the human personality for political life.". According to Hegel, they are the ones that motivate the entire historical process. According to Fukuyama, the thymós can be understood from a position of equality on the part of the individual (isothymia, or desire to have at least the same rights, and the same recognition, as the rest of the citizens), or of superiority (megalothymia, or willingness to impose one's own will on citizens, or to be recognized as "superior"). It is precisely his allusion to the risk of the overflow of megalothymia in modern times, in advanced capitalist societies, which has somehow saved the thesis set out in his book The End of History and the Last Man (1992) from total shipwreck. as he acknowledges in his work Identity (2018).

In The End of History (page 435) he points out the emergence of “charismatic” and extremely atypical (“politically incorrect”) characters, such as Donald Trump, as one of the main risks of American democracy: “The absence of constructive and habitual occasions for manifesting megalothymia may simply lead to its resurgence in an extreme and pathological form... It is reasonable to wonder whether everyone will believe that the kind of struggles and sacrifices possible in a self-satisfied and prosperous liberal democracy are enough to bring out to the surface what is highest in man. Aren't there reserves of idealism that cannot be depleted – that are not even touched – if one becomes a financier like Donald Trump…?".  This subtle allusion to Donald Trump's megalothymia somehow attenuates the absolute failure of Fukuyama's thesis, in The End of History, as regards the lack of success of his forecasts in relation to the evolution of History. in the last thirty years.

Note that when we talk about megalothymia we are approaching a scenario proposed by Spengler (see above). The aristocracies, the powerful, the elites, the followers of war and conflict, vanity, pride, and recognition, are the megalothymics par excellence. And they are the ones that cause wars, invasions, imperialisms, and also art, science and culture. Between them, financiers like Trump (who decided to make the leap into politics, and became a charismatic leader of the American extreme right), and also technologists like Elon Musk, whom even the world seems small to him, and has set out to reach even further: to Mars. 

Fukuyama's theory of History is complemented by the assumption of the meaning of History according to Hegel, who, according to Fukuyama (page 105), defined it as "man's progress towards higher levels of rationality and freedom". This process had a logical terminal point when it reached "absolute self-awareness", which is only possible when the principles of freedom and equality are combined (we have already seen that the dichotomy between the two is not a trivial issue). The same author assumes Hegel's historical postulate when considering that History follows a linear and directional scheme (as opposed to Spengler's cyclical scheme; see above), and that "the liberal democracy of the industrially advanced nations was the goal of the history” (page 113). (Note that the Marxist scheme is identical to Hegel's, although in his case the goal is not the liberal state, but the end of economic and social contradictions with the destruction of class society.)

In short, we can summarize Fukuyama's essential thesis in The End of History with the following assertion: "There is a coherent development of History, from tribal society to democracy and capitalism" (page 12). According to him, the victory of the liberal system after the collapse of the communist bloc (between 1989 and 1991) "constitutes proof that there is a fundamental process that dictates a common tendency to the evolution of all human societies, that is, something as well as a universal history of humanity on the march towards liberal democracy” (page 88). And seen from another perspective, he concludes that underdevelopment is not the product of the failures of capitalism, but of the "absence of capitalism": "Underdevelopment was not due to the iniquities inherent in capitalism, but rather to the insufficient degree of capitalism that had practiced in the past in their countries” (page 78).

Fukuyama's doctrine, with regard to capitalism and liberal economics (whose aggregation forms what he calls the "free market economy"), is summarized in the assertion that "science leads to capitalism and liberal economics.". Thus, like Harari, Fukuyama believes that Western capitalism and liberalism are propelled by the force of historical rationality, by means of an "invisible hand" that, as in the capitalist market, puts everything in its place, no matter what. its due time. History is, once again, a teleological phenomenon that, based on reason (hence, man is considered a "homo economicus", who makes decisions based on reason), unfolds blindly, autonomously and inexorably, to reach the liberal paradise dreamed of by both Harari and Fukuyama. How wrong they were both! Although, the thymós theory, on the part of the latter, saves him from being trapped under the rubble of his theory. I will talk about it below.

What are the essential points of The End of History? I will summarize them briefly. Keep in mind that this work was written in 1992, as an extension to an article with the same title from 1989. In other words, it appeared in the wake of the events that occurred between the two years, as a consequence of the fall of the Soviet bloc, which included both the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact satellite states. Hence, the essential thesis of the book is that "liberalism has defeated communism" (page 78), which ratifies -as we have seen above- that liberal democracy is the end point of History (page 11). And as such, it is a perfect, ideal model: "Of the different regimes that have appeared in the course of history, from monarchies and aristocracies to religious theocracies and to the fascist and communist dictatorships of our century, the only form of government that has survived intact until the end of the 20th century has been liberal democracy” (page 82).

According to Fukuyama, if we have reached the end of history, it is because life, in the capitalist and liberal environment, is satisfactory for its citizens and is free of contradictions (page 203). To such an extent that "it is difficult to imagine a world that is radically better than ours, or a future that is not essentially democratic and capitalist" (page 83). Likewise, alluding to Kojève, "post-war America is in reality Marx's 'classless society', in the sense that if all social inequality has not been eliminated, all the barriers that exist are in a certain way 'necessary and ineradicable'. '” (page 391). And this, again, taking into account that it is difficult to obtain an optimal degree of freedom and equality (for which there are various models, from the North American to the Scandinavian).

Be that as it may, capitalism is liberal because "totalitarianism fears freedom", and advanced capitalism (European and Anglo-Saxon) is by definition democratic. Likewise, capitalism is tolerant, because tolerance is the main virtue of democracy. This verification -in his view- explains why he gives the epithet "totalitarian" to communist dictatorships, and "authoritarian" to capitalist dictatorships, since "traditional despotisms, such as those of Franco in Spain, and of the different dictatorships in Latin America, never tried to crush 'civil society' – that is, the sphere in society of private interests – but only to control it” (page 55). (I was born in 1965, ten years before the death of the dictator Franco, and I still remember my father's fear that one day I would slip away in public that at home we listened to Radio Pirenaica every night, the radio of the anti-Franco opposition; If an indiscretion about this fact had reached any confidant, my father would have meant something more than a "control"; rather, he would have ended up with his bones in jail, or something worse, as happened to the trade unionist Cipriano Martos, dead at the hands of the Francoist police, after having been forced to ingest sulfuric acid, in 1973.)

Fukuyama, in The End of History, sees "nationalism" as a typical example of megalothymia. Certainly Spengler's ideas (his exclusive nationalism based on blood and race) might make us think that. That is why he writes: "Religion, nationalism and the complex of ethical habits and customs of a people, or more broadly, 'culture', have traditionally been interpreted as obstacles to the establishment of effective and democratic political institutions of free market economies” (page 20). Like Harari, Fukuyama sees national "idiosyncrasies" as an obstacle to democracy and the economy. Likewise, he affirms –this time with reason- that nationalism is one of the greatest sources of conflict. Since democracy cannot solve -by definition- national problems, since nationalism is a consequence of the irrational -thymotic- part of the human soul. Hence, the role of the State in liberal democracies is to homogenize traditional cultures, in order to make them more manageable and integrated into the global market (national or transnational).

Notwithstanding this, the author is more sensitive than Harari to national anxieties, as long as they are not confused with race or ethnicity (as happens in the case of Spengler), and that the struggle between national groups is not transferred to international scale, to a “combat for the prestige of aristocratic lords”, which results in a “master nation” dominating a “slave nation” by force of arms (page 279). Be that as it may, nationalism in the West is in regression (because so is the thymós, or desire for aristocratic recognition), and ultimately "the claim for national recognition in Western Europe has been tamed and made compatible with universal recognition, in the same way that happened with religion three or four centuries ago” (page 22). Fukuyama also assumes that advanced capitalist nation states do not go to war with each other (although they do go to war with other states that do not share their fundamental values).

As regards the “ecological footprint” of capitalism, he hardly pays attention to it in The End of History. In a way that could be considered “insensitive”, not to say “insane” (considering that the first Earth Summit took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the same year this book was published), he considers that technology allows for “unlimited accumulation of wealth” (page 15), and even dares to assert that “damage to the environment will not cause the system to collapse”: “[Damage to the environment and the frivolity of consumerism] will not they are obviously insoluble on liberal principles, nor are they so serious that they will necessarily lead to the collapse of society as a whole” (page 22). Here he brings to light one of the star arguments of capitalism: "technology" can solve the great challenges to the environment, and given the laws of the market (supply and demand), when the first symptoms of collapse occur, the market will take care of it., through technology, to get things back on track. As we will see later, Alvin Toffler, and especially the Club of Rome, oppose this reasoning, since they consider that when the market gives the first alarm signal, it will be too late to correct the situation, as a consequence of the mechanism known as "feedback" of climatic and ecological phenomena.

It is precisely the “technological” argument that he wields against the environmental movement (page 132):

"By far, the most coherent and radical opposition to technological civilization comes from the environmental movement. Contemporary environmentalism comprises different groups and schools of thought, but the most radical have attacked the modern tendency to dominate nature through science, and have suggested that man would be happier if he did not manipulate nature and turn to something closer to the pre-industrial state".

This is a “reductio ad absurdum”: according to Fukuyama, what ecologists want is to transform the world into a place far away to science and progress, to return to pre-industrial times. Moreover, he dares to affirm that in Europe and North America the ecosystems are healthier than ever, since "they are more covered with forests than a hundred, and even two hundred years ago". And he adds that the ecological problems of developing countries are the product, again, not of their capitalism, but of their "lack of capitalism", since they consider that their poverty does not allow them any option but to exploit their natural resources, or they lack the necessary social discipline to respect environmental protection laws (page 136).

In short, according to Fukuyama in The End of History, historical development, favorable to democratic and advanced capitalist societies, should have generated the following benefits:

•The end of national struggles, imperialism, and even wars, since advanced capitalism is intrinsically peaceful.
•The strengthening of democracy and liberalism, and the end of totalitarianism.

The absence of political risk in advanced democracies, given the overcoming of megalothymia.
The resolution of ecological problems, thanks to the role of science and progress, as well as the automatic mechanisms of the market.

How right was he? After the fall of the twin towers, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan (and the consolidation of the Taliban in this country), the Arab-Israeli conflict (which, far from being resolved, worsens), the advance of the extreme right and the charismatic leaderships, both in the West and in Turkey or Russia, the bloody conflicts in the Balkans, in Transcaucasia, between Russia and Ukraine, in Africa, etc., the regression of democracy in Asia (Hong Kong, China, Burma, etc.) , the accentuation of climate change, the renewed arms race... In short, everything taken together suggests that Fukuyama was completely wrong in his forecast for the future. What hurts him the most is to verify that even in advanced societies (in his case, in the United States), democracy has been and is at risk, with the emergence of a potential dictator who remains in the limelight through the management of propaganda and misinformation, in a country – his – which is becoming more polarized every day.

But as I said above, it is quite true that in a way this situation was within the possibilities of his theory. The explanation of this is once again given to us by the concept of thymós. Thus he writes: “Who can guarantee that we will not be surprised by a new irruption coming from a hitherto unidentified source? … The answer is, of course, that we have no guarantee, and we cannot assure future generations that there will be no other Hitler or Pol Pot” (page 189). Although he claims that a mature democracy like the United States is somewhat protected from thymós (page 444), he considers that the latter's irrational forms can put the status quo at risk. And he was certainly right, but not in the direction he suspected (religion, nationalism, etc., that is, the "usual suspects"), but in a section that he considered "normalized": that of the "recognition" of the middle and low classes , in a society -the North American- that, as we have seen above, considered stabilized because, according to him, the differences and social classes had been overcome, and if there are barriers between them, they are the minimum necessary for the system works.

 Fukuyama expresses it with the following words: “To the extent that liberal democracy manages to purge life of megalothymia and replace it with rational consumption, we will become less human. But human beings will rebel at this idea. That is, they will revolt at the prospect of becoming undifferentiated members of the universal and homogeneous State” (page 419). Perhaps this is the key to Donald Trump's triumph in the United States, in 2016, and to his hegemony in the right-wing environment of his country, even today.

Francis Fukuyama: the futurologist that reconsidered the situation

In his book Identity, published in 2018, Francis Fukuyama acknowledges his serious errors, exposed in The End of History (1992): "I used the word history in the Hegelian-Marxist sense, that is, the long-term evolutionary history of human institutions which, alternatively, could be called development or modernization. The word end did not have a sense of 'completion', but of 'goal' or 'objective'… I was limiting myself to suggesting that Hegel's version, where development led to a liberal state linked to a market economy, seemed plausible to me … But I must say that some of my views have changed over the years…” (page 14). The main evidence of his misprognosis is the case of Trump, of which he says: “Trump represented a general tendency in international politics towards what has been called national-populism. Populist leaders try to use the legitimacy conferred by democratic elections to consolidate their power. They claim to advocate a charismatic connection to the people, which are sometimes defined in ethnic terms that exclude much of the population. They dislike institutions and seek to undermine the checks and balances that limit the personal power of the leader in a modern liberal democracy” (page 12). 

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A similar phenomenon occurred in Germany during the 1930s: a culturally advanced society that was also swept away by a “national populism” marked by the ethos of race. In this regard, in my book El sueño de Hitler  I write the following (page 90):

"Nazism, as we have anticipated, is fundamentally a petty-bourgeois doctrine, although its social base expanded over time. The Nazi ideology, and the fascist one in general, adapts to the mentality of small owners and professionals (teachers, civil servants, artisans, liberal professionals, etc.), threatened by the political, social and economic evolution of the moment. The anti-capitalist propaganda of Nazism also won for its cause the support of the so-called labor aristocracy; that is, those salaried workers who considered themselves middle class, and who sought to distinguish themselves from low-skilled workers. The social category known as lumpenproletariat (who used to behave like strikebreakers) also constituted a solid bastion of the Nazi movement, and there were not few unemployed within their ranks. 

All these social groups sought to find in the Nazi regime collective and personal security, self-affirmation, as well as channeling their aggressiveness and desire for revenge, which the parliamentary political system did not allow them to express. Nazism was a magnet for the frustrated, disappointed, and disaffected. Slogans such as "German people" or "Nordic race" were the flag of all those who needed to hold on to something to feel like protagonists of history. Although this role is merely passive, in a system based on leadership (blind obedience to the leader), authoritarianism and hierarchy".

 A similar phenomenon occurred in Germany during the 1930s: an advanced society for its time, which found itself involved in a series of social struggles, instrumentalized by conservatism to impose the dominance of the Junker and Volkish movement in the economy and politics ( although it was later overwhelmed by the Nazi movement). According to Fukuyama, in his work Identity, the presence of "national-populists" like Trump in the United States is attributable to the 2008 crisis, which has given rise to right-wing populism (page 93). Ultimately, the working classes lean to the extreme right, not the left. What is the reason? To understand this, we have to allude again to thymós, his “desire for recognition”: “The perceived threat to middle-class status may thus explain the rise of national-populism in many parts of the world during the second decade of the 21st century” (page 101 ). More specifically, the middle classes vote for Trump, as the German middle classes did in the 1930s (giving their vote to Hitler), because they felt “left behind”: “Suddenly, they see other people lined up in front of them ( African-Americans, women, immigrants) who are helped by the same elites who ignore them” (page 103).

(It is curious that the social sectors that extol Trump and his hosts vote for him as a reaction to the "power of the elites", the former being a clear representative of the elites, but extrinsic to them due to his "politically incorrect" behavior.)

In short, the working classes are turning to the right (becoming reactionary) because they consider that the "elites" favor the poor against their own interests. In this way, a battery of false information (fake news) circulates that alludes to the supposed "grievances" caused by poor sectors favored -supposedly- by the elites, which -according to this biased and distorted information- would harm the middle classes, professionals, civil servants, and the so-called “labor aristocracy”. (For example, they are accused of monopolizing social housing, nurseries, certain subsidies, the use of public services, etc.). This happens both in North America (whose liberal workers and professionals go over to the Republican ranks en masse) and in Europe (the communist and socialist parties bleed to death, in France, for the benefit of the National Front; in Spain many workers and unemployed vote for Vox ; although here it is possible to add a nationalist emotional factor -more specifically, anti-Catalanist- in his support for the extreme right).

According to Fukuyama, the reactionary vote is largely reactive, provoked by thymós, expressed in the notion of “identity”: “Individuals do not perceive economic distress in the form of deprivation of resources, but rather loss of identity. Hard work should confer dignity on an individual, but that dignity is not recognized, and is even criticized, while others unwilling to play by the rules receive undue advantages” (page 103). This is the thinking of the "new right" of working-class extraction regarding the supposed advantages of "intruders": immigrants, refugees, the unemployed, women who want to work, the disadvantaged, the homeless, etc. Paradoxically, according to Fukuyama, it was capitalism itself that led to this phenomenon, by establishing ultra-liberal policies that directly harmed these social groups: "In the United States, the strong economic growth of the eighties and nineties was not distributed evenly, rather, it was directed overwhelmingly at those most educated. The old American working class, which considered itself the core of the middle class, was steadily losing ground” (page 91). Paradoxically, this working class, far from punishing the right wing that harmed them, and favoring the left wing that supposedly protects their interests, give their vote to the extreme right to protect their position against those who are even more poor than them.

It is assumed that this is one of the points that the author has reconsidered, after verifying the errors in his book The End of History. There is another relevant point: that of the elites, of which he says: “This liberal world order did not benefit everyone. In many countries around the world, and particularly in developed democracies, inequality rose dramatically, so many of the benefits of growth accrued primarily to an elite defined primarily by education” (page 20). We are talking about a new social sector, elitist and minoritary, characterized by access to knowledge, science, technology, and therefore power ("knowledge is power", said Spengler). I am referring specifically to the generation of the new megastar of capitalism: Elon Musk. 

Fukuyama alludes to the belief, in the 1990s, that Internet could help promote democratic values, for example by facilitating social mobilization through social networks (page 194). But he is also aware that the "going viral" of certain content (especially fake news, as we have seen above) contributes to polarizing the masses, and favors the right: "The perception that conservatives have of the alleged benefits being unfairly given to minorities, women or refugees, as well as the feeling that political correctness is running amok... Social media contributes greatly to this misperception, as a single comment or incident can go viral on internet and become emblematic of a whole group of people” (page 137). Given this, he advocates a more than reasonable measure: the action of the "verifiers" against the abuse of slanderers and those who circulate false information through social networks.  

Alvin Toffler, the great anticipator

Alvin Toffler, with his book The Third Wave, published in 1979, would serve to give a true lesson in humility and professionalism to past and present “futurologists” and “synthesizers”. With his originally Marxist background, and with his experience in factory work as a “blue-collar worker",  he was prepared to see the world from a perspective closer to reality, away from lecterns or the academic platforms, and of course, also the offices of large corporations. His vision is therefore fresh and close to people, and especially to technological advances (we are talking about almost 45 years ago!), which, as we will see later, he anticipated in an almost prophetic way.

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Alvin Toffler is perhaps the greatest futurologist in history, despite the fact that in The Third Wave, his fundamental work, he expressed himself against this current of social thought. Thus, he spoke out against the "doomsayers" and the "Cassandras" arguing that "The third wave [the future]... has only just begun" (page 17). He clinches this assertion by stating: “Social predictions are never scientific nor are they exempt from subjectivism, no matter how much computerized data they use. The third wave is not an objective prediction and does not claim to be scientifically proven” (page 20). The author, unlike Harari or Fukuyama, begins his work stating an unquestionable fact: the future is changeable, and therefore his synthesis does not have to be correct. And despite this undoubted humility (or perhaps because of it), his conclusions are the closest to historical facts. From my point of view, they have been endorsed by the facts to an extent that we could almost describe as “magical” or “miraculous” (see below).

I believe that his study method is largely responsible for the success of his anticipations. And that is summed up in the following sentence: “The third wave is a large-scale synthesis book” (page 18). The foundation of his method is as follows: approach to reality through systems analysis and interdisciplinarity. In short, his vision is "holistic", based on synthesis, not "one-dimensional", based on analysis. Hence, he makes various criticisms of the "standard scientific method" applied in social sciences: simplification of problems (page 123); search for single or dominant causes (page 125); use of dogmatic or ideological “blinkers” that prevents getting to the bottom of the problems (page 257); and the widespread use of censorship by conservatives, whom he calls "idea killers" (page 425).

In one respect, he coincides with Yuval Noah Harari: every society has its super-ideology (called “myth” by this one), which, as in the Marxist scheme of thought, adjusts to its “productive forms” (or “infrastructure”; see below). . But unlike Harari, or Fukuyama, he does not agree that the dominant ideology in the West (the ideal of "progress") should bring us good news. Thus, he writes: "The third fundamental belief of industriality ... was the principle of progress, the idea that History moves irreversibly towards a better life for Humanity" (page 112). As we have seen above, nothing is further from reality, as shown by the current climate crisis, the increase in international tensions, or the development of a new "national-populism" (in the words of Fukuyama) that puts the foundations of democratic liberalism at risk.. Alvin Toffler is, again, a great anticipator, stating: “Today many middle-class parents face the agonizing disappointment of seeing their children – in a much more difficult world – descend, rather than ascend, thesocioeconomic  ladder” (page 370). And we are talking about the year 1979!

Toffler is incredibly modern in his analysis (the integration of which makes for a great synthesis). Thus, it separates the notion of "identity" of national minorities (in multinational states, such as Spain or Canada) from that of "nationalism" in the current standard sense: "What we call the modern nation is a phenomenon of the second wave [of industrialism]: a single integrated political authority superimposed on or merged with a single integrated economy” (page 93). In the third wave world (which I'll talk about below): “In a high-tech context, nationalism becomes regionalism. The pressures of the melting pot are replaced by the new ethnicity” (page 231). In short, according to Toffler, the emergence of "regional nationalism" (which he confuses with "regionalism") is a consequence of the decentralization that is given by the Third Wave, which, far from integrating the world into a global society, it autonomizes it and separates it into different identities and sensibilities: “The media, instead of creating a mass culture, demassify it. And all these evolutions go hand in hand with the emerging diversity of energy forms and the advance beyond mass production” (page 231).

His analysis of "imperialist nationalism", typical of nation-states with expansionist tendencies, is deep and moving, to the point of studying the effects of imperialism on colonized peoples, the impact it left on the psychology of its inhabitants, or the "Social Darwinism" prevailing in industrial societies. He cites Darwin's own attitude as an example of this imperialist “super-ideology”: “Darwin himself wrote, unmoved, about the slaughter of the Tasmanian aborigines, and in a fit of genocidal enthusiasm, prophesied that: 'In some future period …the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world'” (page 112).

Toffler is not optimistic about moving to a Third Wave, which he says will have dramatic consequences. In fact, he was the first to use the “clash of civilizations” concept: “In a climate of disintegrating institutions and values [among them, the “nation-state”, as we have seen], demagogues and authoritarian movements will emerge to seek, and possibly get, power. No intelligent person can be deceived about the result. The clash of two civilizations presents titanic dangers” (page 340).

Here, again, the author hits the mark. As Fukuyama, in his book Identity, anticipates (in 1979!) that technical changes will entail a dismemberment of the social, economic, cultural and national bases of the developed world, which will undoubtedly have diverse social costs, which will be taken advantage of by the extreme right-wing populists and demagogues to come to power with the vote of the “dissatisfied majority”, which also includes the middle and working classes harmed by the change. Hence the importance that Toffler gives to "protecting minorities" and "accommodating diversity", in a new example of anticipatory genius: "The solution to these problems is not to stifle dissent or accuse minorities of selfishness (as if were not also the elites and their experts). The solution lies in imaginative new measures to accommodate and legitimize diversity, new institutions that are responsive to the rapidly shifting needs of ever-growing and changing minorities” (page 406).

But it is not enough to accommodate minorities. Coordinated work is necessary, through transnational organizations, to confront multinational corporations, the most powerful instrument of industrialism (second wave economics) to oppose change: “We cannot expect to face the vast power of the transnational corporation - a rival to the nation-state - through strictly national legislation. We need transnational measures to establish, and if necessary enforce, global corporate codes of conduct” (page 415). This issue is not trivial, especially if we take into account that the second wave (industrialism) has stressed the ecosystem to such an extent that we are now more aware than ever of ecological limits; in short, of the limits of growth: “First, we have reached a turning point in the 'war against Nature'. The biosphere will simply not tolerate industrial attack any longer. Second, we cannot continue to rely indefinitely on nonrenewable energy, hitherto the main subsidy of industrial development” (page 130). Here, a "change of tone" in Toffler's analysis is evident, in relation to ecological issues, compared to the thesis of Harari or Fukuyama. Since the former, as we have seen, employs a “holistic” method, and has a superior vision of industrial capitalism that served as the basis for the analyzes of Harari and Fukyama in their books reviewed above.

To finish this point, I will express the fundamental signs of the second and third waves, according to Toffler's interpretation. The second wave is characterized by mass production, mass media, factory-style education, liberal parliamentary government, and the nation-state (page 326). As regards the third wave, it is characterized by relevant changes: decentralized production, appropriate scale (neither small nor large), deurbanization, work at home, high levels of prosum (production produced and consumed by the producer himself), etc (page 327). Thus he writes: “The third wave, which begins to storm these industrial structures, opens up fantastic opportunities for social and political renewal. In the years to come, startlingly new institutions will replace our unworkable, oppressive, and outdated integrational structures” (page 79). Here is the challenge; here is the opportunity. 

The age of innovations

Alvin Toffler is a super anticipator. From my point of view, the largest that has ever existed. In this section I expose a wide sample of his anticipations. The very concept of "third wave" is already great in itself. But it does not come alone, as "low-hanging fruit", but is accompanied by a series of innovations that constitute a prelude to its advent: "The creation of new political structures for a Third Wave civilization will not occur in one and only climatic convulsion, but as a consequence of a thousand innovations and collisions at many levels, in many places and over a period of decades” (page 423). These innovations –which he classifies into three “spheres”, or classes- will draw a future society for his time (today) in which, according to him, reality will surpass fiction (page 148). The three “spheres” of innovation to which Toffler refers are the following. Note that all the anticipations of him have been confirmed -today- by technological advances.


- Information society (page 172).

- Artificial intelligence (page 137).

- Internet (page 147).

- Email (pages 175 and 192).

- Premonition of Facebook (page 170).

- Blogs (page 175).

- Anticipation of Artificial Intelligence Chat GPT type  (pages 181 and 342).

- Decentralized information sources (Youtube, Internet) (pages 207 and 341).


- Fiber optics (page 148).

- Microprocessors (page 174).

- Domestic 3D printers (page 270).

- Miniaturized home computers (page 174).

- Computers can “speak” and understand language (page 177).

- Electronic dictionary and voice dictation to the machine (pages 192-193).

- Networks and intelligent environments (page 175).

- Teleworking, computer conferences and virtual meetings (pages 204, 248 and 413).

- Electronic banking (page 246).

- Clean energy revolution (page 328).

- Wide variety of renewable energy sources (page 341).

- Solar energy and electric cars (page 143).

- Decentralized renewable energy in homes (page 206).

- Culture of recycling (page 341).


- Reduction of industrial work (page 342).

- End of the paper press (page 164).

- Globalization of information (page 310).

- Homosexual families with children (page 216).

To all this we must add a series of phenomena, which are the results of these advances and innovations, which Toffller summarizes as follows: individualization (in relation to the bureaucratization and centralism of the second wave), differentiation and social isolation (in the face of the “mass society”, undifferentiated), decentralization and grid (versus centralization and radial society), telecommunity and interactivity. On a political level, this author advocates for the death of the nation-state, and for its division into regions, as well as its integration into transnational groups: "A series of forces try to transfer political power downwards, from the nation-state to regions and subnational groups. The others try to shift power upwards, from the nation to international agencies and organizations. Together, they are leading to a fragmentation of high-tech nations into smaller, less powerful units” (page 303). The author's sensitivity towards “identities” is expressed in the following sentence: “National governments… forget or ignore local and individual needs, causing the flames of resentment to reach white-red temperatures” (page 308). Hence -according to him- the rise of separatism, in a process in which nation-states are losing part of their sovereignty, to the benefit of transnational groups: "Nations are less and less capable of undertaking independent action, they are losing much of their sovereignty” (page 314).

The next step towards the universal implantation of the “third wave” is “globalism”, of which he says: “Globalism is presented as something more than an ideology serving the interests of a limited group. In exactly the same way that nationalism claimed to speak for the entire nation, globalism claims to speak for the entire world. And its appearance is considered as an evolutionary necessity, one more step towards a 'cosmic consciousness' that would also encompass the heavens” (page 315). This, however, should not be confused with a hypothetical "world government", linked to certain elites: "The other fantasy, closely related to this one, presents a planet run by a single and centralized World Government" (page 316).

The hypothetical future that Toffler envisions (and is actually already underway, at least in part) sums it up as follows: “Third wave forces favor a minority power-sharing democracy; they are willing to experiment with a more direct democracy; they advocate transnationalism and a fundamental delegation of power. They demand a dismantling of the big bureaucracies. They demand a renewable and less centralized energy system. They want legitimate options for the nuclear family. They fight for less standardization and more individualization in schools. They give high priority to environmental problems. They recognize the need to restructure the world economy on a more just and balanced basis” (page 420).

But as this author affirms, this change, this transformation, will not happen without opposition from the forces of the past. Hence, he warns of a series of dangers that are undoubtedly already besetting us: those that are caused by the interference of artificial intelligence in our lives, by the big technological brother that watches us, by fake news and electronic fascism, by the growing demand for “strong and charismatic leaders”, due to the dangers of bioengineering (and the new diseases derived from it), or due to nuclear terrorism, to name a few.

From my point of view, Alvin Toffler is the contemporary scholar and researcher who has come closest to reality, the one who has been most accurate, despite being the furthest back in time. Which is the key of that? There is no doubt that in his time (in the second half of the seventies) some of the innovations that I have mentioned were already taking shape, or were used in a rudimentary and/or restricted way. But the level of adjustment between what he predicted and what has ended up happening is truly amazing, which gives an idea of his integration into the real economy and society, far from offices and university lectures.