Teaser – A Brief History of the Future

A Brief History Of The Future, by Jacques ATTALI, published in 2006 (FAYARD)

Now this is one of my all-time favourites.

QUICK & EASY               300+ pages.

Genre:                              History +  FUTUROLOGY

Jacques Attali traces the budding roots of capitalism and zooms into the period from 1200 to modern-day.

He then goes on to make several predictions over the next 20, 50, 100 years

The language used is NOT technical and you do NOT need an economics degree to get through this book.

Well done Jacques for dumbing it down!

It’s highly accessible.

IMPORTANT: it was written in 2006. The world has obviously changed somewhat since then.

THIS IS NOT A SUMMARY of the book.                      Just a TEASER!

There are no spoilers in this post.

Background on Jacques ATTALI

He’s a talented man and has been extremely active throughout his life:

  • Economist, historian
  • advisor to François Mitterand between 1981 and 1991
  • Co-founded and was the first president of the EBRD European Bank of Reconstruction and Development
  • Founder of Positive Planet: Microfinance organisation present in a number of impoverished regions of the world
  • Co-author of the controversial study ordered by Jacques Chirac: 300 Decisions To Change FRANCE

He is a controversial figure and rarely leaves people indifferent

THE ESSENCE OF THE BOOK is:

  • To retrace humanity throughout some important points in time from a historical, political, social and cultural perspective
  • To present the different economic centres of the world from the 1200s to modern day, evoking the birth of capitalism
  • To highlight how a “centre” (generally a port) becomes the number 1 hub; the Top Dog 
  • To pinpoint what it takes for this “centre” to remain number 1
  • To indicate what events could result in this economic centre losing its status as Number 1 and being superseded by a “New economic centre”
  • To lay out a list of predictions of how the world is likely to evolve in the future

KEEP in mind that the book was written in 2006

Terminology Used

The Number 1 economic centre of the world is known as the CORE

The surroundings: the ENVIRONMENT

The rest of the world: the PERIPHERY

It opens by presenting the different ORDERs that have influenced societies over  the centuries:

  • RELIGIOUS        / Ritual Order
  • MILITARY / Imperial Order
  • ECONOMIC / Merchant Order

He states that generally in more recent times, it is the ECONOMIC or Merchant order that has prevailed

However, we do know that history is dotted with many DARK periods of WAR, FAMINE, INTROSPECTION and DISEASE.

There are 9 geographical CENTRES of the world that are presented since the 1200s.

Each of them has gained its dominance often thanks to an invention or to a service that has been industrialised on a large scale. An economic centre has lost its dominance sometimes due to war, new inventions or discoveries of new lands.

The economic centres identified are:

Centre of The Economic WorldWHEN ?WHY?
Bruges, Belgium, Cradle of Capitalism1200-1350Central rudder stock
Venice1350-1500Caravel
Antwerp, Belgium1500-1560Printing
Genoa, Italy1560-1620Accounting (1st double-entry book-keeping)
Amsterdam, Low Countries1620-1788Fluyt: a fast cargo ship
London1788-1890Steam Engine
Boston1890-1929Piston Engine
New York City1929-1980Electric Engine, used in all kinds of transport applications and home appliances
Los Angeles1980-presentMicrochip

Jacques ATTALI then goes on to make a case that the US is already in economic decline and a new world order is in-the-making.

He makes a number of predictions starting from 2006 over the next 20, 50, 100 years.

A few examples of these predictions include topics relating to:

  • Demographics
  • Immigration
  • The role of the Nation-State
  • Liberal economies
  • Nano-technology
  • Cybersurveillance
  • Territorial ambitions

The big question is:

 Where will the next economic centre(s) of the world be in the near future?

If you’d like to know more………………. then read the book!           

Take a look at the timeline 2006 – 2020 in the next post

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