The Big, Big Picture
Bruce Ackerman, political writer -- Cosmos vs patriots. Cosmopolitans come in two varieties: for left cosmos, the pressing need is to deal with world problems—global warming, nuclear proliferation, and the unjust distribution of wealth and income. For right cosmos, it is to break down barriers to world trade.
Don Berry, journalist -- We need a planet-saving alternative to democracy. Mankind is set on exhausting the planet’s resources. Voters in rich nations will not want to give anything up; voters (or dictators) in developing nations will seek what the rich have.
Philip Bobbitt, political writer -- Nation state versus market state. The constitutional order of the nation state saw its role as one of regulating and reversing the results of markets. Market states, by contrast, try to use the market to achieve their governmental goals.
Rudi Bogni, banker and director -- The real problem of the 20th century was that the demographic and economic pressures that fractured the empires gave rise to national states with leaderships ill equipped to face the nihilist challenge.
Joe Boyd, music producer -- The big divide in the coming decades will be between the “reality-based community” and the “ideologically-based community.”
Robert Cooper, EU official -- In this century, freedom will come from international law, but there is no international state.
Meghnad Desai, economist -- Left/right, north/south, east/west are dead. Politics will be global and/or personal. What little the state will be asked to do—mainly local issues—it will fail to do.
Brian Eno, musician -- One of the big divisions of the future will be between those who believe in intervention as a moral duty and those who don't. ... It will be a discussion between pluralists, who are prepared to tolerate the discomfort of diversity, and those who feel they know what the best system is and feel it is their moral duty to encourage it.
Todd Gitlin, sociologist -- The coming cleavage is between zealots and realists.
Charles Grant, EU analyst -- The big divide of the 21st century will be between supporters of openness, globalisation and multilateralism, and partisans of introversion, protection and unilateralism. ... Conservatives remain virulently anti-EU, having failed to see -- as have most continental parties --that the EU is an agent for globalisation.
Pervez Hoodbhoy, scientist -- Global and national politics will turn simple and Hobbesian in 50-70 years. In the interim, energy hunger will drive the US and European countries to squeeze out, and steal, the last drops of oil from under Muslim sands. As bridges between Islam and the west collapse, expect global civil war and triumphant neo-Talibanic movements circling the globe. Should a few western capitals be levelled, Muslim capitals will be randomly nuked in retaliation. The old planetary order is condemned to die. But the human spirit may yet prevail, and a new and better one may emerge.
Nicholas Humphrey, scientist -- How can anyone doubt that the faultline is going to be religion?
Pico Iyer, writer -- The battle between left and right has long been eclipsed by the much more urgent debate between future and past—between, on one hand, those who hold, as the old have always done, that wisdom lies in tradition, community, continuity, and on the other, those who are convinced that transformation lies just around the corner, in whatever we come up with tomorrow.
Josef Joffe, editor, “Die Zeit” -- Samuel Huntington was right: “Islam has bloody borders,” and those borders are not just those of Gaza, south Lebanon, Chechnya or Kashmir. They are also within Islam (see Iraq) and the west—in the inner and outer cities of Paris, Amsterdam, London, Berlin and Rome. And western liberalism is trapped in its own sacred traditions: how to integrate, assimilate or fight the enemy within while remembering our horrifying history of colonialism and racism and honouring our liberal values.
RW Johnson, political writer -- The fact that the birth rate of the Muslim world is significantly higher than anyone else’s will inevitably increase the power of the world’s last great anti-democratic ideology, which is also likely to replace Marxism as the ideology of the third world. At the same time, the rapid rise of China will gradually restore the old bipolar balance of the cold war period. The democratic states are likely to find themselves thrown on the defensive to a degree not seen since the 1930s, and, for the first time, they will become unsure as to whether they really represent the wave of the future.
Tobias Jones, writer -- Rural versus urban. This century’s great division will be less political than geographical: cities will, for the first time in centuries, begin to shrink, causing great tensions in rural locations having to accommodate large numbers of “evacuees.”
Sunder Katwala, Fabian Society -- “Smaller government”—the dominant political theme of the last 30 years – has hit the buffers. Advocates of the minimal state need to be climate change deniers to sustain their political project.
Eric Kaufmann, academic -- In the future, the main conflict in developed countries will be between conservative populism and liberal elitism. Conservative populists will be native-born members of the indigenous majority with below-average education who feel economically insecure about globalisation, existentially threatened by ethnic change and liberal values, and resentful of the wealth and cosmopolitanism of upper-income groups.
Jytte Klausen, academic -- God is back in politics. The new cleavage is between secularists insisting on individual freedoms and the interests of faith groups.
Richard Layard, economist -- The great issue for the 21st century will be materialism vs quality of life.
Julian Le Grand, economist -- The major divide will be between those who think that individuals have choices and are therefore responsible for their actions, and those who believe the opposite.
James Lovelock, environmentalist -- The coming division will be between those who see a future life in the Arctic or on oases and islands, and those who would rather stay put. Those who do stay and can remember life in Britain during the second world war will find global heating, when it starts to hurt, quite familiar. “Don’t you know there’s a climate change on?” will be the put- down to every request for an air conditioner, and Dad’s “green” army will service their windmills; left and right will be in storage for the duration.
Tariq Modood, sociologist -- The ideological divide will be a form of liberalism which emphasises the privatisation of religion, and in its more radical wings the structuring of public life on the assumption that God does not exist, versus a form of liberalism based on inclusivity in which neither religious nor non-religious people have to “privatise” their beliefs.
Anshuman Mondal, academic -- There will also be an increasing challenge to the hegemony of “occidentalism,” the notion that western models of politics, society and economy represent the goal of human development. This will represent the next stage of decolonisation.
Kamran Nazeer, writer -- Nature vs machines.
Peter R Neumann, political scientist -- 21st-century politics is no longer about the tangibles of economic policy. It is about the intangibles of culture, religion and ethnicity.
Philip Pullman, author -- The struggle will continue to be what it has always been: wisdom against stupidity. In the 20th century the odds shortened greatly in favour of stupidity, because stupidity now has the means to destroy human civilisation entirely.
Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad , philosopher -- The most dramatic expression of the economics of the poor, however, will now come from religion. There will be those for whom human purpose is explicable only in terms of religion, and those for whom it is understood purely in terms of scientific processes. All major religions will be involved, facing secular resistance. The deep divide will be evident in debates over how to give succour to those who feel disempowered and without hope.
Jonathan Rauch, journalist -- The question for the next few decades will be whether the centre can systematically reassert itself, even as partisans and ideologues—their shovels flying—dig deeper entrenchments.
Malcolm Rifkind, politician -- The most significant will be the choice between personal freedom and security; between civil liberties and the need to deal with crime and terrorism.
Bridget Rosewell, economist -- Choice vs instruction.
Irwin Stelzer, economist -- My best guess is that almost all of the issues will fall into two categories: markets vs ministers; and making government work.
Martin Walker, journalist -- the left/right spectrum is likely to continue in subtly different forms, shaped more around the distinction between organising society on a communal (heirs of the left) or an individual (the right) basis, with environmentalism and sustainability as the immediate battleground.
Francis Wheen, writer -- The new struggle is between the best of the Enlightenment legacy (rationalism, scientific empiricism, separation of church and state) on the one hand and, on the other, various forms of obscurantism and value-free relativism, often disguised as “anti-imperialism” or “anti-universalism” to give profoundly reactionary attitudes an alluringly radical veneer.
David Willetts, politician -- Increasingly we worry about a society divided by conflicts of culture and identity. But there is another division, just as significant, which can shape the political agenda of the future. We are living in a society increasingly divided by age. We, the baby boomers, are failing to ensure the younger generation enjoy the wealth and opportunities we have enjoyed.
Wretchard, Internet diarist -- The Next Big Thing hasn't happened yet. But given a century in prospect there are significant odds that some contingent event, discovery or emergent technology will organize or divide us in ways we do not yet suspect. "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."