In the last decades, future forecasting, popularly called futurology, has engaged the public’s imagination. Writers like Herman Kahn, the authors of the Club of Rome report, Alvin Toffler, and John Naisbitt have written best-selling books depicting what lies or may lie ahead for the human race. The reason for futurology’s popularity, no doubt, is that events seem to move faster than ever before, people cannot make connections between them, and so the world often seems out of control. People are confused about what personal decisions to make, and governments, also confused, operate without plan, direction, or vision, simply reacting to crisis after crisis. People sense that this lack of direction and control could soon lead us to common doom through nuclear, ecological, or population explosion.
Futurists and future forecasters try to meet this need for vision and direction. Their task is urgent. But most public attention to future forecasting seems to focus on visions of scientific and technological breakthroughs that will make the world a paradise or hell, on analyses of single issues like the impact of development on the environment, on tendencies in a single country or region, or on forecasts of business and economic trends. It shows little interest in future religious, social, spiritual, sexual, and political patterns, assuming, perhaps, that these will be no different from today’s, or will change merely to conform to the presumably more important sci-tech and economic changes.
In this book I try to meet the urgent need to know the future by advancing a different perception. Of course sci-tech and business trends, like eating, sleeping, and eliminating, will remain important. But the future which this book sees is one of religious-spiritual growth, decreasing interest in business and economics, a post-capitalist economic system, an androgynous — that is, sexually-balanced — society, and the rise of new great powers whose power will be based not on military, economic, or technological strength, as hitherto, but on their religious and spiritual strength and on the newly disencumbered strength of women.
Why do futurists tend to lose themselves in superficial or limited visions of sci-tech and business and fail to foresee the more profoundly relevant trends? Because they often lack or reject a “big-picture” approach — a comprehensive, holistic, synthetic view of history and the future that shows us how the seemingly random events of past, present, and future are linked together. That is the approach I try to apply in this book.
Instead, what have we most often seen? Early in the twentieth century, Oswald Spengler, the German historian, predicted the decline of the West. In more recent decades, Daniel Bell, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Alvin Toffler have shown that the “second-wave” industrial system we had been living under since the Industrial Revolution was changing into a new system, which the three authors respectively called the post-industrial society, the new industrial state, and the third wave.
More recently, in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Professor Paul Kennedy showed how all great powers eventually lose their military and political strength if they fail to keep their economies healthy — a warning to the United States to deal with its economic problems or lose its political and military superiority relative to the newly-rising economic powers of the Far East and elsewhere.
Meanwhile scholars and writers signal new trends such as the rebirth of Japan, Islam, anti-Semitism, and Nazism; the rise of women, animal rights, China, and the New Age; the mass return to religion; and the “downsizing” of human employment, which will lead to machines, robots, and computers taking over most physical and mental work, while humans — most at least of the projected 10 billion of us — will confront lives of enforced leisure.
And two theorists have recently ignited raging debates. One, Francis Fukuyama, in a 1989 essay entitled “The End of History,” argued that with the “collapse” of communism history itself has ended: sooner or later all countries will have to adopt the only system “that works,” American Western-style liberal democratic capitalism. The other, Professor Samuel P. Huntington, in a 1993 article in Foreign Affairs, argued that with the end of the Cold War, conflicts between ideologies — liberal democracy vs. fascism vs. communism — were giving way to clashes between cultures: the West vs. Islam, Muslims vs. Hindus, the West vs. Greater China, and so on.
Of these ideas, only the ones of Spengler and Toffler are based on a big-picture approach. The other formulations I have mentioned seem to be presented (and are usually perceived) as if each were isolated and disconnected from the others and alone held the key to understanding the present and future. By contrast, the big-picture approach of this book is so spacious that it both includes and reinforces the truth (to the extent they are true) of all these conceptions, as it subordinates each to the Big Picture and puts them all in a comprehensive framework that shows how they interconnect. No single one stands out as more of a panacea or threat than it really is.
The book tries to show, for instance, not only that Professor Kennedy’s insight — that military and political power depend on economic strength — is true and urgent for the United States, but also how this truth relates to the coming post-industrial society, the decline of the West, the rise of Japan, Islam, China, anti-Semitism, women, animal rights, religious fundamentalism, the shrinkage of human employment, and so forth. It tries to answer questions raised by the debates about the end of history and the clash of cultures by showing that humanity still has three economic systems to experience before “the end of history,” and that the main struggles in the past and into the future were and will be neither clashes of culture nor of ideology, but clashes between the male and female principles and between castes.
The Three Dimensions of History — Age, Sex, and Caste
This book offers, to be precise, not one but three “big pictures,” which I call models: the Age, the Sex, and the Caste Models. Each model describes history and the future from a different perspective. Each provides a framework that explains, I believe, the seemingly random, incomprehensible, and disconnected events of history more easily and elegantly than other explanations. The models thus enable us to understand and re-evaluate the past, act and make personal and national decisions in the present, and forecast and prepare for the future in the most accurate, effective way.
Up through the nineteenth century, the big-picture approach to past and future was the normal approach, first in the form of religious grand narratives. That was because practically everyone was religious, or professed to be. God had not yet “died.” And every religion had its own built-in grand narrative. The Western religious grand narratives — Christian, Jewish, Islamic — explain history as divine plan, moving toward a culmination. (Eastern religious grand narratives, by contrast, envision history and future as endlessly repeated cycles.) Every individual must choose whether to participate in this divine plan and thus attain “eternity,” or to reject it. The Christian grand narrative predicts that one day Jesus will return and there will be a Day of Judgment. The good and the believers will be rewarded in heaven; the bad and the unbelievers will be punished in hell.
In modern times, as God “died” for many people and science replaced religion as their prime source of truth, secular grand narratives — often called macrohistories — gained popularity, especially in the 19th century. Auguste Comte’s positivist Law of the Three Stages is an example. That macrohistory saw world society as passing from a prehistoric theological stage to a metaphysical stage to a final positivist or scientific stage. Later in that century, Marx and Engels presented their model of history and the future as a series of socio-economic stages: Starting out with primitive communism, humanity progressed through slavery, feudalism, and capitalism, and will experience worker revolution and dictatorship, the withering away of the state, and finally a worldwide socialist-anarchist classless society.
Attention Marxists and Ex-Marxists: Marxism Failed
Politically Because of its Defects as a Theory of Revolution. The Idea that Corrects Them Comes from India.
This Marxist macrohistory is the most well-known, influential, and enduring in popularity and unpopularity. Right now it is out of favor. But I think that its description of the stages of history and its projection of the future are basically correct, and in fact they roughly correspond to stages in my Caste Model. (This may seem odd, since the Caste Model, as Chapter 1 will explain, is derived from the ancient Hindu philosophy of history. Why, one may ask, is the Marxist philosophy of history so similar to the Hindu one? Marx and Engels are not known to have spent time in an Indian ashram.)
However, the Marxist model has at least four distorting defects that threw its predictions and politics off and helped assure the later failures of communist systems. The Caste Model, though based on a philosophy 3,000 years older than the Marxist one, does not have these defects. (Had the many disillusioned ex-Marxists of the ’40s, ’50s, and later known about the Caste Model, they would have been able to turn to it as an alternative theory and philosophy of history and revolution.)
The first defect of the Marxist model was faulty defining of terms, especially the term “working class.” Defined too narrowly, it refers mainly to blue-collar wage labor. It should have included, like the Caste Model’s equivalent term, “worker caste,” anyone working for a wage, salary, fee, or “nothing,” such as most peasants, farmers, and professionals, and all white-collar workers, serfs, slaves, and women doing housework and childcare.
Defect number two was that the model interpreted the movement from stage to stage too rigidly and mechanically. True, worker revolution overthrows what I shall call merchant-caste capitalism, the stage that precedes it. But the model then mistakenly assumed that every country would experience the two stages in the same strict order: every country in which capitalism had fully developed would be ripe for and thus experience a worker revolution. This defect caused the Marxist model to wrongly predict worker revolutions in countries where they could not happen, such as France, Britain, and Germany, and to fail to predict them in countries where they actually would happen — Russia, China, Vietnam, Cuba, etc. Chapter 1 shows, I feel, how the Caste Model corrects this defect because its view of the nature of revolution — not just of worker-caste but of all caste revolution — is deeper, more subtle, and less mechanical than that of the Marxist model.
The third defect in the Marxist model is its economic determinism, the belief that economics is the determining factor in history. The model shows this bent by naming all of its stages of history by their socio-economic systems: slavery, feudalism, capitalism, etc. This defect leads to faulty prediction simply because there are deeper determining forces in history than economic ones. Here is an example from everyday life to illustrate the point: Economics cannot determine our age, sex, or caste. But all three of these significantly determine what our economic situation will be. For example, if you are old, female, and not money-oriented (i.e., not in the merchant caste), lots of money or a good job will not make you young, male, and money-oriented. But being young, male, and money-oriented will give you a much better chance at money and high-salaried jobs than being old, female, and not money-oriented.
The reason for this defect is easy to understand once one is familiar with the Caste Model. Marx, Engels, and their followers lived in one of the two most economically-determined and economically-focussed of the five caste ages: the Merchant Age. Moreover, they pioneered the development of the other: the Worker Age. So they easily fell into the trap of thinking that all ages were and must be equally economically-determined.
This defect, too, distorted the Marxist model’s predictions. Like the first defect, it led Marxists into putting too much hope in the revolutionary role of blue-collar wage labor, an economic force. Second, it led them to shrug off the importance — in history, in the future, and with respect to revolution — of the non-economic factors and forces of history, especially of the warrior mentality, spirituality, religion, ethnicity and culture, and women and the female principle.
The fourth defect of the Marxist model is its arbitrariness. That is, if you were living in any one of its stages of history, you would not be able to guess what the next or later stages would be, unless you had studied the model and taken Marx’ and Engels’ word for it. If you had lived, for example, in the stage of slavery, you would have had to be clairvoyant to know that feudalism would be the next stage, then capitalism, and so forth. This is because the model was essentially devised by two persons who, in turn, had adapted ideas devised by earlier thinkers such as Hegel. It has no easily traceable deep roots in ancient collective human wisdom, culture, and experience.
The three models of this book, by contrast, seem to have predictability built into them. Whatever stage of history you happen to be in, once your attention is drawn to the ancient wisdom or everyday collective experience behind the model’s basic concept, you can easily deduce all the later stages and the broad trends which are likely to occur within them.
In the twentieth century, except for the Marxist model of history in its heyday, grand narratives and macrohistories — and the big-picture “holistic” approach to history and the future in general — have gone out of fashion. Scholars, media commentators, historians, and futures researchers reject them outright. One reason has been that grand narratives resemble the so-called grand theories that seem to explain history too neatly and rigidly, in a scientistic rather than scientific way. Grand theorists made predictions based on their theory as if it were a flawless, scientific formula. Such theories oversimplified and overgeneralized. A second reason has been that past grand narratives/macrohistories seemed simply to no longer ring true, or had too many obvious flaws, or were too masculine in tone. A third reason has been the recent postmodern criticism. Postmodernists see macrohistory as part of the outdated modern Western tradition. They reject it along with everything modern and Western.
Politics has also played a role in the rejection. The most widely accepted macrohistory has of course been the Marxist one. It was the basis for the worldwide Marxist movement and for the communist states. The collapse of those states in Europe has left the Marxist macrohistory widely discredited, but until that collapse, it was the most popular challenge to our current capitalist system. The Marxist model sees capitalism as an outdated transition system to be replaced through revolution by communism. So naturally, long before the defects of the Marxist model became obvious, the influential elites felt threatened by its political directions. They used their influence in politics and the media to make the Marxist theory even more unfashionable and unpopular than it deserved to be.
But even apart from the Marxist one, any macrohistory worth its salt is bound to see our present political-economic system as far from what humanity is capable of and will create in the future. So in the eyes of our present elites, all salt-worthy macrohistories are “subversive.”
However, I suspect that the profound reason for the twentieth century’s rejection of grand narratives, macrohistories, and big pictures of history and the future is simply that, within the mainstream of scholars, media commentators, historians, and futurists, the male principle, which delights in specializing, analyzing, compartmentalizing, and fragmenting, reigned (as it still reigns) supreme. As Chapter 2 (The Sex Model) points out, the holistic, big-picture approach to things is an expression of the female principle, and in the twentieth century the Western and Westernized “establishment” tended to repress and reject this female principle, for reasons which will become clear in the chapters ahead.
Deep Structures and Human Coordinates
The problem with grand narratives, macrohistories, and big pictures being out of fashion is this: since they are the only kind of ideas that give a sense of order, meaning, coherence, and predictability to history and the human condition, without them we are left with the sense that history is random and meaningless, the present confusing, and the future totally unpredictable. This is why most historians spend all their time and effort just analyzing their specialized study areas in greater and more trivial detail, rather than looking for the “big picture,” and why futurists, who lack any big picture to guide them, simply analyze current trends to predict future ones.
Yet unfashionable though big pictures may be, the assumption that history is random and meaningless and the future unpredictable is too extreme. Chaos theory shows that processes that seem random on the surface show orderly, predictable patterns on deeper levels. Likewise, though everyday historical events seem to happen at random, the broad basic trends, or “deep structures,” of history have meaning, direction, and pattern; and by knowing these things we can predict a great deal.
The rationale for big pictures can be inferred from common-sense experience. The human body and the life cycle offer two examples. Before a person is born, we cannot predict in detail what that person will do with her body and mind during the course of her life. For we cannot get inside people’s heads and hearts, and perceive their will. But almost everyone has the same “predictable” body. We know in advance that every person born will have either male or female genitals, a mind, two eyes, two ears, one head, no tail, etc. The inevitability of the body-mind-spirit complex is the deep-structure, which is pre-determined and predictable.
The life cycle is a similar deep structure. We can predict that everyone born, assuming he lives long enough, will go from birth, to infancy, to childhood, to adulthood, etc., in that order. To my knowledge, never once in human history has a person been an old man or woman before he/she was a child, despite F. Scott Fitzgerald’s amusing phantasy of Benjamin Button, the man who grew young. (I may be the only exception.) What a person does during these stages, however — the surface structure — is of course fairly unpredictable.
In the cases of both the human body and the life cycle, we cannot predict how people will act in detail. But by simply knowing generally how the body works, and what people generally do during the different stages of the life cycle, we predict in a broad general way more than we realize we do.
What is true for the deep structures of the individual is true also for the deep structures of human society as it moves through history. If we look at these deep structures, we can see meaning in history and guess intelligently the future’s basic trends. And if we know individual countries well, we can fairly well intuit how they will react to these trends.
The deeper the structure that a model encompasses, the more its explanation of history rings true and the more it can be used to accurately predict. Toffler’s “three wave” model (or metaphor, as he calls it), the subject of his book The Third Wave, is a good example. It shows how history, starting out with humanity as a primitive gathering-hunting society, progressed through an agricultural, an industrial, and now a post-industrial, third, wave. One cannot really argue against that model and its deep structures. Toffler shows us order and direction in what looks like chaos.
The three models in this book, I believe, explain history and the future from an even deeper — perhaps the deepest — structural level: the coordinate level. Every person has three “coordinates” completely or greatly determined and predictable the day she or he is born: her/his age, sex, and caste (a social grouping with its own system of values, world view, and behavior). Everyone has an age at every moment of his/her life, known and predictable from the moment of birth. Everyone belongs to one or the other of the two sexes. And everyone can be said to “belong” to one of the four human castes. As this book hopes to show, the history and future of humanity as a whole have the same three coordinates: the age, sex, and caste development of the human species, determined the “day” it was “born.” Just as we can understand and predict a lot about a single person by knowing her age, sex, and caste, so can we understand and predict a lot about the human race by knowing its present stage of age, sex, and caste development.
Toffler’s model is basically oriented toward economics, science, and technological development. Since the models in this book, of age, sex, and caste, deal with deeper structures of history than these, they show all the more truly, perhaps, how much more important than economics, science, and technology will be, in the twenty-first century, religion and spirituality; feminism, the female principle, and the androgynous direction of society; caste revolution and struggle; and the roles of key individual countries and peoples, such as India and Tibet, Israel and the Jews, the Islamic countries, sub-Saharan Africa, and the indigenous peoples of all continents.
The More Deeply You Look at History, the More You Can Expect the Unexpected
The three models seem to answer today’s troubling questions: Why are formerly secure employees in developed Western countries getting laid off in droves, never to refind the job and life security they once seemed to have? How will that problem be solved? Will capitalism survive? If not, what will replace it in the 21st century? What will happen to the American-Russian relationship? Will the U.S. remain strong? Will China become a great power? Will Japan? What will be the future political, economic, and social position and power of women? Will Israel and Palestine find peace and prosperity? What will be the role of Islam? Of fundamentalism? Of India? Which will be the great powers of this century? What will happen to religion? How will men and women love and relate to each other sexually? Will there be monogamy? What is Africa’s destiny? And most important, will humanity survive beyond the 21st century?
The clear view of history the models provide seems also to help us intuit seemingly unexpected events before they happen. Let me illustrate with my own experience.
The day after the Vietnamese communist army occupied Saigon in 1975, I read the newspaper reports about it in my flat in Tokyo. Suddenly this idea popped into my head: “Of course, another worker-caste republic has established itself through revolution. Just as the ancient Hindu sages had predicted, the worker caste is taking over the world from the merchant caste.” Spontaneously, I had made what seemed to be the elusive connection between everyday history as we know it and study it in school and the Hindu philosophy of history.
This philosophy is as familiar to most Hindus, from learned pundit to housewife to migrant from the countryside sleeping on the city streets, as the Garden of Eden, the Fall, and the Second Coming are to most Christians. And the terms it uses — yuga, kalpa, kaliyuga, and others — are now even familiar to many people in the West. Yet when I first became familiar with this philosophy during the two years I spent in and around India in the mid-1960s, even though I had been a history major in my earlier college days, I could make no sense of it or see any connection between it and actual, lived history. Nor had I come across any literature that had made such a connection in a convincing way. So I dismissed the philosophy as just some more of that imaginative but gratuitous mythmaking many Indians are fond of indulging in.
Now suddenly I realized that the old Hindu idea was true: it was fact as well as myth. This single connection between it and real history led spontaneously, over the next few days, to the three models and all the main ideas of the book.
But even after these “revelations and inspirations,” I dismissed the whole thing. For if the three models truly described the stages of history and the future, the unexpected events which they suggested would happen — as I interpreted them, of course — seemed, at that time back in 1975, not very probable. They suggested trends like intensified trade friction between Japan and the United States accompanied by strong Japan-bashing and a split in the U.S.-Japan alliance, Arab leaders making peace visits to Israel, religious revolutions replacing socialist revolutions, and a rapprochement between Japan and China. In fact, they generated all the basic forecasts in this book. These included the development of a world-leading Far East political-economic bloc; the reunification of Germany and of Eastern and Western Europe into a single bloc; the formation of a bloc comprising the United States, Russia, Canada, and Scandinavia; the integration of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Burma into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations; religion and spirituality replacing economics as the main source of world power; the leadership of world politics by women; the end of monogamy; anarchism replacing capitalism and socialism as the main economic system; the formation of a Pan-Semitic federation comprising Israel, Palestine, and the Arab countries; an androgynous society; the shift of world power from the industrialized North to India, the Middle East, and most of the Islamic world; strong anti-Semitism in the United States and a mass migration of North American Jews to Israel; a powerful animal rights movement; the end of meat-eating by humans and of cruel sports; the end of apartheid in South Africa; sex as the basis of religion; an artificial world language replacing English as the lingua franca; and the political leadership of black Africa and indigenous peoples in the late 21st century.
In 1975, not only I, but everyone I talked to about the models and their implications dismissed the whole thing as crazy and ridiculous.
But over the following five years, one surprising event after another occurred, which conformed to the scenario of the models. In the later 1970s, U.S.-Japan trade friction and Japan-bashing, imperceptible before 1975, intensified. In 1977, Anwar Sadat of Egypt paid a surprise peace visit to Israel. In 1979, the first religious revolution succeeded in Iran. And Japan and China drew economically and politically closer with dazzling speed.
Seeing these events, I said to myself: “Hmmm. Maybe there’s something to the models after all.” And so, as the 1970s ended, I decided to write them down, along with the forecasts they suggested to me, as a book. Since 1983, I’ve also lectured and written articles on the subject. It became a duty and a pleasure. A duty because no one seemed to have made the connections as concretely and in as much detail before. And if the models were true, they might not only revolutionize the way we look at and study history, but perhaps they could even minimize the destructive forces that lay ahead and perhaps “save the world.” (I was clearly getting carried away by my enthusiasm.) If the models proved wrong in their forecasts after all, no one would be the worse for it; if they proved correct, all would benefit.
Since then the models seem to be still on target: If you go over the above list of forecasts, you will see that some of them have since come true, others conform to the direction of the scenario, and many seem no longer as unexpected and surprising as they were in 1975. (The rest are admittedly “improbable” and “ridiculous” enough to keep the book interesting.)
Not Class Struggle, but Caste Struggle
Now let us survey briefly the contents of the book. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 introduce in turn the basics of the Caste, Sex, and Age Models. These three models express the stages of caste, sex, and age development, respectively, of the human species. The Caste Model, derived from, but by no means identical with, the Hindu philosophy of history, divides history and the future into five “caste ages.” Starting from an initial Spiritual-Religious Age in pre- and early history, humanity evolved through a Warrior Age, ruled by kings, emperors, knights, nobles, and samurai, to a Merchant Age, dominated by traders and industrialists, to a bureaucratic-technocratic Worker Age. Then history “ends” — in the future — with a second Spiritual-Religious Age. The model helps us explain and predict the rise and fall of old and new great powers, according to which caste they “belong” to, and the worldwide political, economic, social, military, and religious consequences of this caste struggle.
Chapter 1 also reviews seven patterns of history and revolution that characterize the caste struggle, correcting in the process the basic errors in Marxist thinking that led to Marxism’s later and current political failures. These patterns will repeat themselves in the future as, for example, religious revolution replaces bourgeois and socialist revolution as the main form of revolution.
Since the Caste Model yields the most diverse information, it takes up most of the book. But it deals with only one of the three coordinates. The Sex and Age Models supply the pixels needed to complete the big picture by explaining the development of the other two. Using the Chinese yin-yang philosophy as its metaphor, the Sex Model is a feminist macrohistory that shows that history evolves dialectically through three successive sexual ages. The first age was the Yin Age, corresponding to prehistory, when humanity lived in tune with the female principle. Then came the Yang Age, which began with the Patriarchal Revolution between 4,000 and 2,000 BC, and has continued up to the present. In this age the human race switched over to living in tune with the male principle. We humans are now in the transition from the Yang Age to the third and last sexual age, the Androgynous Age. The “pioneering stage” of that age began roughly in the 1960s, with the rebirth of the feminist movement. A growing holistic world view, the environmental movement, gay rights, animal rights, and related trends are part of this surge towards androgyny.
The Sex Model predicts that whatever is either “too male” or “too female” in the Yang Age, the age now coming to a close, will become sexually balanced in the just-starting Age of Androgyny. The changing nature of women and men is an example, but equally important is the marriage of East and West. The model shows that a “sexual divide” occurred at the beginning of the Yang Age: the East stayed closer to humanity’s yin-female roots, while the West went very far toward the yang-male pole. As we androgynize, we integrate Eastern and Western culture, sensibility, philosophy, and religion. The model yields androgynously-oriented predictions about ecology, medicine, animal rights, hunting, cruel sports, the nature of God, homosexuality, feminism, the role of women in politics and society, and male-female love-sex relations.
Chapter 3 presents the Age Model. The model suggests that the spiritual development of humanity as a whole parallels that of a single properly-maturing individual as he or she ages. It shows that the successive stages of history and the future correspond to the successive stages in the individual’s life cycle. The idea is not new. The 19th century evolutionist, Ernst Haeckel, applied a similar idea to biology, Freud applied the idea to psychology, and Ken Wilber, the leading transpersonal theorist, uses it to describe the development of human consciousness. Here, in the form of the Age Model, I apply it directly to history and the future, especially as expressed in religion and ideology.
The Age Model narrates key turning points in human history that correspond to those in the life of an individual. An example was the period around 2,000 BC, when humans switched from worshipping Goddesses, conceived as the Mother and the Earth, to worshipping God the Father in heaven and similar male divinities and father-like figures. This turning point parallels the time in a child’s life when it switches from seeing its mother as the center of its life to focus upon its father.
The model implies that humanity is now about 19 years old, spiritually. It is only now approaching adulthood, the Adult Age. It predicts the future based on our current “adolescent” level of spiritual maturity; specifically, it addresses our chances of survival and predicts the “adult” religion of the future.
The True End of History: Androgyny and Adult
Chapter 4 explains the links among the three models, especially the role that feminism and women will play in the models’ last ages. While the first four chapters cover the basics of the models, the remaining chapters elaborate the details, using the Caste Model as the central axis. Chapters 5 to 7 explain the past — what the first Spiritual-Religious Age, the Warrior Age, and the Merchant Age were all about. Chapters 8 to 12 deal with the present and near-future Worker Age. Chapter 8 explains its essentials and Chapter 9 details its peak period, the years from, roughly, 1975 to 2030. It discusses the coming division of the world into about fifteen blocs, and the rise of three of them to top world power. These three may be called Confucio (Japan, China, and reunified Korea), Europa (eastern and western Europe in a single union), and Polario (the alliance of the countries that surround the North Pole — North America [Canada, U.S., Mexico], Russia, Scandinavia). Chapter 10 discusses the relative power of these three blocs, and offers an answer to the question: “Did communism really collapse?”
Chapter 12 answers two pressing questions the Worker Age poses: “Should the United States, Europe, and other countries imitate Japan?” and “Does capitalism inevitably go together with democracy and freedom?”
Chapters 13 to 18 deal with the “last” caste age, the coming Second Spiritual-Religious Age. Chapter 13 explains its general nature, while Chapters 14 and 15 make social and political predictions about it, such as more religious revolutions (beyond those of Iran and Afghanistan) and the resulting rise of the four great “religious belt” powers of the mid-21st century. It deals with the future world economic, political, and spiritual power of Israel, India, and Islam.
Chapter 16 foresees the economic changes of this last caste age — all part of the “spiritualization” of the global economy. Chapter 17 shows how these changes will help shift top world power from the three great powers of the Worker Age — Confucio, Europa, and Polario — to the four “religious” powers of this Second Spiritual-Religious Age. Finally, Chapter 18 offers forecasts about the peak stage of the Second Spiritual-Religious Age, the “final” stage of human history and the transition to superhumanity. It explains why sub-Saharan Africa and the world’s indigenous cultures will be the last “great powers” of history.
Linear/Cyclical and the Spiritual Imperative
In these chapters, I hope to show that the three models serve the purpose affirmed in the beginning: Taken together, they provide the subtly shaded “big picture” we need to understand the past, present, and future in a way that ties all the seemingly disconnected and chaotic trends and events of the past and present into a satisfying, orderly whole that enables us to anticipate even “unpredictable” future directions. The Caste Model, moreover, allows us to reconcile a major difference between East and West, that is, the yin, Eastern view of time and history as cyclical, with the yang Western linear view. By synthesizing these seemingly opposite views, the model gives us a spiral view, in which time moves forward from age to age in a linear way, yet at the same time returns to the first age, as if starting a new cycle, but at a higher level of evolution.
The forecasts in these chapters are based on what I believe is a reasonable interpretation of the models. Yet the reader, contemplating, for instance, our forecast of a “spiritualized” economic system that virtually equalizes everyone’s share of the economic pie and insures everyone’s economic security (Chapter 16), or of the end of human meat-eating (Chapter 2), may well say, “No, that forecast is impossible. It’s too idealistic, too far-fetched.”
First, however, bear in mind that forecasts that people can easily accept are probably useless. History repeatedly surprises us with the unexpected and unacceptable, with what people say cannothappen. So a serious book must forecast such things. Second, the issue here is what I call the “Spiritual Imperative.” Constantly confronting everyday evils, hassles, and conflicts, one often gets carried away and asserts that although humanity has obviously made scientific, technological, and material progress, it has made no spiritual progress at all. We are still the same immature, greedy, selfish, murderous bunch we ever were and will never change. (Though we may note that people who say this are wise enough not to include themselves in that murderous bunch.)
But this is a false view. Humanity has made steady spiritual progress. At every stage of history according to all three models, it has increased its spiritual sensibility and heard Spiritual Imperatives that told it to slough off old evils, at least in principle if not always in practice. Eventually practice follows principle. Evils — a long list of them — come to mind that were accepted as entirely natural in earlier ages, but which the Spiritual Imperative commanded humans to rid themselves of in later ages: cannibalism, human sacrifice, tyranny, slavery, male supremacy, sport spectacles of death such as gladiatorial bouts, racism, imperialism, public executions, witch burnings, and the like.
The abolition of slavery is a good example of how the Spiritual Imperative works. People offer many explanations for why abolition succeeded in the 19th century: the political will and power of the abolitionists; in the United States, the power struggle between the North and South and the high moral standards of President Lincoln; the vitality of religious opposition to slavery; and others. Economic determinism still commands wide acceptance and some of the most convincing explanations are economic ones. One of these, for instance, declared that by supporting abolition, industrial interests were able both to eliminate the slave labor which plantation agricultural interests, their competitors, depended on, and at the same time to convert the ex-slaves into badly-needed cheap labor for their own factories, thus assuring their own economic-political wealth and power. This support was perhaps crucial to the success of the abolition movement.
All of these rational explanations contain truths, but the only explanation that rings completely true — to me at least — is the one based on spiritual sensitivity rather than reason: that humanity reached a point of spiritual maturity, sensibility, and awareness where it could no longer tolerate slavery. The human race was simply responding to a Spiritual Imperative. In other words, at each stage of history, humanity reached levels of spiritual awareness where, responding to that Imperative, it could no longer accept practices and customs like those mentioned, and simply discarded them — by economic, political, or whatever means available.
And so in the future, we shall respond to the Spiritual Imperatives of the new age of history by creating a spiritualized economic system that guarantees everyone an equal share of economic wealth, and bringing to actuality many other “impossible” forecasts in this book. Today, as with the issue of slavery 150 years ago, we debate these issues with economic, ideological, and ethical arguments, but a century from now, their perceptions cleared, people will perceive them in the light of the Spiritual Imperatives of our time.
The late Ken Woodroofe, of Great Britain, to whom this book is dedicated, was professor of literature for many years at various universities in the United States and India before coming to Japan, where he spent his last twenty-seven years. There he taught for many years at Aoyama Gakuin University and at Tokyo International College of Commerce and Economics, and later at various colleges during his “retirement.” Professor Woodroofe was the organizer of the regular series of lectures held under the auspices of the Unitarian Fellowship of Japan, at International House, Tokyo. Many of the ideas in this book were presented for the first time at several of these lectures. I am deeply grateful for his sustained encouragement and promotional support, which helped me in various ways to get my ideas before the public.
My grandmother often told me, “You can’t do anything without other people’s help.” I’ve never tested the absolute truth of this statement, and I suspect there are exceptions, but it was certainly true for me. That is why I wish to thank friends and colleagues who helped, supported, and encouraged me in putting this book together.
First of all, I wish to thank my editor, Dr. Maxwell Luria, professor of English literature at Temple University in Philadelphia and Tokyo. Second, I wish to thank Bill Kelly, who edited the contents of the book. These two gentlemen understood this book better than myself, and thus convinced me of its worth and importance.
I also wish to thank Joel Diamond, who, together with severe criticism and continual encouragement, made it possible for me to put the book together physically; and Shulamith Firestone, founder and leading theorist of the Radical Feminist Movement. In her book The Dialectic of Sex, she corrects defects in the Marxist model by explaining the feminist big picture of history. As friend and visionary, she helped shape my mind to look for the big picture in my own reflections.
I wish to acknowledge with gratitude those who gave me help, encouragement, and support in many other different ways: Jutta Assbichler, Dr. Karl Rueff, Kazuko Abe Rueff, Martin Hrycenko, Dr. Carole Marks, Paul Siudzinski, Liz Rich, Gerda Rühl, Rhoda Curtis, Susan Gordon, Rose Vitola, Terry Browning, Joe Carter, Gunnel Rasmussen Torres, Debra von Rohr, Rochelle Katz, Mary Dawne Arden, Judy Steele, Philip J. Hodes, Masanori Une and Michael D. Magee of Tokyo Planning Space Co., my sponsor in Japan, and the Indian, Chinese, and Western philosophers whose ideas helped me crystallize my own.
Finally, I wish to thank whoever or whatever She, He, or It was who mysteriously put the basic ideas for the book in my head when I was least expecting them.
Tokyo, 1996 / 2001