Informal Reflections And Speculations III: The Future

By Henry Karlson, 19 June 2024
Photo by Amy Humphries on Unsplash


We have to start doing what we can now. We will have to reject many of the economic theories which have come from 19th and 20th century forms of capitalism for those theories do not take into account all the changes technology brings to the human condition (similar to the way Sergius Bulgakov saw Marxism was unable to account for the technology developed in the late 19th and early 20th century). We are going to have to stop making the association between work and wealth, because much which generates the wealth, and all the goods and services we need, will be out of our hands. If, for any reason, we question this, all we have to do is look at those who are wealthy and see how their wealth generates more wealth without them needing to work; this is just a preview of what is to happen for the whole of humanity, where technology will be working to multiply the wealth generated by humanity. And, as this means, there will be little to no need for actual human labor, there will not be the need for the population to be the same size or greater in the future to deal with the ageing population, which is why I am not concerned that if, in the near future, there is a decline in the human population, as there will not be the same need for the next generation to serve as “replacement workers” for those who came before them. Indeed, such a decline, if it is not forced through bad social policies, but rather, if it comes about naturally, can do the world some good, as it mean, we not have to face all the problems associated with overpopulation, which would happen if every generation of humanity was larger than the one which came before it.

I think that if humanity is not only going to survive, but flourish, in the future where there will be far less need for actual human labor, we are going to have to find a way to use the time given to us wisely, that is, to use the time we have been given to develop who we are as persons in a variety of ways (i.e., spiritually, intellectually, and artistically).  While the situation will be quite different, we still can learn from the example of those who have embraced the religious way of life, that is, monks and nuns, and indeed, hermits, for, though they have not entirely cut themselves off from the ways of the world, they still exist, in a way, which counters the norm suggested by the capitalistic enterprise (which is why many who promoted capitalism and its so-called work ethic often wrote harsh criticisms against the ascetic vocation, often calling them lazy).

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Henry C. Antony Karlson III has done considerable amount of graduate work and study in philosophy, theology, inter-religious dialogue, and comparative theology. He has taught at both Georgetown University and the Catholic University of America. Henry is a Byzantine Catholic who not only is interested in Orthodox and Catholic theologians and philosophers, but also learning from people of every faith tradition.

With thanks to Patheos and Henry Karlson, where this article originally appeared.


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