As regards the title-question in your program, let me try to be a bit more modest. No professor nor even the most advanced computer can give you a prognosis covering the globe over a full century. And I am neither a knowing-it-all-professor nor a computer, but only an ordinary citizen, just a has-been political leader and – even worse – a life-time economist. Therefore I will limit myself to touch upon some of the phenomena which I do expect for the next couple of decades.
I. Because any forecast, be it related to the weather or the economy or the tennistournament at Wimbledon, has to start from the facts and the tendencies of the present. Let me start by hinting to ten of the factors that foreseeably enough will have a major impact on the future: ?
1. You have to expect that the global population? will continue to grow at the present pace which has no precedent in the 19th or any earlier century. Mankind did number 1 ½ billion people in the year 1900, a hundred years later by the year 2000 the figure had risen to beyond 6 billion. Within a few decades into the 21st century we will trespass 9 billion human beings. The space that is available per person will further shrink. This population explosion is in the main happening in Asia, in Africa and in Latin America. We will therefore have to expect more local or regional wars, international as well as intrastate, so-called civil wars in these three continents.
2. Global warming is highly likely to continue, although we don’t as yet have reliable forecasts as to the velocity of the increase of temperature. We do as well not have as yet reliable forecasts as to the climatic and physical living conditions in certain areas – for instance the rise of the level of the oceans or changes in the major oceanic currents. But we have to expect that global warming might in its effects intensify the afore mentioned conflicts.
3. Population growth plus climatic changes will cause growing tendencies for migration. Europe and North-America will ever more become attractive for potential immigration, whether legal or otherwise.
4. At the same time, globalisation of information and of technology will continue. During the last two decades the number of human beings, whose lives directly or indirectly are under strong influence of economic globalisation have doubled, due to the opening of China and to the liberation of almost 30 states which hitherto had been dominated by the Soviet leadership and had been closed off from the global economy. It is unclear, whether and to what extent quite a few of the developing countries will as well open up to fuller participation in the global economy.
5. But recent experiences appear to suggest that only strictly organized developing countries can economically and socially benefit from globalisation. South-Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong-Kong and as well the People’s Republic of China did well under strict one-party-rule. One might – with some reservation – call these examples economically enlightened dictatorships. On the other hand a greater number of developing countries tried to establish democracy, but failed economically or politically – or both at the same time. The collapse of the Soviet Union was in the main due to the abrupt introduction of both perestrojka and glasnost over night.