I was thinking the other day about how around the 1950s-60s, there was such a vivid popular view of the future. With new time saving technologies becoming available in the home and space travel becoming a reality, everyone started to believe that in a couple of decades, we’d all be living on the moon and travelling around in flying cars. Known as retro-futurism, the best example being The Jetsons of the early 60s. That vision was a product of the time in which it was created, but we tend to take it as a general vision of the future.

This made me start to think about how people must have viewed the future during other periods in history. The 19th century view of the possibilities of the future must have been completely different from the 20th century as they had none of the explosion of technology that sparked the latter view. However, they must have had a vision and I think it would be fascinating to know what it was. What with the flourishing of industry and the introduction of the awe-inspiring steam train, they must have had a similarly enthusiastic view of the future, but one that incorporated all of the technologies that came with the age.

Another interesting point is, that our view of the future is a pretty liberal view – we probably hope for a fairer, cleaner society with no war, poverty or hunger and I reckon we generally yearn for a more united and equal world (at least in some areas). It’s the events of the 20th century that have formed this view and of course in the 19th century and probably most other centuries before that, their view wouldn’t be liberal. During the supremacy of the British in the 18th and 19th centuries, possibly people would have imagined a world ruled aggressively and successfully by Britain forever. But what is interesting is how would the slave trade have fitted into this vision for example? How would other nations have fitted in? And the poor?

There is so much depth to this idea and I would love to find out more about it as I don’t think it has generally been touched on much before. Think of all the thousands of years of ideas of the future! Any thoughts on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

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