The Year 2050: A Predic-scription

EDITORIAL, 9 Sep 2019

#602 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

First, why a time horizon to 2050?  Round figure? Mid-century?

No.  An important year, being one generation of 30 years ahead of us; neither too close, nor too far into the future, for predictions and prescriptions about The Year 2050 to be realistic–within the range of the probable for predictions and the feasible for prescriptions.

Predictions: saying what the future will be like.

Prescriptions: telling what the future shall be like.

As usual, things will happen; on the other hand, 2050 will probably not be that different from 2020, it is not that far into the future.

Second, why this strange neologism, “predic-scription”?

Because there is a problem.  A prediction is a description of a future point in space-time.  But predictions may be self-fulfilling and-or self-denying, and may be made with such goals in mind.  There are prescriptive elements in predictions.  And vice versa.

What are these predic-scriptions, then?  Neither clear, clean predictions, nor clear, clean prescriptions.  Something in-between?

No.  Both at the same time in reality, like in one word verbally.

They could equally well be called “prescrip-dictions”, then?

Yes.  The idea, clumsily conveyed by clumsy words: there is no clear border between prediction and prescription anyhow.

Hence, lump them together, in one word.

Now, how about the world in The Year 2050?

Let us first try a prescription.

We want peace, that parties–states, businesses, NGOs, whatever–do good things to each other.

Between humans often called “friendship”.  “Love” is stronger, accompanied or not by sex as a way of doing good things to each other.  Indeed.  And sex without love is as possible as love without sex.  One without the other can also be wonderfully fulfilling.

But in the background looms the opposite: “doing bad things to each other”; also called “violence”.  If between states, called “war”.

Our focus is on peace.  Between states and regions it is often called “association”, being associated with each other, as opposed to “dissociation”, being apart, having nothing to do with each other.

Here is an image of “Peace in the Year 2050”:

Humanity is divided culturally into civilizations, with religion and language as important, even key, components.

Here is a (debatable) list of 9 civilizations; sometimes defined mainly by language, sometimes by religion, oftentimes by both:

  1. Latin American-Caribbean,
  2. Angloamerican,
  3. Islamic,
  4. Hindu,
  5. Buddhist,
  6. Christian,
  7. Chinese,
  8. Japanese,
  9. Maori in the Pacific.

All of them come equipped with by and large well defined territorial regions for, possibly, passive peaceful co-existence.

Not for the infamous “be or not to be”; but for Be and Let Be.

A rather key point: This Peace in The Year 2050 we have now, as Peace in The Year 2020: a multi-polar world of peaceful co-existence.

And it works.  And is not sufficiently appreciated.

And the Media do not focus on what works.  My father, August Galtung, conservative, deputy mayor of Oslo, once said:

“If something works, for Heaven’s sake do not change it”.

But the Media focus on what does not work and in their view is badly in need of change.  And in that process creating News.

The Media are not living off the well functioning Olds.

Media feed on News, on those challenging a multi-polar world of peaceful co-existence, not on describing how well it serves humanity.  As with Israel challenging others by regional hegemony from the Nile –the river in Africa–to Euphrates: Netanyahu quoting Genesis 15:18.

As with USA by global hegemony: “Nobody above us–Nobody side by side with us”.

Both challengers generate resistance and call them “terrorists”.

But the two states attempting regional, even world, hegemony are not called “terrorist states”.  Are states, and state systems, beyond critique, and will they be with us forever?  No.  Nothing will be with us forever; the long run prediction is basic change.

However, one generation to The Year 2050, is not “the long run”.

The state system will be there, even if yielding to municipal systems from below and to regional, and world, systems from above.  And most likely to a civilizational regional system, like in the list.

A system of 5 continents–America-Europe-Africa-Asia-Oceania, with Europe colonizing them–yielding to a civilizational system of 9. How will civilizations relate to each other as opposed to continents, today in systems of multi-polar passive peaceful co-existence?  Worse.

Could it be that we actually live in a good, if not the best, of all worlds, unaware, ungrateful?  A sustainable world, durable, if not forever, at least beyond 2050; if buoyed by strong forces wanting it to be so, inspired by today’s remarkably peaceful world.

But, the more civilizational and the less continental, the more belligerent. Civilizations create stronger identities than continents.  We are on that dangerous way, and we need more dialogue of civilizations than ever.

Learning from each other, borrowing from each other:

I like that point of yours; anything in what I said that appeals to you?”

Dedicating ourselves to fighting inequality and suffering by lifting the bottom up.  And to peace by being good to each other.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. He was awarded among others the 1987 Right Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize. Galtung has mediated in over 150 conflicts in more than 150 countries, and written more than 170 books on peace and related issues, 96 as the sole author. More than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. His book, Transcend and Transform, was translated to 25 languages. He has published more than 1700 articles and book chapters and over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 Sep 2019.

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