The Future of Mankind

English Essay on "The Future of Mankind"

Before the end of the present century, unless something quite unforeseeable occurs, one of three possibilities will have been realized. These three are:

  1. The end of human life, perhaps of all life on our planet.
  2. A reversion to barbarism after a catastrophic diminution of the population of the globe.
  3. A unification of the world under a single government, possessing' a monopoly of all the major weapons of war.

I do not pretend to know which of these will happen, or even which is the most likely. What I do contend, without any hesitation, is that the kind of system to which we have been accustomed cannot possibly continue?

The first possibility, the-extinction of the human race, is not to be expected in the next world war, unless that war is postponed for a longer time than now seems probable. But if the next world war is indecisive, or if the victors are unwise, and if organized states survive it, a period of feverish technical development may be expected to follow its conclusion. With vastly more powerful means of utilizing atomic energy than those now available, it is thought by many sober men of science that radioactive clouds, drifting round the world, may disintegrate living tissue everywhere. Although the last survivor man claim himself universal Emperor, his reign will be brief and his subjects will all be corpses. With his death the uneasy episode of life will end, and the peaceful rocks will revolve unchanged until the sun explodes.

Perhaps a disinterested spectator would consider this the most desirable consummation, in view of man's long record of folly and cruelty. But we, who are actors in the drama, who are entangled in the net of private affections and public hopes, can hardly take this attitude with any sincerity. True, I have heard men say that they would prefer the end of man to submission to the Soviet Government, and doubtless in Russia there are those who would say the same about submission to Western capitalism. But this is rhetoric with a bogus air of heroism. Although it must be regarded as unimaginative humbug, it is dangerous, because it makes men less energetic in seeking ways of avoiding the catastrophe that they pretend not to dread.

The second possibility, that of a reversion to barbarism, would leave open the likelihood of a gradual return to civilization, as after the fall of Rome. The sudden transition will, if it occurs, be infinitely painful to those who experience it, and for some centuries afterwards life will be hard and drab.(9essay.com) Bent at any rate there will still be a future for mankind, and the possibility or rational hope.

I think such an outcome of a really scientific world war is by no means improbable. Imagine each side in a position to destroy the chief cities and centers of industry of the enemy imagine an almost complete obliteration of laboratories and libraries, accompanied by a heavy casualty rate among men of science imagine famine due to radio-active spray, and pestilence caused by bacteriological warfare would social cohesion survive such strains ? Would not prophets tell the maddened populations that their ills were wholly due to science, and that the extermination of all educated men would bring the millennium ? Extreme hopes are born of extreme misery, and in such a world hopes could only be irrational. I think the great states to which we are accustomed would break up, and the sparse survivors would revert to a primitive village economy.

The third possibility, that of the: establishment of a single government for the whole world, might be realized in various ways by the victory of the United States in the next world war, or by the victory of the U.S.S.A., or, theoretically, by agreement. Or-and I think this is the most hopeful of the issues that are in any degree probable-by an alliance of the nations that desire an international government becoming, in end, so strong that Russia would no longer dare to stand out. This might conceivably be achieved without another world war, but it would require courageous and imaginative statesmanship in a number of countries. 

Personal Essays

Games and Sports

Events and Imp Days

General Essays