One of the major handicaps to scholars, activists and would-be policy makers associated with the post-World War II peace research and peace action movements has been the inability to construct coherent and believable images of a post military industrial United States society. Even at the height of the economics of disarmament studies in the 1960s the most that economists could demonstrate was that disarmament could take place without severe economic dislocations, and that resources released from arms could be used for improving the global standard of living. The new peace research movement was also producing books in the sixties showing that it was possible to replace a technology of warmaking with a technology of peacemaking, but what the new society would look like, no one could spell out. A week-long seminar on Images of a Disarmed World held in Denmark in the summer of 1963 generated a great deal of analysis by the socialist and nonsocialist economists participating, but not one word about what the future would look like. This was typical of such seminars in that decade.
If any intellectual discipline today could contribute to imaging a disarmed world one would expect that the new field of future studies would do this. Yet futurists as a group, with two important exceptions, have to date failed signally to come up with such images. The exceptions are the World Order Models Project of the Institute of World Order, which includes disarmament as one of the values to be incorporated in its models of preferred future worlds and the futurists associated with the international peace research movement. These scholars represent a specialized branch, however, rather than the mainstream, of futurists. The general failure of futurists to deal with disarmament is to a considerable extent because their techniques involve projections based on past trends in a select class of variables, from which disarmament is excluded. When futurists whose expertise is in weaponry provide insight into future handling of world security systems, the tendency is to predict weapons breakthroughs rather than disarmament proposals.
"A Disarmed World: Problems in Imaging the Future,"
The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare: Vol. 4
, Article 34.
Available at: http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/jssw/vol4/iss8/34