SO, THESE ARE 10 OF THE WORLD’S LEADING THINKERS? By Tom Pauken
by Tom Pauken
Mon, Nov 28, 2005, 07:19 PM
Tom PaukenThe Sunday Points section of the Dallas Morning News reprinted a series of essays entitled "10 ideas on the way out" which first appeared in Foreign Policy magazine. Ostensibly written by "10 of the world’s leading thinkers", the essays sought to identify ideas and institutions which are not likely to survive the next 35 years." If the views expressed in many of these essays reflect the mindset of the "best and brightest" of our "cultural elite", then we are badly in need of new intellectual leadership.
Let me be more specific. The first essay on the "sanctity of life" is written by the Australian Peter Singer who is a professor at Princeton and advocate of infanticide. Having Singer write on the sanctity of life is akin to having Attila the Hun tell us about the merits of western civilization. Nor surprisingly, here is Singer’s take on the "sanctity of life" issue: "By 2040, it may be that only a rump of hard-core, know-nothing religious fundamentalists will defend the view that every human being from conception to death is sacrosanct".
If anything, the pro-life movement in the United States has grown stronger (not weaker) over the past decade, with even many abortion rights supporters having second thoughts about the automatic recourse to an abortion whenever there is a problem pregnancy. (See Sunday’s commentary in the same section of the News by Garance Franke-Ruta on "repeat abortions".) Were Peter Singer to have his way, mentally and/or physically handicapped infants could be killed legally. I find it hard to believe that Singer's views represent the "wave of the future" on the issue of human life.
Next, Jacques Attali tells us that: "Monogamy, which is really no more than a useful social convention, will not survive. It has rarely been honored in practice; soon, it will vanish, even as an ideal." To the contrary, there seems to be more of a case being made today in the public square about the central role that the institution of marriage and a family plays in the preservation of a good society. Granted, divorce is widespread and adultery a not uncommon fact of life in modern America. But, there also seems to be a greater awareness on the importance of an intact family and how faithfulness to one’s spouse is an important element in keeping a marriage and family together.
Then, Harvey Cox, who teaches at the Harvard Divinity School (and who hasn’t been heard from much since the "death of God" controversy a couple of decades ago), proceeds to tell us that "more and more people view the world’s religious traditions as a buffet from which they can pick and choose" Cox predicts the end of religious hierarchy over the next 35 years. Just the opposite seems to be occurring. The Protestant churches that are growing the fastest are those which preach the hard teachings of right and wrong on matters of faith and morals while those Protestant churches with a "pick and choose" brand of religion are losing members. "Cafeteria Catholicism" is clearly on the way out in the Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope John Paul II and his successor Pope Benedict XVI. Even Maureen Dowd, the New York Times columnist, noted that "the cafeteria is closed" with the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have re-asserted the central role of the religious hierarchy (although not a hierarchy like the one described by Harvey Cox) in spreading Christianity.
Then, there is Peter Schwartz writing on the "war on drugs". According to Schwartz, that war will "soon be over" because "drugs as we know them today will be gone". The future will be "designer drugs catering to the wealthy", the essayist tells us. Schwartz sounds like a disciple of George Soros, but his comments sure don’t make much sense.
Richard Haass tries to make the case that sovereignty is on its way out. He points out the threats posed by extra-national "terrorist groups" and "drug cartels", but I think he underestimates the importance of nationhood to Americans and citizens of other countries. If anything, I could see the U.S. retreating inwardly in the event of an economic crisis and/or continued difficulties associated with the "war on terror", with national sovereignty becoming an even more important issue for Americans in the future than it already is.
One "thinker" who has it right is Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister of Singapore who has this to say: "Demography, not democracy, will be the most critical factor for security and growth in the 21st century." He alludes to the problems in Europe where Europeans are not having enough children to "exceed replacements levels". Meanwhile, Muslim immigrants are having large families. Something has to change in this dynamic; or, otherwise, Europe won't be recognizable 35 years from now.
There are a couple of other essays where the authors state the obvious – health care has to change, and Communism won’t last in China. Reading these essays, however, convinced me of one thing – I sure don’t want the editors of Foreign Policy magazine running U.S. domestic or foreign policy anytime in my lifetime.