The Great Unraveling: Imagining the Shattered World of 2050

(Photo: Pexels; Edited: LW / TO)(Photo: Pexels; Edited: LW / TO)

In a striking new novel, John Feffer imagines a dystopian yet all too familiar future in which the world’s superpowers have fractured, global temperatures have soared, the global economy has collapsed and violent nationalism prevails. Order Splinterlands today by making a tax-deductible donation to Truthout!

In this excerpt from Splinterlands, written in the form of a fictitious journal from the year 2050, the narrator offers his account of how the world unraveled.

Water boils most fiercely just before it disappears. And so it is, evidently, with human affairs.

Before all hell broke lose in 1914, the world witnessed an unprecedented explosion of global trade at levels that would not be seen again for more than six decades. Before the Nazis took over in 1933, Germans in the Weimar Republic were enjoying an extraordinary blossoming of cultural and political liberalism. Before the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, Soviet scholars were proudly pointing to rising rates of intermarriage among the many nationalities of the federation as a sign of ever-greater social cohesion.

And in 2018, just before the great unraveling, the world still seemed to be in a frenzy of what was then labeled “globalization.” The volume of world trade was at an all-time high. Facebook had created a network of 3 billion active users. People on every continent were dancing to Drake, watching the World Cup final, and eating sushi. At the other end of the socio-economic spectrum, more people were on the move as migrants and refugees than at any time since the end of World War II. Borders, between countries and cultures, seemed to be crumbling everywhere. Once divided into a relatively stable mosaic of nation-states, the world was becoming liquid, a rainbow swirl.

Before 2018, almost everyone believed that time’s arrow pointed in the direction of greater integration. Some hoped (and others feared) that the world was converging on ever-larger conglomerations of nations. The…

Read more