The final chapter of this book, in charting four possible futures for the world, was quite a roller-coaster ride. But it was an authentic one: The spectrum of human futures indeed ranges from the bleak to the bright—or, to adopt the nomenclature of that last chapter, from “Terminus” to “Top Gear.”
If you ask what it will take to get the brighter, globally prosperous outcome, you find yourself underscoring a central theme of this book: There is a connection between the moral—you might even say spiritual—and the pragmatically commercial. More often than not, the way to do well is to do some good along the way. Indeed, my own view is that if the world is going to make the economic and political progress envisioned in the Top Gear scenario, it will have to make moral progress as well.
For example, the Top Gear scenario envisions European nations cooperating to achieve an expanded stabilization framework. This would indeed be helpful, in keeping with the common view that for the European Union to sustain its economic integration, its political integration will have to grow.
But for that to happen, Europeans will have to draw on the better angels of their nature. They’ll have to resist the tribalistic impulses of raw nationalism and work to see each other’s point of view. People in Germany will have to put themselves in the shoes of people in Ireland or Spain, and vice versa. This sort of “perspective taking” is often vital to solving non-zero-sum problems and getting to a ...