Larry Taub came to visit me in Chiang Mai more than a decade ago, and I read his book with great interest; I still use it a lot in my private conversations about the state of the world, and while I disagreed with some of his geo-strategic positions and predictions (the polario hypothesis of a Russia-US alliance, which Trump hasn’t succeeded in imposing, but Taub did predict it would be tried); his ‘caste analysis’ (instead of class analysis), combined with gender considerations, is a very fruitful way to look at the world.
You may remember Piketty’s analysts of the brahmin left vs the merchant right; but Bogdanov’s vision is also very pertinent in a Taubian context. So here is what I never say in public, as it draws catatonic blanks in western secular audiences: the next phase we are working on is a brahmin-worker synthesis, making real Bogdanov’s first failed attempts to merge work, self-governance and art through proletkult … now with the commons, the sociological conditions for this massive shift, have been realized. Thanks to Jan Krikke for this cogent and crystal clear presentation of Taub’s main message, he will be missed.
So if you want to know the ‘esoteric side’ of the P2P Foundation, it’s not just Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age, it is also thoroughly Taubian.
Jan Krikke: In the 1970s, American futurist Larry (Lawrence) Taub gave a series of lectures in Tokyo and made what seemed at the time like outlandish forecasts. Mao Zedong had just died, the Shah of Iran was still ruling Iran, and Leonid Brezhnev was at the helm in the Soviet Union, but Taub predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall, that an Islamic country would experience a religious revolution, and that China and its Confucian cousins would form the most powerful economic region in the world by 2020.
Taub based his daring forecast on three unique models that he synthesized in his book The Spiritual Imperative: Sex, Age, and the Last Caste Move the Future. He published the first English edition in the 1980s and an updated version appeared in the 1990s. A Japanese edition was published in the early 2000s and became a No. 1 bestseller in Japan. Shortly thereafter a Korean and Spanish edition appeared. Interest in the English edition remained limited, primarily because most Western readers are challenged by vantage points not based on a Western-centric worldview.
The Spiritual Imperative predicts not only what happens, but also where it will happen. Conventional futurists who came before him spoke in broad generalities applied to the world as a whole without offering specifics about particular regions and cultures. Fellow futurist Alvin Toffler described post-industrial society, but his model could not predict that China would become a dominant economic power. Samuel Huntington predicted that the end of the Cold War would give way to a “clash of civilizations,” but he could not predict the Iranian revolution in the so-called religous belt. Francis Fukuyama saw the collapse of Soviet communism as the “end of history” and the final victory of Western liberalism. His overtly ideological and Western-centric view of the world ignored that China developed a synthesis of socialism and free enterprise to become an industrial powerhouse to rival and even outflank the US and the EU.
Restoring the yin-yang balance
In the world of conventional futurists, women play no role in either the past or the future. In Taub’s macrohistory, women are a key driving force behind the changes in the world today. As he reminds us in his remarkable book, early human society, from its ancient animist past, was characterized by relative gender equality with a predominantly “yin-like” worldview. Patriarchies and a “yang-like” worldview developed from 600 BCE, during the age of Confucius, Plato, Jesus, and Buddha. Taub places the beginning of the end of the patriarchy in the 1970s, with the first wave of feminism.
Feminism changed not only the mindset of women but also of men. A remarkable diagram in his book illustrates the dialectic of sex, and how it plays a role today and in the future (see the diagrams in the page linked below). In about two decades, women will briefly become the dominant sex and restore the yin-yang balance that was lost in the patriarchal era. The female/male ratio of university students in many countries is one of many indications. By the middle of this century, the battle of the sexes will dissolve in what Taub describes as an androgynous synthesis.
The Spiritual Imperative is testimony to the enormous scope of Taub‘s knowledge of the world and his understanding of the human spirit. His models not only give pride of place to women, but also to the world’s three “source cultures” – China, Europe, and India. He shows that each has advanced the human condition and how they are shaping our future.
Links and Resources
Diagrams from The Spiritual Imperative
The following three diagrams show The Spiritual Imperative in a nutshell. They show the enormous scope of Larry’s knowledge, his radical departure from a Euro-centric worldview, and the comprehensiveness of his macrohistorical model.