Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Danger of Prophecy

There is a nice story of a political prophet in Munich in 1928, who was asked to prophesy what would be happening to the burghers of his city in five, fifteen, twenty and forty years' time. He began: "I prophesy that in five years' time, in 1933, Munich will be part of a Germany that has just suffered 5 million unemployed and that will be ruled by a dictator with a certifiable mental illness who will proceed to murder 6 million Jews."

His audience said: "Ah, then you must think that in fifteen years' time we will be in a sad plight."

""No," replied the prophet. "I prophesy that in 1943 Munich will be part of a Greater Germany whose flag will fly from the Volga to Bordeaux, from northern Norway to the Sahara."

"Ah, then you must think that in twenty years' time, we will be mighty indeed."

"No, my guess is that in 1948 Munich will be part of a Germany that stretches only from the Elbe to the Rhine, and whose ruined cities will recently have seen production down to only 10 percent of the 1928 level."

"So you think we face black ruin in forty years' time?"

"No, by 1968 I prophesy that real income per head in Munich will be four times greater than now, and that in the year after that 90 percent of German adults will sit looking at a box in the corner of their drawing rooms, which will show live pictures of a man walking upon the moon."

They locked him up as a madman, of course.

- From The Third World War by Sir John Hackett et al., (1985)

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