As the year 1000 approached, the year 2000 was a source of excitement and various questions. The period from 1850 to 1950 was particularly favorable to “ Dreams of futures "After the Industrial Revolution, as Nicolas Cartelet shows us in his recent book" when our grandparents imagined the year 2000 ».
Dreams, utopias, predictions
During these 100 years, great authors such as Herbert George Wells and Albert Robida offer their visions of the future, with some crazier projects than the next and yet some predictions will come true. Our grandparents imagined material progress, the houses of tomorrow, happiness, the benefits of science, immortality, travel to the far reaches of the universe.
Material progress and everything electric
Material progress would be found in priority in the house where we would be served and dressed by robots, the woman would be assisted and would no longer have any household chores to accomplish.
The house of tomorrow would be "all electric", everyday life simplified, shopping would arrive at home, food would become chemical in the form of tablets or tubes, famine would disappear, the brains of schoolchildren would be connected to machines to learn correctly; the world would be saturated with screens, headsets and electric wires, work facilitated by robots so that man only spends 12 to 20 years of his life in labor thanks to mechanization and computers.
As the population increased, we imagined the disappearance of oxen and horses, replaced by ever faster transport, cars running on rails, tubes in which trains would run at an average of 1600 km / h, suspended trams, a railway line connecting London to Beijing, trains powered by a rocket locomotive. From 1860, Wells imagined large underground parking lots where cars would recharge their electric batteries all night.
America still attracting many Europeans, we imagined aerodynamic boats with the New-York Paris aerosteamer whose stations would be installed at the top of Parisian and New York hotels; and the first plane was designed in 1897 by Clément Ader ... we thought of returning home by landing on the roof of his building and receiving mail at his balcony window.
The houses and cities of tomorrow
In 1883, the dwellings of the future would be towers, large skyscrapers rising to the clouds, provided with air bridges connecting the buildings; the cities would be vertical, immense but functional, like Paris which should be made up of 64 arrondissements in 1953 and extending to Rouen. And to counter pollution, there would be parks, green spaces with conifers to provide oxygen. We also predicted the futuristic city covered with a dome or the floating and traveling city depending on the climate encountered.
Space dreams and the conquest of the seabed
Human beings have always needed to explore and discover exotic lands. Cyrano de Bergerac had already sent his hero to the moon as early as 1657. Jules Verne linked the earth to the moon in 97 hours 20 minutes. We wanted to conquer the sky and the universe with the invention of the rocket, the research of which began was conclusive from 1950. The earth being overpopulated, we would build cities and world ships where men would succeed one another from generation to generation. in generation, setting out to discover other people, possibly extra-terrestrials, described in different forms with tentacles, globular eyes and blue skin.
The conquest of the oceans was topical with futuristic boats, mounted on air cushions, thanks to the writings of Jules Verne who was at the origin of the race to build the submarines of the future. We also imagined exploring the seabed and on the model of Atlantis, founding underwater cities.
Human happiness but controlled
Thanks to the invention of the microscope, we would eradicate diseases, we would replace a part of the sick or injured body with cybernetic limbs, we would be protected by robotic and immortal armor. We longed for happiness, human development, tolerance, with well-being prisons where criminals would be cured by relaxation and good treatment.
But the political forecasts were pessimistic, the society of the future would be run for the sake of security. However, this obsession with order led to the dictatorship, controlling individuals, without books, without authorization to think so as not to have any protestor; privacy would be controlled by the state with limitation of reproduction, children would be raised separately and educated according to government wishes. In 1860, we imagined selecting the best elements of the breed for reproduction, without diseases, without deficiencies ... to lead in 1933 to a "eugenic" law of sterilization of criminals, passed in Germany with the consequences that we know today !
Weapons of the future
When we talk about the industrial and scientific revolution, we think of wars and weapons. One author already predicted "the same states will oppose each other until the end of time, with one exception: the coming domination of the East over the West". In 1883, we imagined the men hidden and protected in tanks, spitting sprays of fire ... and Churchill had the first tanks built in 1916. We also evoked the chemical weapons transmitting the plague and cholera viruses or the radioactive bomb. With these new weapons arose the fear of terrorism, the appearance of anarchic and uncontrollable groups.
Progress has good and bad, humans happily always react to resist evil, it is "an eternal fight against the enslavement of men, by other races but above all for themselves". Some imaginations have come true, others are still in the planning stages. Let's dream again and maybe one day, by removing all that is eccentric and totalitarian, these dreams will come true! Nicolas Cartelet has written a very beautiful book, embellished with many illustrations taken from novels and anticipation magazines, leaving us dreamy, pensive or with a smile on our lips as we think back to what we could imagine of the year 2000 and of our future. It is in a way a work of memory on the aspirations and visions of the future of our grandparents.
We have here a great gift for the holidays so that we the youngest can understand their dreams and for them, remind them of memories that are often good, sometimes bad.
Dreams of futures: when our grandparents imagined the year 2000, by Nicolas Cartelet. Edtions Ouest-France, October 2014.