A Russian social scientist is making waves with his prediction, floated since 1998, that the United States will split into a set of independent republics by 2010. Are we finally going to see Ecotopia?
Not according to Igor Panarin, a former KGB analyst and dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's diplomat school. Like Ernest Callenbach's seminal book Ecotopia, Panarin foresees the Western states splitting off to form their own independent Republic of California. But he sees them either becoming part of China, or under Chinese influence, not becoming an eco-friendly paradise. Meanwhile, the midwestern states will become part of Canada or under Canadian influence, the states around Texas will become part of Mexico or under Mexican influence, and the East Coast liberal elites will finally join Europe. (Oh, and Russia gets Alaska back, making Sarah Palin's boast that she can see Russia a reality at last.)
It's all pretty fanciful stuff, although I think the timetable is what makes it especially ludicrous. If he'd placed his predictions of fracturing in the 2020s or 2030s, it would be somewhat harder to dispute them. What makes Panarin's doomsaying somewhat more significant is that the Russian state-owned media has been pushing it hard, and he's been invited to lecture on it constantly. So the real news is that Russia is promoting these crackpotty views as quasi-official state futurism.
Panarin compares himself to the people who predicted the fall of the Soviet Union a decade or two before it happened — which may be the real reason his views are so popular in Russia now. It's our turn to feel the ground collapse out from under us. I'm just imagining the poor Europeans getting stuck with the hellhole of Conneticut, and having no idea what to do with it. [WSJ]