What will the Czech Republic be like in 2015?
"The Czech Republic in 2015 - A Vision of Future Development" - that's the title of a book published Monday. Some 360 experts in various fields of social, economic, and cultural life joined forces to predict the outcome of possible decisions by politicians and economists.
Professor Erazim Kohak is considered the godfather of the whole project. Olga Szantova asked him, whether such predictions of future developments were necessary.
Professor Kohak: Generally, it is very much necessary to take stock of where we are and what the long range consequences of our decisions would be. The reason, why it was so necessary at this particular time is that this society suffers from an aversion to any form of planning, after its experience with the communists and so has tended to neglect it in the past ten years.
Radio Prague: Is it possible to anticipate the future? Past forecasts have more or less always proved to be wrong.
EK: No, it is not possible to anticipate the future, but it is possible to consider the consequences of present acts. This is why I appreciate this book so much, because it is not an attempt to forecast the future, but to study the present and point to its likely consequences.
RP: So, it will be up to politicians and economists, people who have a chance to make decisions, to make use of the results?
EK: ...and to citizens who will have to make decisions in voting.
RP: In what way will the average citizen... I mean, it's a study, it's a piece of scientific work. Are you going to publish the various whys and wherefores in it?
EK: The book itself is quite readable. It is readable about on the same level as the reports of the United Nations, such as The State of the World, or the World-Watch Report, so that it is readable even by a general reader. And what we hope is that it will start a discussion, a public discussion, which will filter down even to quarrels in the taverns.
RP: It's very difficult to forecast, as you say. Nevertheless, how do you see the future, how do you see this country in 2015?
EK: I do not see it. This is why I worked on this. What I see, in the year 2000, decisions being made, for example decisions concerning public transport, which tend to be shortsighted and which are likely to have disastrous consequences. For instance investing in building highways instead of building railways. And so what I'm pointing to are the probable consequences of present decisions. And what I see now is this country much too often deciding in terms of short-range, short-term, interests.
RP: Are you an optimist as to the ability of the Czechs, and the willingness of the Czechs to make full use of it?
EK: I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I would say there are some things which are in God's hands, not mine, and this is one of them.