Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future (Niels Bohr).
What does a president do once he is no president any more?
Feeling relieved not to have to deal with the likes of creepy fellow politicians? Perhaps just being a happy, lazybones unemployed? Or do some gardening perhaps? Not to mention fishing. Hanging out with old friends maybe? Playing with the grandchildren? Well, most likely most of them will have a new career – say a singer, a crooner Java-style.
Many options, but not for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. His dream is different. He wants to be a futurologist after 2014. Even better: he would like to start a club of futurologists.
I can understand. Wouldn’t you want to know how it will be like in two or ten years from now?
The president will join a great tradition. It will make him a descendant of oracles and seers. I admit: at considerable distance and with a crucial difference. The Oracle of Delphi, Cassandra or Nostradamus had predictions which were inevitable or deterministic. Modern futurology is about the probability developments and events will occur – and the way they may be influenced.
It’s an interesting choice on SBY’s wish-list.
As a statesman he has a job in which planning for next week, next year, next century even, is a crucial part of his political tool-kit. To succeed he has to understand what developments are likely to continue, what is likely to change and what will be the likely successful novelties. Great statesmen – I think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal, Nelson Mandela and overcoming Apartheid or Soekarno and Pancasila- use to have such a vision to build on and the skills to put them to practice while they were at the steering wheel.
Perhaps the President thinks he presently is not good enough as a futurologist-head of state yet. And that if he will dedicate himself to study this speciality after he has retired, he may provide expert consult to his successor – say Aburizal Bakrie or Prabowo Subianto- who also may be lacking this talent.
To be absolutely clear: futurology is a domain that fully deserves Niels Bohr’s irony.