Back to the Future? Visions of the Future –– Yesterday and Today

In its seventh iteration, the 2015 Weimar Rendez-vous with History sought out traces of the future throughout history. How did people envision the future in the past? Which of their predictions proved to be farsighted, disastrous, far-fetched, utopian? What do previous generations’ hopes and skepticisms tell us about how they perceived their own epoch? And what can we learn from their ruminations when we ourselves think about the future? Assuring ourselves about past expectations of the future provides us with no or only a few concrete answers to the challenges of today. Still, it might help us to look at the future more realistically: To recognize dangers and not overestimate them, to identify opportunities and seize them. Perhaps looking at how the future was envisioned in the past will help us prevent Karl Valentin’s quip from becoming reality: »The future used to better, too !«