Support Long-term Thinking
Support Long-term Thinking

Elise Boulding on the “200-year present”

by Paul Saffo on July 7th, 02010


Boulding’s long-present anticipated our Long Now. It is a reminder that the core concept of being in the middle of history, rather than it’s beginning or end is a useful concept at multiple time frames, whether very long or very short.

“A favorite concept of mine is the 200-year present, a way of thinking about change. The 200-year present began 100 years ago with the year of birth of the people who have reach their hundredth birthday today. The other boundary of the 200-year present, 100 years from now, is the hundredth birthday of the babies born today. If you take that span, you and I will have had contact with a lot of people from different parts of that span. So think in terms of events over that span and realize how long change takes. You can see how difficult it has been to create these bodies and new ways and how in many ways we are slipping backward; but in other ways we are not. I take comfort to know that super-power hegemony has a very limited lifespan (decline and fall of Rome, the Ottoman Empire).”

Elise Boulding Interviewed by Julian Portilla — 2003

(forwarded to me by Stuart Silverstone)