In reading for another class I stumbled on this quote:
"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors." - Edward Burke (1729 - 1797)
If we take this to be true, then where does the Western world sit? Where did the New World sit when it considered itself "without a history?" There could be no thought of future generations, because they wouldn't give a damn about the current one. Burke saw the acceptance of Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" of economics and the Revolutionary War in his time. Things were changing quite rapidly. Could Burke have foreseen that half a century after his death the world's population would begin to grow exponentially? That we would start degrading the environment at such a high rate as to nearly ensure its total collapse? I'd say he saw our collapse, at least. Jared Diamond anyone?