In search of new paradigms - A. Kukliński
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A Well Interpreted Future:
The Contribution of Antoni Kukliński
The Polish Economic Society (PTE) gives Readers a book “In
Search of New Paradigms” that is a synthesis of the studies,
analyses, and reﬂ ections of Professor Antoni Kukliński on the subject
of shaping the future. 1 The book has been published by the PTE
on the occasion of the eighty-ﬁ fth birthday of its Author. This
anniversary edition is primarily focused on the culture of strategic
thinking due to the fact that Professor Kukliński has devoted a
considerable part of his academic life to this issue, which is reﬂ ected in
the research work of this distinguished scholar, who has rendered
great service to futurology.
Antoni Kukliński points to the necessity to seek a new pa-
radigm, or pattern of thinking, that would be well-suited to the
requirements of the new civilization. If the point of departure for
developing a new paradigm, and indeed, its essence, consists of sets
of questions directed at exploring the future, as well as of patterns
of thinking and tools aimed at answering these questions, then the
very process of formulating the questions may be treated as an
important factor conducive to strategic reﬂ ection.
Thus, it is no accident that the title of Antoni Kukliński’s work
reads “In Search of New Paradigms.” Discussing the dysfunctions
of the contemporary world, Kukliński indicates the need to move
from a knowledge-based economic model to a wisdom-based one,
and expresses criticism of so-called “conventional thinking” and
Antoni Kukliński refers to three theoretical and methodological
inspirations that he has found in the works of three authors:
Gunnar Myrdal, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Thomas Kuhn. 2
Drawing on the intellectual legacy of these eminent thinkers and
economists, Kukliński formulates an innovative proposal to the
effect that that legacy should be integrated by the economic
community and used for developing new patterns of thinking about the
Antoni Kukliński emphasizes Myrdal’s conclusion that
“theory in this context means nothing more than a logically correlated
system of questions addressed to the material.” This corresponds
both to Galbraith’s critique of conventional wisdom and to Kuhn’s
work on scientiﬁ c revolutions.
Antoni Kukliński’s novel proposal constitutes a challenge for
researchers and the economic community, and especially for the
Polish Economic Society. 3 It should be an inspiration for
developing a new international and interdisciplinary research program
devoted to “the role of paradigmatic thinking in the development
of social sciences.”
Kukliński’s work delineates the function of strategic research
institutions and teams, strategic advisory teams, and strategic
think-tanks. In Poland, the role they play is certainly insufﬁ cient.
While to some extent this is the effect of aversion to planning
(associated with the previous political system), given the time that has
elapsed this may also be linked to an uncritical belief in market
infallibility. And if the market is taken to be infallible, forecasts are
irrelevant. However, such an approach itself has turned out to be
quite fallible, which has been spectacularly demonstrated by the
global ﬁ nancial crisis.
History provides considerable evidence that nothing works so
well for the present as a well thought-out future. Although
detractors will say that the only sure thing about forecasts is that they do
not come true, the importance of strategic thinking and the need
for it are unquestionable. Anticipatory reﬂ ection about the future
helps to optimize day-to-day decisions and current actions, which
always augurs well for the future. One should not be discouraged
by the proverb “when man makes plans, God laughs.” Perhaps God
is actually content?
From the presented work by Antoni Kukliński it follows that
the need for long-term strategies increases with the degree of
uncertainty of action and the risk of making mistakes. When the
world is unpredictable, the fundamental function of strategic
reﬂection is warning and anticipatory identiﬁ cation of potential
development trends, and most of all, drawing attention to the least
predictable threats and risk areas.
It is not by accident that Antoni Kukliński cautions that the
trajectory ‘information – knowledge – ability to predict the future’
is not functioning effectively. Despite the ongoing IT revolution
with the dramatically expanding information and knowledge
resources, recent years have seen intensiﬁ ed connivance – a cognitive
and pragmatic attitude which purposefully ignores information
about the actual state of affairs in the decision-making process.
The European Commission has had full knowledge of the
condition of Greek public ﬁ nance and the way it functioned for 10 years.
However, this information and knowledge of the actual state of
things was not part of the EU’s decision making process.
Marginalization of strategic thinking has also to some extent
affected the European Union and, in general, the Western world.
In contrast to this, the Asians, and especially the Chinese, attach
great importance to forecasts and scientiﬁ c predictions.
An excellent case in point is “The New Asian Hemisphere” by Kishore
Mahbubani, the Asian guru of new ideas, who predicts the end of
the absolute dominance of the West and Asia’s gradual assumption
of the role of the world’s leader in the 21st century. A similar
message is conveyed by the 40-year forecast presented by Jorgen
Randers in the latest report of the Club of Rome “2052 – A Global
Forecast for the Next Forty Years.”
By analogy to the concept of invented tradition, which is found
in the world literature, Professor Antoni Kukliński has formulated
the term invented future. He writes that “invented future in the
perspective of 2020 or 2050 is not as preposterous a task as it
would at ﬁ rst seem. Invented future is a future with new structures
and new driving forces for development processes which would be
difﬁ cult to imagine or unimaginable here and now.”
The responsibility to care for the future rests with politicians,
members of parliament, governments, and economists. As it was
emphasized many decades ago by a representative of the Austrian
school, Henry Hazlitt, the art of economics consists in looking
not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or
policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not
merely for one group but for all groups. 5 Nonetheless, there is
plentiful evidence that the above responsibility is often ignored by those
in power, as they are subjected to the terror of the election cycle.
Thus, one could argue that politicians are more concerned with
the fate of future elections than with the fate of future generations.
The need for strategic thinking is compelling also today,
especially in the context of the last crisis and its causes. One of them
is short-sightedness in economics and politics and the
disappearance of strategic thinking in the Western world. Ample evidence
for the above is given in Antoni Kukliński’s book, which I highly
Let me here express my wishes for the distinguished Author
of this book to publish many more equally inspiring and important
Louis Emmerij, Antoni Kukliński: The Man Who Would Not Quit. Opinia na temat najnowszej książki prof. Antoniego Kuklińskiego In search of new paradigms.
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