In many Western languages someone who can correctly forecast the future — assuming such a person existed — could be called a prophet. Unfortunately, this is the same word used to translate the critically important Arabic words nabi and rasul, which refer to messengers of Allah (a); nabi refers to a prophet who brings divine messages within an existing revelation, while a rasul brings a new revelation.
Muhammad (pbuh) was the last of the prophets. There will be no more divine messengers; humanity has already been served its final promise and warning. Likewise there never have been and never will be prophets in the Western sense of people who can supposedly foretell the future with total confidence. Though some people appear to be able to guess about the future more accurately than others, no human being can be absolutely sure what the next moment will bring.
In his bestseller The Black Swan, Nicholas Taleb highlights a particular kind of uncertainty: the problem posed by highly improbable high-impact events. As a secular materialist humanist in a culture that worships scientific prediction and control, Taleb is perturbed by the fact that nobody can confidently predict critically important or even world-changing developments. Rather than adopting an Islamic perspective and peacefully accepting the inscrutable aspect of the future, even while working patiently for truth and justice out of obedience to Allah (swt) and in hopes of making the future better, Taleb selfishly seeks mathematical investment strategies that might allow him and his readers to leverage uncertainty for personal gain. Even in the unlikely event that such strategies work, the individual who pursues them rather than the good pleasure of Allah, thereby trading the akhirah for the dunya (Qur’an, 2:81) will at best “enjoy himself a little” before encountering judgement and “the punishment of the fire” (2:125). At that moment “it will be as if they had only lingered for the evening or the morning of a single day” (79:45).
But despite the wrongheadedness of his worldview, Taleb’s insights about black swans are intriguing. So rather than belaboring the obvious by predicting the predictable (politicians will lie, bankers will steal, oppressors will oppress, China will rise, America will decline, the Pope will be nominally Catholic, etc.), I will explore some potential “black swans” that could massively impact the world in 2019. Since by definition a black swan is extremely unlikely, I am offering “predictions” that almost certainly will not happen. But the key word is almost! If any one of them does happen, whether in 2019 or some other year, the world will change radically in ways that will have been almost totally unforeseeable.
Some black swans that probably won’t happen in 2019 include the following (but if they do happen they’ll change everything):
• Black swan #1: global financial implosion – Taleb wrote The Black Swan in response to the 2008 financial meltdown, which almost all experts had said was impossible or vanishingly unlikely. Have those experts fixed the problems that produced the 2008 black swan? Hardly! Each year the financial system grows more complex and less amenable to human control. Riba, the central feature of the current financial system, grows more and more destabilizing as unpayable exponential debt endlessly accelerates. An even bigger meltdown than 2008 could happen at any moment… and probably will happen sooner than the experts expect.
• Black swan #2: 100-year solar storm fries the electrical power grid – the Sun occasionally emits coronal mass ejections (CMEs) capable of destroying most of the Earth’s electrical systems. The biggest one we know about was the Carrington Event of September 1859. If a similar event happened today, much of the planet would lose electrical power, and recovery could take as long as 10 years. Nuclear power plants would melt down, with catastrophic consequences. Such a CME, rather than an asteroid strike or super-volcano eruption, is a planetary mega-disaster that is reasonably likely to happen within our lifetimes.
• Black swan #3: artificial intelligence breakthrough – Rus-sian President Vladimir Putin has said, “whoever becomes the leader (in artificial intelligence) will become the ruler of the world.” The sudden emergence of an AI-powered “world ruler” would certainly qualify as a black swan.
Not all potential black swans are bad. Here are some with great positive potential:
• Black swan #4: a 9/11 truth breakthrough – for 17 years the world has been in an utterly schizoid situation: everyone speaking from a position of institutional authority, whether in government, media, academia, or the corporate sector, must pretend to believe in the thoroughly disproven official narrative of September 11, 2001. Yet virtually everyone who has actually looked into what did and did not happen that day knows, or at least suspects that the official narrative is an all-too-obvious lie. The extreme polarity between the official and unofficial discourses around 9/11, like the tension between positive and negative particles in a cumulonimbus cloud, could at any time explode into a lightning bolt that changes history.
But will 9/11 truth lightning actually strike? One thing is certain: the chances of history being hit by a 9/11 truth strike are greater than any individual’s odds of being hit by lightning (which are themselves much higher than a Westerner’s odds of being killed by any kind of terrorist, much less the 6% of terrorists who are said to be Islamic extremists; but that is another story)!
9/11 truth could break the barriers of marginalization and erupt into the mainstream in any number of ways: a participant’s confession, a Russian release of satellite photos, a courageous decision by one or more internet oligarchs or media billionaires, a breakthrough Grand Jury Investigation in the Southern District of New York (see: The Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry)
org), a “nuclear option” by an imploding Trump administration, a “Constitutional counter-coup” by patriotic American officers, a “truth defense” by Saudi Arabia in a JASTA lawsuit, some combination of the above — or more likely by something even less foreseeable.
Though improbable, a 9/11 truth black swan would have such a huge impact that it is worth pondering and preparing for. As Rabbi Michael Lerner, America’s leading progressive Jewish voice, argued in my edited book 9/11 and American Empire v.2, “I would not be surprised to learn that some branch of our government conspired either actively to promote or passively to allow the attack on 9/11… the kind of psychic trauma that would happen were the charges of intentional involvement on 9/11 by the president, vice president, other high office holders, or our security apparatus ever charged in a court of law would almost certainly open up political space for a serious discussion of the kinds of radical changes I’m suggesting…”
Those changes — including transforming the USA from a militaristic empire to a real democracy while enacting a Global Marshall Plan to “eliminate poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, and healthcare domestically and globally in addition to restoring the global environment” as Rabbi Lerner puts it — could improve the world even more than the official big lie about 9/11 degraded it. Additionally, the revelation of Israel’s involvement in 9/11 would likely end Likudnik expansionist Zionism and bring reasonably just peace to the occupied holy land. And just as there was an uptick in non-Muslim interest in Islam after 9/11, there would be a much bigger and more positive wave of interest following the official revelation that 9/11 was a false flag orchestrated to smear Islam and Muslims.
• Black swan #5: breakthrough in clean renewable energy – every year we burn more of our fossil fuel inheritance, releasing vast amounts of carbon that appear to be destabilizing climate systems while spewing toxins into the atmosphere. We are caught on the horns of a dilemma: Either we hit peak oil and suffer economic collapse entailing the starvation of billions of people, or we continue to burn more and more fossil fuel and wreck our environment, which will also lead to the starvation of billions. The only exit from this lose-lose situation would be a smooth transition to clean renewable energy. Can we do it with currently available non-exotic technologies? Opinions differ. Could we do it if rumored secret “free energy” technologies were unveiled? Absolutely. Former US intelligence insider Gordon Duff says such suppressed technologies including cold fusion do exist and could be a game-changer. See: Gordon Duff discusses meeting with Robert David Steele). Nick Cook’s book The Hunt for Zero Point adds credibility to Duff’s claim.
• Black swan #6: the sudden spread of a grand spiritual insurrection – for the past 200 years, most insurrectionary movements have focused on achieving a better material life in the dunya. Even the so-called Arab Spring, which should have been an Islamic Spring, was more dunyawi than ruhani. But what would happen if a critical mass of people become fed up with secular materialism and rebel in service to genuinely spiritual principles? The Muslim world has been brewing such insurrections for decades. Iran’s Islamic Revolution, as well as the successes of Hamas and Hizbullah, give a taste of what can transpire when oppressed people rise up against their oppressors in the name of God and authentic spirituality (as opposed to the counterfeit and satanic anti-spiritual “religion” of Da‘ish and its allies). A chain reaction of spiritual insurrections might achieve critical mass and create positive changes that today’s inhabitants of our prison planet can hardly imagine.