The need to foresee and warn
If we want to survive and, less dramatically, move forward in the best possible way, our contemporary societies and all actors within it need to reduce uncertainty regarding the future, to evaluate the changes that will have to be faced and are already at work, to prepare for them and, in the best case to harness them towards a future that is desirable.
Foresight and warning in modern societies
Traditionally, those who were responsible for foreseeing the future belonged to the priest class. Then, they were interacting in a sometimes tense way with rulers, who were using those forecasts and warnings to rule society, indeed to coordinate with changes happening in their environment, be it in terms of agriculture such as knowing when to plant crops, or in military terms such as planning for defense or attacks. Most actors actually, such as traders for example, also used the foresight of priests.
Today, science has most often taken over this mission from the priests, although with variations according to countries. Meanwhile, in our complex societies, the rulers, are the citizens regrouped in different nations, represented by governments and assemblies in representative democracies. The state, i.e. the entity that seconds the ruler to govern, is most often a formal rational-legal bureaucracy. Traders and the corporate sector have developed in a complex web of actors of all sizes and of varying power.
Yet, in this beginning of the 21st century, part of science, notably social sciences, has sometimes completely given up its predictive mission. In the public sector, foresight and warning, if it is done at all, is mainly endeavoured by small teams within administrations, mostly for military, sometimes intelligence, needs, or with an exclusive focus on a specific area such as economics or technological innovation. In the corporate world, foreseeing tends to be restricted to a narrow approach of risks, often focused on what could immediately and directly impact activity and profits, such as changes in regulations. Nonetheless, starting notably from 2013 and the war in Ukraine, political and geopolitical uncertainty has started again becoming a major concern of all actors.
As rulers nowadays also include the Nation, then, citizens have a duty to assume their role and to be aware of the changes the future may hold, if they want to choose their representatives properly and if they want to remain in charge of their own destiny, without falling prey to many dangerous traps. Thus, citizens and nations need to use foresight and warning. The corporate sector, similarly, if it does not want to fall prey to the negative impacts of unforeseen political and geopolitical uncertainties, must tackle this challenge and fully integrate it within its business functions and process.
Furthermore, strategic foresight and warning for political and geopolitical uncertainty (in the larger understanding of the term) fully lacks the status of proper scientific discipline. It thus benefits neither from funding, nor from dedicated research or even less training. The whole field – on the contrary from its close cousins futures studies, which provides essentially for businesses or innovation/technological foresight – demands more effort, more research, more publication, more testing, etc, without falling prey to the various difficulties that affect so many scientific disciplines, such as the extreme slowness of peer review processes.
The work of The Red (Team) Analysis Society, including through the provision of open access publication, is thus also part of an effort at building strategic foresight and warning as a scientific endeavour, which benefits from multi-disciplinary scientific findings and from practical experience through its use across actors.
As a conclusion,The Red (Team) Analysis Society aims at contributing to deliver a strategic foresight and warning grounded in science to nations, including citizens, to the state apparatuses that support the nation in its governing tasks, as well as to all actors involved in and having to cope with governance, security and more broadly political and geopolitical uncertainty.