François Vatin invites us here to look again at the strange futuristic novel by Gabriel Tarde, Fragment d'histoire future, published in 1896. He attempts to decipher its meaning while placing the book within the setting of the school of thought that, at the end of the 19th century, was fascinated both by scientific progress and, already, by the notion of the end of history.
Drawing on the industrial revolution, Gabriel Tarde describes a society that has achieved the peak of prosperity at world level (globalization with a positive outcome), but which is rapidly overtaken by the tyranny of boredom and, in the end, collapses as the result of a natural catastrophe: the sudden extinction of the Sun. It is a society that ultimately, in order to survive, has to turn into a pure civilization of the mind and take refuge in a tiny underground area, forcing the adoption of a strict Malthusian policy.
Gabriel Tarde was strongly influenced by contemporary thinkers, especially Cournot. He provides us with reflections on the future of the human race, order and disorder, progress in science and the arts, constantly vulnerable to the risk of natural disaster and barbaric behaviour.