Albert Robida (1848-1926), a master of futurology, described and depicted in his drawings what the society of the mid-twentieth century might be like. The numerous technical innovations he imagines — the telephonoscope (an invention akin to television and the Internet) or airships and pneumatic tubes (modes of rapid transport) — bring with them changes to social behaviour: the rhythms of life accelerate; couples, focused on their professional life, exchange partners; tourism becomes routine, thanks to the development of transport; and culture is democratized.
Other characteristics of Robidian society include environmental degradation, the emancipation of women and also the creation, in politics, of a ten-yearly holiday that is a ‘“vast carnival of protest lasting three months”, a kind of letting-off-of-steam that accompanies the elections and change of government once every ten years.
Drawing on illustrations to support his argument, Dominique Lacaze lays the work of this visionary before us. In his first article, published last month in Futuribles (no 366, pp. 61-70), Lacaze described the technical innovations imagined by Robida. He now presents us with the broad outlines of Robida’s society.