Following on from my most recent blog post, last week I was fortunate enough to be in the audience for Matthew Taylor’s RSA annual lecture (click here for the footage), which proved to be as thought provoking as I expected. Taylor’s theme, addressing what a “good economy” could or would look like, & how to move beyond the current narrowness of the wider economic debate, certainly seemed apposite on the eve of the Budget.
& in less than a week since the lecture, political & economic issues have been ever more to the fore. George Osbourne’s Budget, memorably described as “political cross dressing at its most flamboyant”, seemed despite its One Nation rhetoric & colonisation of other parties’ policies to re-entrench the narrow & divisive discourse of austerity come what may. Subsequent developments with Greece & the Eurozone have further reinforced the almost overwhelming sense of economic dystopia. I make no pretence at expertise in these matters, & when even someone with the ego of Andrew Neil admits they have no idea what’s going on, there’s no shame in that. But what’s often missing in the news reports, articles & twitter debates between economists, commentators & academics is a sense of what this means for the (often voiceless) people stuck in the midst of the nightmare. Economic theories, from all points on the political spectrum, seem much removed from the human reality they purport to serve.
All of which sounds deeply pessimistic, but again returning to Taylor I echo his question: do we have the opportunity today to think & act differently? Times of crisis & turbulence also bring possibilities for reassessment, redesign, fundamental reform. My last post set out some of my reflections on themes that seem useful in this debate, and the possibilities for continuing dialogue. I’m grateful (& awed, frankly) for the feedback, support & input I’ve had to date from some great people, & I’m still working towards a more coherent prospectus for whatever this might become. The crucial thing for me is that however bleak things may appear, the opportunity to create a different discourse and to shape different futures is available. No doubt there will be obstacles, disappointments, even disillusion. But to paraphrase one of those inspirational people, the goal isn’t to fight what’s already happened but to exemplify what could be possible & then think what’s next.
If you want to get involved please email me @email@example.com or find me on twitter @FuturesInfinite