Thursday, 7 July 2016

Things Have Changed

Two weeks on from the EU Referendum & despite all angst & exuberance the inescapable feeling is that, for good or ill, things have changed beyond all expectation. We've had innumerable analyses, interpretations & explanations of the results but the hard truth is that, like any instance of momentous change, the factors behind it are complex, intertwined & difficult to assess.  What (R)remains is the sense of unchartered intellectual & political territory, a void beyond experience.

Beyond the political flux, commentariat frenzy & despairing attempts to claim prescience is, I believe, an opportunity to be grasped.  Although it seems beyond comprehension that there was never a plan for what might happen in the event of an exit vote, it would appear that is the case (food for thought for the futures community btw). So the possibilities exist for a fundamental reframing of what we understand to be democracy in the UK. Almost everything, from taxation to international relations, from local accountability to the very existence of the major political parties, is now open to question. Our core institutions are creaking. Whilst the Tory Party struggles to understand the impact of its internal schism on the United Kingdom's future, & as the Labour Party continues its long descent into insignificance through battles over ideological purity, it seems to me the real prize - moving beyond the politics of anger to "the diffusion of prosperity" & the restoration of social progress - is there to be claimed. Or, at least, strived for.

None of which is to say there are easy answers.  & that is, at least in part, the point.  Easy answers are almost always facile, simplistic, & doomed to failure. £350m a week to the NHS, anyone? But the potential for new kinds of dialogue, debate & approach has been noted by many fine voices in the last fortnight (some, but by no means all, links below).

In this vein, & in the spirit of open, rather than closed, debate - I'm proud to be a part of Humboldtweb, a new forum & think space for ideas, conversations & projects working towards an understanding of this new landscape. We see Humboldtweb as a place for open, constructive engagement with the issues: too often debates are framed as arguments from opposing, unmoveable positions. What we hope to create is a space for ideas to be put forward, challenged & refined in a spirit of collaboration. Rather than focussing on a narrow subject, we'll be looking at the interrelationships of art, politics, science & beyond with a view to the "unity in variety" that Humboldt himself espoused.

The website will be live shortly - in the meantime if you'd like to get involved please get in touch via this blog or via Twitter @futuresinfinite & @wearehumboldt

Some further reading