It’s been a rough few weeks. More long read think pieces have been written that perhaps at any moment in recent history. As Niti Bhan pointed out this morning
, the comments have been better than the articles in a surprising number of cases—surely a sign of the End Times.
I had written a longish reflection here as well, but a stack of Web-side technology and an apparently disagreeable browser conspired to save a blank page. So, Saturday wasted, but consider yourself spared.
It seems clear in the aftermath (or at least an acceptable hypothesis) that the turmoil generated by the majority Leave vote for Brexit has its popular roots in the failure of corporate globalization (private as well as large public institution) to deliver many long-term benefits to a large part of society. Even many on the Remain side are only just teetering on the edge of precarity, but have been able to take advantage of mobility, technology and a measure of privilege just to run in place.
The offered options of “rewind to an imagined past” or “restore to June 23 version” are both extremely limited by their lack of vision. The same lack of vision among elites of both sides has become evident to even the least “informed” (to use the popular meme). They can see it in their own lives—a lack of agency, materials and channels to create new futures that are both locally relevant and broadly amenable lead to a corrosive cocktail of frustration and anger.
New futures are desperately needed—in the UK, Europe, the West and the world at large. Collectively and individually, we’re up against the existential threat of climate change, surrounded by viral conflict, and face having critical transitions to new models of education, energy, mobility, economics, manufacturing and much more either strangled in the crib, or shaped by a barely accountable coterie of megaplatforms.
Tools, access and the agency are needed in order to imagine, model, describe, communicate and ultimately create the elements of these transitions—to make them happen. Tools that combine structured ways to imagine different realities. Access available to anyone, regardless of power, position or point of view. Agency enabled by creating space for people to speak, be heard, and act.
To me, this is the best use of futures tools—identifying, imagining and shaping alternatives that improve our quality of life. Writer Nick Harkaway outlines some ambitious visions for a future Britain
linked below—sketching just a handful of the many possible ways forward that involve progress, not the feeble regression so often voiced this past week. These could be relevant almost anywhere, not just in Britain. They represent a down payment, a starting point of necessary visions. These kinds of ideas represent the best option we have to get to sustainable, stable, and flourishing societies.
We’re raising our hands. We’re ready to get stuck in, to work with willing partners to help make this happen, to go forward rather than go back or stand still. Anyone who’s ready, consider us in