Posts Tagged ‘uncertainty’

Every 40 or so years, the dominant ideology of society reaches the end of it’s useful life, right at a time when it has brought to bear a situation where direction is needed. It happened in the 1880’s, it was the case in the 1930’s, it was the case in the 1970’s and it is the case now.

We’re in a transitional period where the ‘old guard’ desperately clings to it’s interests, public anger and conflict rises, and nobody seems to have an answer. Uncertainty breeds instability, and the death knell sounds for the politics of what we know. The great challenge of these uncertain times is not party political clashes – the challenge is one of finding some manner of positive framework with which to change things.

The danger is that of something less than healthy taking hold as we grapple for any old answer that works. This is where autocrats and technocrats gain a foothold on their power. It’s also where revolutions are born, and where the seeds of a new and improved social contract can be sown.

We are living in a historic time of great change within our societies, both individually and collectively from the Arab Spring and Occupy movement to the machinations of the politics of our individual nations. Already, we even see two clear responses to the current climate – that of Iceland in the rejection of corporatism and the redrawing of its very constitution, and that of the austerity of a number of European nations. These two distinct approaches their selves are built upon different principles. In Iceland the people of the country have refused to bear the brunt of the financial crisis of 2008, whereas in a number of European nations austerity aims to place money back into the hands of banks. In those worst effected of such european countries technocrats have taken up powerful political positions in a trend that shows no signs of abating.

In these times of uncertainty there is only one thing that is certain: There must be, and will be change. The only question is over what form that change will take. We have taken a journey from theĀ LaissezĀ Faire economics of the turn of the 20th century, to the Keynesian social democracy of the middle of the 20th century which brought us fairer living standards and working conditions, but ultimately to neo-liberalism… and neo-liberalism has solved a number of the problems of social democracy only to bring us to runaway consumerism and ultimately, corporatism rather than the promise of the capitalist paradise it once offered.

Unfortunately, at this time of crisis as is the case at all such times, the ideologies of both left and right have been well trodden leaving the carpet utterly thread-bare. The search must now go on for a new way forward over a transition that could well take upwards of a decade. Historically, we’ve plumbed the depths of history books and the writings of philosophers and economists for this new way, often rehashing the same old social ideologies in new and interesting ways for different political ends. In the 1930’s it was Keynes with Social Democracy, and in the 80’s it was Hayek with Neo-Liberalism. What now?

In this day and age, we each have access to information that could not have been dreamt of in even the 1980’s. We no longer live under the shadow of the ‘experts’, nor in the trust in the benevolence and competence of our leaders. We live in an age where, if we so desire, we are able to think for ourselves and in many respects to chose for ourselves; and those individual ideas and decisions may now be uniquely well informed such that the whole of history has never quite seen before. This may be a watershed moment for individuals, nations and indeed the world, or it may go down in history at the time in which neo-liberal ideology came full circle and destroyed itself, making serfs and slaves of us all in the process. So potent are these times of uncertainty that we could even see the rise of some manner of neo-fascism.

The question is, given your access to knowledge and resources unique to any time in history, what kind of world would you like to see? If you could propose a new ideology for a new era, what would it be? It’s time to begin a public discourse on the ideas and aims of what we do from here. A discourse on what we believe in and what’s most important to us as human beings, both individually and collectively. The Occupy movement has been very clear in stating what it stands against – namely, Corporatism. We now need a discussion on what we’re all for, and most of us in developed nations now have access to all of the knowledge and information we could possibly need to have that discussion. Let’s have it!