How long do we have?

Paul Raven @ 16-08-2011

How far are our necks from the afore-mentioned Grim Meathook Future? When will the magical thinking at the core of economics finally be revealed for the hand-waving bullshit it actually is?

When is soon, probably. We could keep rolling sixes and spin it out another 22 years, but we’re getting to the point where relatively small system shocks could propagate uncontrollably like a fat man falling through ice on a pond. I can’t tell you when, but I can tell you that the US is in trouble, Europe is in trouble, they’ve printed insane amounts of money and it hasn’t stabilized things, assets are being devalued in complex processes which hide inflation and still there are no new jobs. People kick around terms like “stagflation” but what’s happening is simple and subtle: nothing.

We’re treading water. We’re like a shark that’s stopped swimming. We’re a cartoon character, all flailing legs, hovering above the abyss.

And at the bottom of it are those poor bastards in Africa, in rural India, South America, Asia, eating rice and bugs because there’s nothing else to eat. And you’ve ignored them your entire life as the money poured from “we know not where” into the First World Lifestyle, which squandered the wealth which could have fed and housed every human being on earth on an extractive economy which wastes 40% of the food produced and has a billion fat people, including me.

Vinay Gupta says the stuff no one else is willing to say – not the political “unthinkables” that are ricocheting around the media at the moment, as the left/right dichotomy struggles to keep relevance in the face of the destruction it has engineered, but the true unspeakables: that we are screwed, that it might be unfixable, that those onto whom we’ve foisted off our responsibilities are caught in a tailspin, and that we can’t see it for the distractions we built to keep us in the soma-bliss of ignorance.

That‘s the future I’m going to try to peer into. I have no particular expertise or training that makes me ideal for the job. So far as I can tell, my only qualification is my willingness to admit it has to be done, that it may be a doomed effort, and that trying is the only thing that’s going to let me get to sleep at night.

I can’t ignore my complicity any more. And part of what I’m going to be doing here going forwards is making it as hard as possible for you to ignore yours.


Writers and thinkers: contribute to The Future We Deserve

Paul Raven @ 07-09-2010

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m supposed to have gone already. But before I head for the airport, I have a quick message for writer/thinker/futurist types in the audience from my good friend Vinay Gupta. Take it away, Vinay:

The Future We Deserve

Vinay Gupta is looking for contributors for a new collaborative futures project, The Future We Deserve. The deadline is one week from now, the brief is fully open for any short (500 word!) essays on the topic, and all essays are Creative Commons licensed.

The goal of the book is to kickstart a new conversation about our personal and collective role in creating the future. You can read the open submissions queue, and sign up to write at the Collaboratory.

Go join in!