We look back – perhaps forward – to the counterculture of the 1960s to try to understand optimism, or possibility, or hope. The abolition of the future over the course of the decades between then and now creates a clean, blank break, an insurmountable barrier in the collective (un)consciousness, that renders many of the ideas for radically new, collective styles of living, doing and being incomprehensible to us, the generations born after the ‘end of history’. The impossibility, to our 21st century minds, of alternative modes of social reproduction, for example, is the result, and process, of what cultural theorist Mark Fisher (1968-2017) called capitalist realism – the doctrine we are all subjected to which claims that the way things are is the only way that they can be, and that any attempt to do anything else is doomed to failure. There Is No Alternative.
As the UK’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak exposes capitalism for all its evils, now is the time to start laying the foundations for a better future.
We’ve been in the final throes of capitalism for some time now. Since the financial crash of 2008 long-term economic stagnation has persisted in the west, yet 1% of the world’s population have managed to hoard almost half of global wealth. As the world faces a global pandemic of the life-threatening novel coronavirus aka Covid-19, now more than ever the faults in our capitalist system are screaming out for scrutiny, and it is fast becoming obvious that inequality kills, and capitalism is to blame.
The earth is facing major – and quite possibly irreversible – environmental catastrophe and ecological breakdown. No need to panic. The Paris climate agreement was a resounding success, was it not?
On the one hand, one set of researchers estimate that at our current trajectory, we have about a 5% chance of remaining below the 2C threshold set out in the Paris agreement in 2015. On the other, a recent audit of the agreement conducted by the United Nations (UN) made it clear that even if the Paris agreement was to be met in full, it won’t be enough of a shift to avoid a total planetary clusterfuck of epic proportions. In his statement on the matter, head of UN Environment Erik Solheim suggested that “if we invest in the right technologies, ensuring that the private sector is involved, we can still meet the promise we made to our children to protect their future”.
What if the “private sector” is the problem? In order to decode the question we need to be clear what the private sector is, what its objectives are, and the kind of power it has over environmental policy.
by Laura Potts
Forget statistics, results and score tables – how much does the modern school system genuinely guide young minds toward a progressive and fulfilling future?
John Dewey, often called the father of modern western education, argued that raising children as obedient conformists, rather than individuals who think for themselves, is very dangerous for democratic society. In recent decades, generations of people have been brought up at a midpoint between these two extremes, raised to conform to individualism. This has provided support for dangerous social, environmental and political power structures which do not provide for the vital collectivist needs of our ever-more-globalised world.