Perhaps your head, dear reader, is already full of ideas. This is expected given our historical moment. There’s growing consensus that the myriad wicked crises bearing down on us, at all scales with existential threat and increasing dystopian probability, are a consequence of the current dominant political-economic paradigm and its realisation in the world. Neo-classical economics does not offer enough in the way of help to both fully understand these challenges nor the solutions.
If we’re to avoid catastrophe, then this political-economic reality must change from being its cause to becoming its solution, both in the extremely short run and in the very long. This is the central challenge for all the generations of this century.
It’s a precious gift to be alive as a sentient human being whatever the circumstances, my Buddhist friends remind me. Yes, of course, I say. And the global pandemic is awful, causing premature deaths, suffering and loss for survivors, financial disaster for households and business owners. My Buddhist friends also remind me that there has always been suffering. Perhaps, making clear these fundamental truths of the human condition are the first two gifts of this pandemic.
For the longer-term praxis of living together and all that entails – politics, economics, sociologics, ecologics – this pandemic brings additional practical blessings. First, let’s acknowledge the critiques of globalised ‘capitalism’ and political duplicity, the warnings of impending authoritarianism and austerity, and the near certainty of massively disruptive and sustained economic contraction. These are foreboding stories told by very serious people coming through louder and clearer than before in a now more amenable mediasphere. (If you haven’t yet seen them, then please search for them.) We must give them thoughtful attention and act accordingly. But they’re not the only possible stories about an as yet unconstructed future – in fact, they’re incomplete.