The real crisis is the meta crisis
“There are crises and there are meta-crises: a system may stagger from one crisis to another but never recognise the underlying mechanisms that subvert its own logic…If we are now panicking about the triumph of a politics of resentment, fear and unchallengeable untruthfulness, we had better investigate what models of human identity we have been working with”
- Rowan Williams
Making sense of political stagnation
Our work is aligned with the mainstream heterodox view that democratic capitalism in its current form is not tenable, and that prevailing populist and puritanical alternatives - the restless clamour for clarity and certainty – is not the way forward.
No credible alternatives from within liberal democracy currently seem particularly credible either, and that’s partly because the challenges we face are not transactional or technocratic in nature – they are about human nature and purpose as such. We do need alternatives to consumption driven economic growth, and there is, for instance, a compelling ecological vision of a world of increased automation with societal lodestars better than GDP where we all pursue time-rich, relationship-rich, nature-rich, craft-rich and creation-rich lives. However, at a practical level the transition narrative often feels somehow anaemic, and never quite rings true.
For instance, the story of spiritual renewal in which the world collectively comes to its senses, rebuilds foundations and radically alters course is coherent, but at present it lacks capital, political power, media buy-in and institutional support.
More generally the institutional barriers to practical and policy solutions emerging are enormous. As Philosopher John Gray never tires of reminding us, ‘Humanity’ as such does not have agency, but is rather defined by competing interests among a range of groups within and between nations. Faith in Global Governance remains low, despite the apparent success of Paris Cop 21 on climate change. And we are working on a burning platform as the impacts of climate change are already biting.
In this context, the idea that we can somehow sew seeds of a meta-narrative that will grow into one the whole world coalesces around, and that better policies will arise as a result seems somewhere between audacious and absurd.
Many don’t care, and those who do care are never likely to agree.