Things seem broken
What will it take to implement a program that deals with large-scale problems?
There is no shortage of problems without clearly articulated economic, political, and social solutions by the dominant political narratives:
Wages, inflation, green transition, housing, food, good jobs, education, skills development, climate-related responses, democratic shifts, information, freedom vs. democracy, health, pandemic/epidemic-related production and distribution of vaccines and medicines, technology, infrastructure, etc.
While there has been no articulation of the economic solutions, the current system is shifting in response to the fundamental failures of the economic and cultural position of capitalism, but without clear direction.
The rebound after the initial shock of the pandemic has both crystallized the problem, but also somehow delayed the realization of the failure of post 1980 capitalist policy – so called neoliberalism. There have been some small changes in narrative of the public and more than the usual hand-wringing of the elite. But, what does one do when everyone has staked their career a thoroughly rejected policy frame? The alternative seems as allusive as before at the level of real change.
While the shock created the clear view that things were broken and the short pause in production created a general understanding that many things were not quite how we thought they were, global pauses and a universal focus on a single problem rarely results in one common understanding of the solution. Cultural divisions have created a situation of highly divergent lessons learned. This, too, is a failure of the current capitalist mindset: do not demand real explanations and certainly do not attempt to take real power.
The problems, to nobody's surprise, are much more fundamental than simply figuring out how to "return to normal". It is an odd thing for people to say. "Normal". Like that time that never existed in the past but that we constantly see in movies.
Let's be clear: normal is not the holiday destination you dream of, nor is it the home you return to. Normal is the airport during a winter storm where all the flights are cancelled. It was not great, it didn't work, it was a stressful mess, and in hindsight it was not necessary for you to be there. There were so many other, better, places you could have been.
We all know we need better, not normal. We need to return to the future that should have been, the place we all know we should have been but were too lazy and comfortable to go. We need to return to better.
In any case, returning to the past never works. Time doesn't work that way, no matter how much conservatives want us to believe it does. Returning to the past means reliving the current mess. The future is where we are headed and I want to know how it is going to be better than it is now.
The lesson of the concurrent global crises is that the techno-utopian dreams of San Francisco bros are not going to save us. We cannot individually buy our way out of the crisis. As the saying goes, we are not safe until everyone is safe. The new realization that we are – literally – in this together is like everyone becoming a socialist overnight without fully understanding the implications. Yes, we are in this together and there are solutions.
Indeed, we have always been in it together.
Normal gave us the climate crisis and pandemic
The pandemic was a warm-up to the climate crisis. A wake-up call that the current system is not working. It is not only causing the mess we are in, but it also offers no tenable solutions to deal with the mess it is creating. It is a terrible program and many of us just want out. But, we cannot get out because there is nowhere else to go. Opting-out is not possible and going at it alone provides no solution. This leaves only one choice, we are going to have to work together to change things.
But, we need real solutions. We need a plan. We need buy-in. And, we need to do it while expanding our own selves – because the alternative is just not worth it and will not get number 3 on this list.
Luckily, we do not have to do any of this alone. We already have the tools and the know-how and structures and systems that can help. Let's call it democracy with a common social, economic, and climate goal to achieve a prosperous and safe future for the humans and the home planet. That's a long title, we usually refer to it as socialism, but you can call it DCSECGAPSFHHP if socialism is too hard for you to say.
Democracy with a common goal can work. We see it work in large and small projects all the time – not perfectly, mind you, but people are not perfect and besides we only need good enough here. It will be a struggle, but we really do not have another choice. We are in this together, we must all agree on a point in the future, and we must all move in the general direction of that goal.
This is the alternative to the current mess. The antidote to the current program that is not working. And the real place in the future that is not a simple return to some "normal" we neither want nor can afford.
Let's take the opportunity for change the universe has handed us and let's work towards a future we actually need.