A spectre is haunting the world. It is not populism, nationalism, corruption or even fascism. It is worse. It is a vexing lack of imagination. Here Tim O’Reilly quotes Wallace Stevens to remind us that “reality is an activity of the most august imagination”
Our job is to imagine a better future, because if we can imagine it, we can create it. But it starts with that imagination. The future that we can imagine shouldn’t be a dystopian vision of robots that are wiping us out, of climate change that is going to destroy our society. It should be a vision of how we will rise to the challenges that we face in the next century, that we will build an enduring civilization, and that we will build a world that is better for our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It should be a vision that we will become one of those long-lasting species rather than a flash in the pan that wipes itself out because of its lack of foresight.
And here Jill Lepore explains how dystopias follow utopias the way thunder follows lightning. She thinks we have been repeating “yes we can” too many times, too stubbornly in the face of increasing complexity. (She is not alone.) That was the lightning, the flash of hope, the promise of perfectibility. Not surprisingly, this year the thunder is roaring. KA-BOOM!
The “yes we can” mantra has proved to be very dangerous. The Lord of Fake News, Lady Brexit, or the Orcs of nationalism are the thunder roaring after lightning—the dystopia—a bunch of zombies that keep pushing buttons and levers that were designed to move society forward centuries ago, to no avail.
Sorry but we can’t. Not this way, with old, exhausted ideas. We can’t just wait for the market to magically come up with solutions. We can’t just trust in technological solutionism. We cannot without the right investments in the future. We need to refresh our politics. We need inspired leadership. We badly need new ideas to keep moving in order to keep balance.
Let’s imagine a new reality!