by Frank Schnittger
Fri Apr 11th, 2008 at 04:11:58 AM EST
I'd like to try to revive a debate started by techno in Creating the new "conventional wisdom" which in turn was based on earlier comments.
Techno argued that the role of ET should be to act as a forum or think tank where ideas contrary to received wisdom can be incubated and developed so as to provide better options for policy and decision makers. He felt that this was a more positive role for ET than the frequently clichéd and sometimes embarrassing protests which are the standard fare of many progressive activists. He cited Jerome's sustained critique of the "Anglo Disease" as a good example which is now beginning to gain traction in mainstream received wisdom. He further argued that if ET could come up with 20 key ideas or themes like that, ET could make a real difference in the world and went on to make some suggestions, some of which resonated with me, and some which did not. Chris Cook suggested his "Peak Credit" idea as another possible theme, and I put together a list of 20 suggested big ideas - but the conversation died thereafter.
So I would like to present them again below the fold in the hope of provoking some discussion on whether we have, collectively, any other "big ideas" which might change the world if we pursue them as relentlessly as Jerome has done.
My suggestion is that to qualify as a major theme - an idea has to fulfill a number of conditions:
- It must run counter to current conventional thinking in at least some major parts of the world
- It must have the potential to create significant change in the world
- ET members must have the capability to do considerable analysis, exposition, and campaigning on its behalf
- Some themes might just be a case of acting as a devils advocate and taking a more radical position on something which may already be a matter of conventional discourse - e.g. EU to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Here's my top of the head list based on what I have read here and elsewhere..
- Anglo Disease
- StopBlair - and the death of Atlanticism
- Peak Oil
- Peak Credit (Chris Cook)
- Peak Land - biofuels are not the answer
- Peak population - the current growth in the human footprint on planet earth is unsustainable
- Peak wind - what is the maximum contribution that can be expected from wind power to future energy demand?
- Peak health - which healthcare models maximise the common good
- Peak money - when billionaires starve
- Transformative political action - how to convert conflict into positive energy for change
- Cannibal capitalism - how "financial services" parasitise and destroy their host economies
- The EU as emerging superstate; Transcending nationalism
- Restorative Justice: when punishment is counter productive, and restitution heals
- Transformation not transport - reducing the carbon footprint of complexity
- Science and society: the promise of discovery
- Equality and freedom: human rights in an unequal world
- Empowerment and civil action: the role of virtual communities
- Disability and empowerment: Personal development in a virtualising world
- Art as action - changing reality by changing perceptions
- Democracy must defeat corporatism and gross inequality to survive
Obviously, the above is a very preliminary, personal, and top of the head list, and each topic would require a diary to even begin to explain why it might qualify as a defining theme for ET. However I have tried to broaden it beyond largely economic themes to reflect a range of ET members' concerns. Some are topics, rather than specific stances on an issue - but nevertheless may reflect our priorities and capabilities in making a positive contribution.
Anyone like to chip in with their own ideas for inclusion in a list of 20 key themes? Feel free to challenge the above - so long as you propose your own! Perhaps individual ETers might like to take on the challenge of writing a Diary on a particular candidate "big idea", defining the issue, scoping the work that ET might do, and suggesting lines of research and action which might significantly influence conventional wisdom on the topic.