I toyed with the idea of calling this blog ‘To Hell in a Handcart’ but instead I opted for the more sober ‘Minority View’. At times of crisis it’s important to remain optimistic, and I am hopeful that some of the ideas on these pages, while very much the minority view at present, will gradualy enter the mainstream and even have some impact going forward. I should stress that none of these ideas are especially orginal, or even new, but they are necessary if we are effectively to address current problems.
There can be no doubt that we humans, and the remarkable civilization we have created, seem to be at something of a crossroads: On the one hand, as Simon Jenkins writes, and Ian McWhirter concurs, there is a great deal of evidence for progress in respect of reducing extreme poverty, fewer people dying in wars and increasing life-expectancy across the globe. On the other hand, there are alarming signs that the engine of economic progress responsible for these and other gains, is fast running out of steam, and that established systems of governance are struggling in the face of electorates which feel their interests are no longer being represented.
In these circumstances it is rather negligent to suggest, as Simon does, that we should simply ‘believe that things will get better, for the excellent reason that they have always done so.’ The achievements of the past are no guarantee of continuing progress going forward. The tremendous gains of the latter half of the twentieth century were a consequence of the conscious efforts of many people who, having lived through the horrors of two world wars, were determined to create conditions in which such cataclysms could not be repeated. Much of their work has already been undone by a subsequent generation of ideologues who, with the memory of war and holocaust fading fast, took the world in a quite different direction.
On these pages I hope to explore how we might, collectively, plot a route through the 21st century to ensure that the world we leave our children and grandchildren is at least as viable and opportunity-laden as the one that we – and I write as someone in my early fifties – inherited from our parents.