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Where do the problems of modern existence lie?


It seemed to me that these days the enemies of our collective flourishing are more likely to lie in the troubles of unrestrained corporate and individual appetites and the unlimited pressure to generate immediate profit without regard for human and earthly costs.

Another words the fundamental problem facing us all is Inequality of Education, Health, Wealth, combined with unequal control over assets. These include natural resources such as land, water, minerals and other fruits of nature, as well as produced productive and financial assets.

Things have reached such a pass that incremental measures are not likely to be enough: “trans-formative changes” are required, with the ultimate aim of zero discrimination.

So measures to reduce inequality have to be part of a wider economic and social policy framework to control financial activity and direct it towards socially desired goals. ( These include natural resources such as land, water, minerals and other fruits of nature, as well as produced productive and financial assets.)

Even business leaders in Davos recently identified Inequality as one of the biggest threats to the world.

But what have we got?  Sovereignty Wealth Funds buying up the lot.

For hundreds of years now, humans have tended to believe that the best sort of government is one which leaves its citizens maximally ‘free’.

We’ve all come to associate good government directly and complicatedly with the promotion of ‘freedom’: freedom to worship as one pleases, to publish what one wants, to dress as one likes, to love whomever one desires.

In the meantime, those who have opposed ‘freedom’ have been presented in horrifying terms: They have been the wicked priests, the murderous Communists, demented Nazis, and Terrorists.

The painful fact is that the pursuit of what matters to us in the long-term and collectively may at times be in sharp conflict with our short-term and individual pleasures.

Promoting freedom above all other values may now be turning out to be deeply unhelpful to the long-term and collective interests of a nation and the earth as a whole.

It has grown too easy for corrupt and venal organisations to operate under the banner of ‘freedom’ in order to get away with activities that covertly run sharply counter to the public good.

Freedom is evidently not a virtue when it involves the freedom of bankers to offload ruinous financial instruments on an uneducated public, just as censorship – that bogeyman of contemporary politics – is evidently far from a vice when it prevents corporations from pushing alcohol on children or denying affordable housing to the poor.

Freedom is not a baseless word, but it is in general simply too vague, ambiguous and emotive a term to guide policy or to be an ideal around which a nation or people can reasonably cohere.

Instead of being in favor of ever falling prices for consumer goods, government should promote the notion of a just price, a floor for prices reflecting the cost of humane and decent employment and production. To get all of us into the habit of paying the just price: a price that would allow high quality goods attuned to genuine needs to be put together by workers employed at an adequate wage.

Government is the institutionalization of our long-term and collective interests. It is not ultimately responsible just for freedom, but its highest calling is to act as the guardian of long-term collective prosperity of all its citizens.

The governments of the future will have to accept that two idiots cannot remove one genius. They will have to measured and in skillful ways constantly step in to say ‘no’ to certain vested interests, without this in any way meaning that it is systematically anti-capitalist.

So what am I saying here?

Although we bridle at folk memories of police states Governments of the future with greater intelligence and democratic accountability will have to often be interested in restricting freedom.

Freedom = good/restriction = bad, has blinded us to a vital nuance with a grave potential to derail and corrupt public life:

An others words there will have to be a more important and ambitious view of what government is for than merely freedom. We are all threatened by aggressive and uncontrolled commercial interests determined to quash our peace of mind and confuse us about our real needs and we’ve overlooked that there are better and worse kinds of freedom.

The first step in the right direction is to cap Greed. ( See Previous Postings)