Charlie Goldman, a friend in South Carolina, sent me this today. It offers an imaginary and hope-filled sequel to the last post “Beyond the Anthropcene” (my highlights).
Long, interesting article. See my excerpts below.
This essay is written as a dispatch from the future. We visit Earthland in 2084, the flourishing planetary civilization that has emerged out of the great crises and struggles that today still lie before us. We learn how decades earlier a “global citizens movement” had coalesced and gathered momentum, becoming the key agent of the Great Transition that bent the arc of history from catastrophe to renewal.
At the highest level, three broad channels fan out from the unsettled present into the imagined future: worlds of incremental adjustment (Conventional Worlds), worlds of calamitous discontinuity (Barbarization), and worlds of progressive transformation (Great Transitions).
The fictive author is a veteran of the battle for the twenty-first century, and now an elder statesman of the new order. He celebrates how far the world has come, yet acknowledges that, struggling to heal past wounds and invent a viable future, Earthland is no utopia. Still, its humanistic and ecological values, its ethos of balance between globalism and pluralism, and its enlightened economic and political system fill him with hope. He could be your grandchild or child; or, young Earthlander, might he be you?
Here is his “essay” [excerpts]:
The prevailing pre-transition ethos—consumerism, individualism, and anthropocentrism—has yielded to a different triad: quality of life, human solidarity, and ecocentrism.
The celebration of both unity and diversity animates our “politics of trust” with its two prongs: the toleration of proximate differences and the cultivation of ultimate solidarity. The transformation has demonstrated that the tension between globalism and localism, although very real, need not be antagonistic.
Today , the paramount ideals of modernity— equality, tolerance, reason, rule of law, and active citizenship—are ubiquitous, but find sundry expression across a variegated social landscape.
The most controversial question—What should be considered irreducibly global?—has provoked a tug-of-war between contending camps advocating for either a more tight-knit world state or a more decentralized federation.
The pursuit of money is giving way to the cultivation of skills, relationships, and the life of the mind and spirit. The cynics of yesteryear, who feared the indolent masses would squander their free time, stand refuted.
Most significantly, educational institutions were engines of change and loci of action. They still are, not least through educating tomorrow’s leaders, social entrepreneurs, and citizen-activists. The fully humanistic university has arrived, synergistically pursuing a triple mission—mass education, rigorous scholarship, and the common good—once thought to be contradictory.
Caps on total personal assets and limits on inheritance have made the super-rich an extinct species, while redistributive tax structures and a guaranteed minimum standard of living have nearly eradicated destitution.
At last, humanity understands the moral and biophysical imperative to care for the ecosphere, a hard-learned lesson that, future generations may be assured, shall not be forgotten.
The immediate task is to heal the lingering injuries of the past—eradicating the last pockets of poverty, quelling old antagonisms that still flare across contested borders, and mending nature’s still-festering wounds. Strengthening educational programs and political processes is vital to solidifying Earthland’s ideals in minds and institutions. Social capital is the best inoculation against resurgence of the merchants of greed, demagogues of hate, and all who would summon the dark hobgoblins from the recesses of the human psyche.