Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Breakdown to Breakthrough

Can you know whether you’re living through a time of great change when you are in it? Or is it one of those things you can only see in the rear view mirror? Lately there’s been some talk of the period before the last World War, when the majority of Britons believed in appeasement. Apparently there was a minority who believed that war was inevitable. These people, engineers, scientists, created the blueprint for the Spitfire, and when war broke out there were many other strategies – political, social, practical - in place for Britain to be swiftly galvanised for war.

Not that we are in a wartime situation. But a great change is afoot and deep down we know it. Our initial response is fear, but I also sense the fresh wind of relief, as though from addiction. Do we really want to continue to create a society where our greed for driving is more important than other people’s need to eat (the grain it takes to fill a 25 gallon SUV tank can feed a person for a year – Lester Brown, Earthwatch Institute).

The headlines lately have been dire – and not just the Guardian, but the FT, the Mail and all. Our leaders reassure us that the financial, food and oil crises are just temporary market aberrations, but perhaps we are entering a time of long-term turbulence as we figure out how to change from an industrial growth society to a life-sustaining society. Resistance is futile. But I am optimistic. I hope we can even welcome this Breakdown to Breakthrough.

1 comment:

jamesgreyson said...

I like the wartime comparison. Britons seem to be at their best in a crisis and the next year or so seems set to offer just that. A bit of swift galvanising can't come too soon.

The 'fundamentals of the economy' are anything but sound. Current market turbulence will keep worsening until we start to run an economy designed as you say for sustaining life. I'm feeling a bit optimistic too since last week the UN started promoting new research on how to achieve such an economy in every country. http://www.climateneutral.unep.org/cnn_members.aspx?m=195

BTW I think SUV tanks are more likely 25 gallon. And there might be a few Iraqiis questioning that the UK isn't already in a war.