- How do we make a global society sustainable?
- How can 8 billion people enjoy a reasonable standard of living without destroying the planet with the waste from what they extract, consume and produce?
- How can we move over to a predominantly electric powered society quickly enough and how can we generate that electricity without also generating dangerous levels of carbon dioxide?
- How can we move quickly enough away from single use plastic products and deal with the remains of the plastic we have already produced?
- How do we manage a global economy & steer it to the collective benefit?
- When will the next global financial crisis strike and what measures have we taken to prepare ourselves to cope with its consequences?
- How can we create more powerful local economies and societies within a world that is global?
- How quickly can we adapt to technological changes such as robotics, bio-engineering and de-fossilised production technology whilst ensuring we get collective benefits from those changes?
- What new skills, new lifestyles and what training are people going to need to adapt to major changes in job opportunities?
- Will work simply change or will much of it be destroyed and how will we help those whose jobs are lost?
- Do we want everyone to be in work and can we find work for everyone if we do? What are the alternative ways of organising society if work ceases to be something which everyone can or needs to do?
- Will ownership of technology concentrate wealth in fewer hands and if so how will electors and their politicians reduce the inequalities?
- How does the world adjust to the relative decline of countries like the US and the relative rise of places like Africa, India and the Far East without conflict?
- How do we manage conflict in an era when technology of mass destruction can be acquired by most countries that have leaders who choose to do so?
- How do aging Western populations, economies and societies adjust to a global society of predominantly young people wanting to do things in different ways? How do we manage their fears and most effectively defeat the associated politics of reaction?
- Do we wish to live in mainly competitive or mainly collaborative societies? How do we create communities instead of isolated competing individuals?
- How do we secure liberty and an arena for imaginative and enjoyable actions within a world over dominated by the profit motive?
- How do we secure diversity of life upon our planet and provide sufficient space for wildness and for other species to prosper?
- How do we grow enough food whilst preserving our soils, our water and our atmosphere?
- How can we successfully move away from agricultural practices that burn more calories via fossil fuels, pesticides and fertilizers than they generate in food?
- How can we enable people of all genders, races, backgrounds and lifestyle choices to have full opportunities to express themselves and achieve?
Whatever you think of the list I believe it to be beyond dispute that the only politician who is worth anything is one who can think their way through the fog of war and gain some kind of level of understanding of the scale of change that is underway and the nature of the transition we need. That quality is in desperately short supply in Britain just at the moment.
The Conservative’s best shot at understanding the future comes in the form of their Industrial Strategy. Rarely has a more jumbled and confused rag bag of patched together flawed policies tried to lay claim to being strategic. Labour’s best efforts at constructing an economic strategy read like a tired rehash of the 1970s alternative economic strategy. They show little or no understanding of the full implications of globalisation, the gradual end of the era of the factory, or the scale of the environmental challenge. Instead they demonstrate a naïve conviction that it is possible for one country to go it alone and create a form of socialism in the face of fierce international competition.
We seem to have politicians obsessed by tiny issues like the next sound bite or how the Brexit negotiations are going this week. The prime focus is simply how to survive the latest political turmoil. What we desperately need are some strategic thinkers who can raise their heads upwards and see the scale of what is coming and position our country to be ready for it.
That is why I stick with the Green Party despite its occasional silliness and its fringe status. It is at least trying to think about some of the big issues properly – even if it muddles the answers quite frequently.
Better to mess up occasionally whilst trying to think about the important issues than to ignore a steadily accumulating crisis and hope that it will go away. Change never does.