The fu­ture of ev­ery­thing

NZ Business - - INBOX - Re­viewed by Reg Birch­field.

THE FU­TURE OF EV­ERY­THING: BIG, AU­DA­CIOUS IDEAS FOR A BET­TER WORLD By Tim Dun­lop New­south Books RRP $34.99 pa­per­back Ebook $14.99 Aus­tralian based writer and aca­demic Tim Dun­lop has, he be­lieves, a plan for sav­ing the world and those of us who in­habit it from our­selves. His blue­print is re­vealed in his lat­est book, The Fu­ture of Ev­ery­thing.

His last book, Why the Fu­ture is Work­less, was pub­lished in 2016 and ap­par­ently sold well to his spe­cial­ist mar­ket.

This one, I’m not so sure about. His “big, au­da­cious ideas for a bet­ter world” will strug­gle for trac­tion and for pre­cisely the same rea­sons that our world is now in such a mess.

Dun­lop pro­claims the ob­vi­ous, that we are in the mid­dle of the great­est tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion in his­tory. And therein dwells the prob­lem. This rev­o­lu­tion should de­liver all man­ner of life-en­hanc­ing ben­e­fits. But right now, it ap­pears to be slid­ing in­ex­orably over to the dark side.

The ad­van­tages that tech­nol­ogy could de­liver will, Dun­lop warns, be for noth­ing if these ad­vances con­tinue to be used to con­cen­trate wealth “in the hands of the few”. He main­tains that too much tech­nol­ogy is de­ployed on con­trol and surveil­lance. They must in­stead be used to de­liver lib­er­a­tion and fair­ness. Un­less this shift hap­pens, he ar­gues, the fu­ture looks dis­tinctly bleak.

Dun­lop ad­vo­cates seven sim­ply stated pri­or­i­ties to achieve his “fairer world”. He sug­gests: • More ev­ery­day peo­ple in govern­ment

de­cid­ing the course of our fu­ture. • More work­places owned and con­trolled

by the peo­ple who work in them. • Es­sen­tial pub­lic as­sets such as water and

power pub­licly owned. • A guar­an­teed ba­sic in­come so peo­ple

have the time to live the life they choose. • A me­dia that bet­ter re­ports the truth and

cit­i­zens who can recog­nise it. • An ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that prepares us for

the fu­ture. • Joy in all its com­plex­ity.

If this sounds some­what fa­mil­iar, it is. Un­daunted by the ob­vi­ous pol­icy par­al­lels with so­cial­ist thinkers of old, Dun­lop spells out his ideas for re­claim­ing com­mon ground, ar­gu­ing the case for more pub­lic own­er­ship of es­sen­tial as­sets, more pub­lic space, more trans­par­ent me­dia and ed­u­ca­tion that prepares ev­ery­one for the fu­ture.

The book’s value lies in its com­pelling, and of­ten de­press­ing, de­scrip­tion of the evo­lu­tion­ary process that’s de­liv­ered the pol­i­tics, eco­nom­ics, en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion and so­cial dis­lo­ca­tion now fac­ing our world.

We are, writes Dun­lop, in dan­ger of dy­ing a painful, cap­i­tal­ism-in­duced death. “The end of cap­i­tal­ism is all around us, as the planet heats, as the oceans fill with plas­tic, as our so­ci­eties lose their co­her­ence, as species die and habi­tats fail, as economies be­come ends in them­selves.”

But he says, “there is still time” to re­dis­cover a fairer and hap­pier world. To do that the rest of us “must re­dis­cover the joy of ex­er­cis­ing real po­lit­i­cal power”. Hmmm!

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