You’ll notice if you click through the above link to my slides that the first slide is basically this image with a link to the Verso website:
This was a last-minute addition and a response to the keynote panel session running prior to it. The panel featured someone from McKinsey, someone promoting their book, and a researcher into the future of work. I’ve no bone of contention with them, but the framing seemed to be that there are some kind of ‘inevitable’ trends happening. This was evident by a question from the audience about the widely-reported threat of a recession — to which the reply from the stage was that this would only slow down what’s already happening.
To be clear, we co-create the future. Things happen because we collectively cause them to happen.
They’re all excellent and thought-provoking. I want to read the other two shown on there, and I’d also perhaps throw 24/7: Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep by Jonathan Crary into the mix. Yes, they’re written from a reasonably-radical left-of-centre perspective, but given most of our ‘news’ and business ‘thought leadership’ is extremely right-leaning, it’s a welcome corrective.
How ironic, to get a positive PCR test result on the same day that the government announces the end of many Covid-related restrictions. Welcome to my life.
So this is Covid And what have you done? Another isolation over And a new one just begun
A very merry Covid And a happy lateral flow Let’s hope it’s a good one Without any T’s
And so this is Covid I hope you have fun Infecting the near and the dear ones The old and the young
Thankfully, because I’ve had my vaccinations, my symptoms are so mild that I can work through it and haven’t choked to death. My lateral flow test was negative this morning, so I have no doubt I’ll be able to end self-isolation early (midnight Sunday).
A cynic might note that the early end to restrictions in England seems designed to appease hardline Tories in an attempt to prop-up Boris Johnson’s premiership. Especially when yesterday saw the highest Covid-related death toll since last February.
At least my son will be happy he doesn’t have to wear a mask in class any more. Let’s just hope he doesn’t join his sister in isolation given that it’s his birthday in the next few days…
I’ve seen plenty of talk about ‘Building Back Better’ over the last few weeks.
Unfortunately, most of the rhetoric has come from people whose ideological and political beliefs conflict with mine, which makes me concerned that ‘Building Back Better’ is going to be used as a friendly front-end for an attack on anyone lacking privilege.
As a small way to counter that impending narrative, then, here are some suggestions on how we can make post-pandemic better than pre-pandemic for most of us.
Distribute wealth by mercilessly taxing people who profit from the labour of others (and/or surveillance capitalism)
Distribute power by providing worker ownership of businesses and public ownership of public goods
Reform our democratic systems by introducing proportional representation to safeguard against authoritarian tendencies
Take steps to integrate marginalised groups within society, and generously fund programmes to ensure this happens
Reimagine education to focus on more on collaboration than competition
Heavilytax organisations that make profits by exploiting scarce natural resources
Ban facial recognition in all but a very narrow range of cases, and regulate it well
Invest in mental health services, especially for young people and those hit hardest by the pandemic
Engage in land (ownership) reform to ensure that the few do not constrain the many
Ban pension funds from investing in ethically-dubious companies (e.g. conflict minerals, arms manufacturers)
It’s a mixed bag, and comes off the top of my head this morning. Nevertheless, the above is probably quite uncontroversial for the kind of people who read this blog.