There is nothing to be gained from blaming bankers, politicians or even economists for the current crisis. They flatter themselves if they think they created it. They didn’t. They may have driven it, but the crisis occurred because of the rogue code we have programmed into our economic software. If some among their number elect to oppose democratic pressure to rectify that error then they must be challenged. If they defend systems or practices which stand in the way of progress, their motives will become clear. But creating a better world is not about taking revenge on those who have benefited from the current order. Hopefully they will be persuaded to join a popular movement to create an economy and society in which everyone has a fair chance.
This new paradigm can’t be imposed in a top-down fashion. It must carry the support of ordinary people voiced through democratic participation. If there are changes to the economic system which could improve the lives of most human beings – and we believe there are – then a properly functioning democracy should be able to deliver those changes. The technological advances of the last few years, not least the internet, have put access to greater knowledge and understanding within easy reach of millions of people. While the need for change has never been more urgent, the conditions for change have never been more favourable.
In Whoops, his book on the causes of the financial crisis, John Lanchester suggests that it will take another, far deeper, financial crisis to finally persuade governments to take action. He concludes: “The credit crunch will go down in history as one of the biggest missed opportunities the developed world has ever known.” This may well be true, but surely it would be preferable to preempt the next implosion, and so avoid all the suffering that would go with it?
By understanding the causes of the current crisis we could take action to protect ourselves and ensure that, instead of it being a re-run of the last, the next century could take our fragile civilization into a more secure and enlightened place – a place where the root causes of economic crises, war, terrorism, poverty and environmental breakdown, are understood and addressed. In short, a civilization fit for human beings.
– Excerpt from Four Horsemen – The Survival Manual