‘It’s time to talk about what’s next’

Originally published by Mail & Guardian Thought Leader on June 2, 2015:

If you’ve followed the fight against climate change, in the last year especially, you’ll have noticed voices starting to be raised about things outside climate change — “without racial [or gender or food or economic] justice, there is no climate justice” is the most common one, and it’s entirely true. The problems our society faces today are not siloed and fixable on their own.

It’s time to face the depth of the systemic crisis we confront.

There’s a very interesting project that has emerged in the US called The Next System. It says:

“Today’s political economic system is not programmed to secure the wellbeing of people, place and planet. Instead, its priorities are corporate profits, the growth of GDP, and the projection of national power. If we are to address the manifold challenges we face in a serious way, we need to think through and then build a new political economy that takes us beyond the current system that is failing all around us. However difficult the task, however long it may take, systemic problems require systemic solutions.”

Next3

Now that’s a good idea. Imagine if we didn’t just succeed in putting a plaster over the one part of our world that we think is hurting the most, but instead managed to fundamentally change the system we live in. Imagine one that has healthy and thriving communities, where people are put before corporate profits, where we all have access to clean energy, air and water, where we have a system that serves people, instead of the other way around.

Because again — we’ve got a systemic problem so we need to change the whole system to find a solution.

The Next System project is largely focused on the US at the moment, but it’s amazing to see think-tanks like this starting to emerge more and more. No one seems to be sure yet of the specifics of what this new system looks like at the moment. They have some ideal principles for it — a society that’s carbon-free, socially just, efficient, fun, and one that tackles institutional racism head on — and they know of examples where those principles are starting to emerge in communities around the world.

Works like Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything help give us a roadmap to the change we know we have to see. We now know what we have to do — we have to get out of our comfort zones. We have to think with courage.

Are you in?

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