TJ Ryan Foundation Board member, John Quiggin, comments in The Guardian (18.1.19) that, with ideas like four-day weeks to unconditional basic income to free education, it’s possible to imagine a future where society’s focus has moved from mass consumption to quality of life.
‘Looking at contemporary politics, it’s easy to feel a sense of despair. All across the world, we see a resurgence of racist demagogues, now rendered respectable by the embrace of the “mainstream” political right and much of the commentariat. Pauline Hanson, once considered beyond the pale, is now barely distinguishable from Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison. On the other hand, across the English-speaking world and to some extent beyond, young people have moved sharply to the left.
‘With capitalism having failed them, many are willing to embrace socialism. But what does “socialism” mean?
‘For the moment, it may be enough to define socialism as social democracy with a spine, as I have before. But to inspire the kind of movement we need to defeat reactionary racism, a positive vision of a socialist society is essential. This calls for a kind of utopian thinking that has been out of favour for a long time. That’s in part because of the failure of so many utopian visions, and even more because of the need to defend the partially realised utopia of the mid-20th century social-democratic welfare state.
‘… The socialist world of 2050 would not be the kind of utopia dreamed of by abstract theorists. It would not be one of complete leisure or perfect equality, let alone perfect people. But it would provide nearly everyone with a better life, and more opportunity to pursue their own path to happiness, than we have today.’