The guiding idea at the heart of today’s political system is freedom of choice. The belief that if you apply the ideals of the free market to all sorts of areas in society, people will be liberated from the dead hand of government. The wants and desires of individuals then become the primary motor of society.
But this has led to a very peculiar paradox. In politics today we have no choice at all. Quite simply There Is No Alternative.
That was fine when the system was working well. But since 2008 there has been a rolling economic crisis, and the system increasingly seems unable to rescue itself. You would expect that in response to such a crisis new, alternative ideas would emerge. But this hasn’t happened.
Nobody - not just from the left, but from anywhere - has come forward and tried to grab the public imagination with a vision of a different way to organise and manage society.
It’s a bit odd - and I thought I would tell a number of stories about why we find it impossible to imagine any alternative. Why we have become so possessed by the ideology of our age that we cannot think outside it.
The first story is called: CARRY ON THINKING
It is about the rise of the modern Think Tank and how in a very strange way they have made thinking impossible.
Think Tanks surround politics today and are the very things that are supposed to generate new ideas. But if you go back and look at how they rose up - at who invented them and why - you discover they are not quite what they seem. That in reality they may have nothing to do with genuinely developing new ideas, but have become a branch of the PR industry whose aim is to do the very opposite - to endlessly prop up and reinforce today’s accepted political wisdom.
So successful have they been in this task that many Think Tanks have actually become serious obstacles to really thinking about new and inspiring visions of how to change society for the better.