Towards a new unified theory of society
I know, it's too outlandish a claim, right? I would have thought so too, apart from the fact that there are signs that some interesting strands of thought are starting to come together:
1. Compass, the think tank broadly associated with the democratic left, has set out what we could describe as the 'challenge' - 'How to live in the 21st century'.
2. Umair Haque of Havas Media Lab and Bubblegeneration, has thrown down the outlines of a way that business might respond to some of the larger challenges (and, by the by, reinvigorate itself).
3. Danny Finkelstein of The Times has summarised the way that social psychology and behaviorial economics could guide politics towards responding to some of the smaller challenges (and, by the by, reinvigorate itself).
[I'd add to that list the piece by Danny Kruger in Prospect in 2006 on fraternity, which provides a lot of meta intellectual underpinning for this area.]
Of course none of this suggests that this is the way that the next few years *will* develop. But I think it is salient to note that even beyond the usual tropes of politics converging on the centre ground or 'authoritarian vs libertarian' lies a ground where the future of *everything* will be built; one where all actors in society: state, bureaucratic, corporate, capitalist, charitable, etc engage on a ground that is decentralised, democratic, market-driven but bounded by tighter rules, and networked.
There will be problems in getting to this new place. Transitions are always bumpy. Which is why social exclusion will become an even more pressing problem in the next few years.
But the destination, at this vantage point, looks exciting.