Story. Even mythology.

You made a good point about the trade offs between rationality and short term stories. The French Revolution is a good example of the rationalists having the upper hand (reforming the calendar) and then it all collapsing.

What’s noticeable in UK politics at the moment is the lack of a good story arc. Who are we - where are we going?

Putin has created a rather horrible one in Russia - and is proceeding to undermine it.

An arc that captures the place of the British in the world, that allows for right and left wing interpretations, provides a useful home for the long term thinking you’ve been describing.

In my work with startups - making money (GDP growth) - doesn’t make a compelling vision for investors, staff or customers. It’s necessary. Not sufficient.

The Queen, god bless her, totally failed to articulate any answer to that. Bevan’s a land fit for heroes was time bound, and Thatcher’s vision caused atomism and anomie.

Empire is irrelevant, and as much as Truss still sees France as a Threat to the European balance of power - we are still more than an Island in a silver sea.

The challenge then with the long termism is to be able to articulate a story, one that isn’t too twee involving Arthur, armadas and agincourt, that reaches far beyond the individual.

That reaches back into our rich past and forward into a richer future.

With that vision the number crunching and rationality then provides structure and texture to the dream. Without them it’s pretty hollow, elitist and fruitless

And I want apples.

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I realise this is essentially a theoretical piece but was nonetheless surprised that you don’t mention the Welsh government’s Future Generations Act. Was this because you are unaware of it? I realise the legislation has had little concrete impact to date, especially given the limited powers of the Welsh government, but it provides the theoretical underpinning to opposition to the M4 relief road and the current move towards a 20 mile an hour speed limit in towns. It also helps explain the current cooperation in long term planning between Plaid Cymru and Labour, trying to move beyond always looking no further than the next election.

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Interesting piece, I wasn't aware to the extent to which EA had been adopted within these sorts of circles. I think that, somewhat cynically, their adoption of this philosophy in some cases could be a form of indulgence. Those who have generated massive profits off of the exploitation of others - such as Facebook or cryptocurrency - want to feel like they are not immoral for it.

This is also, to an extent, a form of this obsession with technology. I recall a particular graphic showing how different Effective Altruism organisations had spent their funds, with a clear majority going into "AI research" rather than climate change efforts.

Fighting climate change would force the type of businessmen advocating EA to consider the effects of their profiting on the environment, which in many cases is extremely negative. AI, on the other hand, is much more remote from the current world, and requires less radical action.

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https://www.scotlandfutureforum.org/governing-now-for-future-generations/ Scotland seems to be following Wales' example. NB Wales has been a top performer in recycling for a decade and is the only part of the UK to meet the EU minimum standard (56.5% cf England 44%). It is claimed to be the third best in the world and the second best in Europe after Germany but I cannot verify this. Also well ahead of England in moving towards a complete ban on single use plastics. This seems not to be known in London (including in the Labour Party).

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So, it's clear that the Britannia Unchained agenda is broadly unpopular, and I don't personally disagree. But it's not that this sort of radically (apologies, I hate using this word) neoliberal model is the only thing that could create growth.

Building houses would be a very pro-growth idea, for example, because it attacks a rentier economy where it is easier to make money by simply acquiring a scarce asset rather than actually doing anything which creates wealth. But building houses is generally pretty unpopular, at least among those empowered to decide planning issues. Immigration is pro-growth, because it generally transfers people from less productive to more productive economies. But at the moment, support for immigration is limited only to certain employment sectors.

So the question is, what pro-growth ideas actually *are* popular?

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More than 400 years after the arrival of the Pilgrim Fathers in what has become Plymouth, Massachusetts, we rediscover key elements the life philosophy of the Native inhabitants of North America (from sources of the Iriquois and Sioux nations) whence they started the process of displacement, replacement and destruction of a whole people:

- Decisions are taken after consideration of the impact of actions for 7 generations in the future

- Chiefs maintain their place by their ability to influence others

- Elite members of society are appreciated for what they share and give to others less fortunate than


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Altruism is often effective by virtue of its ability to bypass the political process. Anyone fancy a world government ? Then think up something that sounds morally undeniable, and get the philanthropists on board.

The political process is subsumed. Citizens still have voting rights, but all votes support the same outcome.

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