An extract from Chapter 1 of the book Transcending Politics:
1. Vision and roadmap
There’s no escape: the journey to a healthier society inevitably involves politics.
That’s a message many technologists and entrepreneurs are unwilling to hear. They would prefer to ignore politics. They wish, instead, to keep their focus on creating remarkable new technology or on building vibrant new business. Politics is messy and ugly, they say. It’s raucous and uncouth. It’s unproductive. Some would even say that politics is unnecessary.
But putting our heads in the sand about politics is a gamble fraught with danger. Looking the other way won’t prevent our necks from being snapped when the axe falls. As eruptions from broken politics grow more intense, they will afflict everyone, everywhere.
On their present trajectory, technology and business are actually making politics worse, rather than better. Together, without intending it, they are fuelling increasing dysfunction within politics. In such a setting, technological innovations and aggressive business corporations might end up harming humanity much more than they help us.
You’ll find many examples in the pages ahead of how flawed politics leads to a string of bad outcomes. You’ll hear about perverse economic incentives, regulatory institutions that are caught in lethargy and inertia, vested interests that hold disproportionate power, self-perpetuating industrial complexes, spiralling arms races, and much more. These outcomes, exacerbated by almighty technology put to sinister use, are likely to lead in turn to a hurricane of adverse consequences – to an epic disaster of social disintegration and humanitarian tragedy.
Indeed, fixing politics is the central challenge of our time – and hence the central theme of this book. If we can fix politics – if we can transcend its messiness and ugliness to enable its true purpose – we can facilitate profound positive progress in many other areas of life. But if politics remains broken, it could lead us to collective ruin.
The necessity of politics
There’s no intrinsic reason for politics to be messy or ugly, raucous or uncouth. Nor should it be seen as some kind of unnecessary activity.
Politics arises wherever people gather together. Whenever we collectively decide the constraints we put on each other’s freedom, we’re taking part in politics.
Consider some examples where constraints on freedom are needed…