THE ROLE OF POLITICS

on Jul 1, 2012 in Overview en | No Comments

What happens in the world is not invented, it can only be anticipated. However, forthat to occur, we need to know how to prepare for the future. That is the noble and essential function of politics (and of politicians): that is the role of politics, nowadays.

Today, understanding what is happening in the world is rather a paradox. On the one hand, thanks to advances in modern science and its capacity to generate technologies that extensively broaden our field of observation and the information concerning what is real, increasingly, we understand the material conditions of our life on Earth, as well as that which influences the sustainability of our communities. However, on the other, we are increasingly aware of the difficulty in defining a direction that guarantees a better future for the societies we live in. Is this really true? Or is it just a hicccup that will soon be forgotten?
Let’s see how we can deal with and solve this apparent contradiction.

First, we know that complexity rules the universe and instability plays an essential role in this dynamic. Second, we know that soceties are inextricably linked to the environment they find themselves in; or rather, they themselves are part of that environment; this means that the activity of living things (including human beings) has a major effect on their development on Earth. Third, it has become clear that the effectiveness of contemporary economies to feed and care for the seven billion inhabitants of the planet comes from our ability to make innovation systems based on science and the application of fundamental scientific knowledge operational; however, these products and networks, as well as new services, will dramatically change the social structure in which they develop. Nowadays, few people have any doubts about such matters.

This perspective requires thinking about society being organised in such a way that facilitates this change, the uncertainty, the complexity, as well as systematic innovation. We have to act in other ways, but obviously we cannot suddenly change everything! It is necessary to build, to clarify, to plan and assess the options that arise. In other words, we have to think collectively! The main impediment that prevents us from clearly seeing beyond the complicated and sometimes overwhelming situations that we come across almost every day comes from the lack of a consensual and transparent framework in which to understand the present. The noise of the bombings and the smoke of the tear gas, or the blindness caused by the spotlights, serve to raise a curtain that cloaks the sense of the future from our eyes. However, under these conditions, how can we be sure of what guarantees we have, or have faith in the institutions we have created to govern our destinies? How can we defend ourselves against pandemics, financial crises, recurrent IT attacks?

It’s not great prophecies that will allow us to stride confidently into the future. What happens in the world is not invented, it can only be anticipated. However, for that to occur, we need to know how to prepare for the future. That is the noble and essential function of politics (and of politicians): that is the role of politics, nowadays.

We have to feel the pulse of citizens and be responsible in relation to present and future generations, building a new vision of mankind as the basis of sustainability for our acts during this century. If it is necessary to eliminate certain national and international institutions and start others from scratch, let’s do it! Powerful and efficient networks also serve to communicate what is essential to the collective interest: providing a generous perspective for the world.

by João Caraça

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