Theater of Cruelty

To care about future generations

How to think long-term – in a short-term world
PHILOSOPHY / Having your head full of thoughts is not the same as thinking. To think means to concentrate the power of thought in special directions – as the long-term consequences of one's own actions…


Australian social philosopher Roman Krznaric is concerned about the lack of long-term thinking. According to him, a long-term perspective is absolutely necessary if we are to change the course of a societal development that is heading towards climate and environmental disasters. The thinking behind business and technology has brought us into accelerating development, but the long-term consequences have been little understood. Now that the danger warnings are becoming clearer, politicians are struggling to find the thoughts that can help us change course.

Some "naturalists" thought seven generations ahead when planning their actions.

Krznaric claims that the current political system is outdated. With the exception of the party speeches, the politicians do not think beyond the next election, and they only take a small interest in the interests of future generations. The growth-based economy pushes short-termism. Most concerns returns to investors and job maintenance. This is in stark contrast to some "naturalists" who thought seven generations ahead when planning their actions. From this perspective, it is we who must be called primitive. That the many who live in need think short-term is understandable, but we are many who have the opportunity to think long-term.

Future generations

Krznaric asks us to think about how little of the earth's history humanity and especially our recent civilization have existed. We must also ask ourselves what is the main reason why we should care about future generations. In the past, they erected cathedrals and other huge structures that took several generations to complete.

Why can we not have goals with equally long perspectives? Why do we not ask ourselves what our overall goals are for our lives and our businesses? As an example of an overarching goal, he illuminates Kate Rawort's donut theory – at the same time he states that she is his spouse and partner.

Javad Takjoo (Iran). Democracy And Freedom. See Libex.Eu

Krznaric appeals to our sense of responsibility and what moral impulses we may have – but is this sufficient to make more people think long-term? Long-term thinking requires both will and imagination. We must be able to detach ourselves from everything that whirls through our heads at any given time, and more people must be able to envisage long-term consequences and alternative possibilities. Not least, we must be able to develop realistic visions.

Roman Krznaric pays little attention to how we can contribute to the development of the necessary thinking ability. It is not enough to talk about the importance of long-term thinking in school. We must also see through what it means for this thinking that students to a large extent retrieve finished information from the web and are to a small extent stimulated to develop a realistic fantasy.

Future Guardians

In the last part of How to think long term gives the author concrete examples of how we can reverse the trend. "Future guards" have been introduced in several countries. In Wales, Sophie Howe's task is to examine whether adopted policies are in line with sustainable development, and whether it is possible to meet the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet sine need. She can not directly change politicians' decisions, but she "can evaluate projects and point out the culprits, and then they will have to do something."

Civic assemblies can be bodies for long-term thinking.

And citizens' assemblies can be bodies for long-term thinking. They do not need the voter's sympathy, are not tied to party programs or ideologies and have the task of thinking freely. The book has several interesting examples of how such advice is designated and works. On the whole, it is the examples that are the strength of this book. It shows many important measures to create a more sustainable development.

But the book does not live up to its own intention of long-term thinking. I miss attempts at future-oriented and holistic ideas on how we can reach a society that does not destroy its own basis of life – and that provides a fair distribution of material goods. Several places in the book, the author refers to David Korten's goal that there should be "material sufficiency and spiritual abundance for all, in balance with the regenerative systems". But Krznaric does not elaborate on the concept of spiritual abundance. I perceive this as intangible values. If we are to achieve a good future with a fair distribution and a lower consumption of energy and raw materials, my thinking dictates that we must find non-material values ​​that give more meaning and joy of life than the destructive consumption of our time.

You may also like