Opinion

Time for reset to deliver goods

by
November 13, 2017

This newspaper joined the digital revolution late last century. In fact, it was in 1995 that it made its first tentative steps into the online world of newspapers and, of course, that meant workers were navigating the wonders of the new computer technology.

This newspaper joined the digital revolution late last century.

In fact, it was in 1995 that it made its first tentative steps into the online world of newspapers and, of course, that meant workers were navigating the wonders of the new computer technology.

Frequently, initially at least, that technology would simply stop and even those most familiar with its inner machinations were unable to make it function again.

Calls went through to the suppliers of the system, a complex and by today’s standards an archaic collection of hard and software, and the first piece of advice, usually, was ‘‘turn if off, wait a few minutes and turn it back on’’.

That reboot, or reset, usually worked as the errors that fouled the processes seemed to be struck out, that is stripped from the system’s algorithms, allowing a return of the fundamentals on which its expected function depended.

Thinking of that, I was struck by the similarities between what was then and what we now see in public life, not only in Australia, but all around the world.

The algorithms on which the world community depends have become so complex and disrupted by mishmash of competing ideologies, ensuring that values considered populist either command centre stage or are poised to disrupt the performance.

Populist ideals and values are mostly rooted in the past, finding strength in nostalgia and a longing for the good ol’ days, those times when misogyny, racism, intolerance and classicism ruled, and although they were not simple times, those on the top of the heap considered them so.

Modern iterations of capitalism reflect much of what legitimised slavery, and beyond that, it is a treatment of our fellows that has never really been erased from society and can still be found patently in use in many places.

The confusion of our thinking and the need for a reset was evident in the news of last week, well, it’s obvious every day, when the compelling success of agriculture, the cornerstone of the Goulburn Valley’s wealth, was celebrated on national radio with calls for much of Australia’s produce to be shipped quickly and easily by air to overseas markets.

Sounds fine, but it blithely ignores an earlier news story from the same bulletin warning that the world, and Australia, was bound to exceed its carbon dioxide emissions and was headed this century for temperature increases of more than three degrees, sufficient to seriously disrupt Australian agriculture.

Yes, we need to reset the algorithms of life.

Yes, we need to think about how we lead an even more fulfilling — yet energy-restrained life.

And so what do we do?

We could be begin by taking advice from a book, The School of Life — How to Reform Capitalism that says: ‘‘Changes in society and business seldom begin with actual inventions; they begin with acts of imagination’’.

And, further, thinking of our equally confused politicians, it says: ‘‘Ancient treatises of politics continually made mention of morals and virtue; ours speak of nothing but commerce and money’’.

Finally, it says: ‘‘We need the drive of commerce to get behind filling the world — and our lives — with goods that can really help us to thrive, flourish, find contentment and manage our relationships well’’.

Rob McLean is a former News editor.

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