Given what we know about behaviour, it is sensible (from the point of enlightened self interest) to construct a culture that is designed to bring out the best in all people. That is simply the least we can do to ensure we have the best chance of living our lives free from the unwanted attention of others.
It is possible to argue that we should design our political economy entirely from systems thinking and our knowledge of what would bring out the best in people, because it would be better if we did and the evidence is on our side. That is an appeal to reason and we cannot rely on that alone; to do so is to make the same mistake that economics makes when it supposes people make rational economic decisions. Both our ethics and our beliefs are closely linked to the culture we have developed, these as well as our natures and physiology have a bearing on our behaviour.
If we decide, that it is not valid to see the poor, or relatively disadvantaged, as the as losers in an evolutionary struggle, not to shrug our shoulders, not to feel pity but in the end shrug and say hey, they can’t hack it, that’s just the way it is, then it is likely to be the product of our ethics and beliefs. This is because the idea of cooperation as a driver in evolution is relatively new and othering the poor has a long history. The ethics and beliefs that come into play are the golden rule which implies we would not want their misfortune for ourselves and an enlightened self-interest would suggests that we should improve their condition to protect our own.
We don't have to accept the state of affairs that we find ourselves in – it is not in any way related to the natural order of things - we can change it. We know that culture is changeable, that behaviour and culture are closely linked, we know that people can change, and the brain can set up new pathways. We know we have empathy (as a species). We have self-reflective minds we can apply our minds to the challenge of making life as pleasant as possible for as many people as possible.
In the practical politics of HoPE we roll up our selves up and get on with co-operation and negotiating the future, and reject the intellectual laziness of saying that the product of lots of self-interested actions will (through the magic invisible hand of the market) result in a good outcome – we don’t let ourselves off the hook.
Change is in any case inevitable, it is how it is carried out that matters. Holistic political economy proposes that we align our political economy with our knowledge that collaboration and cooperation are the drivers of evolution. We do this by telling ourselves the real story so that we achieve the mindset change, which allows the system paradigm change to follow.
There is a problem with this of course; to bring about the mindset change in the face of the status quo a rational argument is unlikely to succeed. Therefore we need to get into practical politics – for the politics of HoPE to succeed two things are necessary
- A clearly articulated vision – telling a different story - Vision holistic political economy
- Examples of what good looks like – seeing is believing - Examples of what good looks like
A vision and examples of what good looks like are necessary, but they may not be sufficient. The strategy and tactics of the politics of HoPE must provide these two necessities but it must also provide reinforcement to make them compelling and through action provide the sufficient factors.