Note — Apr 12, 2020

Rush to the Future

Seen in → No.121

Source →

Surprisingly, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve come upon Richard Sandford’s writing. Judging by his recent posts, I’ll have to do some more digging in his archive. This one considers the “ready-to-hand futures” being slung about recently (having done some of the slinging myself) and wonders if “this [is] perpetuating the old way of doing things” and “[I]n any case, are these futures right for the post-pandemic world?”

Both are important questions and it’s definitely something I and others have been doing; being simultaneously worried that governments and the neocapitalist machine will go back to their own normal, while “we” go back to proposing our own usual desired futures. Everyone needs to take a breath and think.

I like all these ready-to-hand futures. I agree with those that point out how the pandemic has shown even the FT the depth of the cracks in the current order, and I hope that these progressive ideas stand a chance of being brought about in the upheaval. […]

In any case, are these futures right for the post-pandemic world? They were made before the current situation, after all, using the ideas and categories and levers that were in place before the virus spread. I think it’s worth asking whether the building-blocks of these ready-to-hand futures are going to be unchanged. […]

There is more space now to imagine ourselves as moral beings first and economic actors second, with public policy focused on asking us to imagine a collective capacity for action and duty of care to society at large, some companies putting public service before short-term profit (retaining employees, manufacturing medical supplies). […]

On a more fundamental level, we are being asked to be suspicious of basic human contact: touch, proximity, the things that have made us who we are since before we walked upright. Instead of connecting naturally and unthinkingly with other human beings in the same space, we have to reflexively inhabit a body that is four metres wide, and dance this body through a space made for different movements.