Ruth Lewis a member of our Emerging Fellows program checks the possibility of re-defining liberty in her twelfth blog post. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the APF or its other members.
For thousands of years, humankind’s generational evolution has been slow and steady, the narrative informed by the wisdom or misdeeds of the past. In the present there is constant change, systemic complexity and uncertainty. This has bred an atmosphere of fear for the future, fear of losing control, fear for our personal liberty, and fear of the ‘other’. People strive to create economic wealth and political certainty, making false assumptions and implementing technological systems without due consideration of the social ethical, environmental, legal or human rights factors. This striving for certainty actually undermines our personal liberty and our individual dignity.
In the future, personal liberty will be redefined by living confidently with uncertainty. Future libertarians will embody Sir Isaiah Berlin’s fox and recognise that true freedom may be unknowable. They will recognise the precarious balance between safety and autonomy, between utopia and dystopia, and will be comfortable in living within the polarities of this duality. They will action multi-scenario plans, each outcome as likely or possible, some more desirable than others. Their anchor point will be to take personal responsibility to define and enact a moral code of values for community, for society and for future generations.
Personal liberty will be to action these individual values now, and not wait for them to evolve through exogenous circumstances. It will be to contribute to the national and global conversation of what global values we have in common. Whether for common land and environmental protection, or for data and privacy, we will act for preservation and against exploitation. Common assets can be owned, governed and enjoyed by the collective, and individual characteristics will be preserved and protected for individuals. Individuals will be able to determine what aspects of themselves that they wish to share, and will have ownership over this determinant.
Citizen governance will promote liberty by forming and shaping polity through consensus according to collective normative values. It will recognise individual liberty is not compatible with capitalism, communism, nor any form of exploitative or repressive regime. It will recognise the equilibrium and duality of the individual and collective assets, encoded in the minds, the hopes and dreams of its citizens. It will recognise and work to overcome bias. With this equilibrium of common moral values, society can look to confidently plan for future uncertainty and societal health, rather than seeking refuge in past tribal structures or domination agendas.
Strategic Foresight bestows us with a unique set of tools and methods to explore future opportunities and landscapes, from the utopic to the dystopic, to experience and play with a multitude of possibilities for the future. It allows us to define our own version of future liberty, delving into wicked, unanswerable systemic problems, holding lightly to our preferred version of the future. It allows us to confidently trust emergence, so that we can develop respect and freedom from fear for ourselves and our fellow travellers through life. Liberty will be re-defined in the future by freedom from fear of uncertainty, freedom to be ourselves within our societies and our communities.
© Ruth Lewis 2019