"To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing." - Raymond Williams

My foreword for “The Future We Deserve” – out now

by Shaun Chamberlin on March 3rd, 2012

Untitled piece by Maria Elvorith
Untitled piece by Maria Elvorith
(from the cover of TheFWD)

The Future We Deserve, a collaborative book project edited by Vinay Gupta, Cat Lupton and Noah Raford, is available today. It can be read in full, downloaded or bought in hard copy here.

I contributed one of the one hundred short essays that make up the book as well as the below foreword (the same length as each essay!), which explores the unique nature of the project :

“Five hundred words on the theme of the title”.

A simple brief, but having just read the first proof of The Future We Deserve, that simple brief has conjured forth a wonderful mélange of foresight, insight, powerful fiction and playful speculation.

From cyber-monasteries to socialism, from taking ‘phlight’ to the importance of introspection, the contributors have taken those four titular words and run with them in myriad directions. Indeed, some even appear to have run at them. I expected an abundance of different takes on “future”, but “deserve” is challenged, “we” is questioned, and even “the” doesn’t get off scot-free!

In the face of the dauntingly poor track record of futurism, this book adopts a radically different approach, and not just in terms of the diversity of authors. Remembering the Chinese proverb that “when men speak of the future, the Gods laugh”, it perhaps seeks to humbly laugh along with them, embracing a healthy diversity of disparate and even opposed visions, ideas and plans – the useful attitude that the postmodern theorist Ewa Ziarek termed ‘dissensus’.

In grappling with an uncertain future, this exploration of many paths may be only appropriate, reflecting nature’s own evolution, which never seeks to reach consensus on the ideal life-form, but simply creates, creates, creates. Such dissensus also underlies the Transition movement, with communities exploring diverse paths towards preparedness for likely future scenarios, even where the detail of any threats may remain unclear.

Trying to agree on one grand unified story of the future is a waste of energy because whatever we may decide upon, reality surely has other plans. It may be possible (and useful) to discern trends, but the specifics will always elude us. Accordingly, resilient approaches are those which make sense across a wide range of possible futures. They are humility in action, and they keep our eyes open. So let us explore dissensus – explore our various curious projects, inspirations and stories – secure in the understanding that while some of them will thrive and others die, our task is not to foresee the future, but rather to enable it.

I wrote in The Transition Timeline that we will certainly get the future we deserve. As one contributor puts it herein, let’s work for a future worth deserving. And who can know which obscure passion, vocation or tale might turn out in retrospect to have provided a defining contribution to our collective future? The Future We Deserve is a ground-breaking collection of candidates, and while reading it I find myself always wondering whether some of them may be fated to shape our world, and whether the future collaborators may find each other through these pages.

I hope to see many more books like it, for it feels like fertile ground.

The Future We Deserve - front cover

The book is dedicated to Maria Elvorith (1982-2010), cover artist, contributor and pure soul.

May our future be as beautiful as you.

  1.  Biff Vernon says:
    5 March, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Well here’s an invitation: “This book is an interactive process. I’m hoping for reading groups, for annotated versions of the articles, for interviews and interaction with our authors, and for a second book, nominally titled The Present We Have. The hub for these activities is
    http://thefuturewedeserve.com/1/
    Our hash tag for twitter (and other media) is #TheFWD / @TheFWD.”
    Vinay Gupta

    Now just to get head round how Wiki works…

  2.  Gustoso says:
    15 March, 2012 at 2:41 am

    Love the cover. Just finished reading your book on “The Transition Timeline”

  3.  Sharon Knight says:
    28 March, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Hi Shaun –

    Thanks for visiting my blog! Your comment intrigued me so I came to check you out and realize I have been here before. I love this blog, and what you are doing! This so speaks to my own stance, that yes, the world is in a scary place, and we mustn’t sugar-coat that. And yet, we can stand in hope and optimism for what we can create in the face of our terror. YES!

    I would love to stay connected, and possibly collaborate on projects as appropriate, for example, contribute a song to a future Dark Optimism album, or write a guest post for you, or feature you on my blog for that matter.

    However that may take form – or not – I am glad for what you are doing. Thank you for doing it!

  4.  Roger says:
    3 October, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    The essence of optimism is the spirit of man, Love, but few can yet make real this which is inherent,integral to all… and the culprit that teaches almost all men to deny what they are, is our fake value system, the big money con-game by which the rich demolish the poor to make sure men depend upon the system that destroys the very spirit of what we are being acknowledged by folks… in simple terms the rat-race is destroying us by destroying our planet in the name of ‘profit’ … but no-one profits , and few are free enough of the delusions of propaganda owned by bankers sufficiently to be or listen to the prophets, the few who keep saying our way today is literally a dead end for mankind … the big irony is that the blinkering of bankers as they chuckle at how easy it is to make trillions off the backs of the many by their con-game of absolute monopoly on making money from NOTHING protected by laws they engineered by bribery and deluding of government mechanisms , they too will die even when one of them owns the world, as is the inevitable outcome of the current world system…
    so it is comforting to know that even from the beginning the spirit of Love has predicted this end of a universe made from nothing, returning to nothing …and the spirit is still the same at the end, nothing changes for time-less spirit…
    Thus we COULD SEEE that the universe came from endless being, was created SOMEHOW by ‘something’ that ain’t necessarily anything like us , indeed cannot be like what we see ourselves to be , because we end [or perhaps only think we do] , but we came from endlessness somehow… how could we forget ?

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