Thank you for your ‘Weekend’ article on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Greta Thunberg. Almost there!
I had an ‘insight’ 46 years ago, that to save the ecosphere from destruction, basic needs must be guaranteed, regardless of the state of the economy. So I invented the universal basic income (UBI), unaware that it already existed for very different purposes, including boosting economic growth, the opposite of what is now needed.
My possibly erroneous insight was a response to the MIT warnings that economic growth, which had given us the modern world, would, circa 2000, eventually do more harm than good. It was based on something written by Richard (Spirit Level) Wilkinson. A stone-age tribe in New Guinea shared necessities unconditionally, but indulged in silly status games with everything else. If a tribe which had not even invented money could, to quote Wilkinson
“give every individual an identity of interest when dealing with ecological problems”
then so could a sophisticated modern economy.
But it turns out that I have an abnormal mind. So does Greta Thunberg, who welcomes her Asperger’s diagnosis. A solution obvious to me was ignored. Was I mistaken? Even worse, the UBI has been taken up, but by Silicon Valley, which welcomes its potential for growth. They think there will be a technological solution to ecological breakdown. I think the answer must be philosophical.
I recently listened to Jonathon Porritt regretting the wasted years talking to Dr Alice Roberts on Radio 4. They and I all fear that eco-breakdown is now imminent. I (wrongly?) believe we could have started something to stop it 45 years ago!
I feel so strongly about this wasted opportunity that I even considered a hunger strike to draw attention to it (leading to an ego-trip accusation). But all I really need is a dialogue with someone already in the media. Not Greta Thunberg. She is a teenager already under enough pressure. But AOC? Dr Alice Roberts? Kate Raworth?
Your very own George Monbiot?
[A shortened version was sent by email to the Guardian, but not published]