The two main future trajectories today are an open, globalist, liberal (mainly neoliberal) capitalism and a closed, protectionist, authoritarian (and also neoliberal) capitalism. Both views are internationalist in their way, and both are opposed by a rising “third way”, a progressive international, or put another way, a pluriversal movement.
Although alternatives are still at an early stage of development, the rejection of capitalism (56% of the world’s population) is a sign of hope. The fight for better economic equality and democracy is paramount.
The myth of meritocracy is in the course of being exposed. For example, only 33% of the US population believes that wealth depends on hard work compared to 65% who think it depends on advantageous circumstances. However, few see the relationship between the existence of billionaires and the hardships suffered by others, revealing another important aim for a pedagogy of hope.
Both sectors of the elite favour the financialisation of the economy that will ultimately cause widespread harm until specific alternatives for de-financialisation and the subordination of finances to the productive economy are established.
Media and technology
Notwithstanding tactical divergences, both segments of the elite also agree on the promotion of a technological revolution controlled by oligopolies that is leaving behind anyone unable to “adapt”.
In the face of a transition that already has its “disposables,” grassroots organisations are demanding protections for those most impacted and calling for a decisive move toward legal frameworks that view communication technologies and robotics as public goods belonging to the commons.
Economic inequality is reflected in unequal media ownership and access. This has resulted in a reopening of the debate about the democratisation of the media oligopoly so that media communication ceases to be the privilege of the powerful and instead becomes the right of all.
As argued in the Media Manifesto, hope is supported by a 27% increase in self-managed cooperatives in the global media sector, in which workers and users have control over decisions, organise the work democratically, develop sustainable financing models, and are accountable to the community.
Structural reforms would give the media autonomy so that they are neither instruments of paralysing fear nor recipes for magical optimism. This means that they are no longer tools for legitimising the inequality that their owners benefit from, so they can expand the limits of acceptable opinion.
Profound transformations are needed so that the media, instead of being an instrument for making people think and do certain things exogenously, becomes an instrument of the social majority, presenting the world and giving people the freedom to decide on objectives endogenously. Not to make others act, but to help them know enough to enable them to act themselves.
Liberals and authoritarians differ in their respect for the rules of formal democracy. But we need to remember that the economic inequality of open, neoliberal capitalism curtails the possibilities of political democracy. The forces for change aim to promote the democratisation of the economy along with the democratisation of politics toward more participatory models in which power relations are balanced.