chapter  17
22 Pages

Converging Imperatives

So, does it all come down to how we interpret human nature? Are we genetically predisposed, as Richard Dawkins (2002) argues, to raise up the short term and the selfish over the long term and the altruistic? Sustainable development activists have to resist such genetic determinism, not least in terms of the influence they can bring to bear on both formal and informal educational systems. But a lot more needs to be done to persuade people that a more sustainable system of wealth creation would not only enhance security in such a troubled world, but would enable them to enjoy a higher quality of life, and to be happier in themselves, in their work and their communities. Unfortunately, sustainable development activists are unlikely to get much support in this either from the progressive left (which has been largely co-opted by the myth of permanent economic growth as the answer to everything), or from mainstream environmentalists, who are now so depoliticized as to be unable to confront today’s ideological reality. Until sustainable development is embraced as the genuinely ‘big idea’ that it really is, then things are likely to get a very great deal worse before they start to get any better. And it is only a transformation towards a very different kind of capitalism – as if the world really matters – that offers any kind of prospect of a sustainable future.