Tomorrow night at the National Library of Australia I’ll be talking with Griffith Review founding editor Julianne Schultz, director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute Brendan Gleeson and historian of ideas Libby Robin in an event based on Griffith Review 52: Imagining the Future. The details are:
Thursday 9 June 2016, 6 pm–7 pm
Theatre, Lower Ground 1
National Library of Australia
More information can be found here. If the essays Schultz, Gleeson and Robin have contributed to this new edition are any indication, the discussion will be lively and thought-provoking. (Robin’s essay, ‘A new ecology of creativity’, can be found on the Griffith Review website, not in the printed journal.) My essay is called ‘A new mother tongue’. The title is taken from the opening of a brilliant talk about economics by one of my favourite contemporary economists, Kate Raworth, based in Oxford, UK. She asks:
‘If you wanted to change the world, what language would you learn to speak? That’s the question I asked myself as a teenager in the 1980s, when the tv news showed pot-bellied children born into Ethiopia’s famine and a hole opening up in the ozone layer. I wanted to be part of changing that world and I thought I knew the language I needed to speak. I needed the mother tongue of public policy – and so I went to university, to study economics.’
Yes, economics is the mother tongue of public policy. But as Raworth goes on to say, it’s a deeply flawed language and ignores several extremely important spheres of life, notably: society and the environment. Raworth describes herself as a ‘renegade economist and development re-thinker. My passion is the rewriting of economics to make it a fit tool for addressing the 21st century’s social and ecological challenges.’
I see my Griffith Review essay as a first attempt to explore the ways in which the language of the new accounting paradigm I’ve been writing and talking about for the last two years can be brought into the sphere of public policy and political debate, adapted to macroeconomics. I will be speaking at several events this year with this same intention, including one in July, a forum which will discuss creating a Green Grid—of parks and open spaces—through Sydney, and one in August called ‘Building the New Economy’. Both events are in Sydney and I’ll be blogging more about them here in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, I look forward to imagining the future with you tomorrow night at the National Library of Australia. I hope to see you there.