Now is the time to create hope, be brave, and imagine a future that works for everyone.


First published in August 2020.


On Saturday, The Times newspaper published an article by Matthew Parris in which he set out his case for ascribing a monetary value to human life.

This thinking infects human history from time to time, and it is with us again.

The Times

It is, quite simply, wrong. Parris’s article is couched as a pseudo-Christian moral dilemma but, at heart, is simply a rather nasty Utilitarian thought experiment. It is a version of the famous Lifeboat thought experiment of the avowedly racist eugenicist, Garrett Hardin. But that is not the only problem with the article or the thinking.

As the world struggles to deal with the spread of Covid-19 we also face the far greater challenges of mass species extinctions and global heating.

These crises are the result of a system of predatory, extractive capitalism where an effort is made to monetise everything, where the trees below left are seen as equal to the trees below right and where both are less valuable than what lies beneath them.

These crises are the result of a system of predatory, extractive capitalism where an effort is made to monetise everything. / Wikipedia/Gov.uk

This system has enriched a very few while plundering the overwhelming majority of people on earth then blaming those people for their “failure” to get on. Time is finally running out for this system of appalling exploitation because the end result of its destruction is here. The climate and ecological crises engulfing us have shown in a brutal manner the limits to growth.

As Edward Abbey wrote, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” The time to change our thinking is now.

Climate change will force us to change, to recognise the failures in a system built only for the comfort of a few white men. We have finally run out of time. Now is the time to create hope, be brave, and imagine a future that works for everyone.

Which, ultimately, is why the view put forward in Parris’s article is so wrong. It is now also out of time. The era of free market exploitation which thinks only in terms of money is coming rapidly to an end. A better world is ours if we can imagine it.

This article by Nora Bateson and Mamphela Ramphele is full of hope, love and optimism. It offers us a starting point for a different way.🔷





[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 9 August 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Wikipedia/Scott Wylie. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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