Completely by chance I stumbled on the Prince of Wales’ lecture on BBC1 last night. You can read the transcript of his speech on his own website.
I liked what I heard. I thought it was an interesting and an intelligent speech. I know a lot of people criticise him for his views but I didn’t find anything significant to disagree with in this speech. Here’s a couple of paragraphs which will give you the gist of his argument……
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, we may well be told that we live in a “post-Modernist” age, but we are still conditioned by Modernism’s central tenets. Our outlook is dominated by mechanistic thinking which has led to our disconnection from the complexity of Nature, which is, or should be, equally reflected in the complexity of human communities. But in many ways we have also succeeded in abstracting our very humanity to the mere expression of individualism and moral relativism, and to the point where so many communities are threatened with extinction. Facing the future, therefore, requires a shift from a reductive, mechanistic approach to one that is more balanced and integrated with Nature’s complexity – one that recognizes not just the build up of financial capital, but the equal importance of what we already have – environmental capital and, crucially, what I might best call “community capital.” That is, the networks of people and organizations, the post offices and pubs, the churches and village halls, the mosques, temples and bazaars – the wealth that holds our communities together; that enriches people’s lives through mutual support, love, loyalty and identity. Just as we have no way of accounting for the loss of the natural world, contemporary economics has no way of accounting for the loss of this community capital.
The idea that we need to re-think our relationship to Nature by accepting we are an integral part of it, rather than separate and apart from it is, I believe, crucially important. The failure to grasp the complexity of life, reducing it to something simplistic, is harming us. We need to be aware of the dangers of radical materialism and simplistic egocentricism. The mechanistic and consumerist model is failing us, as the economic and environmental crises are revealing.
He is right to emphasise the need for sustainability and diversity rather than consumption and uniformity.