“The big corporate powers via Global Compact and the rich nations have already agreed on what the fig leaf will look like,” said Ladha. “Whatever the SDGs end up saying will, by the very logic of the system they serve, promote a growth-at-all-costs, neoliberal game plan of trickle-down economics and climate destruction.”
But Ladha’s colleague, Joe Brewer, emphasised that this apparent sleight-of-hand is ultimately about the power of ideology. Neoliberal capitalism prevails as the default position not just because of a conspiracy of the powerful, but because it is already everywhere. Everyone, even the less powerful, find it difficult to imagine a world outside capitalism — and so the assumption is that such a world is simply not an option:
“The logic of neoliberal capitalism is now the water people swim in culturally. It is largely invisible and most don’t realise how their minds default to the dominant commonsense frames of economics discourse.”
Yet the science is increasingly incontrovertible: capitalism’s endless growth paradigm is unsustainable. The post-capitalist era is dawning. And the frog — in this case, the human — is boiling in a dying paradigm of its own construction that has far outlived its usefulness.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up