Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

READ | Engaging the Future

I’ve just been reading an extract of Ulrich Beck’s book, The Brave New World of Work, which includes a chapter titled ‘Engaging the Future’. In it, he talks about the possibilities of a just, sustainable and compassionate post-corporate world. His thesis is based on the idea of “starving the cancer, nurture life”. In other words, “starve the capitalist economy, nurture the mindful market”. In a practical sense what this means is intervening on different levels and here are some of Beck’s propositions:

Personal and Family

  • Simplify your life
  • Buy small and local
  • Choose a life affirming job
  • Stay informed
  • Save with a community bank
  • Vote with your saving i.e. ethical investments
  • Reduce car dependence
  • Support non-profit organisation that challenge the capitalist system and work in favour of equity, environment and community


  • Participate in the community
  • Join or initiate an indicators project i.e. sustainability or liveability
  • Create a directory to the mindful market
  • Support or create a community currency
  • Encourage growth boundaries, affordable housing and public transportation
  • Work for community economic self reliance
  • Get political


  • Use your vote
  • Get active in political movements and advocacy groups


  • Join global networks
  • Make global institutions accountable
  • Localise foreign policy

He concludes with the following statement:

We have approached the market as though it was a license to amass unlimited individual wealth without individual responsibility, when in truth it is about meeting basic needs through the mindful participation of everyone in the equitable and efficient allocations of society’s resources. We have treated the good life as a process of material acquisition and consumption without limit, when in truth it is about living fully and well in service to life’s continued unfolding.



  David Barrie wrote @

On the community, as well as the personal side, it’s worth adding that it helps for there to be familiar spaces and places that can be shared in our towns and cities – even if we don’t get out much!

One ‘innovation’ your readers might be interested in is The School of Life in London, U.K.. http://www.theschooloflife.com/

I have no affiliation to the organization but it would be *amazing* if every city could have one!

  lcarroli wrote @

Such an interesting initiative – read briefly about it not so long ago (actually there was a referece to it in Alain de Botton’s bio in his book from the residency at Heathrow which prompted me to Google it). Great thought David! Can you imagine what suburban/local communities could do with that kind of resourcing and engagement rather than the commonly underfunded community centre chasing dollars to keep its doors open and being constrained by government targets rather than tending to local thinking and initiative? Situating them in local business areas is an potent idea too. Interestingly, the School of Thinking, which I have been tracking with over the past year, is proposing to establish learning circles in postcodes and there is some potential in that to grow. Thinking, learning, living, sharing … Imagine the possibilities.

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