writer, arts journalist and founder of the Soap Box debating forum
The challenges for the next 18 years are liable to include those arising from increasing diversity, mobility, migration and cultural mixing within the overall context of continuing globalisation. Globalisation has been greatly accelerated with the coming down of the iron curtain and the world is likely to continue its gravitation towards an ostensibly single market (albeit one that is circumscribed by corporate interests, taxation and immigration control).
Globalisation has already lead and will surely continue to lead to nationalistic, ethnic and economic segregation in the name of cultural self-defence. But it will also lead to the erosion of these same consequences – viz the dissolution of nationalistic, economic and ethnic boundaries. This transition is unlikely to be much of a picnic, but it will create as much opportunity, wealth, and freedom as it will oppression, poverty and injustice. The challenge therefore is to how to respond to these brute facts.
As far as culture is concerned there are likely to be social sea changes reflecting the changing circumstances of people’s lives. These factors will be much more significant than any superficial technological evolutions. Much of the last century the cultural emphasis has been on propagating a form of global individualism and anti-repression freeing people up to join the capitalist party. This has often been at the expense of investigating more objective moral, spiritual and legal mores. We have long enjoyed a seemingly Dionysian liberal consensus in the West, but it is time to reflect on more trans-personal issues and consider what kind of society we want to live in before that society chooses us.
In other words the relationship of the individual and the state needs to be culturally redefined in order to prevent the state defining that relationship by default. The challenge for artists in coming years is therefore to create art forms that are equal to charting people’s changing inner and outer landscapes, articulating their ever changing hopes and fears. However as with all art, this process cannot be forced or prescribed, but must arise spontaneously. When it does arise, it is unlikely to be welcomed by the liberal establishment.