Conclusion: A Post- Progress World
The real threat in our current situation is that the political class will consider the credit crunch as constituting merely a brief hiatus in the onward march of modernity, and seek to find new sources of fossil fuel (still, unfortunately, the most reliable and best- developed source of energy we have at our disposal at present) to rebuild the economy – thus continuing the highly dangerous process of global warming. Politically seductive though the prospect may be to a society brought up on the promises of modernity, and still largely under its spell, it has to be recognised that whatever leads to overheating the economy will only succeed in its turn in overheating the planet too: in which case modernity might well be the death of us not just as a culture but as a species. This will be especially so if we do enter into an age of ‘contested modernity’, as Martin Jacques has claimed is imminent with China’s rise. Global warming sceptics notwithstanding, we cannot go on as before once we have crossed over the threshold into after modernity: modes of living based on considerations other than material progress, and the competitive ethic lying behind that, just have to be developed.
This last chapter investigates what such an adjustment to our priorities ought to involve, and how we can respond creatively to the huge challenge this undoubtedly will pose for us. There is considerable scope for philosophers and critical theorists to make a significant contribution here, encouraging us to re- examine what