The War in Ukraine and a courageous reminder to imagine better futures

Date night with my boo this week included watching this incredible panel of experts — historians Timothy Synder and Yuval Noah Harari, together with journalist Anne Applebaum — who helped to provide context and unpack the war in Ukraine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCjBki16zl0

It was a powerful conversation — a reminder to challenge the assumption of the inevitability of progress, the inevitabiliyt of improvement — and my (our) personal responsibility to co-create a future that we have a stake in, as our Ukranians counterparts are so bravely living out their values in their fight and resistance against tyranny, against oppression of might and unjust aggression.

The world isn’t automatically always going to get better, as Synder puts it. A big intellectual mistake that a lot of people made after communism came to an end in Europe in 1989, or the end of the Soviet Unio nin 1991 was that there was no other alternatives. Many assumed that capitalism would automatically bring democarcy — a comforting thought becuase then we can simply hand over the process of democarcy to large impersonal forces, to the invisible hand.

This turns out not to be true. Both Russia and China in their different ways have shown that tyranny can be wed very easily to capitaislm. What’s wosrse is that if you delegate all the work to freedom you forget what freedom is. freedom is all about recognizing personal force, becoming a personal force yourself. We recognize that history is made by us. We have to resist notions of inevitability and our own thoughless optimism that there is just one way that the future can go.

We have to imagine multiple futures — and here the Ukrainians have very helpful from Maidan to present — they’ve been helping us imagine how things could be different, they’ve been helping to shake us out of our undue optimism and undue pessimism.

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Dora Heng

Recovering economist passionate about global development and being human in an age of technological disruption