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6 July 2023 • Reading time 2-3 minutes


A Call to Democracy

It is nearly impossible to implement long-term policies in a multi-party political system, where strategic and personal interests take precedence in decision-making. We have witnessed an explicit example of this last night with the resignation of the Rutte-IV cabinet. Short-term thinking predominates.

However, we have reached a point in our history where we can no longer solve our problems using the old and existing ways of thinking. We are grappling with significant challenges for the future, be it climate, urban development, construction methods, energy, or security arrangements. New perspectives are imperative and urgently needed.

Nevertheless, our government operates merely as a caretaker of the status quo rather than as the architect of the future. The short-cyclic thinking and acting foster risk-averse behavior and hold the future at a standstill. Every decision aims towards immediately resolving problems that have a short-term impact and seizing the political opportunities that arise in the present. Politics also involves consensus-building and reaching acceptable agreements with all parties involved. Radical decision-making is not to be expected, even though the future demands it. Choices for the here and now prevail over challenging decisions for the future, especially when short and long-term interests collide. The lack of future-oriented thinking keeps us trapped in the present.

This cycle must be broken. The breeding ground for new perspectives emerges where exploration goes hand in hand with learning the themes that will significantly impact future generations. Exploring these future themes can lead to steep learning curves that unlock potential perspectives for the future. Learning curves form the foundation for the bridges we need to build towards the future.

An idea. In addition to governing the country in the present, a central focus for the government should be to ensure high learning curves. This focus requires separating short-term and long-term thinking. One policy is to improve present-day thinking and solve problems acutely experienced in the short term. And another organization entirely dedicated to the long term, where exploration, learning, and innovation receive full attention. Building an intelligent organization is crucial. While we have a Central Planning Bureau, this institution has a unilateral economic perspective. We need a Future Bureau, a government organization that dares to ask questions that are not currently being posed and develops new perspectives through exploration.

When do we start?

Author: Rob Adams
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