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  • Writer's picturePhillip Ullmann

“A great reset is coming. It won't be pretty, but it will rebuild purpose.”

As I look at what’s happening in our society – the political squabbling, the situation in the economy and the tone of public debate in the media – I feel conflicted.

Typically, in January, we look ahead to set ourselves goals, reset our lives and begin the year with enthusiasm and purpose.

This year feels different.

On one hand, I fear a systemic collapse is inevitable.

Rising inequality whipped up by asset price inflation causing ever more people to become trapped in a cycle of debt – or a loss of trust in our institutions and those governing us as they fail to innovate but rather prop up a failing system.

My view is that we face a massive reset, one more seismic than the financial crisis of 2008, - one triggered by debt and likely market panic.

Yet on the other hand, I see increasingly clear reasons to hope.

As many of you know, this week sees the 53rd annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

This gathering of political and business leaders from across the globe tends to polarise opinion like no other.

The organisers present it as a chance for informal discussion on trends affecting us all.

Critics, however, point to a cosseted elite striking backroom deals, citing the lack of formal mandate.

I’ve been to Davos before, and the reality is it’s well-meaning but misguided.

In my view, we don’t need more control from the centre and yet another top-down set of ‘solutions’ which merely preserve the elite status quo and their mission to manage a system that feels rigged.

We need to urgently reform the institutions that control us and ensure they work for the greater good.

We need the kind of change that comes about once every few centuries. Like the Industrial Revolution or invention of the printing press.

We can’t rely on a system that favours institutional groups – one I call the five masters.

They are the State, Banks & Finance, Landlords and Land Owners, Employers and Companies and Technology. (More on that soon).

Each is failing us, even killing us, via a system that is destroying, not creating value.

There is another way.

By coming together in small more autonomous groups, based on families and communities, people with shared obligations and shared accountability, can thrive.

Our government can develop a framework in which we distribute power and the funding to manage services in their communities.

If that’s what levelling up means alongside the £2.1 billion announced recently to deliver it, then it’s a step in the right direction, albeit a step.

There needs to be a lot more faith in people’s innate abilities to run, look after and evolve their communities. Give them more responsibility to manage themselves and the results will astound.

Try it in a series of small tests, learning as we go and sharing the knowledge. Agile and co-operative is better than command and control.

We must use the power of ongoing covenants rather than the limitations of contracts to seed change.

Change is rarely a measured affair but often a difficult, uncomfortable, even sacrificial moment where the old gives way to the new.

Let’s hope our “new” can be one that cares more for the communities we live in and any reset one that puts your needs above my wants.



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