Human imagination is the most powerful force in the universe. It is the greatest single thing separating us from other creatures. There is no higher power. Our ability to conceive of a tomorrow that is better than today is a precondition for discovery, invention. And these two things quite naturally stack, compound. Their summation has lifted us from the Stone Age to the space station. The journey has only just begun. This should be obvious to everyone but the most hopeless pessimist.
Economically speaking, our ascent is defined by rising productivity, the spoils of which determine prosperity. In modern times, we have imagined various ways to distribute this wealth: socialism, communism, free-market capitalism. I can imagine other approaches – the Chinese are exploring one. But even within existing constructs, there are nuances. Today, capital owners collect a disproportionate share of profits relative to laborers. There is no intrinsic reason that this degree of inequality cannot persist. But in modern history it never has. And the societal stresses such inequality have produced are quite obviously manifesting, intensifying, metastasizing.
The private sector overwhelmingly sees itself as a more capable steward of research and development capital than governments. However, an examination of innovations traceable to state-funded initiatives during the past century suggests otherwise. I suspect the failure of Soviet communism led western free-market capitalists to imagine every element of our system to be superior. I imagine someday we will regard that black and white conclusion as foolish. China’s unprecedented economic rise and breathtaking technological advances should prompt Western self-reflection. So far it has not. I can imagine this being forced upon us. Perhaps abruptly.