I've been having a lot of conversations lately about the financial crisis; about how it will affect people, whether it spells the end of capitalism as we know it, whether the stimulus packages in the US, Australia, etc etc will help, whether it's a good thing if they help or if they'll just be propping up a destructive system.
One of my hopes is that people will take this opportunity to start transitioning to a new system. All of that money (and research, and effort) going into 'stimulating the economy' could, perhaps, more fruitfully be spent on transitioning to a more equitable, sustainable, and beautiful system. (ClubOrlov has a similar idea, although they frame it more as a way to survive the coming collapse of the US.)
The area that first springs to mind for me is the food system, both because of my research and because I've just been to Cuba and have been reading a bit about their transition to more sustainable agriculture during the 'special period'. Local food production, particularly if it preserves crop biodiversity and isn't based on petrochemical, gives communities a lot of resilience in the face of crisis.
ClubOrlov argues for focusing efforts on three areas as well as food: shelter, transportation, and security, and gives some thoughtful suggestions on how to restructure these areas, drawing on the experiences of the post-Soviet era. We could also think of other areas that might be worth attention: for me, access to the vast store of online information on everything from organic gardening to alternative accommodation would be important to preserve. Community mesh networks might be one way to ensure that people had access to this resource. Our approach to energy will also be vital: shifting to renewable energy sources is part of this, part it may also be necessary to rethink what we're willing to expend energy on (how much do we need plasma TVs and SUVs?)
I'm not arguing that we adopt all of ClubOrlov's suggestions (some of which sound quite mad), and basing our society on the post-Soviet situation seems like a depressing prospect. I do, however, think thatwe should engage in debates about other ways to organise our society, and think creatively about how to provide for our needs and desires. Since we're putting so much effort into this, we may as well aim for something better rather than simply treading water.