08 April 2008


An ex-colleague has introduced me to the work of Vanadana Shiva, a scientist and activist. One phrase from an interview here strikes me:
When India and Pakistan were competing with nuclear tests, and India called its nuclear bomb the Hindu bomb, while Pakistan called its bomb the Islamic bomb, I said: this is the perfect example of diverse men for monoculture.
Monoculture does seem to be the result of big, remote government and its tendency to centralise. It takes physical form in the increasing uniformity of our cities, where so much diversity and vitality is sacrificed to the interests of the road lobby and construction industry. The monoculture of our countryside is better documented, and just as environmentally destructive.

The Social Policy Bond principle recognises that big government can mean well and see that things are done that only big government can do; and that some of these things are extremely worthwhile; and that government should continue to encourage and reward them. But when big government goes beyond its remit and actually insists on doing things its way, then the dismal result is monoculture, with all its life-sapping uniformity and potential for calamity. That's because government agencies have their own objectives (primarily self-perpetuation) and their own way of doing things (top-down, one-size-fits-all). We need government to articulate our best interests and raise funds to reward their achievement, but we need the diverse, adaptive approach that Social Policy Bonds offer to actually achieve them.

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