‘Nearly every faith promises to raise the poor and oppressed. But only capitalism delivers what these faiths and ideologies profess… None has ever done so much to elevate, empower, and create a brand new category of humanity.’
Last week, as Obama made his final presidential speech to the DNC, he urged us to hang onto one idea: The Audacity of Hope. Hope that dares to believe, despite itself: not blind to difficulty, but with eyes wide open to the road ahead. If the Audacity of Hope is to be his closing line, its marriage of rhetoric that soars and sense that sobers has also been his presidential foundation, his saving grace, and, almost certainly his lasting legacy.
Part Orator, part preacher, part philosopher and friend – regardless of political persuasion, creed or nation; regardless, even, of tangible success or failure – his has been a rare brand of robust idealism that the people of the world can pick themselves up and brush the dust off with. On the stage of global politics, it is a quality in devastatingly short supply.
Fitting, then, that the Obamas used last week’s farewells to the DNC to put the world back into perspective: reminding Americans that anger is easy, and faith is hard: but before they build a wall or light the match, there is still much to fight for.
In Post-Brexit Britain, where the heated desire to remake won out over the colder case to remain; as part of the wider project of Western Democracy under sustained attack from counter-ideologies; belief in our way of life can be hard to come by. And yet without belief in the systems we have built and the progress we’ve seen, we will never evolve: we will only stagnate, or destroy.
Howard Blooms’ stirring project of Western redefinition – ‘Genius of Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism’ – has then never been more timely. Its mission, he declares, is to dramatically challenge the narrative of decay and corruption that now besets a dying West, revealing instead the passion, brilliance and unparalleled humanity that sits at its heart; urging us to marvel at its achievement and re-engage, head and heart, with its potential. His succinct, compelling prose takes us through the history of capitalist achievement, from the power loom and the miracle of soap, to the postal service, the phone system, the miracle of travel and beyond.
In the UK, we need a more audacious brand of hope. If it is time for a Re-Visioning – as a nation, as businesses, who must now step forward to lead with passion and purpose, and as individuals – this is a good place to start.