Roman Krznaric

Philosopher
Credit: Roman Krznaric
Matt Killeen

If journalist Richard Fisher is the herald of the deep future, the evangelist, John-the-Baptist figure, it’s tempting to see Roman Krznaric as the coming messiah in this tortured analogy.

Krznaric, an advisor to Oxfam and the United Nations and a founding faculty member of personal development advisors The School of Life, has always written about time, whether it’s the past in The Wonderbox, or the present moment in Carpe Diem Regained. But it’s his latest book, The Good Ancestor, that draws the attention of everyone at 2269.

He correctly attributes the concept to Jonas Salk, the head of the team that created the polio vaccine, who asked in a 1992 article, “are we being good ancestors?” Salk, of course, walked the walk, refusing to patent or profit from the vaccine, in order that it be distributed freely and swiftly round the world.

Krznaric goes beyond suggesting that long-termism serves humanity better than our current obsessions with instant gratification ever will. He states that we are colonising the future.

Like the European explorers of the past, we are making decisions about this “distant” place as if there was no one there. The 6.5 trillion humans we can expect to live over the next 50,000 years, 62 times more people than have ever lived on Earth, will live with our choices and will have no say in them. The future is a place in which we are throwing all our trash, often literally.

The proof for this, if proof were necessary, is that we are, in the present, suffering from the poor or horrendous judgements of the past. Slavery, racism and an economy dependent on diminishing fossil fuels are just three toxic legacies with which we are saddled. We must become “Time Rebels” if we are to prevent the proliferation of this “intergenerational injustice.” The future needs us, and it needs us now.

Of the many deep future concepts we’ve come across at 2269 Towers, this is, perhaps, the most jaw-dropping. It’s the kind that returns hours later as you’re getting milk out of the fridge…both a horror story and a liberating opportunity, depending on what we do next.

Krznaric is also a topped rank amateur player of Real Tennis, the 12th century racquet game that you’ll have seen actors dressed as Henry VIII playing. Therefore, we’ve decided that at our party, he’ll be organising the lawn games. So, if you see a man walking around carrying some croquet mallets, tell him we’re over here.

At this moment in history the dominant force is clear: we live in an age of pathological short-termism. Politicians can barely see beyond the next election or the latest opinion poll or tweet. Businesses are slaves to the next quarterly report and the constant demand to ratchet up shareholder value.

Roman Krznaric