4.9 Imagination and science

It may go without saying that a transition to a form of society that does not already exist requires imagination. Saying so, however, is not an appeal to fantasize. What is needed is the ability to identify solutions that may not already find clear expression, but nonetheless represent alternatives that are logical, desirable and feasible.

Evidently, scientific discovery, technological invention and democratic decision making all benefit from imagination. Those who recognize this and want these creative practices to flourish give pride of place to the development of imagination as a desired outcome of education.

Likewise, expressions of human solidarity and actions to conserve nature require imagination, in the first case to be able to put oneself in the shoes of others, in the other, to imagine the consequences of failure to conserve nature.

Suppose we were all able to imagine nature as one of the others, as many indigenous people do. Putting the rights of nature (nature rights) on an equal footing with the rights of people (human rights) may well have been a factor in the survival of our species. Now that our actions are known to have a dramatic and potentially catastrophic impact on both nature and humans, would it not be wise for all of us to imagine nature as our equal partner on this journey into the future?

Like imagination, science has a similarly compelling role to play in society, increasingly so as we proceed through the transition to a green social democracy. Tolerated, but constrained in more authoritarian cultures, science is necessarily a defining element of a society that would aim to be both green and social democratic. The methods and results of science would be foundational in a society committed to informed democratic decision making. The transition to such a society is facilitated when those working to achieve it provide a model of the practice of making scientifically informed decisions.

The aim of a society in which science is no longer an optional component of education but an essential tool for solving social and environmental problems and making informed democratic decisions is supported by a fight for science for all as a characteristic of public education. The commitment of green social democrats to learn the science related to the issues they address and their fight for a prominent role for the teaching and learning of science in the public education system is part of the struggle for the kind of society we intend.

Dependent on imagination for its success, a greater role for science in society necessarily gives an impetus to a growing role for the arts and technology. In the transition to a green social democracy, these endeavors are likely to be increasingly viewed by their practitioners as inseparable. The "two cultures" phenomenon (where obscurantists endeavor to pit the arts and sciences against each other) will likely make no sense to those whose life experience is obtained in a green social democratic society, just as it makes no sense to the more thoughtful scientists, artists and technologists today.

As collaborative endeavors involving participants from every country and culture on earth, the arts and sciences benefit from human solidarity and contribute to it. Artistic expression is shared across the globe, uniting peoples and cultures. Not only do scientists from around the world contribute to a common, shared body of knowledge, that knowledge undermines unscientific beliefs that are frequently advanced to support racism, sexism and chauvinism, while identifying the social value and respective roles of society, history, natural environment and genetics in creating both human diversity and homogeneity.

With respect to the most urgent problems confronting humankind, the degradation of the environment which supports us and the growing inequality that characterizes present economic and social life, science (natural and social) is the source of the knowledge we need in the fight for the conservation of nature and the achievement of a just, sustainable society. Lack of relevant scientific knowledge, however, is not the principal barrier to its application to protect humans and nature from impending climate change. The principal barrier is the continuing domination of a socio-economic system that legally prioritizes private-profit over the welfare of people and nature. As we bring the most rapacious sections of monopolistic capitalism under greater public control, we will be able to use existing science and technology to make greater headway in the battle on behalf of a future for our species and all of nature. We will permit science to play its role and imagination to inspire us to action, at the very least to prevent a worst case scenario, keeping a door to the future open while we make greater progress in transforming ourselves and our world, moving from neo-liberal capitalism to a green social democracy.


This website was launched September 1, 2010 in support of a green social democratic alternative to neoliberal capitalist policy and practice. The primary result is a work by Charles and Karen McFadden of seven chapters, grouped under the title, Towards a Green Social Democratic Alternative to Capitalism available here in pdf and html formats.

Below under the heading What’s New can be found the most recent materials posted on this website, including opinion pieces, book reviews, articles and selections from the 2017 edition of the main work.  For the interest of new and returning visitors, new materials will be included quarterly.

What's New


Authors' Preface

1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

6.0 The socialism we need against the "socialism" of the 20th century

6.8 Additional concerns about 20th century variants of "socialism"

6.9 The people united!

7.1 Policy alternatives and political movements to advance them


Charles and Karen McFadden, Is revolutionary transformation on the agenda

Charles and Karen McFaddenHumanity on the Brink

Charles and Karen McFaddenMovements of Resistance to Movements for System Change

Charles McFaddenTranslating Green Principles into Education Policy and Practice

Charles and Karen McFadden, The Role of Revolutionaries in the Labor Movement


Charles and Karen McFadden, “The Shape of Water” as an Antidote to the Age of Trump 

Charles McFadden, Decolonizing the U.S. & Canada: The People United for a More Just Sustainable Future

Karen and Charles McFaddenCan emergent early 21st century neo-fascism be defeated without coming to grips with late 20th century restructuring of capitalism into a global system

Karen and Charles McFaddenA Dominant Capitalism or a Sustainable Environment? Why we can't have both.


William I. RobinsonThe Crisis of Global Capitalism and Trump's March to War

William I. RobinsonTrumpism, 21st Century Fascism, and the Dictatorship of the Transnational Capitalist Class


George HewisonWINNIPEG 1919 & THE COLD WAR

George HewisonArt Manuel - "Unsettling Canada

George HewisonThe NDP and LEAP


Albert Einstein, David Swanson, Jill Stein, Chris Hedges, William I. Robinson, and others Selected articles for Winter 2018



1.7 The dynamics of capitalism as a system and the limits of single issue reforms

2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

3.1 The challenge of a moribund economic system

3.7 Public banking: A cornerstone of a green social democracy

4.7 Economics and culture

6.5 Using the non-market economy as an opportunity to begin moving beyond capitalism


1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

2.0 Theoretical Perspective: Defining Green Social Democracy

2.5. Socialism and green social democracy in historical materialist theory

4.3 Culture in historical perspective

5.1 Contrasting a green social democratic world with the currently prevailing, but challenged neo-liberal one

6.2 Socialism and capitalism as coexisting social systems


2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

5.7 Defeating neo-liberal capitalism: The role of social movements

7.3 Justice: Creating a just society, based on the right of all to a dignified, secure existence

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) applies to all work posted on this website except that which appears with authors whose last name is other than McFadden, in which case standard copyright should be assumed to apply.