Power and the imagination

Before 9/11 we had Independence Day. Before 7/7 we had the BBC “what if London was attacked” documentary. Now, a few weeks after I posted about the movie Angels and Demons, featuring terrorists removing anti-matter material from the Cern Large Hadron Collider for nefarious purposes, someone working at Cern has been arrested for having links to Al-Qaeda.

Anything that can be imagined to happen will happen, so to govern is to imagine. Government must be as visionary as the devil. On occasion, what movie directors imagine then happens. What if it is the case too that what governments imagine might happen will happen? This has become an ethical dilemma for policymakers. Governments imagine worst case scenarios because they are responsible for preventing them, and you can't prevent what you can't foresee. Does this mean worst case scenarios will happen? Is it more responsible not to imagine, not to foresee? But what if something happens that's worse than the worst case scenarios policymakers foresee - a failure of imagination? Policymakers' own imaginations have become a source of insecurity to them, and possibly to us.

By Ben O'Loughlin