Against the 1%

So you think your government is corrupt. You think the 1% have bought all the politicians. If that’s the case what are you going to do? You could be one of what the unkind call the sheeple, one of the people who follow either because they are happy to or because they can’t think how not to. Or you could step away from the path others expect you to follow.

If you’re going to choose your own path, you then have to decide whether you’re going to completely go it alone or if you’re going to team up with other people who you think might see things the same way as you do.

Going it alone, completely alone, is a trendy and sexy decision. The maverick or outsider has long been a romantic figure. The one person who is brave enough to say what others dare not even think. They are the heroes of many, many movies. However, how many people in the real world who have taken that stance can you think of who actually have made a difference?

They certainly do exist, Florence Nightingale, Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Luxemburg, Martin Luther King, Anne Frank, Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai. Some wonderful examples of what a truly human being can do. But how many in each generation have that greatness in them? And would you really set yourself up as being an equal to any of them?

Then there is the problem of aligning yourself with any group (it’s always been a big problem for me anyway). Groups often seem really good to start with, then the group dynamic becomes more and more apparent, you get to know who’s going to say what and which people will actually do what they say they will… I’m sure you’ve all been there.

It can really put you off the idea of aligning yourself with any group. However, the advantages of being in a group are phenomenal. Having other people around with ideas and their own motivation can be brilliantly supportive. But it really does have to be the right group for you. And that’s where the Transition Network wins hands down.

They are aware that not every group is going to work out and they offer courses on how to deal with some predictable situations. They are also not afraid of the idea that, so far, we don’t have the tools for dealing with some dynamics. They don’t try and shoe horn everyone into a “one size fits all” system. It’s up to you and the people you are working with to work out what your priorities are, what structures and “rules” you need in place…

It’s a very grown up approach, expecting everyone to make their own contribution and to take responsibility for themselves. And Transition isn’t just about talk, actually talk is just the glue, it’s about action… local, small scale, practical action that a small group can undertake to give them a better chance of surviving in this world that is falling further and further into insanity.

They are trying to increase what they call resilience, that is the ability to flexibly respond to the challenges that are likely to be confronting us in the not so distant future. They really are trying to create alternatives to current structures within society. Different approaches to current problems, diversity is strength. Diverse approaches, that none the less are allied to each other is huge strength. This is permaculture written into societal forms.

If you really want a Resource Based Economy (RBE) this is where you will find it, if not already in action, then well along the road of planning for implementation. If you really want caring, supportive communities, here they are. If you want that rosy future, this is how we’ll get it. This is an international movement that is quietly subverting mainstream society and politics. If the establishment realise how much of a threat they are we can expect reprisals as soon as they work out how to enact them.

And to protect this wonderful, precious shoot of new growth we need to galvanise ourselves into action. We need to make sure that the establishment doesn’t workout how to stop this movement away from material values to real moral values (I’m not talking about conventional religion here, though I’m sure space will be made for it if it’s important to you).

You see what I’m talking about is we need to vote, we need to vote against the mainstream parties. If you don’t vote you are effectively giving your vote to the establishment, because what is not against them, is for them. Think about it. Those who do support the establishment will be voting. If you don’t vote against them then not only have you not used your vote, but you may have invalidated the votes of others who are anti-establishment.

I am not advocating supporting the LibDems, nor Labour, and you don’t want me to start on how I feel about the CONservatives (or their smaller, nastier shadow, UKIP). I am talking about the real alternative parties that the mainstream media (owned by the Conservatives) ignores. I’ve mentioned them before, no doubt I’ll mention them again… the Green Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Mebyon Kernow, Monster Raving Loony, The People’s Assembly, actually any of the small parties who can’t afford to cover the whole country, or even an independent candidate if they seem trustworthy.

I’m not suggesting this will be easy, I am very aware of the level of corruption and misinformation that is going round. But if we don’t vote we are handing parliament back to the establishment on a platter. I, for one, won’t do that.

And while you’re waiting for the election why not check out The Transition Network http://www.transitionnetwork.org/ and see what you think about them.

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Is Violent Revolution Inevitable… And, What Should We Do About it?

I got involved in a discussion yesterday with one of my Facebook friends. He’s of the opinion that Russell Brand is right and voting makes no difference, so you shouldn’t vote. The political system is broken and all we can do is wait until violent revolution breaks out and then we can build a new and better world from the ashes.

I am of a slightly, but only slightly, different opinion. But before I can explain where I’m coming from I have to give a sociology lesson. Some of you won’t need it, but there is so much misinformation out there that I don’t dare continue with out it.

On 5th May 1818 Karl Marx was born in Germany. He grew up to be a economic and political theorist. He worked very closely, so closely that they edited each others work, with another German called Friedrich (or Frederick) Engels. They were of the opinion that society moved through a series of stages based on what they called “the means of production”. The means of production are the processes and technologies used to produce goods and profit. Marx said that each of the stages of history had the seeds of their own destruction within them.

Contrary to popular belief, what is called communism, in both Russia and China has little to do with what Marx saw as being communism, if only because both countries tried to sidestep the current economic stage (capitalism), completely miss out the stage Marx believed would come next (socialism), and go straight for the main prize (communism). Marx would never have used the term communist to describe either country’s political system. His communism could only follow what he called socialism, and was a system where the need for and the power of the state, any form of government, had withered away completely, and everyone had freedom to do as they pleased, as well as having complete responsibility for their own actions.

Marx’s vision of socialism was something akin to the Resource Based Economics that many of my facebook friends (and I) are very keen on. Where the means of production are no longer owned by the few, but are in the hands of the many, who make decisions based on the greatest good. Marx was a very complex thinker and wrote a great deal, as did Engels. They are well worth reading, if only to look for the flaws in their arguments.

Ok, so I’m guessing you can see why that expedition was necessary. I think we are not in a recession. I think that in some ways Marx was right. I think capitalism is starting to run out of possibilities. I think things could all come crashing down some time in the not too distant future. It’s not just climate change (global warming), it’s not just peak oil, there are many things that are changing and the current system, this way of looking at things, this paradigm, is not sustainable.

Our political system is one of the things that is not sustainable. We cannot continue to be governed by people who are in it only for the money. Their corruption and greed only hastens their own downfall. Their assumption that we are all ignorant and stupid only highlights their own arrogant stupidity. They might have broken our not very good education system, but we are neither ignorant nor stupid.

We are the ones who live with the consequences of their short sightedness on a daily basis. Their power over us is neither as long term or as complete as they think. Capitalism is breaking and the cracks are showing, their behaviour is part of that whole process.

I couldn’t say if socialism, in the Marxist sense, will follow capitalism. But, if we put the work in now, there may be something better, more humane and egalitarian, to follow it. There are people trying to build new systems now, so that they will be in place if, or rather when, the old systems fail.

These people are the Transition Network (http://www.transitionnetwork.org/) To quote their own words “What does Transition Network do? Transition Network is a charitable organisation whose role is to inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities as they self-organise around the Transition model, creating initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions.

“Ultimately it’s about creating a healthy human culture, one that meets our needs for community, livelihoods and fun. We’re here to support you.

“We run events, conferences, trainings, blogs, webinars. We produce monthly newsletters, books, films, guides, tweets, and more, all with the intention of best supporting those around the world who are doing Transition.”

And I strongly recommend you check them out. They are flexible, inspiring and intelligent. They are trying to give people proper support networks in their local areas. As much as possible is being kept local, local food, local skills, local community, local help, even possibly local money. All so that there is somewhere to turn when the larger scale systems fall apart.

Modern society is both mentally and physically unhealthy. If we can embrace just some of the actions advocated within the Transition Network, we will all become healthier and stronger.

This possibility of capitalism falling apart and something new taking its place may seem very frightening, but the new things won’t be unfamiliar. They will be a different slant on things that are actually traditional and familiar. It’s as much about taking old values and ways and thinking about them in a slightly different way.

The Green Party are great fans of the Transition Network. There is a significant overlap between the ideas and values of both groups. If we can manoeuvre Green Party politicians into positions of power they will work to support Transition.

This is probably the only way we can avoid violent revolution. We might not be able to avoid it completely, but with transition in place we stand a much better chance of moving away from the wreckage that capitalism (with it’s insistence that money is more important than people) has become without too much devastation.

If we don’t vote, if we don’t stop the main parties from continuing in what has become ruinous insanity, then things will get worse. Our lifestyles will be torn apart and there may be a chance of building something better out of the ashes, but I’m afraid they will be built only after much pain and destruction.

So, in conclusion, I am suggesting that our best route forward is to embrace Transition, and vote Green to keep as much of what is good in our lives alive as we can. I would suggest that if you do not have the option to vote Green you should vote SNP, Plaid Cymru, Mebyon Kernow, Monster Raving Loony, The People’s Assembly, actually any of the small parties who can’t afford to cover the whole country, or even an independent candidate. As far as I can see it is our best hope for peace.

Useful sites:

The Transition Network http://www.transitionnetwork.org/

The Green Party of England and Wales http://www.greenparty.org.uk/

Scottish Greens http://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/

SNP http://www.snp.org/

Plaid Cymru http://www.plaidcymru.org/

Mebyon Kernow https://www.mebyonkernow.org/

The Official Monster Raving Loony Party http://www.omrlp.com/

The People’s Assembly http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/