Article Index

Mind and thought 

Recognising brain plasticity learning and development has to be an ongoing process. And we also know (from psychology and business literature) how to engage people, win commitment and widen support, we know how to evolve co-operation and what sort of changes we could make to encourage a sense of commitment and cooperation. 

Those embarking on political activism need to be conscious that they will be seen as exemplars for the things they advocate. If they are to advocate co-operation but are seen to be tribal, competitive and coercive the hypocrisy will be noticed. That means going on a journey to work out how to act in ways that do not lead to the narrowing of ambition to group interests or the escalation of conflict. This intellectual struggle is perhaps the most difficult, we can take inspiration from some of the great exemplars of constructive (rather than destructive) politics like Gandhi, King, and Mandela, but there are many others. When UCS ship builders went into receivership the union organiser Jimmy Reed and the Receiver worked together to salvage what they could, this required pragmatism on both sides. That was in what we remember as the crisis riven 1970’s, but just think how difficult it is to envisage such collaboration from today’s perspective. Nowadays the receiver just moves in and applies the rules (it’s not personal, your just part of a group that cannot compete). 

For an antagonistic review of from the left see https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2010/08/reid-a25.html 

Becoming an insider with the hope of winning changes from those who control things on behalf of those who don’t is the critical point at which many progressive politicians become part of the problem and lose touch with their support base. See Yanis Varoufakis, Adults in the Room, report of a conversation with Larry Summers. (Varoufarkis) as already noted in Part 1 - Our natural Selves.

Culture…

The task is to change the prevailing culture from one that emphasises competition to one that emphasises cooperation. The contention here is that it works, and can be shown to be working; what is missing is the cumulative effect of the weight of the evidence that it is working, and the participation in politics of people who recognise this and take it seriously. 

When the culture is inimical to waste principles like the polluter pays will become widely accepted. When the culture understands how short term business thinking causes societal problems we'll stop blaming individuals (for using and eating the wrong things) and start fixing the structure of the systems that make it seem like a reasonable choice when its a high constrained one.

…and values 

Now, nearly all of the alternative is based on our collective knowledge; what it says about us, the world we live in, and our place within it. This is derived from the holistic/systems way of looking at people and culture, and whilst it is, to my mind, this knowledge that is compelling (with radical implications) there is one important respect in which the alternative is a matter of choice; the values that underpin it. 

When the ethics and beliefs that go with cooperation are articulated loudly and clearly it will become normal to hear people advocating them. 

They are in short;

  1. Freedom is limited by its impact on others (it just is, either they fight us because we impinge on them or we accommodate each other)
  2. That we act in ways we’d like to be treated (the golden rule, do unto others again because action leads to reaction)
  3. That democracy means the equality of human worth (which means that in politics we should not be able to talk about disempowered people with no stake in society and we need to find ways in which to stop money buying power)
  4. That the ends do NOT justify the means (again because all action has a reaction, it is necessary to craft means that will have the most likelihood of achieving the end, and to repeat it again you cannot force someone to cooperate)
  5. That when power has to be used the utility of the force to be applied is assessed rigorously – will this means help achieve our stated end. There must always be a space for cooperation to develop (Tit for tat and just war are elaborated on in On Power - Circumspect use of Power).