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  • Posted February 23rd, 2015

    Here’s our new ‘manifesto’. We’d be interested in your feedback

    Here’s our new ‘manifesto’. We’d be interested in your feedback

    Our manifesto

    We now know that the richest 1% of the world own the same amount of wealth as the other 99%. But it’s worse than that. The top 1% of that top 1% own as much wealth as the other 99% of the top 1% – and so on.

    Our current system concentrates wealth in very few hands. And it’s getting more concentrated every day. That concentration of wealth brings power, which makes real democracy impossible.

    Corporations and banks corrupt our political system by pouring billions of dollars into it. No-one else can afford that level of corruption. Added to that, corporations control public opinion through ownership of the mainstream media, offer jobs to government ministers when they leave office (and often before), and banks control the money supply.

    The 1% of the 1% of the 1% of the 1% are steering. They got to that position because of the amount of money they have, and that’s not the best way to choose the people to steer.

    Intelligence, compassion and integrity are what we need in our decision-makers – but making the most money doesn’t require those qualities.

    Plus, our economic system is primed to grow forever, which damages ecology. This is insane. Any species that fails to live in harmony with nature will eventually be removed by nature. We’re better than that, surely?

    To survive and prosper, we need a new system – one that doesn’t concentrate wealth and power, and doesn’t damage nature.

    But if any government tries to do anything about this by implementing corporate-unfriendly policies, investors are scared off, the country suffers economically, they lose the next election and another party is elected that reinstates corporate-friendly policies.

    This is a very important point, and holds whoever gets elected, and whether we have proportional representation or not. The government of one country can’t change anything fundamental – the global system will force them back into line.

    And after the 20th century, I don’t think anyone really believes that violent revolution can make things any better.

    We want to:

    1. encourage people to think for themselves and critically assess corporate propaganda
    2. help people live a low-impact life by providing great information and support in 200 topics
    3. promote small businesses doing great things because they believe in what they’re doing, rather than corporations doing things for profit only
    4. campaign for land reform and a stable economy
    5. provide a platform for people working in different disciplines to talk and support each other – for example, people who receive a veg box delivery, are a member of their local Transition group and have renewables installed might also be interested in natural building, craft skills or bushcraft; there’s lots of scope for cross-fertilisation
    6. spread the idea that we need systemic change
    7. use Lowimpact.org as a platform to discuss how we might bring about that change

    We will continue to promote lifestyle change through our 200 topics. The quality of our website will allow a growing number of people to find good information, training, products and services, and our range of topics will allow ‘cross-fertilisation’, so that visitors discover whole new fields as well as individual businesses.

    But lifestyle change isn’t enough, because not enough people will do it. Most people are too busy with career, mortgage and family to even think about it. And if they do think about it, it’s often very difficult to change. The system we live in doesn’t make it easy.

    However, our low-impact topics can form the basis of a new system – but only after we replace the current one. It will be difficult – it has a strong grip. But it’s not impossible – and it only needs a minority of us to get things moving.

    This is not about left v right; there’s no ideology; no blueprint of what society might look like. Let’s just talk – and that includes everyone. Any plan for change mustn’t compromise freedom, or the right won’t be interested – and rightly so. We’ve had conversations with city bankers who have no problem with this concept. Working in the city, they understand that this system allows the wrong people to steer. Left and right fighting each other leaves the system intact and wastes time.

    Below is our elevator pitch for how to implement a new system. Implement is the important word here, because there are lots of ideas around for what society might look like, but they lack a plan for implementation. We have an idea that’s implementable, launching late 2015 / early 2016, based on meetings in each other’s homes. We’re doing it in London already, and we’re working on a book and a website. It’s provisionally called ‘Philosophy Club’. Here’s the elevator pitch:

    At the species level…

    1. There are soon going to be 10 billion of us; and we’ll have some huge decisions to make – around ecology, economics, population, technology and conflict
    2. With so many of us, and with such huge destructive capabilities, the wrong decisions could prove disastrous or even fatal
    3. So we need extremely intelligent, compassionate and honest people, with no vested interests, making those decisions
    4. What’s currently happening is that either we’re not talking about those things, or the decisions are being made by a consortium of bankers, business leaders, career politicians and the military
    5. They’re not our most intelligent, compassionate and honest people, and they have vested interests
    6. Pure democracy isn’t good enough, because the vast majority don’t understand enough about the issues to be able to make informed decisions, nor do they understand the system; and violent revolutions don’t change anything – decisions are still made by bankers, business leaders, career politicians and the military
    7. We need to find a way to get the most intelligent, compassionate and honest amongst us, without vested interests, to make the big decisions. So…

    At the personal level…

    1. Let’s get together to talk philosophically
    2. Not proselytising, but exploring, thinking and communicating
    3. Not academic philosophy, but freestyle philosophy; you can quote other people of course, but really, it’s about what you think
    4. The organisation can be online, but the meetings have to be face-to-face, so that…
    5. We can choose representatives from groups based on intelligence, kindness and honesty – because we know and trust them
    6. It will nurture understanding, compassion and integrity in people and in society, because those are the qualities that will be valued
    7. We can then build a better system based on those qualities, and we need it urgently, because…

    (back to species level, above)

    We need to talk.

    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


    • 1Annie Vickestaff February 23rd, 2015

      A manifesto – what a good idea! A few thoughts: it would be useful to boil this down into a smaller, snappier version to use as a call-to-action to attract attention and interest. And a new name for Philosophy Club, ie Ideas Club; something a bit less off-putting to people who might be intimidated by the word philosophy. Check out the very successful Death Cafes for example. If you designed a postcard that people could use to promote the club, maybe at a small cost of 1.00 for 50, then we could give them to interested people at our community allotment groups, veg box schemes etc. What about approaching bigger organisations such as Friends of the Earth, the Schumacher Society, Ecocide etc? And getting people to commit to action – no matter how small – so it’s not just all talk.

    • 2Dave Darby February 23rd, 2015

      Thanks Annie. Yes, a snappier version might be good. The snappier version (or ‘elevator pitch’) for the Philosophy Club is at the bottom of the article. We’ve talked a lot about the name. It used to be ‘8 handshakes’ (if a global system was set up, from groups of 15 immediate neighbours right up to a ‘world’ group of 15, there would only be 8 levels!), but it’s now Philosophy Club, because that’s what we do – meet up, eat, drink and talk philosophy. It’s not necessarily academic philosophy (although it is sometimes) – just freestyle, what-I-think sort of philosophy. The thing is though – well, two things – the first is that everything can change when the ‘centre group’ is formed, and all decision-making is handed over to them; the second is that it can be started with a ridiculously small number of people in global terms – 15 people per town, so we’re actually looking for the kind of people who aren’t intimidated by the word philosophy – we think that those are the kinds of people who would be good decision-makers, who would be able to think through complex problems. I wouldn’t want big decisions made by anyone scared of philosophy, personally. I think it’s essential.

      And yes, after launch we’ll be promoting like mad, and I’ll turn up to give a presentation to anyone who wants me. It will have to be after launch though, so that people have a website to go to to register.

    • 3Dave Darby February 23rd, 2015

      Just looked up Death Cafes – what an incredible idea!

    • 4Andrew Rollinson February 26th, 2015

      There should, I think, be two other accompanying strands to the philosophy: “Information”, and “action”: like a Trinity.

      Information. This is where the power is and where it can be wrestled away. The manipulation of society is pretty easy to see through when you look with independent eyes. But it gets silenced and supressed by those who want to preserve the status quo. It would be good to have a new enlightenment, but using the same methods to get there as the natural philosophers did when they created the scientific methodology. For we are indeed in a dark age, so we need to find a way to get to a central understanding of this mess we are making. Each step on our way there will be a step towards dismantling it, thus creating a path that is robust and thoroughly defensible.

      There are many people here (and globally) who are experts in their field to write and talk about what is going on in the world. I don’t just mean physical scientists – but these would be central to expose what capitalism is doing to nature, but also sociologists, civil professionals, economists, etc. There are organisations who publish material e.g. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, etc, but there is no collectivity to this. I’d like there to be a collective database and library created that could permit free access to anyone to consult. Perhaps a Low Impact Journal as a start. Scientific peer review and academic life is now also corrupted by corporate influence, and there is a definite need for a return to the principles of rigour and impartiality. People would use it, and we could have these same experts peer reviewing it. It would need, as you said, people with compassion and freedom so not scared about “harming their careers or offending their managers”.

      Action. Just talking isn’t enough (No criticism intended). We need to get out and speak (either physically attend events or youtube), and build collective strength. As a start, there are the things like science cafes and lots of other event spaces which could be used. Another form of action is protection, which links in with the information component – having experts who can help each other.



    • 5Dave Darby February 26th, 2015

      Hi Andrew,

      I think the danger of a step-by-step approach is that corporate power will see it coming, and will either crush it or buy it. Remember Green & Blacks, Ben & Jerry’s and the Body Shop? They were going to be the start of a whole new way of doing business. They now belong to Cadbury’s, Unilever and L’Oreal respectively. And the Co-op bank has just been consumed whole. The hippies? Most of the leading lights made a lot of money from that, and are now firmly in the capitalist camp – and ‘Something in the Air’ by Thunderclap Newman – an anthem to revolutionary change, has just been used in a TalkTalk advert. Punk? Johnny Rotten is now a Country Life salesman, and Country Life belongs to the giant Dairy Crest. Iggy Pop sells Swiftcover insurance, and Swiftcover belongs to the giant Axa group.


      So in this respect, I think Russell Brand is right – we need revolutionary (but not violent) change. Revolutionary as in quick. Incremental change just can’t do it – see above for why.

      Love the idea of a Low-impact journal. The big problem would be keeping corporate hands off it if it became successful.

      Agree about action. My contribution to this is the Philosophy Club idea. If it doesn’t work, I’m happy to throw my lot in with another implementable plan. But the key word is implementable.

    • 6Andrew Rollinson February 27th, 2015

      Absolutely Dave,

      I was going to mention about the need for care to avoid hijack from the: “our company is green and we strive to the aim of creating policies that can reduce emissions and waste by as much as……”-type.

      What I meant by “steps” was to build up a robust library that evidences the harm the present system is doing based on expert peer reviewed work. I just meant purely the “information” side of it. There seems to be no co-ordinated forum/archive where these things can be made publically available, as acadaemia is in the pocket of the powerful now. Such an information store could be used against all the spurious claims made by those with vested ecomonic interests. It would be a firm base to support the revolution. Without this information the politicians and monied can sway people with their propoganda.

      There are lots of examples, and not just the big ones like how global warming was fought, but things like fracking, subsidies that the government gives to waste to energy plants that have never operated for one hour, N20 release from agribusiness fertiliser applications. Reports on stuff like this, written by experts, supported with evidence, is what I mean – build up a case and enlighten people that way. The internet helps enormously at present but there is too much **** out there.


    • 7Dave Darby February 27th, 2015

      Yes, I agree. That would be a good thing. A peer-reviewed repository. Then we’d have to get the corporate-employed, the corporate-friendly and the suckers to read it, and to understand what ‘peer-review’ or ‘debate’ means. Didn’t work with climate change.

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