The argument is simple: the old ways of doing and deciding things, in which we were either cogs in a corporate or state machine, or consumers in a free market free for all, are failing to meet our needs as human beings or solve our social, economic and environmental problems. This failure and the digitisation and fast-emerging network society it spawns, has created the possibility of a new era driven by collaborative action, whose purpose is potentially aligned to human and planetary needs.
As ever in history, when old paradigms fail, people search for new ones. Beyond Westminster and corporate HQs, people are already busy building new organisations and transforming old ones, finding new ways of ‘deciding and doing’, that are more creative, innovative, productive, participatory, and more socially and environmentally aware. A new society is starting to emerge from the bottom up, facilitated by new digital technologies, that have the potential to deliver greater equality and democracy because they are built around flatter and more universal networks that allow everyone to know, speak, share and organise at the press of a button – all at, or near, zero marginal cost.
As such, this networked society will facilitate new forms of solidarity and agency, based on active citizenship, through the continual practice of negotiating and building a future collectively – as opposed to the past, when any future was either imposed on us or purchased by us as lone shoppers.
SOURCE: Neal Lawson. “Transforming Society from Above and Below” Compass, February 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia