Change Everything

By Natalie Bennett

Common Sense Politics for the Age of Shocks.

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This book sets out a vision of hope - an alternative green vision of how we can innovate our way to freedom, prosperity, health and resilience.

What has been called political common sense over recent decades, that greed is good, inequality doesn’t matter and we can keep treating the planet as a mine and a dumping ground, has been proved to be the exact opposite. It has been a recipe for disaster. This so-called common sense – in fact the ideology of neoliberalism – has delivered poverty and destruction, with a few benefiting while the rest of us pay. The centrist approach of leaving the UK, or the world, continuing to run as it does now, with just a few minor adjustments to the levers, a twirl of a policy dial here, a nudge of a management system there, is clearly not viable. Going further on our current path is even more disastrous.

Many ideas and arguments in this book have been inspired by the people I have met around the UK, from different ages and backgrounds. Every idea in has been road tested, honed by interaction. We can only get through this dangerous stage in the development of Homo sapiens by relying on the collective ingenuity, talents and creativity of millions of people, all empowered to “do politics”, all being heard. This book aims to synthesise the voices I’ve heard and read – and encourage them to step forward. They collectively represent true common sense.

That’s why I have chosen to publish it using crowdfunding, an approach that provided a huge amount of the resource for the Green Party’s 2015 election campaign. It is the democratic approach to publishing. In early modern times authors had to secure the support of the great and the good – royalty and aristocracy – to get into print using subscription. Now, anyone with £10 to spare can help the ideas of others spread – can see themselves reflected back.

This is what will be covered in the book . . .

Part A: Active freedom

  1. Decommodifying time: In the Green future, you no longer work for “the man”. You don’t have to sell your time to ensure you don’t starve. You’re not defined by a “job”. There’s Universal Basic Income: you decide how to use your time, energy and talents.
  2. Education for all, for free, for life: The amount of information available to us is growing at an explosive rate, but we still understand little of how our physical and social worlds operate, plus are frighteningly short on wisdom. To live sustainably and well in the world demands free, fully accessible lifelong opportunities to learn, to discover, explore, synthesise, truly understand, and to share the fruits of that labour with others.
  3. DIY Politics: In the Green alternative future, politics is local, and decentralised. Parliament reflects the views of the people. It isn’t trapped in a Victorian “Great Man” paradigm of individual leadership, with the bulk of people being merely followers.

Part B: True Prosperity

  1. Restoring the Earth - A biologically and economically homogenised world – of nature or human society – is a tasteless, dull world, but more than that, it’s a terribly vulnerable one. In diversity is the security of resilience, having the characteristics ready to respond to changing conditions, crucial in our current Age of Shocks. 
  2. The people’s economy: Capitalism is not working. It’s treating the planet as a mine and a dumping ground, and creating miserable, insecure, unhealthy societies. A Green economy is diverse, it is localised, it operates within physical limits. 
  3. Controlling the money: Financialisation is a key symptom of the disease of neoliberalism. Institutions once run to meet human needs now have as their only goal the generation of profit for the few. The majority of people, and all of the planet, suffer.

Section C: Healthy life

  1. Enabling wellbeing: The vast bulk of discussion of health, and the huge majority of the cash, goes towards seeking treatments for illness. Only the crumbs of resources, the dedicated and committed, are focused on health. That approach leaves us with a profoundly diseased society.
  2. Unleashing culture: To demonstrate a different world is possible we need to imagine it – allow painters, novelists, craftspeople to help us create it, not just in art galleries, but in the fabric of our daily lives. Culture should be something you do and live, not just buy from a multinational supplier.
  3. Recovering space: Housing, sports fields, libraries and streets that were once public have been swallowed into private control, depriving us all of opportunities, of community. Turning a parking place into a playground, a field into a shared garden, a ruined house into a library is a project of renewal that must be open to every community.

Section D: Shared resilience

  1. Repairing lives: Societies can no longer the carry the cost of racist, discriminatory neoliberal policing, court and prison practices. The Home Office’s “hostile environment” harms all of society. Restoration must replace retribution.
  2. Building peace: Global minnows unite to discipline the dangerous, superpowers are forced to acknowlege that stability is in their interests too, and the tools for a new international human rights and legal order developed over the past century are deployed
  3. Making reparation: The genocidal, extractivist, exploitative mechanism of colonialism continues to wreak havoc on this fragile planet and its people. Rethinking the past is crucial for restructuring the present for a sustainable future.

Photos by Krystyna Haywood

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