The Alternative UK Manifestos. 2: The Human(e) Revolution, by Indy Johar
Welcome to the second in our series of Alternative UK Manifestos. These are sourced from the friends, colleagues and peers that are associating themselves with our "friendly revolution", and a search for a new, citizen-driven language and practise of politics.
Architect and social philosopher Indy Johar has been a huge supporter of A/UK from the start, and here he delivers a typically ambitious text.
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THE HUMAN(E) REVOLUTION: Indy Johar
We face a tipping point in our societal development - whether ours is a civilisation which takes a few of us to the stars, or whether we are a civilisation which takes the many there.
Whilst much has been made about the multiple technological revolutions we are witnessing - from the "fourth industrial revolution" to the much advocated Silicon Valley singularity - there is a deeper choice to face.
Are the vast majority of citizens being strategised and planned to be a economic burden in a jobless future? Or is now the moment to propose a real revolution and usher in The Human(e) revolution - focused on unlocking our full capacity as humans and citizens?
Increasingly we are witnessing nations states like UK and USA start to "plan" (mistakenly in my view) for a near-to-now future where everyday humans are a deadweight - and where governments collude with the wealthy and the marginalised to advance this reality.
In this capitalist dream of radical automation, jobs are finite and declining in quantity, quality and wages. Humans, citizens and the population base are regarded as an overhead or liability on their future wealth. This is the future envisaged by many capitalists, where we witness a third full "delamination" (a failure of strong materials to hold together) between the size of the population and radical future productivity.
Run this scenario forward, and many of us become a societal cost to be managed (understand that as malignly or benevolently as you want). Or perhaps, at best, glutinous beasts of consumption facilitated by some malformed version of the Universal Basic Income.
This is a future which is already mobilising through the rise of what we could call a "National Capitalism". This represents a toxic structure which links the very wealthy, seeking to reduce an envisaged future tax debt, and those many whose wages have become flatlined due to globalisation (a condition currently and viscerally embodied in immigration patterns).
Now, let us run an alternative thought experiment:
We are some 40 years from the point where Artificial General intelligence could become comparable to humans. This implies that we are currently blessed with some nearly 9 billion humans who are significantly more impressive than any machine yet created.
This would beg the question: are we genuinely unlocking the full capacity of all humans? Or are we obsessed with unlocking the economic dreams of the few - and thereby subordinating the many to be, at best, bad robots? Many of us occupy merely prescribed functions in an industrial economic engine - designed by the free few to instrumentalise and "enJob" the many.
This situation is coming to an end, driven by foreseeable job extinction, growing inequality, flatlined wage growth for the many, and the frustrations made manifest in the recent nationalist uprisings of Trump, Brexit, etc.
This solution to this challenge cannot be a mere patching-over of the problem - say, a redistribution from the few to the many, which actually sustains unequal relationships of dependency and patronage. The solution is a Human(e) revolution, focused on unlocking the full capacity of all our humanity.
This is a revolution to be accelerated by radical automation and AI but which will focus on re-gearing our societies - unlocking the full creative, collaborative, craft and caring capacities of our citizens.
This is a revolution which requires us to:
A. Seed the Great Transformation of our Economy:
1. We should establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund, based on an initial billions-strong state endowment. The fund would be focussed on the Open Source Automation (robotic and algorithmic) of our cities, regions and towns. Dividends from these funds - seeing a return from their investment in enterprises - would be redistributed to the citizens. The aim is to democratise the benefits of automation, and to set conditions and expectations for a future Citizens Basic Income.
2. We should invest in the radical transformation of societal culture. This means supporting the democratisation of creativity, voice and expression and the shared discovery of what it means to be human and Human(e) in the 21st Century.
3. We should invest in the radical transformation of educational and human development institutions - focused on unlocking our full humanity.
4. We should utilise the full power of our institutional procurement to accelerate this future by actively inducing automation, and a new generation of care, creativity & craft 2.0 driven SMEs;
5. We should establish "The 21st Century Bank" focused on a new wave of Micro Massive Globalised Open Source SMEs, with an ethos of Care, Craft 2.0 and Creativity, and empowered with Automation and Algorithmisation. This "full stack" economic transition will be financed by means of educational grants, and new networks of value.
B. Radically Evolve the "Dark Matter" of our society to enable this human(e) centric, decentralised, distributed and democratic future.
1. Changing what we account for (because we make what we measure). Redefine our macroeconomic rules - our public balance and real deficit analysis - towards measuring our successes and failures in unlocking the maximum potential of citizens. Did we succeed in supporting our citizens to unlock their full capacity as a civilisation or did we fail? This is the fundamental question.
If these measurements change, it fundamentally allows us to reframe welfare as an investment as opposed to cost. Democracy demands freedom of agency; so its preservation requires us to massively grow distributed wealth, knowledge, care and voice. We mark progress by these indicators.
Changing what we measure would have knock-on effects in other areas. For example, low immigration strategies advanced by capitalists are built on a belief that many of us humans will be a liability or cost in the future. What if that was flipped around, and they/we are the source of all wealth?
2. Changing our remit and responsibility. We should accept that Britain is not a geography but a globalised network. We must recast and reimagine the boundary of our nation-state and along with it our remit and responsibility to nurturing the broad ecosystem we are truly reliant on. We cannot imagine our success or failure in isolation.
3. Changing Accountability. Big Government is a problem - but not a big state. To put it another way, we have seen "government" eclipse "governance". And the emerging reality of a world made from complex systems, networks and soft power demands much more of the second than that first. We need distributed and decentralized models of agency, rather than aggregations of centralised power in state or parliament.
4. Reimagining and Remeasuring Democratic Health as the successful democratisation of voice, expression, knowledge, innovation, and wealth and - at the end of all that - our Vote.
This is the Great Transformation of the 21st Century. This is a future which requires not mere minor policy tweaks, compiled and packaged into disguised manifestos, but systemic societal reforms - with societal manifestos worthy of the moment we face as a civilisation. Societal manifestos which put humans at the centre of a future that can be owned.
We cannot policy-edit our way to this future! We must boldly embrace the revolution awaiting - in all it senses - and with a great faith in the awesome potential of our humanity.
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