The Alternative UK Manifestos. 10: Mary Valiakas - The Renaissance To Come
Mary is a social entrepreneur, brand strategist and founder of Oi Polloi (see our previous profile), a foundation and innovation think tank that is (in her words) "creating a renaissance of humanity - starting by rebooting Greece, turning it into a beacon of civilisation once more".
Pushing on from Phil Teer's creative work manifesto, Mary roams across the major themes and institutions of society - showing what will be liberated if we really grasp the possibilities of automation, and institute a "post-work world".
Mary Valiakas: A manifesto for a post-work world – and a renaissance of humanity
With universal basic income (um) incoming, with automation, AI and technological unemployment on the horizon – how will humanity define itself in the post-work era?
My personal belief is the same as that of Bertrand Russell, “To fill leisure intelligently, is the last great product of civilization.” Here are the 7 areas in which radical change would facilitate the socioeconomic blossoming that I call a renaissance of humanity – based on the building blocks of society: Education, Family, Government, Spirituality, Arts & Entertainment, Media, & Business.
Some ideas reflect my belief in stopping harmful retrograde action. Other push a futuristic vision based in tools that we have today.
Note, I have started from business first. This is not because I believe it is the most important, but because the current system prioritises corporate interests, and so is biased towards making life easier/more prosperous for business. The emergence of social enterprises (organisation that apply commercial strategies to maximise improvements in human and environmental well-being—including social impact) can help reverse this trend. This is why business is my starting point. [Note also Alternativet's interest in Fourth-Sector enterprises - Ed.]
a) Corporations should no longer have legal personhood – this way accountability and responsibility for the actions of a business rest with real people. When shareholders face real consequences in a court of law we will see a real shift in the purpose and behaviour or businesses.
a) Implement decentralised models of governance and administration based in blockchain (civic tech) to support the efficient and transparent running of societal functions.
b) Use technology available to us to link up data from individual countries to create a global, interconnected system that moves away from GDP/GNP towards more meaningful measures of success (ones that put people and planet at their heart)
c) Use this global network laid down in point b as a springboard to implement Universal Basic Income. Because a UBI cannot be universal, unless it’s truly everywhere.
Support progressive, experiential, self-directed models of education that go against the current, one-size-fits-all, exam-based model of learning. Teach people how to think, how to be creative, and, most importantly, self-reliant.
In a post-work era, facilitated by the introduction of UBI, family life comes back into focus. Self-directed learning, creativity, community – all these things become the heart of family life. Instead of consumption being the focus, as it is now, we teach togetherness, belonging, and the skills of harmonious co-existence. In other words, we foster the skill of being happy.
The moral and ethical failings of our current leaders should teach us that spirituality, ethics, morality really matter. So, we put personal and collective enquiry back at the heart of society. We cannot be effective or harmonious if we are blind to our own shortcomings – and ignorant with regard to the value of ethics, and the perfection of the human spirit.
Maybe a new story is needed — one where we strive to figure out how to be infinitely human, together, on a finite planet.
6. Arts & Entertainment
The ability to create physical instantiations of the things we imagine is at the heart of what sets us apart from other animals. Imagination should be valued as the pinnacle of human endeavour – so long as it benefits people and planet.
I propose using technology to create an ecosystem that supports the production of art. Replacing advertising with art, making it easy for artists to sell their work, and making it easy for people to discover new creative expression – both their own and that of others.
Awkward conversations will have taught you that there is such a thing as too much information. Banning 24-hour news channels should be essential in a society that is concerned with its own advancement. And subsidies should be given to organisations who wish to promote positive news about humanity’s achievements. Reframing the story of our collective endeavour, and giving people hope for the future, should be paramount. Because we all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning – and keep dreaming.