The Rules' new video/meme #GrowthOrLife is beautiful and challenging

We spent some time with the radical culture hackers The Rules a month or two ago (at this event in 42 Acres, Somerset). We got a real education in how to craft messages that might cut through the media maelstrom, but also that could be informed by the patterns of behaviour and meaning that networks (or at least open ones, like Twitter) display.

Now we see the opening results of the discussion process we were part of (along with many other organisations and speakers). The challenge that was set at the event was whether we could find ways to challenge the "growth" narrative, as the assumed target of all economic activity.

Many ecological thinkers are trying to wake up citizens to the reality that infinite "growth" on a finite planet simply can't happen - and that global warming, and our climate shocks, are indicators that the strain is all too obvious. (None more eloquent on this than The Rules' own Jason Hickel - see this piece.)

But what was interesting by the end of the 42 Acres event was that we all recognised the metaphorical attractiveness of "growth" as a metaphor (who wants to shrink and reduce?), and the unattractive names of the proposed alternatives ("de-growth" or "post-growth"). We left the meeting with a need to explore new ways of engaging citizens' imaginations with a planet-friendly economic model.

And so The Rules have come up with some kind of answer with their new video and meme, #GrowthOrLife (embedded above, and available on YouTube). Here's the set-up to the video below:

Capitalism is everywhere. It dominates nearly every country on the planet. We talk a lot about what capitalism is about - private enterprise, advertising, stocks and bonds, the market. But we rarely talk about the why - the deep logic that makes capitalism tick.

The video is frankly beautiful, with richly digitised imagery. Indeed, the lush visual style represents very well the teeming idea of "Life" (versus "Growth") at the core of their new meme.

We love The Rules' style and ambition. But we would only ask whether they're following the old Buckminster Fuller dictum to its fullest. Do they propose new models which make the old models obsolete, as vigorously as they (eloquently and stirringly) critique and oppose the current system?

To be fair, there are a few headlines indicating positive alternatives towards the end of the video above - new types of money, regenerative farming, new ways of measuring progress and well-being, which may help us to "thrive on this beautiful and generous planet we call home". We are happy to support the Rules endeavours - but as they said at 42 Acres, they want to inspire activity more than claim authority. 

[It may be useful to see, by comparison, one of their previous videos (embedded at the bottom here), which is a critique of "Green Growth" - the idea that capitalism can continue to flourish, if it grounds itself in ecological and environmental realities. (The Rules also have a blog supporting this).]