Come the Revolution!
Many have the opinion that the current western Neo-liberal, captured democracies are due to fail. Come the revolution there is a period of chaos and then the first group that organises effectively becomes the de-facto government. Look at revolutions worldwide since Cromwell to see the pattern.
The current instabilities of the UK, including Brexit, the acceleration of inequality, trade, payments, migration, pensions, government funding, global stress in energy, food and water all imply that revolution may be as close as 2018.
I would like to offer the bones of a radical non-economic social narrative; one that puts people’s happiness first, and doesn’t use the discredited proxy of wealth and income as the measure of success.
Happiness – Enough is enough!
- Happiness is probably the most common goal of humans. Yet it is rarely spoken of directly. I believe that we should make Happiness the narrative of a revolution in western society. In the process we release ourselves from the treadmill of materialism
People can seek fulfilment in other ways. Many work roles will be done by volunteers seeking a certain type of fulfilment. (There are many examples of this today). Fulfilment through sport, arts, or whatever become high priorities. Yes there will be people who seek fulfilment through power, materialism or other less worthy ways, but within constraints I believe these can be tolerated too.
Beyond the basics, study after study tells us happiness is a function of community. Our new society should encourage good community and remove incentives for fragmentation. E.g. Hygge in Denmark, the happiest western society, is founded on strong families and small group friendships.
It should be noted that Neo-Liberal society can see families and informal friendship groups as sources of happiness that compete with their monetised equivalents.
Examples of incentives for fragmentation include:-
- Paid-for child care, rather than parenting,
- Care-homes rather than extended family support,
- Big-ticket sports and leisure events, rather than local sport and arts events
Research, development, deployment of innovations can still be achieved without the financial imperatives of the market economy. Non-financial incentives such as prestige, honour and admiration are three non-financial incentives, indeed few academic researchers have wealth as their primary motivation.
Whilst I might hope that this model will remove most evil. Security of the person, the community and the nation have to be provided for a happy life.
An end to misery
The first priority of a happiness agenda is to get rid of misery! The ambition should be that everyone is secure in their access to basic sustenance, shelter, society and services. Key here is that there should be no prejudice in receiving these.
Disapproval of materialism
Marketing is a major generator of misery. Its whole purpose is to make the target unhappy, and that buying their good or service will make you happy again. In this agenda, marketing has to be seen for what it is and both discouraged financially and people taught to understand how the marketeers manipulate people in unpleasant ways. It is people who are content with a low eco-footprint who should be lauded, rather than those that enjoy conspicuous consumption,
A more challenging agenda is where we seek to ensure future generations can be happy too. With a non-materialistic society, creating a 100% sustainable society can be envisaged.
The end of Economics
With people opting to live modest fulfilled lives, It will be Armageddon for economists and corporates. GDP will go through the floor. Production will be just to sustain the basics. With modern technology that is likely to need only a fraction of today’s workforce. The much heralded age of leisure and fulfilment can be delivered.
This paper is an opening shot at a new narrative, I welcome comments, contributions and ideas how one can get these ideas into the main-stream.
Dr Peter Dawe OBE