Featured image: From Ego to Eco: Royalty Free Stock Image
Everyone knows that inclusion will change the world forever. It’s something we’ve never been able to do as the organisations, institutions we built after the second world war were hierarchical based on old colonial versions of race, class, gender and age.
Even though war veterans, migrants, refugees, ex prisoners of war who’d fought against nazi racism came back with hope for anti racism, peace, prosperity representation of that ideal was also a fragile thing that could quite easily be railroaded by self-centred networks of people back into the thing that everyone thought was over: no war out there but yes, war here, inside Britain’s factories, industries, local authorities, universities, inside these places where people gave their time, effort, physical and mental labour rebuilding templates.
Try as hard as our creative and diverse populations tried, inside the Brave New World of working Britain there was a time shift, demanding servitude and compliance and the old colonial models of race, class, gender and age.
The limitations of the systems we’re in for expression and innovation reflect our desire to re-make the local, remake the importance of learning who we all are and how we’re all related and connected: we need to end the harm we do in assuming we know everything and recognise that we all deserve a richer life and world.
We’re here to serve each other, not to be servants or slaves.
Now we can see how many times George Floyd had been nearly killed before he was actually killed, how the unaccountable police service was always encroaching on him, now we understand that our sisters and brothers here and across the world are policed by a system that has nothing at all to do with democracy, it’s time to ask for that democracy, here, in the local, in the everyday, in the way we think about our lives the way we live, share and converse.
With Covid we’ve been shocked to realise that every institution, every organisation, service that we imagine had historical strength, purpose and duration are temporary organisations, working, service and delivery environments kept perpetually hungry and obese by funding mechanisms that aren’t fit for the 21st century.
Why? Because social media data capture are only used in the same way as the ancient tools of colonial military control and management. We don’t see this because nothing is in the local economy, nothing is visible to accountability, change or input: the value of IT is usually hidden inside the contracted out economy where it’s hip to avoid tax. It’s hip because the young developer doesn’t understand the history of the system they’re in, why paying tax could be a good thing: it’s a competitive environment, or a competitive silo so the conversations around who and what IT is for sits on social media or within not for profit IT companies.
When you think about the supply chain around Test and Trace: Deloitte, the Army, Boots, Serco, and various agency brokers, where sites would contain the whole world and the world of work: people made unemployed from Company Directors, Engineers, Phds, people who were furloughed, students, people who’d made the migrant and just out of the refugee journey yet the level of control, implementation and innovation, the confidence of these amazing people to really work together to create a new service was suffocated by the different parts of the system being completely ill at ease with themselves and each other.
Everyone had to accept a kind of weird timeless space where nothing happened, noone had authority to do anything except the bare minimum. Nothing changed and then the project went. As if it had never been there. It’s as if they were implementing the same old narratives of conquer, domination and war in peace time, setting race against inclusion, class against age against youth, men against women, gender against transgender.
This is why we need to re-make democracy for the 21st century.
If the elite, like the rest of us, only serve themselves and each other (imagining ordinary people as ‘other’). At the moment, politicians don’t go to locally grounded democracy schools where they could look at the country, look at how people are, think about how they are where they are. Encourage innovation. History, class, race, gender, age, disability, privilege.
We need to raise the hope in society that the career of a politician might be about doing the time, understanding people, understanding the history of localities, local economies and learning how to push that up and into parliament. And getting new answers to old questions.
It’s really important that not on the basis of privilege but on the basis of rolling up your sleeves and understanding what people do. It’s as if they’ve have never had or given time or space to consider what a developing an accountable democracy could be or could look like. I think that’s the reason why inequalities, poor health, education and life outcomes are not addressed. Noone thinks they need to learn anything, they know it all, already.
We’re beginning to talk to each other across all platforms about who’s been harmed, asking for a decent, humane conversation, debate, discussion about the harm that elite/mass management of our economy is doing: where we have a government that can tolerate the contradictions of elite personalisation and mass depersonalisation across society as nothing to particularly worry about.
I call it cradle to cradle dementia capitalism because it formulates the function of each stage of the lifespan as if it was a given fact on a spreadsheet laid out for speculation and exploitation rather than something to be revered, respected and honoured or something that each person has a right to.
The elite/mass society we’re trying to move on from is the legacy of the second world war and a war-like and warring reconstruction of the economy. It’s feudal an elite life presented on social media that everyone’s supposed to aspire to. Where there’s no alternative presented to abject wealth or abject poverty, it’s hard for people to imagine how it could change because there’s no shared mental model. Everyone’s in ‘their own lane’ and to look beyond your own immediate family, group and network to empathise with those historic ravages on other individuals, groups, countries rarely gets beyond blocking people or reporting them on social media and feeling like the police. We’re all doing the police in different voices in a wasteland as the poet TS Eliot might have said.
The system we live in depletes the capacity of everyone.
Britain needs to be reinvented by a recognition that we are hungry for democracy, accountability and duration. We want to last, we want our lives to last and we want our families and friends to last and feel their lives have had many wonderful interconnections and opportunities to bloom. That shouldn’t be because of inherited wealth and intergenerational privilege and feeling that being different means you have to compromise who you are to ‘fit in’.
I think that hope is something we have to recuperate across British society, a hope for debate, consultation, discussion and recognition.
When we think now about what we need: local jobs, local opportunities, resources to enable people to work, learn and contribute across the lifespan, you can see that building our capacities to participate and contribute means we need to recognise that the our economy has been built on the unnecessary premise of that there’s one kind of person we want in this organisation and invisibility and exclusion for everyone else.
Credit, which, after the second world war was created as a new version of social apartheid, (say, for example in Nottingham, how selling inferior quality furniture on credit and then catalogues, which provided the finance for a business information system that would exclude many of the people who had created the profit for that system from access to jobs, mortgages, housing ) was an ancient, colonial way of developing economic control of the new council housing estates whom we now see as excluded from the rest of society as well as the people who live on council estates.
We understand better how the mass of selling inferior goods on credit and the way access to industries and public services were built wasn’t creating anything new but was reverting to a pre-war template of race, gender and class, controlling what is possible in society and for whom.
Where businesses move into thinking of themselves as part of society, part of complex communities actively recruiting from all ethnicities (rather than pick and mix equalities, which perpetuate the old fashioned hierarchical model with one type of person from one type of background in senior and top positions and no mobility for people who are diverse even if they’re recruited), the business-case findings are incredibly compelling: McKinsey and company report that with diverse recruitment, the top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth one by 36 percent in profitability, slightly up from 33 percent in 2017 and 35 percent in 2019. This is a good culture that motivates everyone to perform.
We need to understand that for businesses, organisations, services and industry to become better places to work we need to have a much more insightful, representative, friendly, convivial politics.
Politics is about everyone, from cradle to grave and the people inside the political system have run its aspirations and hopes down into the ground. I love watching parliament but often when I look at the way accountability is deftly rebuffed it’s as if I’m watching a gang master doing little more than overseeing contracts and self interests in a toxic supply chain. The connection with people who should be at the heart of 21st century politics shouldn’t be sidelined by a method of engagement that prevents conversation and dialogue. Learning, contribution, share and grow as humans.
When we think about George Floyd, policing, the hostile state, and our reverence for capital we need to work out how we can humanise that cruelty, that coldness, that ignorance. We need to reinvent democracy, create the boundaries that are needed against vested interests and lobbies.
Politics and parliament needs to reflect the discussions and aspirations of people to fairness connection, communication and resource distribution across the whole of society.
Let’s have some joy in realising what we know and delivering it to more people, more of the time!