fragments — the commons, cooperativism and decentralised networks

I’m struggling to put everything in my head down into coherent fully fledged writing at the moment (because I’m on a residency exploding/attempting to refine allthethings, and also because it seems to want to be a book!). Many elements are things I keep coming back to in discussions online, but can’t point to them because I haven’t published them yet! So I’m giving this a go: sharing fragments of them. This was a comment I made in response to a fb thread about unilateral foreign policy. And if any of my ramblings interest you — positively or negatively — then let’s talk.

Snippet from Pia’s post: “Finally, it is worth mentioning that in today’s world, another superpower has risen. The citizen. Today a few kids with computers can disrupt companies and state powers alike, and although it is deeply uncomfortable to acknowledge, what were traditional powers (monitoring, enforcement, communications, publishing just to name a few) have been massively distributed to the 3b or so people online. So governments are more accountable and scrutinised than ever. This means the traditional horse trading and hypocrisy of governments trying to balance ideology with commerce and power will be more noticed, less accepted and more accountable than ever before.”

My response: What you said about the citizen: yes, absolutely. But within the rise of the citizen (while trying to unlearn the individualistic self-centredness of the 80s onwards) is the rise of community. My feeling — and where I’m investing my energies — is in the grassroots, and how to interconnect the decentralised networks in a productively non-invasive way.

We’re seeing a resurgence of The Commons, cooperativism, collectives across borders, digital villages. That’s where this is going for me. What we’ve gotta do now is define and establish mechanisms for transition. I don’t mean so much ‘changing the mindset of the masses’ (that’ll happen mostly organically), more helping those who get it, who want to, or are, actively building different societies, to find better ways of claiming and holding our own niches. One size does not fit all, yet society currently demands that it does. As these empowered citizens you mention, with all our rising might, we’ve gotta join into an array of clusters, gaining strength through each other, through our collective vulnerabilities.

Legacy change never comes from the top down. It only ever comes from the bottom up and middle out. The grassroots are doing amazing things right now. Let’s put everything we’ve got into it, behind it, in solidarity with it. Whatever we’ve got. Stop thinking about change from within the system — it’s well-intentioned but a waste of energy if your battle is with the long view. Start looking inside yourself at who you are and be honest about what you want, then look around you, online and off, on your Country or elsewhere, to find those you align with. With them, work out what philosophical boundaries (not geographical borders) hold you together. Not everything will fit with one group (obviously!), so find other groups where those other parts of you do fit. And keep looking and listening, more will naturally arise. Then work with all/any of them (contributing whatever you’re capable of committing to) on strategies/tactics/actions to further any one of those causes.

We’re so damn close to building the most incredible open culture. We’ve just got to pull back the curtain and help ourselves and each other break out of this fictional structure someone else imposed a very long time ago. We don’t need a new political party, we need a new way of believing in community. We can DO this. Maybe we won’t see those outcomes in my lifetime, but we can stand on top of all the giants’ shoulders and lay cornerstones for the generations to come.