a revolution in the making
Maisie is a reporter investigating sudden unexpected changes in society, including a minimum income for everyone around the world and the deletion of all debt. Some see the positives but others feel it’s a prelude to chaos. No one seems to know who’s behind it.
“OK Babe? Sorry I didn’t manage to speak to you this morning before I left. I couldn’t sleep and needed to get into the office.”
“It’s all very worrying. It’s chaos and probably no different from any other bank. All payments are suspended. There’s no money coming in. Mortgages and loan payments have stopped. Virtual money is drying up within the formal system. There’s a massive panic in banks and major businesses. The possible implications are mind blowing. I seriously think some will go to the wall. ”
“What about investments?”
“Investors are running around like headless chickens, so there are some good sides to all this. The futures markets are frozen, maybe they can’t see a future.”
“So what happens next?”
“I have no idea. The institutions that are critical to our functioning economy have ground to a halt. The systems are failing”.
“So suits your radical alter ego? I have a telephone call arranged with John from The Guardian. Hopefully, he’ll commission a piece but sounds a challenge just to get paid in this brave new world. See you later, I hope your day gets better.”
I check out news programmes further east. I’ve found a discussion panel on TV, it’s probably in India, as they seem to be shouting and talking over each other. The anchor doesn’t seem to be holding his ship in place.
“Who is responsible for this?” “It will create chaos” “ If they don’t need money, the lazy people will not do the jobs.”
“They’ll just drink themselves unconscious or stay at home”
“Where is our government in all this?”
“How will they pay for the police? The crooks will take over, it will be dog eat dog.”
The anchor intervenes to get a view from a community activist:
“It means people will have to do their own dirty jobs, is that such a bad thing?”
“Yes, but, how will we make or move money? The banks seem to have stopped working”
“How will society grow and improve?”
“There’s only a certain amount of money or resources available to us, so maybe it will halt unnecessary growth, it means we’ll need to share things more, less of the extremes of rich and poor”
“Where will our food come from?”
“What’s to stop people from growing food and selling it to others?”
“Most of our trade is informal and in cash so I think most people will manage OK”
“ Who will pay taxes to the government?”
“Yes, there can be big changes but maybe there’s a lot of positives in this, less globalisation, being more self sufficient, working together to collaborate instead of compete.”
I’m exhausted, just watching it.
I clicked to another channel showing pictures in the street with Indian farmers. Jumping, shouting at the top of their voices, skipping, flapping their green cloths around, laughing, celebrating the cancellation of their debt. I understand this often happened in India so they might not be fazed by these changes.
We’re now getting beyond the initial reactions. People are beginning to realise the potential problems.
I found a BBC World News report that helps.
“What’s the use of these small payments? It’s not enough to live on and if we can’t sell our products around the world, what are we to do?”, was a typical concern of a New Zealand sheep farmer.
A reporter in Australia reported that:
“Mining company executives were ‘over the moon’ that debts are erased but begin to wonder how people will pay for products. It’s predicted to create chaos in the markets.”
I was going stir crazy, I wanted to speak to some local people. I was carrying my digital recorder and an unnecessarily big microphone. I think it sometimes helps to focus people’s attention and treat my questions seriously.
“Good morning. What do you think of the new monthly payments and the cancelling of all debt?”
“Well, I’m not going to say no now, am I? I’ve had no debt for years, so that means nothing to me. I’ve been working the market on my dad’s stall here for over 35 years. I worry about what else might be round the corner. Suppliers are already telling us there may be low stock soon.”
“How about you madam? What do you think of the changes?”
“I don’t know if it’s in addition to my pension, or not. My worry is my rent. I get help from the council to pay it. Will I continue to get that? If not, they’ll throw me out, even though I’m a pensioner who’s paid my taxes all my life”.
“How will the changes affect your young family?”
“I can’t make head nor tail of it. Our mortgage payments have stopped leaving our account and the bank is useless at answering our questions. Will we lose our house? The new payment included extra for the kids. It’s enough to keep us ticking over but it’ll not cover any luxuries or emergencies. Our biggest worry is work. My husband works at the main Ford dealers in town. I wonder how this will affect the business. If people just have the new payments how will they have enough money to buy cars?”
“Thank you, I appreciate your help and hope it all works out for you.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m Maisie Judd living locally and reporting for the Guardian, I’ve seen you before at Council events. What’s your take on the recent changes?”
“I can’t believe the Government isn’t behind it. How else would it have happened? Why are they being so secretive?”
“If Labour was in power, how might they have handled it differently?”
“I like some aspects of it and potentially it could lead to massive reform in society which I would support but to be truthful, I can’t believe it’s technically feasible nor politically realistic, there are too many vested interests for this to end well.”
“Thank you for such a helpful insight, may I contact you for further quotes as the story develops?”
“By all means”
I needed to get back to the privacy of home for my call with the Guardian.
“Hello John. What’s the latest from the news desk?”
“First, what’s your take on it Maisie?”
“I’m just back from talking with people in our local market, I’ve also checked in with corporate contacts and others via the net including some of the more radical members in the darker corners.”
“Good, and what do you think?”
“People seem to be pulling in three different directions: Firstly, the lost, confused, don’t knows but who seem to be happy to go along with it all yet worry about where it might lead. Secondly, the rich and powerful who are resentful of the changes as it challenges them and they are beginning to realise they have a lot to lose. Thirdly, the more radical, the activists, the ones who see it mostly as positive, and love the idea of a shake-up, a reordering of things.”
“There are, as always, the ones who are looking for an angle to do a deal and make a profit out of any opportunity.
So what’s the view from the Guardian?”
“There seem to be few people, if any, picking up on the potential for real and lasting radical change in how our society functions. The usual suspects are working on that and some of us are seriously excited. In my view, the corporates are working hard on it but seem utterly bewildered. I hope the real action will be amongst the entrepreneurs, the catalysts, the activists. Things are beginning to happen in the streets. I think, it’s just the start of it. , and we haven’t seen anything yet. Our overriding concern, shared by our progressive political friends, is if the system just comes to a grinding halt. Where would we get essentials: food, fuel, medicines? There could be civil unrest. Even a total break-down. The big questions are: how is this happening and who is behind it? I can’t believe we still don’t know.” John provided a good summary.
“Well, I don’t know but someone said it seems that a power has taken hold of the technology that controls our lives. We’ve become dependent on digital banking, online ID, social media, you name it, we’re on it. Think back to the early 90s when we were waxing lyrical about how the web was going to empower communities, be as significant as the printing press and then the corporates took it over and used it for their own ends. It feels to me as if the net has bitten back.”
“I agree. This is really radical and it does seem to be part of a coherent programme, that’s astonishing in its reach, even to the most authoritarian states, although those are the places it doesn’t seem to be working.”
“So, how can I help?” Maisie, is not at all sure.
“We’re going to need a lot of material and just about everyone is working on this.
“Give me a piece 750 words. It’s OK to cover the general narrative but most important is to use your contacts to find out whatever you can about who’s behind it. Get your ear to the ether. It’s your experience and contacts online that is valuable. Follow up those ideas about the net, especially the darker reaches that we generally don’t know about. I’m also interested in where this is taking us. What are the activists doing? Delve into their motivations, what does it all mean and where might it lead.”
“You’ve got seven days”
Super,this could be the break I’ve been looking for. But I’ve had enough of the net for now, I‘m off into the centre of London for a sniff around. I wonder if Simon’s mum is available?
“Hello Mags Hiya, how’s things? I need to nip into London this afternoon for some work, can you help out? Do you mind being in the for the kids when they get home and preparing something simple for dinner? Do stay on as I’d love to hear your views on all the stuff that’s happening at the moment. Yes? Wonderful thanks.”
I cycled to the local station and I was in the centre within forty minutes and walked around central shopping areas Leicester Square, Covent Garden and Regent Street, frankly I was sorely disappointed.
Where were these activists that John referred to? It was boringly normal.
I did find some individuals reaching out to pedestrians, and groups talking. But they looked no different from the usual individuals approaching pedestrians who were campaigning or fundraising on the usual subjects: anti-war, pro Europe, ‘Vegans of the world unite,’ Greenpeace, Oxfam. This was a waste of time. I wondered what I was missing?
I manage to draw a few into conversation. It’s not all straightforward. The activists do seem to be very relaxed and well informed about the background to these changes but seem reticent to share anything. I wonder what are they hiding and where they are getting their information from. There seemed to be links between the activists from very different campaigns. Some clearly knew about this beforehand, many attended on-online discussions groups, had training sessions.
I’m lost, it doesn’t seem to lead me anywhere.
“Thanks mum, for helping out today and preparing dinner. It’s a bit hectic for both of us at the moment because of the changes and especially stressful at the bank.” Simon’s visibly relaxed since reaching home.
“Has there been talk at school about the new monthly payments?” I was keen to hear what the kids had been discussing.
“Yes, we discussed it at our School Parliament.” Rowan was first off the starting block.
“It’s supposed to help us understand how the real Houses of Parliament works. We’ve elected our MPs and raise the main topics of the week, just like the real thing. “
“Sounds a great idea”
“I don’t think it works well.”
“Why?” Simon gets into it.
“We’re allowed to attend , providing there’s enough seats, but only as observers. If we want to raise something or have an opinion about what they plan to discuss, we have to raise it with our representative beforehand,” adds Rowan. “That’s rubbish.” Clearly, Rowan is not impressed.
“Spot on. I’m with you there. But it does sound to me like a very fair representation of the real thing and how it doesn’t work effectively.“ Simon showing his more radical side.
“So the changes were discussed , admittedly by your representatives but I bet it’s also been discussed in lessons, breaks, lunch?” I wanted to know more.
“Yes we’ve discussed it,” Joe piped in. “Everyone thinks it’s a great idea, same with cancelling the loans. We seem to be set up to always be owing something to someone else. Why does it need to be like that?”
“Thanks guys, that’s very refreshing and seriously grown up.”
“I’m impressed that you’re challenging the way its run and sharing your opinions.” adds Simon.
“What about you, Mags?”
“ I worry about where it’s all going, which we don’t know. It could end in trouble.”
“Maybe good will come out of it but it’s not going to be easy. Thanks Mum for looking after the kids and dinner was lovely thanks.”
Simon walked Mags home. Unusually, for me, I made up a Bed-time story for my ‘adult’ teenagers. I miss the innocence of their early years and feel they’re becoming more distant as they grow older. I love them so much.
In the lounge afterwards we shared a nightcap. We needed it.
“How’s it all working out for you at work?” I wanted to know more about Simon’s situation.
“As I mentioned on the phone this morning it’s chaos and it’s impossible to predict. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there are redundancies. The bank could completely implode. It may be a new opportunity I could see myself getting involved with a local business. I’m excited by the opportunities this might provide.”
“I love the radical side coming out in you but it’s likely to be a rough ride Simon.”
Later in bed, Simon was asleep.
It came to me, I had completely missed the point. I realised what was happening in Central London, like Oxford Street. All the groups were focusing on engaging people and seeking their commitment. I had a sense the purpose was to connect and activate. The subject matter was important but secondary. They were beginning to show, through their actions, something of the hidden purpose behind these changes. These were role models.
I think back to the amazing campaign of the Extinction Rebellion. Ostensibly this campaign’s focus was action for the climate but in fact I’d always thought, it was a means to another end, to help people take back control. This feels the same. But where will it all lead?