It’s Tom’s Day

“O Captain my Captain! Our fearful trip is done.”

Well I can’t say it’s not been a challenge because it has.

Yesterday’s Tom day was a great success. I managed to get through the whole day without access to the iPhone (except for the alarm clock at 6 am) or the IPad. I used the MacBook for writing ‘our story’ and that’s all. It really made a difference.

The one failing, if you can call it that, is I did watch Netflix in the evening (the crown if you must know).

Here’s the link to the video that’s finally got me to follow Tom’s sound advice. Not everyday will be a Tom day, that’s not possible, but I will do full-on detox days sometimes and I will limit my gadget and t’internet access on all days so I can focus on something very important like ….. Writing Manjula and my story.

Lockdown has added values.

See below for original posting on Facebook.

Tom’s Day

Have you seen or heard them on shoulders? The angel or fairy observing one’s every move, whispering ideas, making suggestions, gently guiding, even tut tutting when you’re hovering over the line, the limen between good and evil. Our little friends like the elves are here to give a helping hand and nudge us just when we most need it.

What a lovely gentle positive image.

Well I’ve got someone else, he’s a little fella but with big hefty presence. He sits on my head, sometimes flicking my ears, drumming his fingers on my skull, loudly whispering his thoughts, his key messages, usually something like… get-off the technology, write that story, meditate, eat this and that, eat properly-sit up straight (oh, no that last one was a dad memory).

I love him dearly, my very own Tom Thumb.

So in recognition that we both care and to show I really do listen; I’m designating wednesday of this week Tom’s Day. Its when I’ll try my best to do my best without looking at my Ipad, Iphone, Netflix or Amazon. The only permitted technology on Tom Day will be the lap top JUST for the ‘word processor’ I’ll not access the news, F book, Instagram, the blog thing and I’ll report back on what it was like.

Question: anyone know one of two possible links to the first line?

Part five: Phoenix takes-off.

“Look at that. They’re showing our school.” Joe was the first to notice.

 

Rowan’s eyes popped. “They’ve got a video of our school parliament and how we’ve changed it. That’s so cool.”

 

“You deserve being on this enormous screen, as you’ve shown how it can be better organised. There’s lessons for everyone.”

 

The PH movement, with its prominent logo, had refocused technology to serve the people with — the new payments, cancelling debt and stopping rent payments. It had  somehow taken over the Piccadilly advertising screens in London to broadcast information that challenged the status quo. 

 

There followed a video with an authoritative voice booming out across the Circus:

 

“The equivalent of ONE MILLION DOLLARS  a minute is paid in farm subsidies. A report back in 2019 highlighted this subsidy and how it promoted high-emission cattle production, forest destruction and pollution from the overuse of fertiliser. What action was taken in the four years since the report was published? Absolutely nothing was done about it. It’s your money, it’s adding to climate change problems and it’s not serving us as people.” 

“Now it’s your choice in this new world. Decide what you want and how to spend your money. Should we stop these subsidies? What do you think? We want you to get involved. Shouldn’t we be involved in the decisions that affect our lives and how our money is spent? Get online, join the local groups, raise your voice.”

 

Maisie and her children were fresh from a student climate change demonstration. There had been many but she questioned if they were effective. PH’s timely release of these announcements was impressive, stirring people up and showing ways to get actively involved. But would it lead to lasting change?  

 

There were groups gathering in nearby Leicester Square. They weren’t the usual groups of young tourists. There was something ominous about them. Maisie decided it was time to get the kids back home.    

 

…….

 

The videos were part of a rapid cascade of news items: a rolling schedule of quotes and videos being broadcast in community centres and through TVs in pubs, the public screens in parks, in world-wide cities and on the net.  

 

They were introducing innovative projects and asking people to get involved:

“We can turn this into an active and popular politics. We can’t just sit back and watch politics as a spectator sport. Politics isn’t something that just happens in Westminster, it’s something that happens in all of our lives, and we have to  genuinely take control of that, get out there, to get involved to be part of the change to be part of the new politics that I believe and hope is coming. It’s one of the great opportunities that any of us have had in our lives,” declared George Monbiot a journalist and activist based in the UK.

In the US on the Times Square Screens the quotes were subtly different:

“Each time a man stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” was a spoken quote from Robert Kennedy. 

 

On hearing this, a man’s avatar, at one of the world-wide cyber camps stood up, raised his fist and declared: 

 

“Let’s send out the ripples. PH has shown us the way. We can take back control of the net, from the corporates, let’s pull down their invisible fences and make it our own again.”

 

More videos and statements appeared.

 

This was not random information and it was interacting with the audience. As people raised questions or made demands, a new response would appear on the screen. The technologies used by Google and Facebook, the artificial intelligence that gathered data about participants and then tailored advertising, were being harnessed in a positive non-commercial way. This was stimulating further interest and discussion.

 

People were joining together to discuss the changes and make their own demands. There was a significant shift with people following up on the ideas, making suggestions for their own solutions and sharing ideas for collective action.

 

Another announcement came from the Oracle and CISCO corporations. They were offering and demonstrating how their networks and databases could help people to find information, organise collectively, develop small scale self-managed initiatives. Groups came together in real time to discuss shared interests, vote and launch new projects.

 

People were talking about growing their own food in Manchester in the north  of England. An example project taking over derelict urban space and growing food on roofs was shared. There was an immediate knock on effect. Groups came together and decided to do something similar in Cardiff, Glasgow and Chicago.

 

Others were interested in water harvesting and sustainable power sources, immediately revealed, on-line were examples of small scale self managed projects in Germany, others agreed to investigate how to do something similar

 

A trade union group wanted to look at how better to organise community nursing, a Dutch project was already doing something similar, it popped up on screen and they checked it out.

 

Sally, online in the UK, told us about her grandchildren being home educated through the cooperation of parents living in houses and the canal boats in Willesden and Harlesden in North London. Others began to look into the possibility of home education  for their children.

 

Janey came on video conference to explain their shared use of land and co-operative way of housing in Australia, others downloaded factsheets on how it was organised to see if they could do it in Argentina and Thailand.

 

“So what’s in it for me?” Another camp participant shifted the conversation to the economic system. “Capitalism as we have it has not served most people well.”

“If this rebellion is going to be successful we need to be less selfish and competitive, more collaborative and challenging to the status quo.”

 

“We now have a minimum income, there’s less traditional work to go around, we have more time to get involved ourselves in organising things and making our own decisions.”

 

Groups were forming and evolving around the world.

 

A trade union group’s representative spoke out:

 

“We’ve proposals for a 2-1-2 week. Two days paid work, one day actively getting involved in politics and two days working for the local community. Growing, entertaining, creating local capital, whatever helps, we have to find a new direction.”

 

……………..

 

“ we are at a critical stage in two ways. The first we’re seeing today is the conflict we predicted, especially from those with most to lose. There’s a resurgence of the old ways of organising. Primitive gangs, powerful hierarchies of vested interests, corporates muscling their way in hold on to what they’ve got. We’re heading into the unknown but it’s our belief that people will take control and get actively involved. Many have predicted this new way of localised self-organising following on from a step-up in our consciousness.”  

 

There was a sudden rush with shouting and screaming. It was manic: children were rushing in, with horrific wounds; arms were missing, they were battered and bruised, cut up by knives; as if wounded from vicious street fighting. The games had come alive, the avatars were efficiently repaired and things began to settle down 

 

Maisie was back in the cave network with Jake.

 

“These fights between avatars online are easily handled but there are reports coming in of fights in reality,” explained Jake.

 

“Do you know anything about the groups of young people hanging out in central London?” Maisie asked.

 

“We know of gangs recruited by landlords to intimidate tenants.”

 

“So what is anyone doing about it?”  

 

“This and other violence from gangs, are challenges we anticipated. The technology can help here as well. The G5 networks with CCTV and sensors on every tree and lamppost are now enabling us, and the Police to monitor and record where there is conflict.”

 

“But what can be done about it?”

 

“With the financial system getting gummed up and the uncertainty in government we worry about the police. But it does seem to be working. There needs to be continuing flows of money to pay for public services to ensure they continue to do their job.”

 

“ There is a real risk of social breakdown?”  asked Maisie.

 

“In many ways it’s as expected. As problems arise people are getting involved with new responses. There are groups of volunteers, like angels getting involved to try and calm down things and show that the community wants to see peaceful ways to resolve things. As expected, some owners are reacting to not having their rent paid and are setting-on gangs to harass their private tenants and the courts to challenge their corporate clients. There are conciliation projects set up to try and amicably resolve disputes. Other groups are tackling the issue of contributing towards funding services”

 

“Many people must be losing out”

 

“Of course but ultimately we think everyone will gain but not in a material sense. We wanted this change as it’s a necessary reordering of society. We are already experiencing a domino effect with people organising themselves and joining in, taking control. It’s the new form of participation that we hoped to see with one group encouraging another, we can see that happening. Our next step is challenging people to keep the changes we’ve already made.” 

 

………

 

The Prime Minister of Finland is addressing the nation on TV, also picked up by the PH rolling programme of information:

 

“The minimum payment is a policy that we were planning to implement. The changes to the economic system in general will have an explosive effect on our institutions and on the structure of society. Many of these changes will be beneficial but the pace of change if it’s too quick could be devastating and destabilising.”

 

“This is about engaging and empowering people to take control of themselves and their communities. In this we wholeheartedly agree as it continues a seventy year experiment in the Nordic countries. As social democratic societies I think many of our systems operate locally and to a decentralised model. The more hierarchical societies where income and wealth is distributed more unequally have even more challenging times ahead.”

 

“We urge our political partners throughout Europe and the world to embrace these changes . It’s important to shift away from both free market liberalisation and centralised government and head towards a new partnership engaging the people we serve.”  

 

He’s joined by the EU President.

 

“From the very beginning of the EU we promoted and valued the idea that power comes from the individual upwards rather that the institutions downwards. These changes are in line with and will thoroughly test our adherence to those principles. At times we have lost our way and this provides a reset.

 

As a first step the EU will put all its efforts into supporting the localisation of our activities with the effective support of the regional and global networks. This will affect how we do business, the sharing out of our resources, the way we as politicians and government serve and interact with our citizens. This will not be easy as there will be a necessary reform of our institutions and members states.”   

 

The system interjects with a statement from Monbiot commenting on the work of the climate extinction movement from some years earlier in 2019.  

 

“Gradualist campaigns making small demands cannot prevent the gathering catastrophes of climate and ecological breakdown. Only mass political disruption, out of which can be built new and more responsive democratic structures, can deliver the necessary transformation.”

 

Clearly the PH system was finding quotations that supported its own approach and a big agenda.

 

……………………

Maisie’s family are sitting down to dinner, discussing the changes.

 

“ It’s worked out well. I’ve lost my job but life is better. We’ve found lots of empty ground for growing vegetables and selling the excess at the market. People are much more aware and save water and power, they reuse and re-cycle. I’m helping people with their money and most seem to be surviving on the minimum payments with little bits extra here and there. I wouldn’t have thought it possible in just a few months, but people really are adapting and pulling together,” said Simon. 

 

“There’s bound to be problems. How’s the finance side working, haven’t the banks just about collapsed?” Maisie was more challenging. As a reporter, her family provided insights.

 

“Retail bank services are working again and payments are being made, investments are in turmoil. The rich seem to have been most affected, as their activities are becoming so expensive, even for them,” countered, Simon. 

 

 “Aren’t there gangs roaming the streets?”

 

“I saw the Police dealing with some thugs and volunteers were helping out.” “We’re managing OK as a family?”

 

“Financially  it’s OK, admittedly we’ve had to restrict our spending and it does depend on me continuing to get work but quality of life has obviously improved for you. What about school?”

 

“We love it,” Rowan and Joe were almost in unison.

 

“We’re all involved in the school parliament. We  meet to discuss subjects and feed it into the main decisions. Teachers have changed the lessons. There’s more freedom and we’re more responsible. Everyone likes it,“ said Rowan.

 

“I was with the PHoenix people again this week, I’ve prepared another article. To continue with the changes people will have to get involved and make demands. That puts people on-the-spot, if they don’t, the whole thing might collapse. This next period is the most risky. I really hope it works. They’ve turned the tables and shown a different path. ”

 

“ Look at the TV now” shouted Joe. 

 

…………………….

 

“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one…. ”

 

There was a cascade of information, directly from PH, the Phoenix Movement, through the net and all means of broadcast, with John Lennon’s Imagine playing softly in the background.

 

At the bottom of the screen, operating like a ticker tape was a mix of quotes starting with “I have a dream” followed by statements from PH: 

 

You’ve seen the positive effect of the new monthly payment, want to keep it?…… get involved and make it happen…….. How are you going to use your time?…….You’ve seen debt and rent payments were cancelled…….. To keep these changes you need to get involved……. make your wishes known…… otherwise all will be lost……. The power is in your hands….. get involved and don’t complain……  let’s not lose it.”.

 

Finally a child’s voice spoke out:

 

“We’re in a mess of our own making and there is no excuse. We care less about our people, and those who share our global home. Our system doesn’t serve us all. Our institutions only serve the few and we recklessly damage our planet.” 

 

“But there is a solution”

 

“Phoenix have created a global network and harnessed technology to destabilise and disrupt our institutions and show new ways of organising. It’s now up to you. What’s holding you back? 

 

“Rise up. Rise up

 

Let’s fly.”

Screenshot 2019-08-26 at 08.00.00

 

Phoenix Coup: Part four

An awakening

Maisie, a journalist in the UK, is trying to find out who is behind the recent introduction of a minimum income and cancellation of debt throughout the world.  

………

“Good evening Naomi and thank you for joining us here at CNN.” announced Jake Tapper.

“Over the past few weeks we’ve seen unprecedented changes, what’s your take on this?“

“We’re going through a man made crisis. I’ve written about exactly this approach in my book Shock Doctrine. The examples I write about show how governments and their agencies create or use a natural crisis to reorder the economy.” 

“Why does this happen?”

“Mostly it’s to create a ‘freer’ market which has become known as neo-liberal. It usually involves a reduction in the role of government and leads to unhindered capitalism. Any crisis or period of unpredictability can be used to have a similar effect. War, change of government, natural disaster, all might be used to lead to these sorts of changes. It does mean more of the power, wealth and income gets concentrated amongst those that already have. It leads to greater inequality.” 

“You think this is the same?”

“Not exactly, the catalyst is present as there is a crisis. It has been created with the deletion of debt but these first announcements demonstrate that the objectives are different, more of a redistribution of money and power. Quite the opposite effect to the examples I write about.”

“But surely it can’t work?”

“Well, who knows? Usually a government and its agencies are behind it but that doesn’t seem to be the case in this situation.”

“So, it’s less likely to work?” 

“Maybe. Its success  will depend upon people taking the initiative and connecting with each other to help create the sort of society they wish to see.  We do need to work together to make things happen but a major question is whether vested interests can be managed and government institutions can adjust to be facilitators rather than just  seeing their role as telling us what to do.“

“Is this feasible?”

“Not if we carry on in the way we always have done. This does however seems different and may provide the opportunity many progressives have been working towards”

“Thank you Naomi, we all watch with bated breath”

I found this part of a recorded interview on CNN. I admired Naomi as someone who had highlighted the decades long right wing shift towards the free market and how governments had created the conditions to make those changes happen. She helped place what was happening now in some sort of context. I hoped she was right.  

…………

A few of my contacts had led to me meeting at a local cafe in my local area: Belvedere in South East London. I was led into the 60s concrete jungle of Thamesmead: a nearby public housing estate.

We entered one of the apartments on the estate and into a room full of computer equipment.

“Hello, I’m Jake and I will be your guide and support on this journey. Try on this helmet. Does it feel comfortable”

“Yes, thanks” 

I put on the most advanced head gear I’d ever seen for the ride of my life. Immediately I was in another world. My avatar, chosen for me by Jake, was a tiny ten year old me.He was now beside me as a small boy. This was realistic. It didn’t feel virtual at all.

I’ve passed through to the other side, crossed over the threshold. I’ve entered a cave and now in a tunnel passing through solid rock. We seem to be going down and down until we reach a place where the tunnel widens and the roof is raised. That was my way into the inner sanctum of the organisation who’s behind the worldwide payments and  cancellation of debt. My introduction into this ‘brave new world’.

It’s as big as a cathedral. 

Thousands of children, avatars of activists from around the world, are sitting in small animated groups. The room is roughly hewn out of rock with daylight throughout but I can’t find the source of the light. The walls are twinkling with what looks like diamonds and rubies glittering in the rock. The nearest I’ve come to this before is Diwali in Varanasi, the ancient city in north India on the river Ganges when they place hundreds of thousands of small pottery oil lamps on the ghats leading down to the river.

It was a special as that. A feast for the eyes. 

Slowly the chattering ceased. It came to some sort of order. Individuals were given space and they spoke up. It felt like an organisation reporting back to its assembled member.

“It was wonderful to see, people were coming out in the streets and celebrating.”

“The first stage of the announcements and the response from the communities has been really positive.” 

“Can we have a report from the ‘caps’?” someone in a leadership role is bringing a little order to the meeting requiring an update from the technologists.

“I’m Jason from the US. The implementation of our technology plan has worked surprisingly well to ensure the personal payments are made and that the debt payments are halted.”

“Our infiltrators, the sleepers, the tempered radicals in all sorts of organisations have been critical to our success.” Jake told me this was a member from Brazil.

“Where were there difficulties?” That same leader spoke again, I later found out it was Erwin from the Philippines.

“The state machinery, in China, has blocked payments in some but not all locations. We’ve used some of the alternative technologies to help inform people what’s happening elsewhere.” 

“What happened in Hong Kong?”

“It’s going like a dream.”

“So as we expected, it’s technologically very challenging with some governments creating barriers but the responses from people has been largely positive.” Jason spoke again.

“There are constant attempts to identify us but our organic decentralised ways of working, our false trails, our ebb and flow, are a great help.”

“As predicted many institutions are close to collapse”

“Your approach as activists have been superb, showing great leadership. We now need to encourage the ‘first followers’ and the ones that pass on messages, the ‘mavens’, the ones who are going to take it forward, to encourage their own groups, families, networks to get involved. They in turn will mobilise other people.” 

“We can now begin to reveal who we are.”

“You’ve all received briefings and videos. Let’s get out there and encourage people to realise this is a golden opportunity.” 

“It’s critical that people learn to appreciate this and begin to take action themselves. Only then will they be in a position to respond when we make our next announcements and we begin to see conflict and the traditional leaders trying to take back control.”

“With effect from today we’re now beginning to share information through our networks and with the media. Press contacts from around the world are watching and listening in on this meeting. It’s partly why we’ve unusually come together in this way.”

Comments were coming fast and furious from all directions but individuals didn’t speak over each other. There were clearly some people who were taking a more prominent role but it was usually difficult to know who they were in reality.

“We’re sending out masses of information about what’s possible. This includes: examples of our world-wide experiments of self management who have started to organise themselves to make electricity, provide health and social services, grow food, all the building blocks of a new people-centred way.” 

“The online exchange systems are up and running so people can supplement their local informal markets with a wider distribution of products, food and services.” Jason again.

“It’s now down to you to meet people and share our stories. We’ve already proven we can successfully make fundamental changes. We must help them realise this is an opportunity to change the world to make it a better place for us, for future generations and to save the planet.”

“Why not paint your own mind picture of what that world will look like. This is mine…

Imagine a patchwork quilt, each patch of the quilt is a different design, which represents a project that helps people grow produce, care for each other, make power, dispose of waste, do things that are necessary for life, the patches are stitched together through our care for each, through our contacts, our understanding, our values, our stories and when we need it, the technology.” Which came from what looked like a six year old girl sitting next to my main contact Jake, who’d got me here. He explained later that she was Millie from somewhere in Europe and was one of the original group of people that started the organisation.”  

“It’s about being old and new, traditional and modern, we’ll use what works. It’s people focused and human scale, we create a narrative that turns things topsy turvy, localised, small scale, connected together based on respect, and compassion that derives from seeing things from the other’s point of view.“ a great contribution from a young girl from South Africa. I noticed she was wearing insignia. As were many others in the room, wearing small badges, patches, pins with the letters PH.

Ok that’s probably a bit too philosophical for some but it’s critical that we win people over and  we take action. Our recent activity and announcements haven’t been able to create a clean slate, it’s not possible to do that, we follow patterns that have been laid down for millennia, we can however stop, think, reflect and above all challenge. We want  to  create new ways to do things.

“Any questions?”

There were Lots…

“So thank you and well done, it’s already been a tremendous success and while this is going to be a difficult step we know we can do it……” again from the six-year old next to Jake.

They all leave the room and the jewels in the walls seem to dim!

I’m led away by Jake down a tunnel also hewn out of stone. We pass various rooms set up for training; one with old computers down to a wonderful opening providing a vista over the deep blue sea where we sit and talk.

“So Jake thanks for bringing me here, why me and why now?”

“Well, with respect, we didn’t want one of the big names in journalism, we wanted someone with a bit more humility, with a good knowledge of the capability of networked technologies and how empowering they can be. In general though we’re now quite happy to share our information. The child avatars who you saw at the meeting are our activists who will now be reaching out to the media and meeting people in public and through their friends and families, community, business and government organisations.”

“What’s your aim?” 

“We want people to realise that they have the power within themselves to take charge of their lives and create organisations that are better suited to them and their needs. We want to engage people in changing society in ways that suits them. We want to create a situation and provide the tools for people to take charge and change things for themselves.”

“That’s a tall order.” 

“Yes it is, but if we don’t think big, or are too fearful to dream then it’ll definitely not happen.”

“The announcements and those direct changes are a catalyst for change, we’ve got information available from around the world of different ways of organising that people could adopt, adapt and change for their own locality, family and community.”

“If we manage to get a few steps in the direction that we want it’ll have been a success because it will snowball.”

“Who’s behind it all?”

“You saw them in today’s meeting. A movement of thousands of people from around the world represented by the avatars in the meeting room or accessing via the twinkles in the wall”

“White Hat hackers?”

“We rely on strong technological expertise and disrupting established systems. This is a major part of our work. There’s white, black, red, grey, hats… hackers of the world have also united but hackers isn’t the term we prefer. They work together to create something positive. A new form of capital that interconnects people. It’s more like what was envisaged in the early days of the net and the web. We jokingly call them the caps — it’s more their sort of headwear, baseball, cricket, flat caps — it takes all sorts, some are independents, others 5th columnists working for our movement as well as the big corporations, government. We’re everywhere.”

“We passed a training room with old computers. Why when you are so technologically advanced?”

“We use different networks to pass on information and keep changing it so that we’re difficult to track down, one is the old Fidonet Bulletin Board Network based on the internet but pre-dates the web.” 

“Who are the leaders and how is it all organised?”

“We’re in self-managed groups that are networked together. It’s exactly the type of future way of organising that we think will work.  It’s a flat structure.

Just Like Bruce Lee’s water, we get everywhere, forming and evolving, if necessary disappearing with no obvious leaders, we try to be fast and flat, fleet of foot, with a strong sense of both individual and collective responsibility. Critically, we’re not centrally managed.”

“So why are all the avatars children?”

”It reflects our open to anything, positive attitude, not jaded or cynical. In real life, when we’re not online, all the people you saw in the meet and those accessing through the sparkles in the wall come from all walks of life, genders, ages, political persuasions. Reflects our boundless enthusiasm, our innovative nature and helps us spot infiltrators.

We’re a many headed, big friendly monster. We’re an open church. It needs to appeal to as many as possible for it to work. Generally we’re difficult to label and often not left or right. Many of our early adopters did come from a left wing background but they’ve managed to move on from their authoritarian tendencies. We have a fair number of tempered radicals.” Those who want to rock the boat and stay in it. 

“I know the concept, I have one at home. In the meeting, many of the children wore badges. What does PH stand for on the badges the children were wearing and and on the logos in the training rooms?”

“We’re PH, originally our shortened version for Phoenix, but as usual with this slightly anarchic set up, many have their own witty alternatives. PH balance, getting under your skin, acid eroding the institutions that enslave us.”

“What next?”

“The whole thing is of course a gamble but this has been an immense underground effort  over many years. It’s evolved through online networks across the world. 

The next stage will be really scary. It’s in two parts. The vested interests will get more active when the landlords stop getting their rent paid  and then shortly afterwards we’ll explain to people that the only way these things will continue is if they take advantage of new ways of organising and actually take control.”

“Is that feasible?”

“We believe it is and it’s our only chance. Campaigns and demonstrations have had limited impact. If we don’t realise that our institutions are enslaving us and that we are destroying our home, leading to a complete collapse, we have no future. So we have taken it upon ourselves to reveal a positive way forward for people to adopt, adapt and take control.” 

…………

I’ve now written a piece for the Guardian, which covers this story. Here’s the gist of it: 

“For many years a global underground movement has planned a series of actions to create instability in the way we organise ourselves and our global institutions by introducing a minimum payment and cancelling debt. Its intended to appeal to people and to lead to a collapse of many of our institutions.  There are more planned interventions. This man-made crisis is intended to reorder our systems, in the process empowering people to take over and manage themselves.

The planned next stage of what the organisers have called a people’s coup, is for activists to approach the public in the street or online to explain where this will lead and what they can do to get involved themselves.” 

……

“Good Morning. Can you spare a few minutes? I’m not selling anything or asking for donations. It’s about cancelling the debt and the new monthly payments. 

What do you think about it?”

“I think it’s wonderful but why is it happening?”

“I’m from PH, the people who have helped organise it. We’re showing that our government and business are doing a poor job and there are better ways to organise things.”

“I’m in support of that.”

“Great, we now need people to get involved to help it all continue. Please take one of our leaflets  explaining why this has happened and how you can get involved.

PH activists were already out in the street. They were drawing people in, to check the factsheets, visit the online videos describing the different experiments, encouraging people to adopt and adapt them to their own needs and situations.

………………

It was a mixed blessing for my family.

“Mum”

“Yes love”

“I’m worried,” Joe was close to tears.

“Why, what’s happened?”

“ The world’s going crazy; is Dad going to lose his job?”

“I agree. It is worrying. Partly because we’re unsure about what’s happening and whether it will be good or bad. I’m certain it will be a bit of both. Dad’s job is already affected but look at him. I don’t think I’ve seen him so happy for a long time.”

“That’s true, he’s got a bunch of new friends and we see more of him.”

“ As a family we’ve always been good at adapting and making the best out of things. As we get older, it happens more and more. Remember when Grandpa died?”

“I was sad.”

“Of course you were, we all were and what did we do, that was good?”

“We found lots of good things to remind us of him, photos, tickets, video, shared stories, made a scrap book and we had a party on his birthday.” 

 

“Exactly, it was sad but it was important to celebrate his life and remind each other of the good memories. Everything is a mix of good and bad. Some things will stay the same, others will change. It would be pretty boring otherwise. Don’t you think?”

“But what will happen? Everyone is talking about it. People say the banks will close, Government will stop working, there might be more crime, who will pay the Police? I want things to stay as they are, we have a good life.”

“You’re very mature, aware and sensitive for your age Joe,. I’m so impressed with you. We don’t know what will happen. Many people are very happy with the new payments and not having to repay their debt. Don’t you think?”

“Yes, that’s good”

“As a family we’ve already begun to see the positive side and do new things. You’re right though it will affect many people’s jobs, it will be difficult to get such a range of things in the shops and we’ll have to adapt. We will always be here for each other. Thanks for coming to tell me. Promise me you’ll continue sharing what you think with your mum. Give me a big hug.I love you” 

“Love you, mum”

By contrast. 

Simon was now working half time, I’m not sure what there was to do when at work but he was busy for the rest of the time: growing food in the garden, and running money advice sessions, with a difference, at the local community centre. He’s a new man. Creating a great network, finding out where we can get the food we need as many of the international stores were having stocking problems. It’s making us think more locally as many things are limited. We were having to cut our cloth and it was already changing our lives.

……

Rowan was creating her own revolution.

“What do you think of this email?” Rowan had gathered together a group of friends and circulated a draft.

‘How can we improve the way the school parliament, Meeting in Room 102 on Tuesday. Bring your packed lunch.

If you’re unable to attend or wish to send questions or suggestions beforehand post them on the intranet.

Our representatives do an important job. But does parliament represent our views? Can it work better in understanding and representing our interests? Are there ways we can all get more involved?’

They all agreed to circulate the invitation. Next day Rowan’s group reconvened. 

Rowan, again was in charge: “I’ve circulated the email and I think its been very popular. We’ve had hundreds of responses, confirming they want to attend, suggesting items for discussion and listing changes they want to see.”

“How cool is that,” said Poppy.

“Will we all fit in the room?”  Fay was, as always, the practical one.

“Good point. Let’s rearrange the meeting to be in the hall.” 

“ We need someone to chair it and a few to make notes.“

“I’ll chair,” says Rowan. “Poppy, James and Jen can you take notes then put them all together?” 

“ Can we video it?”

“Jon?”

“all sorted, see you at the meeting” declares Rowan

“We’re not at all happy about how School Parliament is working, so we have submitted a list of suggestions and asked them to provide a response within seven days after their next meeting. These are: listing what they’ve achieved, making Parliament more participative with open meetings and subjects to be discussed posted beforehand, weekly open meetings and on specific subject areas, action groups to make recommendations from areas of concern delegated by parliament and take action. And finally, all physical meetings to have online discussion groups so that everyone at school had the opportunity to participate. We’ll see what happens next.”

 

The effect of this PH campaign is affecting all of us.

………….

I’m back in Thamesmead at Jake’s apartment with my headgear on. I’m on a virtual magic carpet visiting self managed experiments around the world. 

I first want to visit and experience businesses organising things differently. 

First stop was in Holland. There was a useful narrative: “Many community nurses are organised through self-managed teams. They provide home based nursing to help people live independent lives. The team allocates the caseload, provide professional support, decide whether to expand, bring in advisors as and when necessary but decisions are held within the local team. The result has been a high quality service that actually reduces the nursing care required.”  

I think that self-organisations of professionals seems easier somehow. What about a blue collar more industrial business?  

Next was in France to a small family owned business that’s around seventy years old. “It’s a brass foundry that makes components for car gear boxes. Small self managed teams focus on a specific client, a car manufacturer, and are responsible for  customer relations, production and quality. The reliance on a central management function and specialists is minimal with no human resources advisors or sales team”.

“The teams are left to get on with things themselves and allowed a very significant amount of autonomy. This results in better quality performance and high levels of satisfaction and motivation.”

The prepared script falls into the dark dark pit of management speak but they mean well and I recognise they are trying to reach out to a very diverse range of people.   

The official line from PH is that they are featuring these successful businesses as better ways of organising things, with greater decentralisation meaning people are happier and more fulfilled. The businesses seem to be successful.

PH have distributed examples of community organisations, locally generated electricity, decentralised government, welfare services, you name it, it’s covered. Every type of function whether it’s business, government or charity is available. It’s almost a wiki-action.

I’m still on my magic carpet and even here there’s an interruption… 

All rental payments are to stop.

This was another announcement broadcast via the net on radio and TV, virtual reality..… 

This is going to put the cat amongst the pigeons.

Screenshot 2019-08-26 at 08.00.00

The Phoenix Coup: Part One

‘Same shit, different day’ I saw written on a badge attached to another passenger’s bag.  I was joining a SriLankan Airlines flight from Colombo to Chennai.

 Just five days later I was back home in London.

Little was I to know how life would become so incredibly different, not at all the ‘same shit.’

I’m Maisie, a freelance reporter covering just about anything and everything. I’d just been in South India and Sri Lanka for the U.K. Guardian newspaper, researching for travel articles.

My antennae were twitching, something was happening, I could feel it in the air.

It was an astonishing day that no one could have predicted. It would take some time to sink in but it would set us all reeling.

As a reporter my approach is to search things out, get under the skin,  help give people a voice I love to challenge the established order, so here’s my take on it.

Over the last few years we’ve become more familiar with the idea of constant change and unpredictability with one crisis after another. Today’s change was a different order of magnitude and was, in my view, positive. Not what we’d come to expect at all. It all began with something that seemed quite simple. The impact would be profound.

 It was an ordinary workday morning. The kids were up, rushing around as usual, then off to cycle to school on an organised cycle ‘train’. Simon, my husband, had already left for work at the bank.

I was due to do desk work, search the net and cover a slowly evolving story about corrupt politicians. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

That afternoon there was an announcement via the net, on the radio and on TV. For some time now politicians in Finland and other countries have been toying with the idea of providing every citizen with a minimum weekly payment regardless of their personal situation or work. It’s called all sorts of things but usually Universal Basic Income / UBI or Guaranteed Basic Income. Many countries had experimented, but not implemented it on any scale.

The announcement pointed out that we in the UK, in the fourth biggest economy in the world, was to introduce this very idea with immediate effect.

Fascinating. We’d had no prior knowledge that this was actually planned. No discussions or  announcements from the Government, nothing. 

I checked with my contacts. They didn’t believe this was coming from the UK Government. How was this possible? Maybe it was a hoax. 

The online communities, the cyber street corners, the dialogue of the ether, woke up. It was startling. It was almost as if all the lights in a major metropolis had been switched on. But it also, instantly, reached out to the suburbs, the villages, the farms.

Pretty quickly it was apparent that it had spread throughout the net. We often could see and track videos, memes, chat going viral with the latest news but this was different. It seemed to permeate every cyber street corner and the scale was enormous. 

It wasn’t just in the UK.

The very same policy of a flat income regardless of need, employment, whatever, was available to everyone throughout Europe and north America. It was incredibly consistent.

Hang on a minute, there’s more coming in via the net.

It was also the hot topic throughout South East Asia, Japan, and South Korea. This was astonishing.

I just might be going out on a limb here but I reckon politicians are renowned the world over for their selfishness and short term thinking. They represent acute levels of disorganisation and seem to be completely unable to create effective sustainable partnerships. They just can’t keep secrets.

So what is this and how could it happen? Coordinated action, at the same instant, through half the economies in the world. This is incredible, I’d never experienced anything like it.

I wanted to know more. I was on the hunt. 

I checked with my most trusted colleagues from around the world. I delved deeper into my own very informal, alternative online community networks that I built, slowly and carefully over the years to help me put stories together and to ensure they stood up. 

Exactly the same announcement was made in Russia, China, and North Korea. The same everywhere. A direct payment in the local currency.

Astounding. How? Who? What would this mean? Could it be true. I checked my bank account.There was a payment into my account exactly as announced.

I hadn’t noticed the time passing in all the excitement. The kids were back after a day at school. Simon would be early tonight and would be back home an hour later.

We’re quite a liberal family. We work from home whenever we can. We get great support from Simon’s mother whenever I had to go away on an investigation. We were trying to achieve a decent work life balance.  

So it might be earth shattering news but boundaries are boundaries. It was time for me to leave the work alone, put away the computer and switch on quality time for the kids.

“Hi, guys, how was today?”

“The usual stuff, but science was the best, really cool looking at our bodies. Did you know that we have more than one brain?” Rowan had a clear leaning to the technical side of things.

“Really?”

“Three in fact, obviously not exactly the same but they help us control our body in completely different ways. We spent ages on the gut, it affects absolutely everything and some scientists say it’s just as important as the brain in our head. How cool is that?” Rowan was clearly enthusiastic.

“Does that affect  what we should eat?” I was concerned, this might lead to more lectures at meal times.

“More than that, what we eat, how we live, the stress we feel.”

“Thanks Rowan…”

“We’re putting together a show of dance, music and skits.” Joe was altogether different and very artistic.

“When will the show be? we’d love to the there. What are you doing?” 

“I’ll know next week”

“Cool”

That is so good. Too many schools have let that sort of activity go and focussed too much on academic subjects. I’m so pleased that we’ve found a school that keeps it up and of course manages to keep both of you very interested. and enthusiastic.

“Do you have much homework this evening? OK to fit it in after dinner? I’ve prepared that cheesy rice, cauliflower thing.”

“Yep”, suspiciously in unison.

“Great, lets grab a snack and take Sally for a walk.” 

We live in the suburbs. Way back it was a village but it had now been taken over by the big smoke of London. We have a great park nearby and the canal and its wonderful tow path. Sally expects a walk after school, in fact she’ll peacefully growl and stare if we don’t, at exactly 4.00.

As we walk there is something in the air. I must be imagining it, but people do seem to have a skip in their step, a smile on their face, Oh my God they’re even greeting each other.

Surely it’s not down to that announcement?

It would have a dramatic impact for millions of people, not least those families experiencing real poverty.

Later, after dinner, the kids had said goodnight and retreated to their rooms. Simon and I got a little time together to discuss the strange events of the day. He’s a banker and so will have solid insights into what’s happened today.

“So what’s your take on all this?” 

 

Note: revised on 28th August 2019