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What's next is defined by what we want

November 30, 2011

True democracies need open public spaces, that are shared, where people can meet as equals, writes John Keane in The Life and Death of Democracy. It is no surprise then that we see the square recently as the symbol of a free society Tahrir Square for example. Seumas Milne, writes

The strong likelihood that neither the Egyptian army nor anyone else is going to be able to halt this process where it is, nor prevent a far deeper democratic transformation and settling of accounts with the old regime. This is not some phoney western-backed “colour revolution”, after all, swapping one elite for another with a stage army made for TV. The evidence of the scale of popular self-organisation and collective commitment reflects a profound social process that is unlikely to be derailed before it has delivered much more radical change. That will have a global as well as a domestic impact, and not only because of the impetus it has given to opposition forces across the region. The greater the democratic cleansing of an economically parasitic regime dependent on foreign support, the more a country that has been the pivot of western power in the Middle East is likely to take an independent course.

Through the open squares, that were once upon a time, only symbols of people-power today are the medium by which the powerful begin to feel the pinch of the powerless. Yes, digital technologies played a role, speak-to-tweet, twitter, mobile communications, Facebook as tools for organisation. But its the people in the streets that are visceral, that force into consciousness the fact the people want back their public squares.

Something that we see today in the #ows #occupy movement. There is a moral outrage that may be hard to deflect. Growing frustration of the 1% not understanding the morality of enough, which is connected to some hard truths about the bailout of the banking system in the US, and the UK means a public lie has become a public truth. Bloomberg (Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress) in a serious piece on the epic failure of the banks writes,

A fresh narrative of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 emerges from 29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions. While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.

The total bailout to the banks $7.77 Trillion.

And in Britain today 2 million people the biggest general strike in a generation are all asking the same question. What does next look like? And why is it that we the disadvantaged must collectively share the yoke?

In No Straight Lines; making sense of our non-linear world I argue, in the face of institutional failure, we are renegotiating the power relationships of how we want to live, work, govern, and that communication tools that are low cost and widespread will be used as tools for political change.

In the age of networked communications, we are witness to something of a ‘Gestalt Switch’ which makes us think differently about how we perceive power and who wields it’. This is a universal ideal and not one linked to any particular region. And why is this relevant to business? Because this is the space in which for the foreseeable future you will have to operate in. We as a society want these things.

WHAT DO WE WANT?

4 things you need to understand?

  1. Its not business as usual
  2. There is a growing grassroots populist sense of ‘outrage’
  3. That communication tools can be and will be used powerful political tools for change
  4. That the HumanOS demands a different type of world
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