Sunday, August 29, 2010

What's the best path towards a better world?

Every time I meet new people they ask me about the Multitude Project. After giving them updates about the movement and our activities they almost inevitably bring up the problem of social change. Is real change possible? Is it worth the fight? Is every system equally corruptible?

How to initiate real, positive social change? This question has followed me for years. I think I have an answer, and I would dearly like to get your opinion on it.

My solution is to offer people value, for themselves, their families, as well as for their communities. If the process through which they must go in order to acquire this value goes against the established order we have a wining formula for positive social change. 

More and more individuals and groups will be naturally drawn towards the new alternatives, simply because they constitute value for them. As the new order (established by a system of new alternatives) becomes increasingly populated, the old order gradually becomes abandoned. The weight of society gradually and naturally shifts from the old society to the new. This is what I call a CONSTRUCTIVE REVOLUTION. There are many instances of such revolutions in human history, for example the Industrial Revolution. I contrast this with the type of radical and sudden change that characterized the Bolshevik Revolution, where one order was demolished first, to be replaced by a new, untested one. A constructive revolution is in essence a metamorphosis process. It is a gradual shift in human resources from an old set of processes to a new one, one that can provide more (hopefully in a more sustainable manner) for the same effort. 

At this moment, everyone involved in the multitude movement, either knowingly or not, is working hard to propose and to build alternatives that are based on a different paradigm, and which constitute a real source of value for every individual, and particularly for the creative and hard working ones among us. In more concrete terms, I am referring to those individuals who created and are involved in maintaining and improving the Internet; democratic and p2p infrastructures for communication, for massive collaboration and coordination; affordable tools for data analysis, automation, decision-making, etc. This includes these individuals who gave us Linux, Wikipedia, Wikileaks, Twitter, alternative currencies (see Cyclos), peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding, the infrastructure for networks of local and sustainable food production and distribution, Connexion, personal energy production, value networks... 

These people embracing the values embedded within the Multitude Movement are not agitators driven by some abstract cause. They are working hard to provide people with whatever they need RIGHT NOW to insure their survival: education, affordable energy, new forms of transportation, of communication, etc. 

What I am proposing are new institutions! 

Human beings are malleable, they have a tremendous ability to adapt to changing conditions and circumstances. I grew up in Ceausescu's Romania and I spent my first 14 years witnessing first-hand how institutions change and how people change with them. Institutions reinforce social patterns and shape relations between individuals in society. 

People inherently respond to institutions by adaptation. The state may induce a nationalistic mentality and corporations induce a corporate mentality. An institution is not a building. It is a process by which a set of constraints and incentives shapes human relations and interactions, and forges culture. By changing these constraints/incentives people will also change, re-adapt to the new environment. The alternatives we propose help establish a different set of constraints/incentives. We hope that enough people will adopt them to become mainstream, thus changing our entire culture. There are enough individuals out there who are naturally compatible with the system we propose to spark the fire... In fact the fire is already burning and growing.

Are YOU involved in the creation, improvement, maintenance of democratic and popular systems which allow peer-to-peer exchange of any sort? Then YOU ARE PART OF THE MULTITUDE MOVEMENT. 

Please visit our homepage, you might find yourself at home there.

By t!b!