Friday, October 26, 2012

Share the revolution

The earth’s ecological problems stem largely from the failure to share. The principle of sharing has always formed the basis of social relationships in societies across the world. We all know from personal experience that sharing is central to family and community life, and the importance of sharing. There exists a growing body of anthropological and biological evidence that human beings are naturally predisposed to cooperate and share in order to improve our collective wellbeing and maximise our chances of survival.

In fact, sharing is far more prevalent in society than people often realise. Charities and co-operatives, self-help and mutual aid organisations abound. We have collaborative knowledge sharing websites like Wikipedia and many other forms of peer2peer information technology.

Ecological chaos, poverty and inequality are related outcomes of an ill-managed world capitalist system. Given the urgency why are we still failing to manage the world’s resources in a more sustainable way? Every year, numerous international conferences take place and endless reports are published but the international community has not managed to remedy the problems we face. Nothing seems to change. We are unable to overcome the vested interests.  For too long, governments have put profit and growth before the welfare of all people and the sustainability of the biosphere.

Given the scale of the task ahead it is impossible at this stage for socialists to put forward a blueprint of the specific policies and actions we need to take. But in order to inspire support for transformative change, it is imperative that we outline a vision of how and why changes to production and distribution should be based firmly on the principle of sharing. The first element is for the community to recognise that natural resources form part of our shared commons, and is for the benefit of all. Humanity has to move away from today’s private and state ownership models, and towards a new form of resource management based on non-ownership. Common ownership would embody the principle of sharing on a global scale, and it would enable the all communities to take collective responsibility for managing the world’s resources. Currently, the world still lacks a broad-based acceptance of the need for planetary reconstruction. Without a global movement of ordinary people that share a collective vision of change, it will remain impossible to overcome the influence of the vested interests of the capitalist class.

How will change happen? The historic recent events of 2011 provided concrete evidence of the potential power of a united ‘people’s voice’. The world witnessed millions of people in diverse countries declaring their needs and highlighting issues of social and economic inequality, greed, financial corruption and the undue influence of corporations on government. In city squares across the developed world, Occupy, the Indignados and a host of other people’s movements focused the world’s media on the plight of the ‘99%’ and gained widespread public support in the process. The Arab Spring demonstrated the power of public opinion. The rapid spread of these mass movements reflected a growing recognition of humanity’s unity and propensity to share, and paid testimony to the power of a united struggle. The next step is a planetary Tahrir Square.

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