Manifesto

This manifesto aims to inspire and unite civil movements all over the world, starting from the ‘old world’, cradle of modern civilization. Civil movements that transform our societies suffering from unsustainable ecological footprint and rising harmful economic inequalities, into sustainable ones that really prosper ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité’. It suggests ideas/inspiration/action organized along three historical guidelines for transformation:

  • Emancipation of citizens;
  • Democratization of our economies;
  • Inclusion of all citizens to prosper within our economies.

Diversity, connectivity and flexibility be pursued, since studies of economic and ecological systems show that these are success factors in common.

Preface

This page holds the main part of a manifesto to sustain bottom-up movements (existing as well as future movements) of European citizens, starting from the Netherlands, and preferably ink spot spreading around the globe. It refers by hyperlinking to other pages on this website as well as to external sources and elaborations. It contains an analysis made out of conducted studies in economics, philosophy and history, that started around 2009. Therefor this page contains an overview of thoughts to inspire fellow citizens to lead ourselves into constructing durable solutions to the fundamental problems of our time.

It was then, 2009, as a newbie self-employed worker, Jan Maarten Fernig was suddenly granted the time to study the phenomenon that granted him that time. That is, the crises of 2008 followed by the great recession, resulting in chances of new paid work heavily deteriorated. He chose not to spend valuable time into acquisition of new work, instead invested into transforming his household into energy neutral, and profoundly studied causes and underlying societal structures of that crises as he understood it was expected to have an impact for maybe even decennials on. All this inspired him to initiate A New Deal at the start of 2017.

As the half of fellow European Citizens master English at any level above any other shared language, this manifesto is kick-off using this language. And as this page (and its surrounding ones) only can bear digitized communication, it is the intention to stretch the spectrum through life performances, presentations, workshops, theatrical/musical expressions and so on.

We are happy and proud to present this vision and its attributing pages around it to all our fellow citizens and invite all of you to share and contribute in any way. Please do not spare us your criticism nor your acclamation. And, above all, feel free to paste, copy, translate, elaborate and publish, and to use this material in any way you feel appropriate to communicate, meeting the conditions described at the bottom of each page.

Preamble

We, citizens of Europe, formulate and propose a New Deal: of our fellow citizens, by our fellow citizens, for our fellow citizens. This proposal is subject to advancing insight, additions and changes as we see fit, and a wide range of communication modes and channels as to reach as many of our fellow citizens and offer a platform as open as possible to contributions from and understanding by our fellow citizens. Its main purpose is to transform our economies and surrounding societies into economies that prosper all our fellow European citizens, in a way we, citizens of Europa, see desired and fit.

Three historical guidelines of transformation to restructure our societies

We propose to organize A New Deal of, by and for European Citizens into three guidelines (yellow), as each contributes historically significant to the improvement of quality of human life over time:

Legend
  • Money, it’s a gas! – upper left – A line in the musical work Money, composed and performed by Pink Floyd.
  • Break On Through (To the Other Side) – in between yellow arrows – Title of a musical work composed and performed by The Doors. The Doors got their name from prophetic artist William Blake: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”.
  • To love, and be loved in return – down middle right – The message and closing line of the musical work Nature Boy by George Alexander Aberle, offered to and first performed by Nat King Cole.

We expect these guidelines to reinforce each other. Each one has its own distinctive contribution, which can be reinforced by any of the other two. We explain this for each area, as we describe conjunction with each of the others in detail, alongside each guideline characteristics and examples.

Emancipate to escape consumerism and build citizen collectives

Authentic needs, organizing power, understanding basic economic roles (customer, supplier, investor). {elaborate on separate page}

Democratize our economies to overcome capital versus labour

Democracy @ work, worker co-ops. {elaborate on separate page}

Create a citizens dividend to share wealth at a basic level

Basic income. {elaborate on separate page}

What do we need a New Deal for?

In 2008 a new grave and worldwide financial crisis struck and economies of all developed countries over the world slowed down into the great recession, nephew to the great depression that was ignited by the financial crisis of 1929. The great recession provoked mass protest movements (e.g. Occupy Wallstreet) during 2011, and by 2013 a french economist by the name of Thomas Piketty published an impressive data analysis on wealth and income inequality (Le Capital au XXIe siècle – Capital in the Twenty-First Century). By that time, Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett already had published research on the correlation between income inequality and growing social problems (The Spirit Level).

A deeper analysis found that a correlating factor is found in diminishing trust among members of the society in scope. Diminishing trust in between its members, as well as in between members and societies institutions. To the extent that this trust is recognized as the main binding factor (cement) of societies, the stability of our societies is at stake. Furthermore, the large deprivation and social problems of the masses that accompany extreme economic inequality during the great depression are commonly acknowledged as a breeding ground for national socialism’s aggression, that climaxed into WW II.

As for the resemblances of the great recession compared to the great depression, one may suspect there may be some relevant fundamentals in our economies at work, and an analysis of these fundamentals may inspire durable solutions. In this context, a typical exception to the rule is also at hand. This concerns the growing of our economies during roughly 3 decades after WW II (45 – 75), during which the majority of its participants, that is both labor providers and providers of capital, have prospered. Outside this window of ‘equal’ opportunities, capitalism (as well as feudalism and slavery) has for as long as it exists been criticized for unequal distribution of benefits, obligations and burdens. After the intense shaking up of ideologies by the extreme explosions of violence of WW II, modern economic thinking may have been lulled by a capitalist system showing the extraordinary ‘Golden Age of Capitalism‘. And ideologies build on this face have gotten a grip, in which serious cracks became visible only from 2008 and then.

Nature of the extraordinary ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’

After WW II 2 exceptional conditions co-existed in a very rare simultaneity:

  1. There was a lot of work at hand as the war destroyed major parts of infrastructure and supply chains to fulfill basic needs. Investing in activities to reconstruct were almost certain to yield high returns.
  2. There was a shortage in labor providers, as among the most productive ones large numbers were disabled or lost live on the battle fields and in sacrificed cities. Because of their relatively low numbers providers of labor were in a strong negotiating position.

As high returns and need for reconstruction coexisted, providers of capital (private and public) were very willing to invest and created large employment in the process. Learning to use their strong position, scarce labor providers were able to negotiate growing wages, which were spend largely directly in their economies, creating new changes for good returns on investments in additional supply chains for more and new products and services, creating new employment, and so on. This lasted until roughly the mid of the 70’s, as by that time, a few fundamental changes enter the economic stages:

  • Completion of the reconstruction leading into overproduction (consumerism). By this time, reconstruction of all infrastructure and supply chains were completed, as well as new infrastructure and supply chains were largely completed to fulfill higher than basic needs. During the 50’s investors started hiring professional research to influence consumers into buying marginally enhanced products and services, to prolong capital returns of the self-owned supply chains.
  • Large numbers of labor providers entered the internal markets. These are mainly the post war born people (the baby boom) and women (second wave feminism).
  • Technology driven replacement of human labor by greater mechanization, automation and, later, robotization. New jobs emerge (in technology). But the ratios of wages to profits can only be in favor of profits, as providers of capital are in charge of the decisions.
  • Opening borders for trade and capital flows around the globe (globalization). Growing numbers of low wage labor providers became available by (temporary) immigration and offshoring. Offshoring is sustained by information technology and rationalized logistics, overseas as well as over land.

These factors then undo the exceptional co-existing conditions of the post war economies, and capitalism slowly returns to its nature as under regular conditions, returning the upper hand to providers of capital. In addition, the internal economic growing inflation resulting from unrestrained leverage of providers of labor over providers of capital during the 70’s, incentivized providers of capital to take these opportunities.

Behavior during regular conditions

In capitalism (as well as in slavery and feudalism) only a small group of providers of capital (and/or land and/or military) have existed all the time up and including nowadays. On the other hand, and during regular conditions, large numbers of labor providers have always been at hand. Using contemporary technologies (from the agricultural age on), only small numbers of providers of labor are needed to fulfill the basic needs of providers of capital as well as the labor providers employed. Therefor, labor providers enter economies structurally from a worse negotiating position than providers of capital, as everyone needs to fulfill basic needs to survive. This leads to the majority of the problems that critics of capitalism point out.

Thus, the powers that be are regularly in the hands of a few, and most members of society depend on the willingness of the few to help them out, on almost every level of existence. But history also shows a precarious balance exists in maintaining power. From the standard examples of the French and Russian revolutions (but history provides many more and even more recent as The Arab Spring), it is clear that the few in power sometimes do (and therefor can) go too far. These examples show that when at risk of losing live by being deprived in fulfilling basic needs, the many may risk their lives as well in violent resistance and create a change to survive against any odds. Revolutions that succeed have in common collaboration of the ones factual exercising power with their fellow labor providers, as policing and military labor forces turn against their employers and join their families and friends.

Tested alternatives

As for the tested alternatives to capitalism, socialism and communism and to some extent enlightened dictatorial regimes, the following observations can be made.

  • Communism yields proven high results in under developed economies. Both Russian and China’s examples show a fast improvement in living standards for the mass of people. Also, both examples start off with a vast majority of illiterates moving to a minority.
  • Enlightened dictatorial regimes show the same results under similar conditions.
  • Socialism yields proven high results in the mid developed economies of the post war years. It has made labor providers aware of their enhanced bargaining power (The Internationale), organized and emancipated them (labor union movement and equal rights), and created better accessible education (general, higher and academic education).

For all of our own societies, developed beyond the phases as described above, we expect these alternatives not applicable, as we do not expect their central power structures to satisfy our needs to take more control in our own hands. Also, power in the hands of a few (be it private business, be it government) grow an unbalance tot self interest and corruption the longer it lasts. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Last but not least, relative small groups of members in power and dominant ideologies limit societies abilities to adapt current and future changes, both internal as well as environmental. And changes are there and more to expect, resulting from capitalism’s thriving capabilities (technological, social-psychological and ideological) to overproduce even what is not needed, not authentically wanted and wasted.

Analysis of the basic structure of the current system

From the above difference in exceptional conditions that yield capitalism’s golden age on the one hand, and the regular behavior that capitalism was formerly criticized for on the other, a set of basic conditions to meet stable societies with economies that share benefits, obligations and burdens in a way that is justified by the masses of its participants, may be derived.

Above all, the (accelerating) concentration of power under regular conditions against more evenly power during its golden age is striking. This meets an important insight from the ancient Greeks and elaborated upon by both liberals and social democrats: democracy, and the spreading of power among those who are affected by exercising it.

Secondly, material conditions need to meet at least basic needs and provide spare time for the mass of societies members to provide room for education, emancipation and participation in societies institutions. All thrive good citizenship, this was also well understood by the ancient Greeks who created their academies for this purpose. Good citizenship is to be understood as the ability to contribute both to the well-being of society as a whole, as well as the well-being of fellow citizens. Well-being of society as a whole and well-being of its citizens are mutually dependent. It is very hard (if not impossible) to exercise good citizenship worrying over basic needs and/or frustrated by unequal opportunities.

The ideological bias – How realistic is all of this?

The dominant ideology of an era services status quo, as well as material conditions thrive the dominant ideology. This insight was introduced by Karl Marx who was a philosopher in the first place. As he grew into understanding this intertwined complex, he gradually moved his focus to include economics. His famous words “Opium of the people” are witness of his voyage of discovery in this.

Current ideology holds against us misplaced idealism, and points out a close to endless list of practical problems that should prove alleged profound errors that even could be laughed at. This will scare away many fellow citizens, in particular where results are in short supply. And as we are searching and testing new ways, we will fail many times, as is the destiny of explorers of new frontiers. This will be used to proof we’re wrong (“Told you so!”) and, again, scare away doubters. It may even scare ourselves, so we can use courage and moral support among ourselves. Immanuel Kant understood this well in his answering the question “What is Enlightenment?“.

On the other hand, as we expect the old era moving itself into more turmoil of its ending phase, rising problems make room for more radical solutions, but mental spaces can narrow as well from growing stress. The combination (radicalization & narrowing of consciousness) can cook us dangerous movements towards totalitarianism and destruction, as we have experienced in reaction to the great depression. One can be pessimistic about this. One can also be optimistic about this. A third position can be the position of the possibilist, as Hans Rosling once put it. We can see possible outcomes, and we can attribute changes of becoming reality to different possible scenario’s. It hence appears that we can influence changes for each scenario. The more fellow citizens we can reach to contribute and share the scenario’s we desire, the higher changes become these scenario’s shape future reality, and desired outcomes are realized. This is why we should communicate at all levels and through a widest as possible spectrum of communication modes: to reach as many fellow citizens and have them join in as we can move their hearts and minds.

Also a matching ideology to a durable set of economic, political, educational and financial subsystems, that can be communicated in all kinds of ways should be provided. This ideology should be centered around the key-values we hold together and could be formulated around and revive the motto “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité“. A ‘classic’ motto revived and renewed with modern insights, scientific as well as properly reasoned as well as warm heart embraced, shared by voluntary will.

Feedback loops to test outcomes of New Deal packages

Material (wealth) as well as immaterial (well-being) factors can be distinguished. These factors can be monitored to evaluate progress made by applying solutions to societal problems that have arisen. A proposal (Dutch) of a citizens index of progression is made on page “De Burgervooruitgangsindex” and can be applied at any geographical level. We strongly suggest testing regionally and divers to improve our changes achieving most desired results.

Criteria for New Deal packages

Ethical, realistic, acceptable {to be elaborated}

Contributors

Besides the obvious fellow citizens cited and referred above in their professional work, I am grateful to the following fellow citizens for their contributions.

  • Margje Beekenkamp (my wife), who persistently keeps me to my appointment with myself to formulate positive.
  • Christina Lambrecht, who keeps me well informed and shares my stuff throughout her personal network.
  • ..

Subscribers (alphabetical)

  • Jan de Kock
  • Jan Maarten Fernig
  • Margje Beekenkamp

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