At its simplest - if you can see something working it is more convincing and powerful than any description. Descriptions might be thought of as too idealistic, not possible or just as promises made to get into power.
Looking a bit deeper - unless it can be shown that doing things differently actually works, and is better than the way we do things now, why would anyone want to change? Successful coaches try and find good characteristics to build on, they don't focus on what is wrong. In politics on the other hand we have a system designed to emphasise conflict. In the UK we call it Her Majesties Loyal Opposition; people say we cannot function without being able to hold the government to account. What we have is a process that allows a minority to get a majority of seats and do things based on ideology, it needs neither a consensus nor does it have to be something that works. Its not a promising way to get good governance.
So on this site the object is to show human cooperation in all its richness, variety and success. To show that we can prosper and have fairness. To affirm that we can not only demand what is ours but can make a start by just doing it right away. We don't need anyones permission for this, what we do need is belief, self confidence and agency. It is both our right and our responsibility as citizens to reach a consensus and deliver good governance. We must make the world as good as it can be for everyone and, because we only come this way once, it matters right now, not tomorrow.
Sadly we live in pessimistic times where there is said to be no alternative. Actually there are lots of alternatives and all over the world people are just getting on with it - this can be happening in your area or on the other side of the world. Many of these people don't shout about it and their efforts often go unnoticed.
This site is trying to catalogue what is good in order to share it. It can be thought of as an aggregator site, albeit a manual one. The things it captures are not new but they are scattered and isolated islands of hope. We need to see the archipelago. We need to encourage the spread and wider adoption of characteristics that will coalesce into a better political economy if they are more widely known and get wider adoption and support. They can become the go to way of doing things.
Aside from the obvious inspiration of wikipedia itself, the inspiration for this approach comes from several places. A number of quotes capture it:
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”
"There is enormous inertia—a tyranny of the status quo—in private and especially governmental arrangements. Only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”
"Mankind, as it appears to me, are always ripe enough to understand their true interest, provided it be presented clearly to their understanding, and that in a manner not to create suspicion by anything like self-design, nor offend by assuming too much"
This site takes its examples from wherever they are found. It is not ideological nor in quest of some unattainable ideal. It will not make the best the enemy of the good, nor have a counsel of perfection. An organisation may be listed that does one thing really well – other things it does less well do not invalidate this. However we are only interested in the good characteristics that are relevant to the development of a holistic political economy. A holistic political economy is one that is sustainable and in which every individual can meet their potential. Where they have the freedom to contribute with others to the creation of the common wealth and, by right of citizenship, participate in collaborative politics which is simply a quest for good governance.
We can summarise three reasons why we should document what good looks like
- Build on what works
- Show not tell
- Enthuse, enable and empower
Build on what works
We live in a negative culture where pessimism is rife. It has attracted comment that things, in absolute terms, are getting better but this misses the point that inequality is rising and people are not finding fulfilment through wage slavery and consumerism. The pessimism persists for a reason. Some muse that perhaps it is a human survival characteristic, we are attuned to see the bad. On the margins this maybe, but we got to here as much by cooperating as competing. Any coach, and many in business process improvement, will tell you that success comes from building on what works. People all over the world, right now, are already doing the things holistic political economy needs.
Show not tell
We don't want to rely on arcane theory or be accused of hopeless idealism, we also reject entirely the idea that we should fight for control of the state and then set about doing things to people instead of with them. People can do it for themselves. In order to do so they need to be shown what works, to understand it. This is a practical, living breathing reality already – the catalogue shows just what can be achieved in all its variety.
HoPE is an acronym for Holistic Political Economy. We still need government but it needs to be an enabler, it needs to set the framework up to nurture and promote cooperation. Any party may provide some enabling legislation that helps, those who are sympathetic to it can promote policy in their parties, HoPE itself will develop organically, it is non-partisan and non-ideological.
Enthuse, enable and empower
Holistic Political Economy tries to capture a growing constellation of ideas about how to organise human affairs by the better use of what we already know works. The vision is in such stark contrast to a lot of what passes for normal in current political economy that it can seem like impossible idealism. Nevertheless once the scale and success of human cooperation is more widely understood people will be more inclined to adopt the practices that work. Our current system will evolve into another one because that is what people want.
Dealing with objections
To the objection that this is just idealism and it will never work the response is simply look at the evidence to the contrary on this site. It works when it is tried and people are committed to it, they become committed to it because it offers a good experience. We can see it works.
there are two big problems: it needs to scale up and it needs a change in politics. Fixing the first problem starts with this site, by far the biggest problem is politics. Our current politics is set up in a way that is almost guaranteed not to deliver it. The reasons are not hard to find and are characterised by people who inhabit what may be termed both the left and right of the spectrum, they can be found in business as in politics.
The people who want to run extractive, exploitive and rent seeking businesses only get away with it because of the control and influence that the can exert in politics - they can and do buy and mobilise huge incumbent power.
The second set of people are the politicians and activists who say they want radical change but have chosen a strategy that cannot work. Simply their approach is (1) win control in their party, (2) win control in their country and (3) put their programmes into action top down.
To those people I say this. Mass society has gone and workplace solidarity has gone with it. After a generation of turbo-capitalism the cultural underpinnings of the left have been undermined, talk of solidarity no longer resonates. The voting habits that went with it have in 2019 finally been broken. What is left often looks out of date or irrelevant to many people. The fierceness of the fight to inherit the Labour tradition or to update it look intolerant as well. How this internecine strife is likely to persuade people of the virtues of cooperation is never explained. For sure it is not violent revolution but it is, at least an unedifying turn off, and at best (should it win an election) will at best deliver temporary mitigation. When there is a change of power policies will be reversed or neutered, lacking a true consensus well meant change does not have the legitimacy to stick.
The hope in HoPE
In an individualised culture we need new mechanisms to drive solidarity. It should, by now, be crystal clear that if we preach collaboration and collective effort but don't practice it, the gap, the contradiction, between means and ends is so glaring that people will reject it. We need to start over and do something that might actually work.
This site is dedicated to the people who focus on the process of cooperation because that is what they are doing now. People who get the shift in thinking from outcome and targets to process and experience. People who are, in fact, just getting on with it. If the process is right and everyone can contribute then the best outcome will be more likely to be achieved. It won't be perfect, it takes a lot of hard discussion and debate, but it will be the best we (collectively) can come up with at the time. If we can build in feedback so there is continual improvement and adaption things will get better from there.
As the encyclopaedia becomes more comprehensive it will provide incontrovertible evidence of all aspects of a working alternative. This will help create an alternative power structure. Power will be created through knowledge of the true range and reach of these activities. Power will be created because of the knowledge that these ideas actually work and are in widespread use. It will facilitate a loose coupling of those who want change, a replacement for the mass workplace and shared experience that has gone. It will not impose this through party discipline and dogma in the hope of doing it top down but through a groundswell of opinion across society. People will say; if those things work there, why can't we have them here? The demand for change will become unstoppable when people will settle for nothing less.
This site is intended to help those who want better ideas to be lying around in the crises that are coming so that they will be the ones adopted. What looks impossible now can become the inevitable. Help build the alternative, find out what good looks like and start now.