This is a blog post about a new social-campaigning tool. It is also a blog about apathy.
I am fed up of being told that my generation is apathetic.
My generation is absolutely and wholly not apathetic.
Disengaged perhaps, but that speaks of the end of a political era which is simply waiting to be reformed in a hyper-connected age. All of the demonstrations, meetings and online activism I am involved in are full of people my own age, I know many people my own age and younger who blog about global politics, about feminism, about the environment, about party politics.
What has disappeared is person-on-the-street working class union-led activism. There are far fewer people talking to and about the working classes anymore because they have been written off: that horrible phrase ‘Chav’. The 80s broke down traditional working class communities and then told them that the way to prove themselves was to consume – labels, gold, cars. The Loadsamoney generation, whom the middle classes look down upon as somehow gauche. The lesson taught by Thatcherism was that it was immediate proof of consumption that matters, not slow burn, drag yourself socially-mobile through education, which used to be the way to go.
My generation is the generation of the celebrity machine, which began in earnest with the advent of the manufactured pop band. ‘Don’t worry’ celebrity promises, if you are pretty enough, if you can sing, if you can kick a ball, you have a golden ticket to celebrity. Boys! Become footballers, Girls! Marry them! It was all about the golden ticket, not how you earned it, or how realistic the acquisition of it might be.
That’s the kind of hope that our modern brand of capitalism needs to keep us buying, to keep us racking up the debt. This is the age of the empty spectacle. The big show.
If society is organized around consumption, one participates in social life as a consumer; the spectacle produces spectators, and thus protects itself from questioning. It induces passivity rather than action, contemplation rather than thinking, and a degradation of life into materialism. […] Desires are degraded or displaced into needs and maintained as needs. P.8 source
But this big show, this spectacle, the media circus, unites us, it has “made almost everyone a member of a new proletariat, and thus a potential revolutionary” p.10 ibid
Traditional areas of radicalisation have been reigned in – monetised: universities are a prime example, you are indoctrinated into the debt system from the off, and the transaction becomes about what you’re due, rather than what you seek. But people are finding their political feet in new arenas. Online ones specifically. There’s a reformation coming. Because this is also the era of the global village, of hyper-connectivity.
I believe in an open-source wiki-ethic driven political system. This is not as silly as it sounds. I believe a lot that is wrong about our political system (not the people in it) is how closed down and archaic it is. It needs new forms, and new methods of communication. And I mean communication – that is listening as well as speaking. Too much policy is driven by the media acting as a self-appointed intermediary – they don’t speak for us, yet they affect change more than we ever could. I believe social media and the internet are key to unlocking the relationship between people and policy, and developing politics which are people driven, not media-told.
My thoughts on it all are still formulating, and someday soon I’ll publish them in a #wikipolitics manifesto. Until then I and my generation shall continue to be loud-mouthed.
Louder is a new socially-networked hub for campaigns which aims to;
…help make your campaign louder you will be able to connect up with other campaigns and those running them. Providing a much needed online space for campaigners, from international NGOs to grass roots activists, to link up collaborate and share experiences.
You can follow Louder on Twitter @louderdevelop.
This is the beginning. I know I’m prone to fits of passionate hyperbole, but I really believe that there is a reformation coming in the way our political system operates – a necessary return to grass roots, but now with the ability to be amplified, to produce genuine discussion and truly informed policy/politicians. Imagine if the debates for the next election didn’t happen in the mainstream media, but on youtube, recorded on the flip cameras of doorstep debate, with genuine worries being listened to and tackled by street-level activists. Imagine if you genuinely got to pose questions, engage. Who says the press is necessary? (Apart from the press, obviously). They (including the BBC) need to earn their keep, prove their worth. At the moment they’re too lazy. (NB – we also need to remember 30% of the UK have no access to the internet, and 10% of those who do only have dial-up – source – something else which needs tackling).
I have been testing the beta of Louder over the past couple of days, and it promises to be really really exciting. Louder allows the easy creation of a home page for a campaign, events, and the plugging in and aggregation of key social media platforms, currently including images, video, youtube, twitter feeds, blog feeds and more. Here’s a quick screenshot of what I’d done in about half an hour of playing:
It’s clean, it’s simple, and it’s powerful, almost like the Posterous of online campaigns.
Louder is launched this Friday at the ICA in London (at Tuttle), and needs as much feedback and participation as possible so they can hone the tool so it’s genuinely useful. Louder will open up and consolidate the process that’s been happening via the closed down world of facebook, and the disparate world of the blogosphere, bringing people together in a global grass-roots manner much more suited to our global village era.
So get on there on Friday, if you have a cause, set up a campaign, if you don’t, have a play and provide feedback, it all helps, and it’s important.