Movement of the multitude

Open your eyes and look within
Are you satisfied with the life you´re living
We know where we´re going
We know where we´re from
We´re leaving Babylon
We´re going to our Father´s land …

(Exodus, Bob Marley)

All these ordinary people rebelling and rising against abuses of power, of nature, of the poor, and of minorities. All these civilians that demand justice on squares, on the Internet, through petitions and demonstrations. All the recent uproars set in by normal individuals. It is no coincidence this is happening now. Resistance hovers in the air feeding on the growing gap between citizens and their representatives. People today are profoundly dissatisfied with hollow rhetorics, with failing or nonexistent policies, and with economized budgets for the common good.

The worlds’ leaders deal inadequately with pressing global issues like poverty, inequality, corruption, violence, high food prices, climate change, ecological degeneration, terrorism and human trafficking. If the politicians don’t act, the citizens themselves will. In fact what is happening here is the rise of a movement of extremely motivated self-producing and self-organizing individuals that share a common understanding on how things ought to work. This movement doesn’t fit the standard model. In the words of American environmentalist Paul Hawken: ‘This movement is dispersed, inchoate, and fiercely independent. It has no manifesto or doctrine, no overriding authority to check with. It is taking shape in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, companies, deserts, fisheries, slums-and yes, even fancy New York hotels. One of its distinctive features is that it is tentatively emerging as a global humanitarian movement arising from the bottom up.’[1]

It looks like we are witnessing the growth of something organic, if not biologic. Hawken: ‘Rather than a movement in the conventional sense, could it be an instinctive, collective response to threat?’ He wonders: ‘Can it successfully address the issues that governments are failing to: energy, jobs, conservation, poverty, and global warming? Will it be centralized, or will it continue to be dispersed and cede its power to ideologies and fundamentalism?’

JES! Towards a Joint Effort Society is written to support such a collective response to threat. JES! is a network of individuals and organizations that researches solutions to seemingly insolvable – divergent – dilemmas. Our lives and societies cannot be understood in isolation. We have to deal with problems that form a system, are interconnected and interdependent. We have to try to understand the relations. For example, slavery – which is now at its’ all time height – cannot be abolished without exterminating poverty, and poverty cannot be solved without dealing with all kinds of pollution that requires sound production of energy and materials, less consumption. And so on.

JES! is a new stream between Market and State. This civil power and its tributaries drain into ethics and moral principles. It consists of streams and movements such as:

  • Primacy of the region
  • Commons (what individuals have in common)
  • Arising of new cooperatives
  • European Model
  • Existentialism as Motivator[2]

Non-material forces usually have more impact on organizations than material forces. The culture, values, vision and ethics of a company or community form a kind of magnetic field that influences behaviour. As Erich Fromm stated: Society tells you what you want. Behaviour influences decisionmaking and technology and vice verse.

The hero of JES!, the one who – together with other self-producing individuals – has to make the impossible possible, uses JES! as a toolkit. A toolkit full of ideas, concepts and theories for those who want to live the lives they choose for themselves in a joint effort society.

This article is related to JES! Towards a Joint Effort Society, isbn 978.94.90665.111, Frank van Empel & Caro Sicking, Studio nonfiXe, 2014

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Ecolutie, Febr. 2014


[1] Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest, Penguin Books, 2008, p. 3

[2] Frank van Empel & Caro Sicking, JES! Towards a Joint Effort Society, Studio nonfiXe, 2014, p. 151

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