Freedom Is Always Freedom – Until It Is Not

Politicians of all persuasions still haven’t got it yet.

The two main lenses through which we view the world politically – namely left and right, liberalism and conservatism – are broken and are unable to protect the sacred – however we define that

This is surely what Rowan Williams was pointing to in a recent critique of liberalism and capitalism.(1) Until we are able to find a different way of looking at the world politically – one which is beyond both progressive and conservative – we will remain stuck in a dysfunctional economy and oppositional left-right politics that are two sides of the same problem. Like powerful mafiosi, party zealots of either the market or the state will continue to promise that their respective ‘ism’ will free us from their own adversary. But the truth is that it is only we who can free ourselves.

The Civil Society Alliance initiative is an attempt to build bridges following the Brexit vote, to move to a place of new harmony that can be embraced by a majority, including both compassionate ‘conservatives’ and open-minded ‘liberals’.

Distinctions between equality and sameness, diversity and capability are fundamental to clarifying an integrative perspective. Each can be viewed in an old oppositional way or as part of a new integration. To do so we need a new frame. We cannot achieve a new narrative until we can navigate beyond the harm to “the sacred” that both progressive and conservative perspectives unconsciously enable. Central to this is that human responsibility is integral to freedom – and must come before human rights which can otherwise potentially be undermined by the entitlement of us all.

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Three Ways To Change The System

Beyond ideas of left wing and right wing, beyond ideas of freedom from and freedom to there is a space that is generative and life-enhancing for everyone. It is a space where we choose to treat each other with respect, as  having value – simply because we are human. – irrespective of our differences of affiliation, birth or capability.

As former MP Jo Cox said, there is more we have in common than divides us. But this new compass of life-enhancing unity cannot be navigated by ideas of left or right  – of the entitlement of some but not of others or by the denial of difference and capability through a strict imposition of censorial, conformist egalitarianism.

At a recent conference organised by the Centre For Sustainability & Prosperity, Rowan Williams, former Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, was asked if he could point to where we might find generative opportunites to change our political and economic system which seems to be failing us in so many ways. In reply he suggested three areas that he sees as having particular potential for generative positive change. Read more

Neither Market Nor State Can Deliver Prosperity & Wellbeing

Neither the extractive market nor the centralised state can deliver prosperity and wellbeing

“The major problems of our time — energy, environment, economy, climate change, social justice — cannot be understood in isolation. They are systemic problems, which means that they are all interconnected and interdependent, and they require corresponding systemic solutions’ Fritjof Capra

In the forthcoming General Election, both main parties are incapable of delivering solutions to the dysfunctional systems failure that people feel but the media and politicians are unable (or unwilling) to articulate.

“Put simply the political parties offer cake when the bakery is burning down. Social impact is not the same as systemic impact.”

Rather than addressing our broken systems – from economy to finance, planning to housing and media to education – not to mention our political system, both main parties offer old solutions – different versions of the same neo-liberal ideology of economic growth and political centralisation. But this out-dated pro-market, or pro-state duality are two sides of the same coin.

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The Wellbeing Economy vs The Vampire Economy


The Wellbeing Economy vs The Vampire Economy

How much longer can the mantra of neoliberalism remain stubbornly in place? Whilst governments, mainstream media and millions of people still see it as normal, natural, rational and inevitable, millions more are waking up to the fact that it is none of the above. They are recognising that symbiosis requires real benefits for the host if a relationship with a non-productive parasite is to persist – especially if host has conscious agency. Populism is a symptom of the recognition that the sacred contract between people, power and nature is broken. The question is whether a renewed sacred contract can be restored in a Vampire Economy that turns Life into cash, feeding off our lives rather than supporting them.

One of the potent myths of the Vampire Economy is that the purpose of the economy is (private) ‘wealth creation’. But systemic legitimacy requires the creation of shared value and common wealth

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Liberalism Is Part of the Problem Not The Solution


Is Liberalism The Dead Body in the Doorway To A New Future?

When –isms become –ists they are on their way to becoming –wasms

If Liberalism is not quite dead, then it is certainly rapidly heading past its sell by date. In the UK liberal culture has become mainstream. As well as becoming the unquestionable mantra of the BBC, liberalism for many has become a conventional identity – and like nationalism in 1930’s Germany – it increasingly demands conformity and brooks no divergence from its political correctness.

As Rowan Williams has observed  “What we are now refusing to grasp is that “liberalism” in fact undermines democracy, ethics, human respect, social justice, scientific creativity and pretty well everything else.”

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The Four Crumbling Pillars Of Neo-liberalism


Few recognise we are at the end of the neoliberal era

The media and political class are well behind the curve in this regard.

Old assumptions still dominate the BBC and the right wing press which in this regard are hardly distinguishable. But it’s not only New Labour that is as dead as Monty Python’s parrot. It is the whole horizontal separatist left –right political spectrum. Life – in the sense that human and natural value are not left wing as the Greens and Labour still believe.

The new political spectrum is between Love and Extractive Power not between left and right

Power must be contained by the forces of Love which itself is a power capable of not being extractive. Consequently it is neither weak nor self serving but is at the same time generative and self-limiting. And the societal equivalent of Love is Civil Society – whose values of fairness, respect, responsibility and reciprocity are all self- limiting. These values need to be legally integrated into new institutions so we are no longer dependent on the frail ethics of individuals in power. Until the Liberalist and Conservatist philosophies can embrace their respective shadows of Entitlement – the shadow of claiming rights without responsibilities- whether we are in the business of making money or creating a new society, we will remain in an impasse that has no way forward. We need a civil society alliance committed to building a space that is free from the mafia-like domination and dependence on either market or state. This requires a new way of resourcing communities such as the Commons Equity Society Read more

What is systemic change?


Ethical solutions and social enterprise are a necessary but insufficient basis for systemic economic change

Joshua Malkin describes a Commons Equity Society – a new model of ownership, finance and distribution – that institutionalises ‘indirect reciprocity’ within the market through a systemic structure that reconnects wealth creation with the common good and bestows sovereignty upon communities. April 2016

Words like ‘systemic,’ are not easily comprehended from within our mechanistic culture.

The work of architect Christopher Alexander suggests that without the right language we cannot “see” the existing design of a system or envision a new design of how it might be. His thesis implies that if we cannot name it, we cannot know what we are looking for. In this sense, normal economic activity that automatically and naturally works for the common good is almost unimaginable today because we have no name for it. In part this is because we are so embedded within the current system it is difficult to imagine anything else and hence a different way of doing things remains invisible to us. Even when we think we are imagining something new, it often turns out to be a version of the same system in different guise.

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Wellbeing & Civil Society 

Civil Society Is The Ground That Is Necessary for Wellbeing to Flourish

Civil society is much more than social and economic justice or a label for voluntary or not for profit organizations.Civil society is an abundant, generative culture based upon deep values of respect, reciprocity, responsibility, collaboration and the protection of the shared value found in the human and natural commons. It is an evolved cultural lens that allows new capability, relatedness and creativity ( including enterprise) to generate and emerge. It allows difference to be valued and be framed within values that allow individuality to become sociable and serve and celebrate the whole as well as itself.

It also represents a systemic, self-limiting ‘ecological’ approach to social and economic systems that focuses on stability and distribution as well as production and expansion.

In this sense, civil society is the societal equivalent to the love found in a functional family

Consequently civil society is an essential part of ‘the new story’ because it is the soil in which collective human wellbeing can flourish.

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The New Compass


The New Compass

Earth Economics and the vertical political spectrum

Compass Revised

Diagram –  ‘Wellbeing As A Compass’ © by J.P. Malkin from ‘A Political Economy of Life”

Taking Sustainability To The Next Level

Earth is the only planet that has self replenishing systems that generate, maintain and support life. Developing an economic system that does the same is part of humanity’s evolutionary destiny and we are at a threshold of awareness of this possibility. In stark contrast our current primitive economic system based on the ‘free’ market, extracts value from people place and planet, in the process degrading or corrupting human and natural value. Life Affirming Economics is part of the new compass – an ancient-new political economy of Life.

The fundamental problems we face today are systemic. We are experiencing a systems breakdown across the board both nationally and globally to which there are no answers from within the outdated political and economic thinking of right or left or centre. In the UK, banking, government, housing, energy, education, justice, media and politics have become increasingly ineffective, risk averse, bureaucratized, certificated, literal, dehumanized and dysfunctional.

In short, the way we organize society and its institutions is part of an obsolete way of thinking that is coming up against the limits of its own linear logic and an ancient new holistic paradigm is emerging. Perhaps the key underlying societal problem we face is that wealth creation has become disconnected from wellbeing and the common good.

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The New Dimension of Political Economy in the 21st Century

The Emergence of a New Dimension of Political Economy
J.P. Malkin argues that we have been thinking in the wrong dimension. The political spectrum of left, right and centre as well as  the concept of the “free”  market have locked us into illusions of freedom and choice. The emerging new political economy is collaborative self regulating and vertical between the poles of life-creation and life negation in the forms of corruption, extraction and degradation.

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