Could the breakdown of the Social Contract in Britain lead to a
Green New Deal?
The concept of a Social Contract is key to a functioning democracy – politicians make laws that work for the security and safety of the whole society – and as long as they do we give up some of our freedom.
But the Social Contract is broken in Britain, it has been coming apart since the Wilson/Heath governments of last century, and the last vestiges are finally being ripped asunder.
In this context Non-Violent-Direct-Action and Social Disobedience is fully legitimate, and organisations like Extinction Rebellion are at the forefront of using these tactics to push home the message.
But legitimate or not, when people’s working lives are invested in providing food, clothing and homes for their families, they’re not going to be motivated towards disobedience. And consequently they find themselves propping up the capitalist system which is negatively impacting their lives and all life on our planet.
Students trying to educate themselves into being more useful members of society are incurring massive debt. It’s enslavement. People are trapped in the system by debt and responsibilities and mindsets curated by the bread and circuses of the mainstream media.
This is the ‘business as usual’ ‘inside the box’, ‘don’t rock the boat and we’ll all be fine’, message, that deals out the soma of instant (small) gratifications, aspirational celebrity lifestyles, with the unrealistic hope of a lottery win, and the deadening of the senses brought about by the overconsumption of low grade goods, which is guiltily, yet coyly, acknowledged by the consumer “…what am I like! “.
And those of us who advocate a ‘Green’ lifestyle do a great deal of self blaming, seeing essentially our lifestyles as ‘to blame’ for the degradation of the planet.
It has motivated our not flying, not eating meat, getting solar panels, holidaying in the UK, walking and cycling everywhere we can, minimising the use of petrol & diesel engines as much as possible, signing up to green energy suppliers, stopping using domestic gas and coal, minimising the food miles in our weekly shop, trying to minimise all packaging in our purchases, trying to minimise our purchasing, buying our clothes in charity shops, growing our own as much as possible, and in general reducing our eco-footprint as much as possible.
It’s worth taking a moment to think about where this view has been supported from.
The mainstream media have been quick to agree that, if only we were all more green we could ‘save the planet’. I am not saying that the changes in individual behaviour are not necessary, only that they are no longer sufficient.
We are all complicit, but we have to move beyond that, and insist those who hold power make the necessary changes. We have to be ready to let go of the parts of our lives that cause harm, and embrace those things that don’t.
The idea that suggests that, if only everyone’s behaviour would change, the crisis would go away, is no longer possible. And those that reject or are in denial of their destructive behaviour will not be “guilt-tripped” in any case.
I can predict with a fair level of certainty that a shared vision won’t be anything that arrives pre-packed and ready to go. Everyone’s vision of the future is different, and to many people everyone else’s vision is worthless and has no way of achieving value.
Vested interests will, of course, try to mount all sorts of resistance, so we all must pull together, and make it happen.
Citizen’s Assemblies are the means to attain a shared vision which does treat people fairly, and the earth sustainably. Although we cannot jump straight into the endgame, a system of Citizen’s Assemblies could be the only “solution” that those in power would find very difficult to argue against.
But it’s unlikely that the Tory party, so wedded to the traditional manipulation of the levers of power, would allow average citizens to dictate what happens in “their” country. In this context, what could work? – the reason the population have been made to fear a Corbyn government is “The threat of a good example” – a threat to the Few not the Many.
So the chances are that the Labour party won’t be able to form the next government alone, and a coalition of most of the non-Tory parties is most likely. Citizen’s Assemblies are far more likely in this scenario, as is the New Green Deal.
But this begs the question, how is it to be paid for?
The cost of borrowing is at an all time low right now, with masses of cash in the banking system that they are very keen to loan. The original New Deal was financed by the Federal Reserve working with the Treasury Department to increase the money supply.
By a combination of borrowing and increasing the money supply therefore, there is a little sliver of hope in this increasingly fractured country.
Read more here about how the Green New Deal could be financed