About this article series

My reason to start networking within the activist communities was an idea of mine. I want to discuss my idea with experienced activists to get a valuable opinion about the feasibility.  I think I will have to explain a lot, to prevent being misunderstood. It is difficult to convey the whole idea through an article. So I got the idea of writing a series of articles to explain what I want, why I want this and how I think this could be realized.

About me

When I can find some time for myself, I often start thinking about all kind of stuff. Most of the time I am thinking about philosophical stuff and global issues because I am simply interested in that. While I was thinking about the world, I realised that problems are not getting solved as promised by politicians. I wondered why and I then I thought it’s probably because the problems I am talking about seem to be too big to be solved by a single person. I started realising that everyone has to stand up to bring a change. Otherwise nothing will ever happen.

What brought me to action…

I was born in 1987. Just in time, to see the old millennium come to its end. And what a millennium it was. At its beginning the western world had just started to overcome the fall of the Roman Empire and the chaos that was created by the following power vacuum.
Europeans were shocked by the raids and invasions of the Vikings. The pest spread fear and terror, just like the incursion of the Mongolian horde does. Fanatical Christians led crusades and spread violence and death in the name of the lord to people with a different faith. We saw the persecution of witches, the inquisition and the religious wars between Catholics and Protestants showed us how religious zeal can bring out the evil in people.
And then – the dawn. With the Renaissance, the absolute power of the church in Europe began to wane. And the Europeans made great progress in science and technology. A period of discoveries, conquests and glory began for the Europeans. They discovered America and Australia and explored Asia and Africa.
For all the other people, the European progress was a disaster. Their countries were conquered, occupied and plundered. Their cultures were systematically destroyed through missionary and colonialism. The natives were labelled as second-class and treated that way., Even though most erstwhile European colonies are now independent, they still deal with the impact of colonialism.
Just 100 years ago European nations and kingdoms waged the World War I, which shattered the old world order. And the Second World War, in which this world order saw its downfall, ended only 42 years before my birth.
I was very fortunate to be born in a time of peace and prosperity in Germany, in the hearth of Europe. The great adversary of the western world, the Soviet Union, had collapsed and the spectre of a nuclear war was gone because our enemies became partners.
I thought that this period of peace would last and moreover mankind would now solve all its big problems one by one.
I believed that we would understand the new millennium as a chance to put the past behind us and herald a new age. . Sadly none of that has happened so far. At least now I know that nothing ever changes from itself.
Since the 1990’ things have worsened tremendously. You all know what I am talking about. I am talking about the rising racism within our societies and about the fanaticism that pervades religions again. I am talking about the inequality in the distribution of wealth and the injustice of people before court. I am talking about overpopulation, poverty, hunger and the lack of access to drinking water. And I am talking about the environmental degradation, the manmade climate change and the loss of wildlife. Every single day 120 species are dying out. And war is still considered an appropriate means of foreign policy.
All these problems are getting worse. As our world became globalized, the problems followed suit.  And so have to be our solutions.

What will our future look like if we don’t become active?

Of course we can only speculate about what will happen in the future. But here are some scenarios I find imaginable.
One is that the scientists who published the study “the limit of growth” were right. Has human civilisation already passed its zenith? With the rapid growth of the population, its demand for food, water, and energy is growing too. At the same time the amount of waste being produced and emissions of carbon dioxide are also increasing dramatically. While our demand is rising, the capacities of our planet have already been exceeded.
Through the over-abstraction of water resources by agriculture and industry the water table is falling. Rivers and lakes are drying out. It is presumed that the climate change will have its strongest impact on regions that are already affected by droughts and other climate disasters.
Take a moment to imagine what happens if e.g. Africa with its 1.1 billion inhabitants mostly gets hostile to any human life, when violence and wars will spread for the remaining resources. Wouldn’t all those people try to flee into less affected areas like Europe? Would the inhabitants of the remaining habitable areas be willing and able to accommodate all the climate refugees and to share their possessions? If Europe would struggle to feed its 800 million inhabitants due to deteriorated climate conditions, could it be capable to accommodate another billion refugees? What if the refugees would be rejected? Wouldn’t they try to force their way into those habitable areas?
At the end, the human population and the capacities of our planet would be balanced out again. But at what price?

Another credible scenario is that our elites (politicians, economists, corporations) will finally accept the fact that we need to change our behaviour. They will change their destructive habits and try to treat our planet more carefully to save their own existence. But you should not think that they will give up their claim of absolute domination. Many science fiction novels and movies are telling stories of mega-corporations which found ways to get the total control over citizens. While observing the manners of many global companies, I don’t consider a future of total control and slavery unrealistic.
But maybe things will just be like they always were. At the very last moment, people will avert the disaster somehow. Things will go on. Some people will continue trying to get their advance at any cost and others will try to stop them.
I decided for myself not only to wait and see how things will develop.

How my alternative would look like

In my vision of the world, that I wish will come true, all wars will be over if there will be only one  worldwide nation in which all people are living equally. They still have their different cultures, but they are not valuated differently and they are not competing but cooperating. This world has one president and a congress. Those are directly elected by all the citizens of the planet. Of course there are sub levels of government for more local issues.
Lobbying is strictly regulated and has to happen in public. Government has to know about the needs of economy but there is no room for corruption. Debates about laws and agreements are also always transparent to the public.
Wealth is taxed in a way that it makes impossible to gather more than a certain amount of money. Every surplus to that level is devoured by taxes. I like a system of competition but it has to be held in balance. We would live in a social society. Nobody is homeless or has to starve. Not to reward laziness but because there is enough to share.
Education is considered as fundamental to the health of society. Children will not be overwhelmed by a workload which makes them lose their childhood. They will be taught things that are not just for work but also for life.
Independent institutions would provide reliable information about actual issues. In politically debates it would be about content instead of personal image. The intention of debates would be to find the best solution out of several options by examining all the advantages and disadvantages realistically. Public will be provided with those information and they would be educated enough to make up their own opinion. Citizens can vote directly about important decisions.
Instead of being a plaque on our planet we become its keeper.
We could use our intelligence and technology to protect the earth and all the other living beings on it. We could set big global goals and initiate projects, like energy independence with solar plants in space. We would advance in astronautics. Needed resources would be gathered from asteroids and meteorites. We would observe the solar system to be able to recognize and to react to threats for our planet to ensure we won’t share the destiny of the dinosaurs.
Beside of sustainability and happiness, scientific advance and the gathering of wisdom would be the aims of mankind. The public would vote about the usage of a technology. Wide areas of land would be left abandon to be reconquered by nature.
We would also find ways to enable the coexistence of different ways of life. Old nomadic cultures would be able to live the life the way their ancients did. The same would be valid for alternative or experimental forms of communities.
The overall population would be limited to a reasonable level. This level would be kept by a two child policy. I know that this is a drastically restriction but our planet has its limits. Either we accept those limits or we will pay the price.
This is only from my imagination. Maybe you don’t like some of my ideas or even the whole story. Maybe you would like to add good points to it or change some. I am just a casual guy and I am able to create a better world just by myself than the world we are living in. Imagine what could be created if all the people would share their ideas!

What happened so far…

In our temporary world order, single nations are competing with each other. But this won’t work in a world where we all are connected and depending on each other.
In the first place every country tries to solve global problems on its own. But due to the situation of competition they can’t do this effectively because they have to fear self-made disadvantages towards others by regulating them self. This fear of disadvantages seems even more obviously in global negotiations like the climate conferences. The increased public awareness of climate change combined with dwindling resources is creating an atmosphere of fear. Through the media and the daily news we are able to watch the world getting more radical. Religions are getting more and more influenced by fundamentalists. Racist movements are gaining influence. Political and religious fanatics are spreading violence among the citizens. The feeling of insecurity radicalizes even more people and enables the governments to set up a surveillance state and to militarize its police forces. People can’t figure out what’s going on and just why all this happens. They just recognize that things are changing. They feel uncertain and don’t know what they could do about their lack of control. So they are seeking for an enemy to blame for what’s happening. It must be the strangers, foreigners, immigrants or infidels. Maybe people are aware that this is simply not true but at least they have found an outlet for their frustration. Additionally if they understand that the problem is systematic, they are facing a huge helplessness. One can overcome another person but how to overcome the system of the whole world?

What could a single person do?

People answer in different ways to this question. Some people just don’t mind. They are caring about themselves and while trying to achieve a good life they don’t care about others. Many people having enough problems within their personal life to take care about, so they are not able to deal with general social and environmental problems. Others trying to change things and the world they are living in by changing their own state of mind.
More and more people are organizing within a variety of social, environmental or political movements. You know at least the bigger ones like the World Wild Fund, Greenpeace and Amnesty International among many others. Those NGO’s, activists, scientists, authors and politicians (I will simply call them activists) are trying to stop some individuals and corporations to manipulate and corrupt the system to enrich themselves at the costs of the society (in lack of a better name I will call those people the selfish). Therefore activists are fulfilling a wide spectre of functions within society.
Activists try to indicate bad trends in advance and thus prevent bad developments. They try to alert the public to form broad alliances against the plans of the selfish. Knowing this, the selfish are trying to create facts even by breaking national laws before a general resistance arises. In some cases activists even carry out straight attacks to disturb the actions of the selfish and to, at least, cause a delay. Sadly the selfish often succeed with their strategy. With help of the media the public is indoctrinated with a feeling of helplessness. Those profits driven selfish are never getting tired of retrying to achieve whatever they desire.
But the public is getting tired of fighting against windmills. A lot of exposed scandals weren’t able to generate the level of outrage they deserve. This collective apathy is understood by the selfish as a confirmation to become even more unbridled in their behaviour. Another important function of activists is therefore to be the guilty conscience of the society, to put their fingers into wounds and prevent them from simply healing by time, but only by being reappraised. But just as you know money makes the world go round and so the selfish are often the victorious.
But something has changed. Thanks to the internet and social media it is much easier for people from all over the world to get in contact and to access information without censorship of the local media. But the internet still holds a lot of potential I think. To quote Noam Chomsky[1]:” There’s a lot of activism, but it’s very separated”. Maybe activist movements are missing an appropriate tool to interact effectively within larger groups. And that way their efficiency is not at its maximum.
While occupying myself within the activism scene I am reading a lot of articles and watching a lot of documentary films. Most of what I see is made very professional. But I think we have to change the way we talk about a change. Everyone is trying to tell us that there is a need for a change and how urgent it is. But I think a lot of people already understood that part. What no one is saying is how we do this. What’s the plan? Where to get started? And if people are telling us, they just don’t start. I know that there are lots of good projects around the world, fighting against the bad situation. But by now they are only fighting the symptoms. No one seems to dare to start something that is intended big enough to dry up the well of all those problems. We have to fight the roots, not only the sprouts.

Why a change seems possible

During the last decades our world has been growing at an accelerating speed. The world has become more and more interconnected politically and economically. Our daily news is filled with reports from all over the planet. People are multilingual, traveling across the globe and studying in foreign countries. Many of us have friends from everywhere. Our technological knowledge has grown enormously. The world is getting smaller. And while we are observing the state of the world, we can recognize the increasing unrest pervading all sections of society and many nations. People are fighting against the influences of our ruling economical system of growth and increasing inequality. They are personally experiencing the bad impacts of this doctrine of neoliberalism* within their daily life. If you would have asked me about the possibility of a change a few years ago, I would have told you that I have big doubts about seeing ever any changes at least in a positive direction. But while I am digging through all those blogs, articles, tweets and films that are about the need for a change, even the mainstream media and leading economists are signalling that something has to and will happen.
And of course there have been revolutions in the past and none of them brought us heaven on earth. Most of them have been bloody fights to get rid of a system of suppression, just to end up in the same mess but with different oppressors.
But this time our initial situation is different. Citizens have never been this strong, educated, and interconnected across the planet as today. We all have seen the Arab Spring. In a number of countries citizens were able to overthrow dictators using social media to organize themselves. Often they ended up to instead being ruled by religious fundamentalists.
For me it seems that the time for a change has come. To quote Victor Hugo: “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.”
A spark in the right place could be enough to initiate a process which will lead to a global change.

What I want…

… is not a revolution. I want an evolution. I am not using the word revolution because the only way to achieve this change for a better world has to absolutely non-violent and because it is about a real change within the system instead of simply replace the leaders and their titles.
I want all people to get united and to invent mankind 2.0! Let us be the needed spark. Let us figure out a plan to reach all those other movements which demand a change. We only have to get connected to build a strong base.
The foundation of this movement should be as diverse as possible. Let us hear voices from every country. We will draw up a manuscript to explain our vision to the public. If we need to attract more attention from the public, we will organize peaceful candle marches in as many cities, in as many countries as possible.
People have to understand that this is not about pushing through my or our ideas. Our task is about shaking up the people and to make them understand that this time it will be about everybody’s opinion. The earth is the planet of humans and so every human has an equal right to determine its future.
Just now we are standing on a crossroad of history. Let us make a decision. If we could get things to move we would have to ensure that this movement won’t be hijacked by anyone. I consider this as a serious threat due to the fact that it happens quite often in former movements. Humans are setting their limits themselves. United we could achieve everything.
So let us shape the future – let’s reinvent us!
As said before, my intention about writing this article is not to get personal attention or to tell you that we need a change, but to invite you to start the change with me. I would really appreciate your opinion dear reader about this article. If you doubt my plan please let me know why. I want to see a change to come and I want to be a part of it. But I will need your help.

I would like to invite you to comment this article and if you like, to contact me via Facebook.

Michael Furtwangen

Special thanks to Swati Mehta from the Rules for proofreading and to Kristina Laitenberger and Jean Baptiste

[1]: http://truth-out.org/news/item/27901-noam-chomsky-talks-us-militarism-and-capitalism-at-home-and-abroad

For further information, I would recommend you the following sources

The club of rome are the authors of “The limits of growth” and they are pioneers for environmental awareness
http://www.clubofrome.org/

Here is a great video about the sustainable development goals of the United Nations
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR-YRC5D-QY&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

Here is an inspiring movement named action2015. The movement consists of huge number of organizations and activists and they are trying to bring a change by uniting their voices and skills
http://www.action2015.org/

I also liked this inspiring short-film made by Charles Eisenstein
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEZkQv25uE

Or check this ted talk about the influence of highly concentrated wealth and inequality, by Chrystia Freeland:
https://www.ted.com/talks/chrystia_freeland_the_rise_of_the_new_global_super_rich#t-744983

Check out this ted talk of one of the 0.1 richest US-Americans, Nick Hanauer, who calls for a change:
https://www.ted.com/talks/nick_hanauer_beware_fellow_plutocrats_the_pitchforks_are_coming?utm_source=yearinideas.ted.com&utm_medium=microsite&utm_campaign=yearinideas-2014

Here is an interesting video of the young and rich Jamie Johnson giving some interested insights:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmlX3fLQrEc

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