A year of solidarity

December 18, 2015


Over the next couple of months, the rhythm of /The Rules will be slowing down for a period of rest and reflection. Before we do, we’d like to look back over the past year and forward to future adventures.

We’re very grateful for your solidarity and support this year. Thank you. Here are just a few of the things we worked on together in 2015:

Poverty is created

We posed three critical questions to help expose some mission-critical problems with the new UN Sustainable Development Goals: “How is poverty created”, “why is growth the only answer?” and “who’s developing who?” The idea was to encourage development professionals, activists and globally aware people everywhere to question the dominant development narrative the SDGs represent. This narrative promotes, among other things, the logic that only economic growth at all costs and some technical fixes are needed to end poverty by 2030. The questions spread very well, through over 30 articles, shared over 230,000 times, via media outlets from The Guardian to the Daily Nation and Vice; an open letter signed by Noam Chomsky, Eve Ensler, Chris Hedges, Medha Patkar, Naomi Klein and many others; and videos, which were viewed over 200,000 times.


Activist Ashram

This year we began building out the pilot version of the Activist Ashram, a year-long paid fellowship for leaders on the frontline against neoliberal capitalism. With a focus on the global South, the Ashram will bring together a collective of activists, community organisers, bloggers, artists & others in the global struggle for new narratives and alternatives to late-stage capitalism, whilst remaining grounded in their local struggles. The fellows will meet for the first time in February 2016 and we will be in touch shortly to respond to the many amazing applications we’ve received – thank you to everyone who has applied.


Whistleblow Wall Street

In October we embarked on a new mission to take on Wall Street as part of an alliance of civil society organisations, lawyers and bank employees. The first step has been creating a dedicated Whistleblow Wall Street platform that encourages and supports bank workers to whistleblow on unfair practices and corruption in the sector.


And not forgetting…

  • Undermining the narrative of capitalism with our Capitalism Is Just A Story video, narrated by Stacey Ann Chinn and with music by Apple Juice Kid.
  • Supporting a global Soil Solutions campaign advocating regenerative farming as a solution to climate change.
  • Launching 9×9, an online film festival on food and farming thatbrought together nine beautiful short films from director/producer team The Source Project, which challenge the positive story surrounding the corporate-driven ‘Green Revolution’ in India, and how it controls and manipulates our global food systems.
  • Continuing to cultivate the Our Land Our Business community by supporting Peruvian civil society in creating an alternative event and a boycott of the World Bank annual meeting in Lima in October, which received lots of media coverage in Peru and Latin America.

So, what’s next?

The world is in turmoil, we know this. We’ve spent a lot of time working with you to critique and question systems of oppression and inequality. We’ll continue to ask questions in 2016, to listen and feel our way into new ways of challenging the logic of ‘business as usual’, but at the same time we want to spend more of our time drawing attention to all the beautiful alternatives that exist to replace the old stories that keep us down. In other words, while we keep challenging ‘what is’ we will focus more on also helping to build ‘what’s possible’.

We don’t know exactly what’s in store but we look forward to taking this journey with you all. We hugely appreciate the collaboration and engagement of this community; working together is what enables us to spread radical ideas into the mainstream and challenge our connected oppressions.

Thank you for walking this uncertain path with us.


/TR team

P.S. We’re always very grateful for your contributions of virtual coins* to support the work of /The Rules.

We know in many cultures it’s awkward to ask for money, but in the current system it’s unavoidable if we want to get things done. We’re saying radical things that a lot of funders don’t want to hear because it challenges their existence. Because of this, we very much appreciate the solidarity and support of our community to help fund our work to help create a world beyond neoliberal capitalism.

*Why $10?

One thought on “A year of solidarity”

  1. B says:

    Every so often, I check back on this website, because it is, by far, my most favourite thing on the internet. And it is for that reason I’m happy it isn’t strictly limited to the internet, and is seeking to make real changes, with real people, and real conviction. I’ve been following this ever since it started and it is inspiring to see it move onto the next stage. Keep writing in some capacity though, the pieces at Bond are frustrating to read.

    You said in the Activist Ashram brief that in 20 years time, if you become Amnesty International, you would have failed. I guess the same goes for this site and its contents, and I wish we had the luxury of 20 years. I’m just a student, and as much as these blogs/articles/etc. are very intelligent and thought provoking pieces, I want there to come a time where I can look back on the archives for TR and provoke more than just thoughts. I’m speaking for me, and I’d love to follow what the people of conscience are doing now, the Ashram fellows and the challenges they face, as well as the struggles they overcome. It takes a lot of courage and dedication to devote yourself to something like this, and the reason I have so much faith in the people you’ll eventually accept is because I know they’re not doing it for status. It used to be that people would want to make it to Forbes under 30 list, now I’m surrounded by people who want to become WEF Global Shapers – and I can understand why those who’ve joined the fellowship have lost hope in conventional avenues. Is it the subversiveness that draws me to this site, or the sincerity, I don’t know, just a kid fighting his ego here for a greater cause.

    I’ll continue to study with solidarity to the cause, and I wish you the best in your, no, our mission.

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Trump: Join us in connecting the dots

The election of Donald Trump has left millions, maybe even billions of us in shock. Although we may be looking with bewilderment at the US today, we should remember that he is not an isolated phenomenon. He is a symptom of a sickness that is raging all around the world. People are hurting, disillusioned with mainstream politics and increasingly angry at a neoliberal economic system that is destroying lives and the planet with increasing ferocity. And in their desperation they are willing to consider extreme measures to make themselves heard.

Demagogues thrive amid fear and insecurity, which is why they paint the world in such dark terms. It’s a strategy that has put right-wing populist leaders in power in an Axis of Egos: from Brazil to Turkey, the Philippines to Russia, authoritarian strongmen like Trump are on the rise. Meanwhile, many centrist liberals, like the Democratic Party in the US, have been so intent on rejecting left-wing populist solutions, and so sure of their ability to beat anyone running on a white supremacy platform with its misogyny and homophobia, that they opened the door for Mr. Trump to walk straight through. Their preference is always to maintain the status quo that has served them so well.

As dangerous as the election of Trump is for the world, we can also see in this moment the truth that we simply cannot rely on the electoral political system to save us, because it is designed to prevent the fundamental change we need. Its own survival is at stake and it will marshal all its champions and resources to defend itself and stop the emergence of a new system. But when we work, or continue working for change from the ground up; when we build or keep on building new ways of living and being with each other where we live; when we construct or keep constructing the future we know is possible with our own hands, rather than hoping distant leaders will build it for us, we find our true power. Finally, when we combine that with the unbending hope that has powered change through the ages, we know our power has meaning.

A 400-year-old economic system is dying and another is struggling to be born. Change on this scale is not going to be smooth or easy. We should not be surprised, then, that moments like this — where the establishment is dealt a body blow — become more and more common. We can despair when that blow comes in the form of right-wing extremists, or we can step-up. We are the ones we are looking for, who can and must grasp the opportunities in these crises that are undoubtedly there.

So it’s time to come together, taking time to remember the earth. Remember all the successful struggles for justice that came before us, and imagine all those to come. Remember that social movements are growing all over the world and realising the common struggle. Remember life. Then, organise. Find each other and help midwife the inevitable transition that brings forth from the ashes of neoliberal capitalism a system that works for the good of all life on Mother Earth. This is not just activism; this is our responsibility as human beings alive as this all unfolds.

This is why we are here.