Our world is in a state of flux.
Recent events have upended the standard political order, creating a huge range of economic, social, environmental and political challenges.
Following the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, global economies have struggled to recover. States in Europe and other parts of the Western World are still engaged in deep programs of austerity, while unemployment (and underemployment) and income inequality both remain doggedly high across the globe. Those who are working are increasingly being forced into more ‘flexible’ (i.e. unstable) working environments, living from contract to contract, and working more hours than ever. While heralded as a solution the ‘sharing economy’ is simply speeding up this process.
This sense of global insecurity is having huge political impacts as people begin to reject the standard political order. In the United States we have seen the rise of Donald Trump, who at this point has a serious chance of taking the US Presidency. Earlier this year the United Kingdom voted for a ‘Brexit’, leaving the European Union and sending shock waves around the world.
Most worryingly these shifts have seen a growth in far right wing populist parties, exploiting economic anxieties through fears of floods of refugees. In the UK voters have turned to Nigel Farage and UKIP, and in France Marine Le Pen of National Front (FN) looks certain to be a major player in next year’s Presidential Election. The anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) have made gains in state elections across Germany this year.
Australia has not been immune to these changes. Economic insecurity has resulted in growing distrust of Australian politicians, with the 2016 election becoming one of the closest in our history. The election also saw the return of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, who won four Senate seats. Hanson, alongside other conservatives such as Cory Bernadi and Eric Abetz, have stoked fears about Muslim immigration to strong success.
We live in a time of serious challenges, and as a broad ‘left’ we are in many ways struggling to come up with the answers. Whilst the right of Trump, Hanson, and Farage have effectively channelled economic and environmental insecurities into anti-immigrant and anti-political sentiment, many left-wing parties and organisations have relied too heavily on old styles of politics to deal with these concurrent crises. We have invested heavily in the “big P” politics of old at the very time when people are turning away from these political institutions.
We at Green Agenda however believe that these concurrent crises and instabilities offer the left an opportunity to rethink. The crisis in the authority of mainstream politics and parties gives us a real opportunity to think about alternatives to our economic, social, and political systems.
It is in rethinking this agenda and developing these alternatives that we want to achieve through this new project. What Now? is an opportunity to explore new ideas and opportunities for the left in an ever unstable world, linking these both with contemporary debates and left-wing theory.
What Now? will be split into three sections, described most simply as ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’?
The why section will give us a basis for understanding the problems our world is facing, and the solutions to it. This is the hard theory stuff. Why is the world going through this current state of flux? How, and why, is this connected to global capitalism? What even is capitalism? And what are the left wing theories and responses to this system that we can use to develop the alternatives we need. We believe real change cannot exist without a strong theoretical background and that is what we wish to achieve in this section.
The what section then looks at the alternative approaches. From reducing working hours to implementing a basic universal income, from ending the advertising industry to transitioning rapidly away from fossil fuels, we’re going to look at the alternatives to the economic, political and social systems of our world. What are the alternatives, what do they look like, and what is the best approach? That’s what we want to discuss here
Finally, the how section will simply ask, how? How will we use the theory we have to implement the ideas we’re exploring. This is not going to be a technocratic policy discussion but rather a discussion about the social movements we need to create the change we want to see. How can we build power? Who should we target, and how do we change the political and economic systems that dominate our world? Looking at examples around the world we want this will be an opportunity to look at the practicalities of building strong social movements to create change.
What Now? will be a mixture of long-form essays, short opinion pieces, recordings, interviews and more. We hope to create a dynamic space to discuss the myriad of solutions we need to fix the problems our world is facing.
And we want you to contribute! Contributions of all shapes and sizes will be welcome, and we’d love to hear your views. We envisage a future world based on a strong community and we want to live that process in this project.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the conversation!