Week 7: human identity in new systems

This week, we began by spending some time harvesting the explosion of emerging art and creative communications ideas we have for our system change exhibition. The virtual reality team talked us through their initial concept.

Oxana Lopatina delivered the expert discussion for the day. She began with a guided meditation. Helping us understand that when we consider the ‘system’ we are trying to change – that we must realise we are a part of it, and have come to embody some of its evalues, even if we identify as non-conformists or actvists. All socio-economic systems are based on IDEAS. We need to ‘decolonise the imaginary’ to use a term coined by the degrowth movement, if we are to avoid the pitfalls of earlier transformations and revolutions, and not recreate the same problems and values in a different guise.

We delved deeply into the topic of transformation in work. What is adding value to society? What happend to the old promise the technology would free up more leisure time or time for meaningful work? Drawing on a report by the New Economics Foundation, we learned that corporate elites of certain sectors actually destroy value to society when a fuller picture is taken into account. Is it more important to create jobs, (many of which may be bullshit jobs!) or do work that needs doing?

We are becoming increasingly dependent on the capitalist system. Yet most of us accept it. Why DO we accept the outrageous salaries of bankers and other corporate elites? Does it mean we have absorbed, rather than actively believed, the constructed stories about their added value?

Time is honey. We learned how reclaiming TIME, including leisure time and a shorter working week might be a crucial piece of the puzzle in acheiving rapid paradigm shift. If coupled with measures like universal basic income, it could help reduce the endless growth imperative hard wired into our economies. Some people had different views about whether UK was ‘ready’ for universal basic income. But we noted how revealing it was that free health care is regarded as normal and positive, yet the idea of giving free money sufficient to secure human rights can be received with some stigma or anxiety from some people.

Post-capitalist futures will require us to open to change ourselves – both our individual and collective selves. New forms of human identity. New modes of interacting. New role models. New social codes to address human motivational values. New dreams. This is very, very rich territory for artists. Could it contain the seeds even, of a new great art movement someday?

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