Capitalism, Crisis, Culture, Democracy, Education/learning, Environment, Evolutionary consciousness, Food, Globalisation, Knowledge production, Marxism, Network versus hierarchy, Patriarchy, Politics and economics, racism, transformation

WTF is going on?! Ultimate contradiction and the struggle for humanity

Dear friends,

I hope that you have enjoyed your summer. I have. I’ve been off for almost all of it – first, recuperating from my injuries and, second, looking after my kids. I can’t deny that it has been tiring and occasionally exasperating being with three kids all day in what often seem to be ceaseless processes of negotiation, mediation, disciplining, imploring, insisting…and relenting. But, the moments of true love and joy have been countless – moments of simplicity: of play, of love and kindness among siblings and with one and with multiple children, in summer fields, eating ice creams, stargazing, picking berries, and just being together. I cherish them. But, another summer is behind us and we’re back into the school routine.

I find myself currently without employment and in quite an uncertain position, but, as I work things through and find employment, I am not short of work to do and plans to hatch. I will be spending the Autumn writing up five articles based on my experiments in and experiences of radical democratic pedagogy both within and beyond the university. I will also be turning the website designed alongside students at Warwick earlier this year into reality. It’s called ‘Moneypedia’ and will be a site designed to invite users into participatory processes of learning about money – about the world of money, our lives within in, and possible alternatives beyond the current system. I’m also continuing to work with nine other people to build the foundations of the Centre for Transformational Learning and Culture. We’ve now produced a development plan/funding proposal and we are awaiting news from one potential funder. We’re also going to be trying to build a networked community of people and organisations involved in the very broad area of transformational learning and culture, so contact me if you want to join that group.


What I plan to do in a series of blogs over the next couple of months are to write up some reflections on what I think is going on right now in our world. I want to argue that in recent months we have been experiencing the increasing intensification of the collapse of our entire living system and that, overall, on the level of humanity, this is being experienced as ultimate contradiction. It’s experienced as ultimate contradiction because it embodies the struggle between the old dying system and the new emerging system on a global level.

When we talk about systems far too often we overlook the fact that we are these systems – these systems are our relationships with each other and they live and function within and through our minds and bodies – so, living with ultimate contradiction is very tough indeed. It is toughest, of course, for those suffering the greatest pain at the expense of the old system who often experience their lives not as contradiction, but as intense and unambiguous pain. What I want to contribute to above all with my life is the pedagogical movement to help people suffering the pain of social injustice, oppression, and exploitation – whether receiving or inflicting this pain – to recognise the social and systemic source of this pain and to recognise themselves as agents in unison with others with the power to end this pain and transform their lives and world. So, one thing I try to do is write blogs like this.

What I’ll do in this series of blogs is the following. First, I’ll explain a bit more about what I mean by ‘ultimate contradiction’, systems, and dialectics. Then, I’ll offer real life evidence for this ultimate contradiction being played out and intensifying, i.e. evidence for the old dying and the new emerging. I’ll do this by breaking things down into blogs focused on economics and ecology; politics; and race, gender, and disability. I will basically try to show that the economic crisis is terminal and that people are already organising themselves in ways that herald a move to a post-economic system that is grounded in common trusteeship rather than private ownership. It is ‘post’-economic in the sense that economics exists because scarcity exists and the new system will transcend scarcity. One central expression of this is the move to sustainable ecological relations and the transformation of currently ecocidal ‘externalities’ of waste and pollution into new recyclable inputs into closed-loop processes of food, energy, and industrial production. In the political realm, I will focus not just on the breakdown of old political parties and the emergence of new, but I will argue that we are in the early throes of Copernican revolutionary transformation in leadership from a Ptolemaic practice (everyone orbits the big man) to the emergence of a truly democratic practice of leadership. I think that the movement behind Jeremy Corbyn in the UK represents this revolution in leadership and the rise of Donald Trump represents the fascistic response of the old. In the areas of race, gender, and disability I will look at the hideous rise of violent and other hate crimes by civilians and police against oppressed groups across the world and consider the recent emergence of the resistance movements this upsurge has spawned. I will explore the links between racism, patriarchy, and disabilism and capitalist and ecological crisis. Finally, in a blog on culture, I will focus on the crisis within our institutions producing knowledge and culture and argue that, while the current system does its best to repress it, the information revolution cannot be held back and is the technological catalyst for the new emerging social ecological system of humanity. I’ll try always to relate it to our personal lives to show how this ultimate contradiction is situated and played out within us all.

So many human beings have fallen into the egotistical trap of thinking that their period of history was the most crucial period. Mind you, if history is dialectically evolutionary, they were/are probably right. I do think, however, this is the most monumental period for humanity because now we have evolved our cleverness to a point where we are affecting things at a planetary level. The trick now is to convert our cleverness into wisdom. We need to wake up to the realisation that we are beings embodying and expressing universal evolutionary consciousness and that, since each one of us is (a unique and beautiful) part of the one reality of the universe, we need to use that realisation to create a life system in which both the system as a whole and each and every individual living part of that system can thrive and flourish. This is our historical task. We now have the scientific and technological knowledge to realise this. The obstacles are political and pedagogical. They are political because it is through politics that the old uses power to resist and repress and the new seeks power to transform and emerge. They are pedagogical because human transformation and emergence is a pedagogical process: we change through learning.

What is fundamental to emphasise, then, is that systemic change is no mechanistic process; that the old could well destroy the new (and the foundations of our social ecology with it); and so we need to recognise ourselves as living agents of universal consciousness with the power to take our species, our planet, possibly our universe to a way higher level of evolution. I will end with a call to all of us, but particularly young people, to get involved in catalysing and leading the processes that destroy the old and bring in the new.

In the meantime, watch these two talks. The first, by Daniel Schmachtenberger, is a more scientifistic perspective on WTF is happening; the second is an incredibly powerful argument by Aph Ko for the intersectional systemic nature of all forms of structural oppression, exploitation, and violence.

Thanks, as ever, for reading. Back soon