A New Politics In A Changed World

Joshua Malkin argues that the world has changed and it is time for our politics to change too. New politics demands we shift our focus from ego to eco, from closed to open attitudes, from life degrading to life-enhancing economic policies – and that we navigate by an evolutionary, vertical political spectrum –  above left and right and centre. This constitutes a new story of care-ability, capability, creativity and collaboration.

 The World Has Changed

The world is very different from how things were even 20 years ago – if we consider technology, communications, production, consumption, culture, global secondary markets, social values, climate breakdown and biodiversity loss-  but our political philosophies haven’t changed and are unable to deal with this new world.

As Professor Paul Hawken suggests, “Civilization needs a new operating system. You are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.” [i]

We can no longer expect to transform society if we start from the old polarized left-right politics, which allows markets and the state to use their power for partisan separatist interests, rather than challenging each of us to take responsibility for ourselves and the public space – the social and natural commons –  that enables all of us to flourish.

The 3 R’s Of Civil Society

In contrast, the values of civil society – the 3R’s of Respect, Responsibility and Reciprocity [give and take] provide a mutual basis for encouraging individual creativity, initiative and capability, while restraining the worst excesses of self-interest. Enlightened self-interest puts human fellowship [fraternity] before literal or legal ideas of liberty and equality and by doing so builds a civil society. A new politics demands we shift our focus from ego to eco, from closed to open attitudes, from life degrading to life-enhancing perspectives – and that we navigate by an evolutionary political spectrum rather than a horizontal one.

Civil society offers a form of mutualism that integrates the best of individualism and collectivism and prevents the worst of both from dominating because it challenges us to put our personal responsibility first.[ii]

The Paradox Of Power

The advantage of a culture based upon mutualism is that it solves the paradox of power. Rather than supporting short-term, self-interested mis-creation, Mutulism directs collective and individual creative power towards building a long-term context conducive for all to flourish, whose characteristics include

  • Inclusive prosperity
  • Regenerative economy
  • Subsidiarity or devolved power for self-organisation
  • Empowered civil society
  • Community resilience
  • Shared value
  • Reciprocal security

Mutualism raises personal responsibility to a new level.

The philosopher Jordan Petersen suggests that, “People are hungry for discussion of the relation between responsibility and meaning rather than the discussion of rights and privileges that has dominated the last 50 years. Courage, nobility, real compassion and a commitment to developing capability are the way we honour our social obligations.” Jordan Petersen [iii]

But people are hungry for more than a discussion – they want a fairer, kinder society. They want moral leadership and a positive vision that can reunite the kingdom.

Responsibility is a necessary foundation of Rights

If we are willing to take responsibility for our own power to create [or mis-create] before we challenge others, we take on a new level of maturity personally and collectively. This constitutes a new story of care-ability, capability, courage, creativity and collaboration. Surely Britain’s destiny is to spread these values into Europe and beyond and to create a new age of humanity in the 21st century.

Civil society is consistent with defining ourselves as Democrats rather than liberals, as traditionalists rather than Tories and with a commitment to social justice but not to a centralized state.

To Be Meaningful, Freedom  & Equality Require Fraternity

Crucially fraternity distinguishes between sameness and equality on one hand, and fairness and equality on the other thereby supporting freedom in diversity rather than the type of censorial political correctness which squashes diversity and which is neither useful nor kind.

As a higher form of mutualism, civil society as a perspective, is committed to protecting and nurturing the natural environment upon which we all depend that supports an enabling context in which all may flourish.

Civil society is the ground in which personal, social and public wellbeing can flourish

 A Space of Hope

It therefore offers a space of hope for those who for years have been unable to vote for any of the old political ‘isms’, which in a changed world are unable to protect what we hold most dear.

A traditional perspective of economic growth does not distinguish between bad growth and good growth. Such a neoliberal model of free-market behaviour is an ideology that justifies growing money above all else and thereby promotes economic and cultural insecurity before social and public wellbeing. Consequently, there is a significant rift between what people want and what the market and the state are able or willing to offer.

But those of us who have wanted to make our society more civil, safer, healthier, caring, honest, competent and kinder have been stuck in what is an impotent ineffective opposition between left and right wing ideologies.

Just as the 20th century found fascism and communism to be historical dead ends, the 21st century will come to see liberalism, conservatism and socialism also as political dead ends. This is because, whilst having made significant positive contributions in their time, in a changed world they are unable to deal with the paradox of power and therefore are unable to protect what we hold most dear.

The paradox of power is simply that we all we all have the power to create but in so doing we also have the power to mis-create

Technology intensifies social and economic power for good or ill

The potential for mis-creation – in relation to degrading the human, social and natural value that support wellbeing – is exponentially increased in a technological world. Consequently the foundational principles of liberty and equality are no longer sufficient for governance. It is no longer sufficient to vote for the least worst party – we must take responsibility ourselves to contribute towards the greater good in whatever way we can.

Mutualism requires redefining prosperity and work through the frame of wellbeing for all. This is not another moral, righteous position it is simply a practical response to the new era that calls forth greater maturity from humanity as a whole.


[i] Paul Hawken – University of Portland 2009 Commencement Speech

“”Civilization needs a new operating system. You are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.”


[ii] Mutualism recognizes that relationships based on raw power alone will always be dysfunctional because social wellbeing is relational. Relationships based on more than power and more than profit require trust, which requires a shared purpose that regulates self-interest.

[iii] Jordan Petersen : https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=959&v=yZYQpge1W5s

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