The Seven Lamps of Civilisation

A 100-year plan for Britain: Society, Education, Justice, Welfare, Life and Death, Art, and Technology.

My Credentials

Take part. Let me know your thoughts

Never has there been a more pressing need to examine constructive and sustainable strategies to transform and rebalance Social Order here in the UK. Beginning with A Process for Democracy, in the coming months, I intend to sketch a sequence of proposals for the evolution of British society spanning the next one hundred years or so. I also hope people from all corners of the planet will engage with me in helping to establish some consensus on our individual and collective place within a global community; how we interact with each other and how to reclaim self-determination to achieve inclusive and fulfilling lives for all humankind.

Throughout history, there have been many periods when civilisations were challenged, disrupted, and restructured, sometimes by invasion, at other times in response to natural affliction and occasionally through popular revolution. Over the last four thousand years, such events were often manipulated to feed religious empowerment as a means of subjugating populations. In parallel, on every continent from the Americas to Europe, from Eurasian Russia and across Indochina, a few clever, strong, and usually cruel men and women harnessed this zeal for supernatural deference to constitute their elite hierarchies. These kings, queens, politicians, and business leaders became progressively emboldened by an intrinsic belief in their divine right to rule and enriched their elevated status, and that of their officials, by skilful exploitation of malleable populations. From the beginning, except in a few rare examples, politics has been a tool for control and containment rather than to enable and to enhance civilisation universally. This pattern persists today.

Democracy has not been the antidote to exploitation it was intended to be.

In its earliest manifestation, democracy evolved to safeguard the masses against the excesses of rich and powerful individuals and organisations. Since its maturation in the late 1800s and onwards into the 21st Century, like the “religion industry” of old, democracy has increasingly been seized upon to validate discriminatory ideologies under the pretext of endorsement by the popular vote. Clearly, when 71% of enfranchised citizens in the UK did not vote for the incumbent Conservative government in 2019, this is a spurious claim. (ONS figures)

Accountability is the foundation upon which democracy was conceived.

Yet, in recent times, accountability, and the principle that everyone is equal under the law have become anathema to politicians charged with a duty to protect them. Many in public office have developed a taste for lying, divisiveness, coercion, and fraud. These failings are nothing new, however, their practice has become more blatant and aggressive, largely because there is little or no effective retribution.

Even with unprecedented access, the ability to communicate relatively freely is making only minor or short-lived differences to the quality of people’s lives.

Now in the early 21st Century, the development of high technology is accelerating, especially in the fields of biotech, quantum supremacy, pharmacology, AI/robotics, and energy generation, harvesting and storage. Similarly, communications systems have advanced exponentially, instantly connecting platforms all over the globe bringing the ideas and activism of ordinary people closer together than ever before. Within the framework of capitalism, all these activities are financially driven through privately controlled organisations. Paradoxically, simultaneously to these (astonishing) technological achievements, we are experiencing significant regressions in social architecture exacerbated by climate breakdown, political autocracy, corruption, resource starvation, genocide and economically motivated warfare, entrenched poverty, and unbridled inequality. All these negative impacts are avoidable and yet nation-states, most usually the politicians that control them, show varying degrees of reluctance to address these issues when doing so would certainly contribute to the enrichment of humanity as a whole.

With these contentious issues in play, it’s no great challenge to conclude, on the balance of probability, humanity is at the cusp of a triangulation of marker events likely to precipitate significant social re-alignment not only in Britain but also globally.

It seems to me that tides are running inexorably towards revolution.

In Britain, it is commonly understood that a centralised government can no longer be relied upon to make necessary provisions to sustain daily existence for a growing number of people being pushed into relative and absolute poverty. Additionally, it is becoming increasingly obvious that central government’s politically motivated interventions, tightening their control of regional and local councils, are generally obstructive to the needs of the community populations they serve. In most areas of the country inequalities and divisions are deepening.

For many in the UK, Government has become the enemy within, acting as an inhibitor to free and unfettered life.

Party politics promotes progressively retaliatory ideologies, bordering on vindictive, with the result that, generally speaking, each party’s outlook has become narrow, detached, unrealistic and elitist particularly relating to democracy, immigration, welfare and response to national emergencies (COVID, poverty, inequalities etc.). Due in part to the lack of will to engage in any meaningful opposition, we are already witnessing large scale but low-key protests against proposals to withdraw historic civil liberties. Against a background of insipid response from politicians, a significant tipping point will occur when a majority of the population realise that the state is essentially impotent in addressing these pressing issues or continues to ignore them. When confronted by the consolidated will of the population, predictably, even as change becomes inevitable, politicians of all stripes will no doubt exert extraordinary pressure to maintain their version of the status quo, at which point, it is most likely uprisings will quickly escalate into organised and specifically targeted hostility. Violence on the streets of our towns and cities will be the inevitable result of corrupt and incompetent political leadership.

This is one vision of the near future.

Rather than dwelling on everything that’s wrong with Britain, I wish to focus on solutions. To this end, I believe we, as a nation, must waste no time in radically and forensically evaluating the significance and worth of every facet of Britain’s functionality; The Seven Lamps of Civilisation.

We must explore ways of redefining and reinforcing collective purpose regarding the management of Society (including but not exclusively, democracy and the democratic process, politics and the future of party politics, economics and the future of capitalism, culture and the role of historic conventions).

At the heart of any reformation will be Education, as distinct from indoctrination. Over the last forty years, it is evident that natural curiosity for the most part has driven meagre success in British education programmes (nursery through to university), not structured learning imposed by centralised governments in line with transitory political ideologies. Therefore, I believe, we must consider, for example, the role of formal education in promoting redundant conventions and whether expanding the purpose of education outside political and capitalist frameworks would re-energise the importance of individual thinking and thus, over time help to re-balance society.

We must evaluate the efficacy of our Justice System (including policing and enforcement)and consider rebuilding it from the ground up and making recourse and redress freely available to all. Perhaps, in the process, we might evaluate what role AI might have in any restructuring.

We must undertake a comprehensive study of both personal, community and national Welfare (including employment/occupation, social security, healthcare, and well-being). In parallel, we must rethink our systemic perceptions of Life, perhaps in terms of quality rather than quantity, and of Death, to engender the evolution of holistic understanding, including the implications, for example, of preserving human life at almost any cost to the natural order.

We must reignite our relationship with Art and Technology. While most people understand that these disciplines both separately and jointly shape the world we live in, we could explore further how, with their contrasting vitality, they can combine to create material phenomena greater than the sum of parts beyond the constraints of capitalism and privately financed initiatives.

Finally, everything we plan for must be enacted in the context of the elemental support which makes our existence possible. It is an absolute imperative that we re-establish our connection with The Earth (including conservation and food production).

Your thoughts matter. I am looking for solutions, ideas, progressive thinking. There will be no censorship and no subjects are off-limits, all I ask is that your contributions are relevant and specific to whichever proposal you wish to make. Email me: rod@rivenrod.com

Before embarking on this enterprise, I would like to declare some of the parameters and principles governing the process.

  • Each plan will encompass the next 100 years and beyond.
  • Each section or subject will fill no more than one side of A4 paper.
  • The thoughts and propositions will be my own. Even having read widely and absorbed a great deal of illustrative information, as well as witnessing events for myself, my interpretations may be open to challenge. This, I welcome.
  • Except in certain circumstances, I will not quote references. Sources are as available to the reader as they are to me and whilst the writings of others are often useful, in many cases as shortcuts to corroboration, it is personal thinking I wish to stimulate. Everyone is free to conduct research for themselves, as I have done.
  • I assume readers understand the meaning of Society, Justice, Life and Death, Healthcare and Well-being, Education, Art and Technology, and The Earth.
  • I don’t give a damn about political correctness particularly when used as a weapon against freedom of thought and expression. However, hate speech and prejudice are different matters.

© Rivenrod 2021

Picture: Wendelin Jacober and Jeremy Lishner