Exploring the potential of co-operative intelligence


I'm pleased to report that Brian Eno has accepted my invitation to appear at the first Campfire Convention event as keynote speaker this August. Having worked with Brian in the latter days of The Big Chill when he brought his '77 Million Paintings' project to Eastnor Castle, it feels timely to be renewing acquaintances now that we're both involved in social and political activism. In his letter to me, Brian remarked that he was especially happy to hear that I was turning my energies towards supporting Corbyn. He also said that he hoped to see lots of that kind of activity over the next few years and it is indeed proof that the propaganda machine isn't working. 

Whilst mindful that Corbyn has brought about some major changes and made things appear possible that a year ago were completely out of reach, I'm also getting on with initiatives preparing Campfire for imminent launch. I have been keeping Brian up to speed with my thinking in terms of the initial ideas I have for speaker and panel content at the event which seems to be evolving on an almost daily basis. I'm hopeful that we'll arrive at a unique blend of art and politics and to be getting the first event off the ground in the Black Mountains, so close to where The Big Chill made its inauspicious outdoor debut 21 years ago only adds to the excitement for me.

Having heard Brian speak in London in early February at the JC4PM rally, and listened to his John Peel lecture from late last year, it became clear that we share a lot of ideas on how we should be moving forward - harnessing a collective energy via community thinking and encouraging people to find ways of making a living from doing what they enjoy. Never before has the quest for finding ways of personal and collective expression through art been so important and to that end, we're both excited about the ideas around Universal Basic Income that have been very much on the agenda in recent months, and something along these lines could support a liberation of creativity and isn't as far-fetched as its critics like to think. Hopefully Campfire's online presence will offer an outlet and forum for those sparks of creativity and with some lateral thinking, I hope we can arrive at way of rewarding our own members too, as I outline here. I certainly had something along these lines in mind as a process when the idea first formed, though if we're to be truly democratic about this, I can't claim to have all the answers!

Eno also prompted us - when the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said that she thought that it was a good idea for students not to go into the arts and humanities because they didn’t offer such good job prospects as the STEM subjects, you somehow know that the time is right to not only restore a sense of balance, but to get active in terms of rethinking our relationship with culture and society. Interestingly we've both been quoting Thatcher's infamous one-liner "There's no such thing as society" recently.. that's a great motivator in itself for proving its value, in new ways and with added strength.

There's also a view gaining credence that we're already moving into a phase where capitalism isn't really working any longer as a model and we have to look to communications networks to lead the way, away from market forces as a primary motivator. Much of it is coming down to networks vs hierarchies in many ways, neoliberal economics colliding with network technology and many traditional, unquestioned ways of doing things are beginning to look outmoded. We need new structures for the means of production of intellectual 'goods' to move into the hands of the many.

I think many of us are also aware that we have to move fast, to make the most of the changes that are opening up everywhere. We need big visions, we need people able and willing to articulate their own utopian thinking for ways forward and who can relate them to the here and now. Making those bridges rational, grounded in economic thinking and graspable for most people is the key. Alongside that, we need new media to be organising, adding new perspective and getting the message out. Not just to middle England but globally and the internet is the way we can do that. 

I'm very much looking forward to welcoming Brian and all other guests to Campfire Convention 001.UK on August 13th.


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