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Issue 269
November/December 2011
Wellbeing

Reviews

A Better World
by

issue cover 269

Cover: Uccello-nella-Primavera, by Anita Klein www.anitaklein.com

 

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A Better World

Bruce Nixon has written a handbook for anyone who wants to act now and implement real change. A Better World Is Possible: What Needs to Be Done and How We Can Make It Happen by Bruce Nixon. O Books, ISBN: 9781846945144

Working in Jamaica in the 1960s had a lasting effect on me. It was Independence time. Hopes were high and Prime Minister Norman Manley and his artist wife, Edna, were inspiring partners in building a new nation.

Today, it is hard going back there.

The global system was against this small nation that gave so much to Britain. The lesson: global system change is needed. Later, I worked in the City (and in many other organisations), where I learned something about how to help people bring about real change.

I am often, for example, invited to speak to young people about climate change. It is a joy to talk with them; I am struck by their intelligence, energy and eagerness to find solutions to the problems we face. One young man issued a very direct challenge: “It’s all right for your generation; it’s different for us. We’ll have to face the consequences of your inaction.” I listen to a lot of people, and many believe there is little they can do to change things fundamentally.

The book I have written arises from my conviction that fundamental change is possible. We know what needs to be done. We need values that put the wellbeing of all, all forms of life, before individual affluence. It means a change of lifestyles, giving up some things, choosing instead what truly matters. Apart from saving our lives and those of future generations, this will lead to far greater happiness.

We need total system change; tinkering around the edges does not work. A world economy based on ever-increasing growth and consumption defies common sense. It is essential that we find a new form of prosperity without growth and bring about a fundamental transition. This can be achieved through fairer, sustainable taxation, tackling corporate tax evasion, providing substantial funds for green investment, and shifting subsidies from industries that accelerate climate change and harm lives to those that are sustainable.

Comprehensive monetary reform is needed, giving reserve banks the sole right to issue money. A Citizen’s Income payment, partly funded by land taxation, would reduce the humiliation and cost of administering complex benefits, and more principled foreign policies (and conflict resolution) would save lives and release the vast sums wasted on war.

To make all this achievable we need to transform our democracy and make it one in which people are better informed and a wider diversity, especially young people, are engaged.

Today it is a time of breakdown. But the good news is that breakdowns lead to breakthroughs. We have survived throughout history by learning and adapting. Human beings are enormously creative. This time we need to act urgently. People power can generate reform. The brave people in Africa and the Middle East have shown us the way. We need to inform ourselves, lead, collaborate, lobby, educate politicians and demand they do what is needed.

A Better World Is Possible is a handbook for everyone who wants to engage. My approach is to give hope and encourage people to empower themselves. The first step is to make sense of the system and the flaws therein, and the first part of the book sets out to do just that. The second part sets out a practical vision of a better world and the transition needed to bring this about. It describes the best proposals and existing models that are working all over the world. I suggest actions people can take in their own lives, how they can influence their communities and workplaces and, equally important, what they can do as activists to urge politicians to take positive action. The book also provides reliable sources of information and details of key campaigns people can get involved with alongside exciting, like-minded people.

A Better World Is Possible: What Needs to Be Done and How We Can Make It Happen is now available as a free PDF from www.brucenixon.com; the paperback and ebook versions are published by O Books, ISBN: 9781846945144.

Bruce Nixon is a veteran change agent, writer and speaker.

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