Writers suggest and argue social change but reading a book is a placid activity whereas real change requires taking power away from a controlling group by protest, legislation or violence. The concept of a writer arousing passions that incite the reader to join with others to change people’s behaviour may be far-fetched. A book cannot empower. The reader has to take power from others. Karl Popper’s view was that most creative endeavours, in the jungle that is society, is given to clearing the underbrush of deceits and obfuscations, in order to see the tall trees of iconic theories, such as Adam Smith’s and Karl Marx’s. The task of iconclasts is toppling these, to make room for new growth, or social change. The challenge is taken up by few, who can be writer activists, like Germaine Greer. They depend on the underbrush clearers for success. I am content to be an underbrush clearer, working near these tall trees and others. I would also like to be a writer activist, not for the controversy and personal danger but for the dispossessed who deserve better. Society is ordered by too many false monotheisms.
Q. Do You Want Your Writing to Change Society or Views Today?
As a full time writer of fiction, I would like my writing to lead to much-valued change in views and socials. This would fulfil my desire to make a difference, thus perpetuating me and my kind. The dozen books that, in my opinion have caused, or could yet cause, the most valued worldwide change, are the following, with their publication dates.
#1 The Wealth of Nations 1776; # 2 Origin of the Species 1859; #3 Das Kapital 1867; #4 Pygmalion 1912; #5 Animal Farm 1945; #6 Atlas Shrugged 1957; #7 Silent Spring 1962; #8 The Female Eunuch 1970; #9 Objective Knowledge 1972; #10 The Selfish Gene 1976; #11 Learned Optimism 1990; #12 The Grass is Always Browner 2011.
I will argue that to cause revolutionary change, it is best to write non-fiction (#s 1,2,3,7,8,9,10,11). A fiction writer should write allegories (4,5,6). Other fiction tweaks. Manifesto futuristic fiction (12), however relevant to contemporary problems, is likely to be overlooked in one’s lifetime, unless the writer achieves fame with previous successful publication of a different type of work (e.g. George Orwell ‘1984’ published 1949). As the author of #12, I am currently writing a crime fiction novel to obtain a following for other books in my series of five futuristic manifesto fiction novels yet to be published.
Australian double hypocrisy 24/10/14
On Thursday 12th September 2013, at U3a, the question Can Australians live a less material and more spiritual lifestyle? was discussed.
Spiritualism versus materialism 140913
On Thursday 28th March 2013 a discussion was held at U3a Brisbane that referred to the discussion notes following on
Spiritualism versus Materialism.
Materialism & Spiritualism
On Thursday 21st March 2013 a discussion was held at U3a Brisbane on Communal Living.
The discussion notes distributed and a summary of the discussion is as follows.
On Friday 22 July I watched a movie “The Power Of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil” and a talk by Mario Alberto Arrastia Avila, Producer of “Energy and Climate
Change” program, Cuba. This was followed by a panel discussion with Morag
Gamble, Adam Beck, Kerry Shepherd and Rob Pekin.
When the USSR disintegration reduced crude oil imports to 30%, the people responded with home-grown ways of growing food including replacing tractors with oxen. Companion plantings replaced pesticides. Fertilizers were no longer needed when the soil was rebuilt. with the flora and fauna that the chemicals had killed by
demineralisation of the soil.
Some off-the-shelf technologies
were adopted, e.g PV panels and Permaculture.
The main factor was caring, not technology.
People cared about growing food without petroleum fuels because they were hungry. They cared about each other and shared the food they grew with hospitals and the elderly.
Economic values responded and food growers were amongst the highest paid workers.
Whereas petroleum supplies to Australia are vulnerable, as with Cuba, from shifting international political alliances, there was an even earlier possibility of food scarcity. I observed that Queensland food supplies had been under threat in the recent drought. Vegetable s had almost disappeared from Coles. People had started growing their own vegetables. There had been plenty of meat as herds were slaughtered but even this supply was beginning to run out.
With depletion of petroleum and population growth, food security in Australia will worsen. In my book, The Grass Is Always Browner, I predict devastating famines, as well as warfare, have uprooted the population and created a rural society intent on independent food security.
Recently I attended a performance by the Chinese National Theatre in which the action was entirely taken up in achieving a pleasing pattern of distribution with a truckload of rice on stage which they put in rows. I went away with the impression that in China, fair food distribution is the major pre-occupation of the national government. I predict that by 2257, the same preoccupation will apply in Australia.
For me, the outstanding lesson from Cuba is that Australia needs local community organisations that will harness the resources of voluntarism for agreed purposes. These might be energy and water conservation, electricity supply, pollution reduction, zero population growth and so on. State and Commonwealth Governments are useless for this and should be disbanded.
Kerry pointed to the community
response to cleaning up the mess from the flood in Brisbane in January 2011, as
an example of caring community action. Again, the people of Brisbane made large
unpoliced sacrifices in their use of water in the recent drought, cutting
average personal consumption to a fraction. Tales of enormous voluntarism in
providing supplies for the troops in WWII abound.
I believe that voluntarism should be expected all the time, not just in wars and disasters. I call this principle ‘selfaltruism‘. It requires a person
to take care of themselves first, then lend their resources and skills to the
community. I believe that communities should be about the size of a city
suburb, having geographic or economic boundaries. Such a community would be
staffed by volunteers working part-time and pro-bono on services and projects.
We have growing isolation of individuals and families, who do not know and fear their neighbours. It seems designed, by a conspiracy of government and business, to sublime people’s psychological needs into a competition for conspicuous material consumption and private possession. In The Grass Is Always Browner, this sad state is overcome by living in communes with like-minded people, by a retreat from the excesses of materialism and by more leisure and more meditation.
What do other people think about voluntarism?
How can people with different skills contribute to their neighbours?
How much do we care about our neighbours’ welfare right now?
I found the AGDF discussion intelligent and stimulating. They care.
Martin Knox 24/07/11