Generation M: an Unmanifesto

The below is my attempt to remove the frothy and breathless tone from “Generation M manifesto” by Umair Haque, because I liked it in many ways. It is definitely more boring, but I hope more real as well. I don’t believe any manifesto can express the right amount of humility towards these questions, but it can emphasize belief in the possibility for something better, so I focused on that.
Dear gradualists, ideologues, and partisans,
We are in a time of large differences between groups, young and old, east and west, rich and poor, but one where many of the traditional ideologies seem to have been scrambled both by a global economy and crisis and fundamental changes in how information is shared through technology.
Everyday, we see the costs of doing the same things. It looks like some big, new, and huge problems are looming, but the solutions that are talked about are old, timeworn, and plain unambitious.
Old ideas of generational shift and left/right politics no longer seem to work. We can’t use simple terms in this new, hypercomplex and interdependent world. We need a new way of seeing and strengthening the relationships we have, not a manifesto of ideas.
These times demand not single solutions, but systems of solutions, involving less large-scale business and more individual opportunity. Less ideology, and more practicality.
Businesses and governments must get connected to and become responsive to a public that is comfortable using social tools to express themselves in massive ways. The hyper-connected “sea of green” in Tehran is the model for a new, speeded-up politics.
Much of this new world no longer requires massive capital or leverage to work, and banks should play a smaller and more supporting role. A smaller role for finance means less focus on lucrative return.
The huge accumulation of risk and the massive gaming of global markets resulted in crisis. This should drive a lot of wealth away from financial instruments and towards tangible, collective works and accomplishments that everyone can benefit from.
Growth as a goal incentivizes distortion. We should prize flexibility and agility, so that no matter which way the markets go, business can prosper and act to benefit everyone.
Rather than nurturing a few elites (or even oligarchs), the new economy should be a huge number of distributed markets. It wouldn’t be entirely controllable, and those that would want to profit from it will have to compete for influence just like everyone else.
We’ve seen the consequences of short-term thinking in spending and debt and felt the pain; now we should start working on ideas that are built to last a generation, not 5 years.
Our sense of ourselves has moved too far towards what we can do as individuals; it’s time to nurture some shared beliefs, projects, and experiences.

Our culture should connect us to our shared past, and remind us that when it comes to the most meaningful things for human beings, there’s usually nothing new under the sun.

In order to provide some label for what’s needed, let’s call it Generation “M.”
This is not a movement in the traditional sense (our society is too distributed one manifesto, one protest, one set of ideas). It’s more the recognition that a new set of norms is needed for a new time, the recognition of a shift. It’s the belief that we can come up with practical ways to live and work together that do a better job at caring for each other.
Ideologies and manifestos will always run up against their own logical extremes. Gen M is the belief that innovative ideas married with historical consciousness and brutal practicality can be vastly more powerful, and meaningful.
Big changes will be necessary. The institutions and norms that we’ve lived within for a long time are too fragile to pass on to our children.
Since the end of the Cold War, we’ve lived with cheap, easy, expensive lifestyle, but one that was empty of meaning and for which we have little to show. Every age has a large responsibility, and this, I think, is ours: to foot the bill for yesterday’s profligacy — and to create, instead, an authentically, sustainably shared prosperity.
Anyone — young or old — can answer it. Generation M is more about what you do and who you are than when you were born. So the question is this: do you want to build the new relationships, businesses, and systems we need? Or do you want to keep repeating the same old ideologies, marching in protests, or clinging to dying institutions?

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