There is no ‘We the people’

There is a time between waking and rising. I find that time to be particularly full of insights and reflections.

Today – I have been pondering this ‘we, the people’ concept that is often used to justify election outcomes.

Democracy has become a popularity contest. I say ‘has become’ because I assume it wasn’t meant to be like this. Whether they are contests of ideas or personality or both, matters little – popularity contests are terrible way to pick leadership because they mostly attract those able to get the most claps.

But I digress.

After any election or referendum – there is a period when the news and the politicians use words to the effect of ‘the people have chosen’. In some cases, the ‘people’ also harp on about it is ‘the will of the people, ‘we voted and picked’.

In reality, there is no ‘we, the people’.
It implies some sort of deliberate collaboration towards common goals, but I can understand how the recipients of votes – the politicians – can see the electorate as a collaborating audience. Hence the difference in perspective.

When I go to a polling booth to cast a vote – I don’t do it as part of a carefully considered and coordinated effort with other voters. We haven’t weighed the arguments and made peace with our differences. There is no ‘We’. There is just me, acting on my current understanding – biases and blind spots and driven by my own sense of what is good for me and mine.

20 million people doing exactly the same thing in their own bubble is not an ‘us’. The country doesn’t get better by 20 million people each seeking their own selfish interest.

The ‘people’, the ‘electorate’, the ‘citizens’, ‘Britons’, ‘Americans’ are all collective terms that are generally meaningless to the individuals in they cover and mostly meaningful to the systems that need those collectives in their functioning. Those collective terms are used to justify decisions – give authority, even as though decisions hold terrible consequences for many of the individuals covered by the term.

What might happen if there was a ‘we’ – that ‘the people’ knew each other, debated and agreed on things that mattered to them and acted on their decisions in a coordinated way?

How might government with a ‘people’ that actually held them to account collectively, function?

I’m interested in building and using tech to enable true ‘we’ society and to close the gap between what is fantasy but dressed as reality and reality.

If you are too – then let’s chat.

Today is #BobMarley's birthday, what is the music of your revolution?

Today is Bob Marley‘s 70th birthday. It got me thinking about music and revolution. I have a favour to ask you, but first…

We are all Children of Revolution

I grew up in Nigeria in the 70s and 80s. This was the best of times and it was the worst of times.

There was a struggle going on. A struggle between the political thought, a struggle between the kleptocrats and everyone else.

Similarly in the UK, another struggle was in flow – between those who wanted to put the national cake in private hands. They largely succeeded and in doing so, they destroyed the social fabric of the working class for generations.

Through all this socio-political revolution was one constant. Music.

For me, the music that plays when I think of Nigeria’s revolutions – past, present and future – is Fela. He foresaw the kleptocracy and the hijacking of democracy. He saw the ‘power show’. He saw the cattle trading of the international political elite and he knew how this was playing out.

When I want to understand the US Civil Rights revolution, I simply listen to Nina Simone. Her music was deep in empathy and communicated so much more of the pain, injustice and hope beyond the words she sang.

When I listen to UB40’s music from the 80s, I get a sense of the disillusionment of the youth of the day – the riots, the joblessness, the conflict with a generation that didn’t understand its children.

What Music Fuels Your Revolution and Your Struggle?

But there are always revolutions going on and there is always music.

Your revolution does not have to be a war or a conflict, but it does have to be a struggle that has significant consequences depending on who triumphs.

It could be Iran, Egypt, the struggle of the indigenous Bolivians. It could be the Occupy Movement. It could be Israel and Palestine, it could be the Western Sahara. It could be anywhere!

It could be a struggle against religion or a political or economic system. Or any system for that matter.

It could be religious music, punk, folk, afrobeat or anything – what did it’s words do for your movement.

The Favour – Join Me In Celebrating The Music of Revolution.

I want to see – in my lifetime – a celebration of this music.

I want to see it spark a reawakening and re-energising of the movements fighting the good fight. I want the struggle – in its new and emerging battle grounds to be renewed  by the timeless messages and power of the words and lives of Bob, Fela, Nina and countless others.

It won’t happen on its own and I can’t do it on my own – so I need your help.

In 2016 , I want to see a stage of this music in festivals across the world. From Glastonbury to Paleo, from Coachella to Midi in China and across all genres. This stage will be an unprecedented mashup of music styles and personalities – united by the thread of social and political catalysis.

Imagine an unprecedented line up of Bob Dylan, the Sex Pistols, Seun Kuti, Femi Futi, UB40, Ziggy, Damien and Stephen Marley, Manu Chao and dozens of others on the same stage – united in the music of protest and telling the story of social change through the power of music.

My hope is that we can get this in to 12 global festivals across the world.

Please help me make this happen.  Do you want to be a part of this? Then tweet, email or ping me on Skype and let’s going. The world needs this.


Photo by monosnaps