In these revolutionary times, where we stand at the precipice of paradigm-shifting historical convulsions marked by the breakdown of the current neoliberal order, followed by the rise of radicalism across the spectrum that will seek to fill the void, the major question will come into focus: what Big Ideas will be available us to give us scope and vision for where to take humanity next?
It is, ultimately, ideas and the people that proliferate them that progresses history itself. An Idea is the foundation- the prime mover behind a society’s subsequent culture, laws and economics. Ideas can be big, sacred, meaningful, visionary and ambitious (positive liberty), or they can be small, profane and easy (negative liberty.)
Big, positive liberty Ideas are proactive and definitely progress history, while small, negative liberty ideas are reactive and stagnate history.
Did you ever notice among discourse regarding ‘mainstream’ politics in our society, people tend to be cynical and small-minded, on average? Think about it. When people talk about politicians, the cliché is that they are useless, parasitic, self-interested and gridlocked. Their sole impetus is to react to public opinion, or manipulate it to serve self-interested ends. Reactive. Self-interest. Individualism. Small vision. Welcome to our current society, welcome to negative liberty. This “idea” is so weak that the idea of creating single payer healthcare or free college a la Bernie is considered a “big idea” by our shockingly low standards. You do realize this isn’t innovative and we are simply playing catch up with the rest of the advanced world, right? Is that really what visionary leadership looks like? Playing catch up? All these things are good ideas, but they are still small.
Big Ideas aren’t necessarily good either. But when a Big Idea actually IS good, you have the most potent mix history has to progress itself and human kind towards the right evolutionary path.
In our “small idea” paradigm, hoarding material objects and beating the social class game has replaced collective greatness as a source of meaning- because when there is no cause greater than oneself or family, then ones self or family BECOMES the sacred cause, and this is exactly the paradigm that those who are ALREADY in power want to maintain- the oligarchs and plutocrats. To have a “Big Idea” by definition applies to the collective and is therefore exactly against the oligarchs. Do you think the Rothschild’s want society energized and focused collectively towards a Big Idea, or do they want us distracted, shopping, and fighting each other like rats in a sack over petty differences like race?
As if by natural law, however, Big Ideas will always win in history. That’s because small ideas are entropic by nature- either society breaks down into factions, the system collapses under its own anarchy (as we see the effects of income inequality and ecosystem destruction today) or the unacceptability of the system reaches fever-pitch levels and revolution becomes inevitable (in which case those with Big Ideas will be the most motivated, focused and organized to fill the void, exactly as we shall see soon.)
This is important to understand because since 1) negative liberty, small idea individualism is destined to collapse and 2) Positive Liberty, Big Idea collectivism will replace it and 3) the latter can come in right wing OR left wing forms, it is IMPERATIVE that pro-social, rational leftists are prepared with Big Ideas of their own, because history is not destined and a battle of the wills will surely emerge.
Believe it or not, the alt-right and Nazism are ‘Big Ideas” which is what makes them so dangerous- it gives its adherents a cause that to them is sacred and bigger than themselves. A through and through racist would be willing to fight heart and soul and possibly even die for the cause of racial purity, as this cause transcends their own individual life and is about a collective.
Theocracy is also a pernicious “Big Idea” impulse. When fighting for a cosmic metaphysical cause, the fuel to the fire is great. People are much more willing to fight and die for this than simply self interest.
The Iranian Revolution was a pernicious “Big Idea” revolution. The rise of the Third Reich was also a Big Idea, as were the Communist and French revolutions. In all cases, the idea in question was about having a grand historical meaning and purpose, a collective identity, a cause bigger than any individual, and a historically significant purpose and vision going forward.
In the United States, “Manifest Destiny” was a Big Idea, (to the detriment of the indigenous people who were victims of this idea.) The last Big Idea this country ever had, one much more benign and inspiring, was the Apollo mission. There is nothing small, self-interested and myopic about gathering the collective national resources to manifest a mission that represents such a giant leap for mankind.
Well, here we are, with over a generation of consumerist void of a culture behind us, not a Big Idea in sight. When the Revolution is fully underway, what “Giant Leaps for Mankind” will we be espousing and creating?
The reason capitalist individualism negative liberty won out thus far was because of the ease in which money and self interest corrupts the soul, and the effectiveness of material power. However, since this phase of history is well on its way to ending, a great cycle will emerge in which “blood and soil” will give people a greater Cause than money, and when the pitchforks come all the money in the world won’t matter.
So, what’s going to fill the void? You can be sure right-wing Big Ideas will come to the fore, and this is why its of utmost important that left wing Big Ideas are there to fight and to WIN.
Right wing small idea:
Right wing Big Idea:
Left wing small idea:
Love and light, left-anarchy
Left Wing Big Idea
Transforming humanity towards maximization of potential. Jacobinism.
There is a food book called “Eat This, Not That!” that offers healthier alternatives to common foods.
Let’s try this with converting left wing small ideas to left wing Big Ideas.
Instead of free education- lets opt for total transformation of the education system by creating it from the ground up. Let’s create a committee of the top experts in child development and pedagogy to apply empirically proven methods to create a system that maximally actualizes the potential of each individual, teaching ethics, philosophy, financial literacy, emotional intelligence from a young age. It’s already proven empirically that 10,000 hours of practice makes someone an expert, lets codify this into educational law. Then make EVERY SINGLE CHILD have access to this best education system of all time.
Instead of regulating private banks- let’s end private banking completely, shut down Wall St. and speculative capitalism totally. Let’s instead implement a public banking system, in which each municipal, state and central bank has explicit social and environmental charters in their constitutions, to manage the economy purely in the interest of the 100%.
Instead of reducing emissions by x% or ending oil subsidies, let’s nationalize all fossil fuels and reinvest all profits into a Green New deal that A) seeks maximum employment while B) completely overhauling infrastructure and making ALL ENERGY 100% renewable ASAP.
While we’re at it, all natural resources should be nationalized (or internationalized?)
Since they are fundamentally part of the commons and existed prior to any private owners.
Instead of increasing the inheritance tax by x% to slightly inconvenience the neo-aristocracy, we need a maximum cap on inheritance. Imagine if no one were ever allowed to inherit more than a few million dollars. A) less than 1% would be affected and B) the oligarch dynasties would no longer exist within ONE GENERATION. Eventually, it can be raised to 100% for everyone since the education model and economy will ensure maximum opportunities for every single child anyways.
Furthermore, this Big Idea thinking needs to be ambitious not only in scope but in effectiveness. This should not a be a 50 year plan. The plan is to take the system from the negative liberty small idea cynics, stamp out the Nazi Big Idea before it infects society, and implement this vision NOW. The plan is for your children (not grandchildren) to live in the most glorious society ever manifested on human earth.
This is not a test, it’s about to go down. Time to think BIG.