INSTITUTE FOR NON-TOXIC PROPAGANDA – SOCIETY FOR THE PROMOTION OF HUMAN RITES
Sociology professor Manuel Castells was honoured with the prestigious Holberg Prize for his work on people’s rebellion. Tradition dictated that he should then give an open lecture where he presented his latest thinking on popular ‘outrage,’ and his role as the ideological godfather of the Occupy movement and Los Indignadas. During the short question round that followed, yours truly got his arm up as faster than everyone else, I squeezed out the following tailor-made, non-toxic question:
“We have been informed that on a global basis these past months have seen 3500 ‘occupations’ in 82 countries… to the considerable embarrassment of many of us in this room, not one of these has been in Norway; what would you say was the prognosis for cultivating genuine ‘outrage’ among such a thoroughly bribed population as this one?”
Amid the resulting laughter, his response was equally pleasant and diplomatic: he adjusted my statistics upwards, and confessed that he hadn’t really studied Norge, (and besides they had just given him this most generous award etc. etc.) but, he had looked at Finland and they too had escaped the wave of occupations. “People did not take to the streets as long as they subscribe to the belief that the government is really working in their best interests.”
Our good-tempered project seeks to use state of the art software to examine the people’s perceptions of the cracks in our democratic institutions…
In sept 2011 a group of 1500 citizen’s met in an Icelandic sportshall. They had been randomly selected, but comprised a full 0.5 % of the island’s population. Sitting around small tables in groups of seven, they were given a series of tasks to perform. Their mission was to deﬁne the values with which to rebuild their country’s governing organs. Over this memorable weekend, they honed what they felt should be the operational priorities of their society.
Now, some years later, they wish to import aspects of this experience to the mother country: Gamle Noreg.
An important meeting magniﬁed by its historic location —
Sometime in the near future – Håkonshallen
What emerges if a large group of average citizens gathering around pencils and laptops, get asked most pressing questions about how their society is to reﬂect the needs of all the people? Given appropriate leadership and state of the art feedback mechanisms, the fruits of their collective eﬀorts are channeled into coherent documentation and rallying points for deeper levels of citizen participation in the democratic process. The results can only be positive.
This may be considered performance art or preventive social therapy. It may be the next step in revitalising the battered framework of European democracy…
The Institute for Non-toxic Propaganda has advocated its form for lightly theatrical social action since 1990. Projects have taken place in Bergen, Inner Croatia, UK, Tanzania…