A humanist ideology

Those of you who read my other blog will know I've been talking a lot about Freeschools lately.

Education is as natural a human process as laughter, and yet we've constructed an education system which is the equivalent of having thousands of highly-trained state comedians, but no-one else is allowed to tell jokes. I'm promoting the simple idea that learning is a social thing, and that everyone has something valuable they could teach the people around them. You can read about how these ideas work in practice at the School of Everything.

I've tended to see these ideas as so obvious that they fall outside "politics" entirely. But when I was speaking at a conference last week, someone asked me if I had any political motivations for doing this. It rather stopped me in my tracks: I couldn't quite say "sociablism" because I didn't really have time to explain it, so I said something like "I'm an entrepreneur, not a politician: I'm interested in what works and not abstract ideologies".

I think almost everything is political: studying social and cultural history made me realise that power, principle and vested interests dominate all our human interactions, from the playground to the office party. So why put a capital 'P' on it and pretend it's somehow different when it happens in Parliament?

Which is true. But it's also a neat way to sidestep the question. So since then I've been pondering the politics behind Freeschools, the ideas in this blog, and also the principles behind "web 2.0". And I've got it boiled down to this, so far...

Almost every repressive regime has relied on disempowering people, so I believe conversely that empowering people to do what they want will actually set us free. I believe that people are interesting and surprising, and that amateurism, play, exploration and socialising must be valued in our society because they bring us closer to our humanity. And I believe that if you give people the opportunity to connect with their humanity, it is our natural inclination to work together and protect the weak, and it's the stories we've constructed in our cultures which make us act differently from that.

Ideology is all very well though, but what matters is that with the tools now available online, it's actually possible to put these ideas into practice and see what happens. And the interesting thing is, they work.

I didn't really think of any of this as political until this week. But in fact there are many political ideologies, past and present, that would oppose me on every count. So I guess I'm Political after all. Don't ask me which party I should join though. The closest match I can find so far is the Renaissance Humanists, and they're not so active these days.

Politics is broken. Something else is growing in its place.