Hiding in Plain Sight

Hiding in Plain Sight

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There is a revolution going on – and it’s hiding in plain sight.

Community is gradually taking over the role of government. This technologically-accelerated dynamic is building momentum and there is a tipping point at which something very different may emerge.

Around the world, governments are increasingly grinding to a halt, unable to adapt to exponentially increasing transparency and complexity.  More and more, they are struggling to deliver services affordably, with less and less money available to deliver them.

The capacity of the community to organise itself to solve challenges is increasing all the time. Each new technological platform is creating opportunities for community members to work together, bypassing government systems to develop solutions that look and feel very different to how things have been done in the past. Many of these solutions are delivering better outcomes, very much cheaper.

Inspiring, community-led ideas and systems are being shared around the world and people are taking the initiative themselves to make these things happen, with no permission required. This is a revolution in community-led agency.

I often talk about the existence of certain parts of government as being a failure of community. It is a provocation and a conversation starter. The reality is not so binary, but it is a frame of view that does lead to some interesting outcomes.

In the hunter-gatherer era, tribes used to educate their own kids. They looked after their own elders. They worked as a collective to feed each other, and health systems were managed through village wisdom.

As communities become increasingly technologically empowered, a return to a more tribal way of being may start to emerge. The impact of automation offers a potential decoupling from individualism and the state in its current form, providing the governance platform in which we organise our individual lives.

I have no idea what the endpoint will look like, but this new era of biological, technological and financial disruption is accelerating the transfer of organising power from government to the community.

The exhausting, endless conversation about who should do what whenever they get in power is missing the real revolution. Something is quietly emerging from beneath – and it just might end up changing the rules of the whole game.

To the revolution of community.

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  1. Excellent post Marc. I agree. The shift from institutions delivering transactions to networks delivering relational forms of public service is well underway – often in spite of the government getting in the way.

    Here in the UK. we all saw how government struggled to harness the abundant goodwill that emerged after millions signed up to volunteer for the NHS during the early days of Covid.

    A new world is emerging. And not a moment too soon my friend,
    Rich T

    • It was amazing how much goodwill arrived and yes it demonstrated how difficult it is for institutions to break their processes to capitalise on it. In Guernsey we were able to harness this a lot more which is one of the primary reasons our Covid response was so strong.

  2. Compelling as ever Marc.

    I’d be interested to know if you’ve ever written anything about the process of creating a community to enable social change?

    • I don’t think I have ever written directly to that challenge, primarily, because it is more of a playbook than a short format blog post. The majority of the aspects of it are contained within my past writings. We are considering developing some programming that gives people the specific skills to be able to build community to take on social challenges.

  3. Love this. Thanks Marc. Would you consider curating a few notable examples from around the globe?

  4. Hi Marc, I just discovered your site through research for my master’s dissertation on community approaches to systems change with a focus on the sustainable fashion community in Scotland. There is a lot of frustration within the community due to the government’s lack of support for the industry, and so there is definitely collective action “quietly emerging from beneath” as you wrote. I’m currently setting up a social venture to coordinate the community and so will continue to explore your work. Thanks for an insightful and encouraging post!

  5. syvia Dhenin says

    I agree with many of the ideas. In the nomadic times people were able to do things because they knew and cared for all as lives depended on it. Now that we are so complex it is a bit different. Certain things are better handled by government bureaucracies as hospitals. Other matters should be sponsored and supported by government when necessary as small independent farms and businesses. Aid should not be given to giant, all consuming organizations.

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