The Generation M Manifesto (Re-mixed v.1)

I’ve always been a big Umair fan and think you should to. He writes about everything Taylor and I were getting at in our piece about The Death of Progressive Politics and the need for a neo-progressive movement.

On Wednesday Umair Haque published The Generation M Manifesto on his blog. In the very best spirit of Generation M he asked others to edit and re-mix the manifesto. I’ve added a few lines (all my edits are in red), removed the reference to “I” (underlying thinking: this is a manifesto for a group), removed the “I thinks” (this is no time to hedge ourselves)

I want to think about this more but here’s my first crack.

Addendum: I’ve actually done a lot more thinking on the Manifesto and re-mixed it more significantly here.

Dear Old People Who Run the World,

My generation would like to break up with you.

Everyday, I we see a widening gap in how you and we understand the world — and what we want from it. It’s been a long time coming but I think we have irreconcilable differences.

You wanted big, fat, lazy “business.” We want small, responsive, micro-scale commerce.

You turned politics into a dirty word. We want authentic, deep democracy — everywhere.

You wanted financial fundamentalism. We want an economics that makes sense for people — not just banks.

You wanted shareholder value — built by tough-guy CEOs. We want real value, built by people with character, dignity, and courage.

You wanted organizations hidden behind a veils of secrecy. We want open institutions, fit for survival, designed to grow and share wealth, that seek to create markets, not own them.

You wanted an invisible hand — it became a digital the sleight of hand. Today’s markets are those where the majority of trades are done literally robotically. We want a visible transparent handshake: to trust and to be trusted.

You wanted growth — faster. We want to slow down — so we can become better.

You didn’t care which communities were capsized, or which lives were sunk. We want a rising tide that lifts all boats.

You wanted to biggie size life: McMansions, Hummers, and McFood. We want to humanize life.

You let citizens be devolve into consumers and users. We want citizens to be hackers, creators and… citizens.

You wanted a culture that is controlled by the past. We want a free culture that builds on the past.

You wanted exurbs, sprawl, and gated anti-communities. We want a society built on authentic around sustainable communities.

You wanted more money, credit and leverage — to consume ravenously. We want to be great at doing stuff that matters.

You sacrificed the meaningful for the material: you sold out the very things that made us great for trivial gewgaws, trinkets, and gadgets. We’re not for sale: we’re learning to once again do what is meaningful.

There’s a tectonic shift rocking the social, political, and economic landscape. The last two points above are what express it most concisely. I hate labels, but I’m going to employ a flawed, imperfect one: Generation “M.” We are pro-ams, we are creatives, we are neo-progressives, we are hackers, we are Generation “M” and we are legion.

What do the “M”s in Generation M stand for? The first is for a movement. It’s a little bit about age — but mostly about a growing number of people who are acting very differently. They are doing meaningful stuff that matters the most. Those are the second, third, and fourth “M”s.

Gen M is about passion, responsibility, authenticity, and challenging yesterday’s way of everything. Everywhere I look, I see an explosion of Gen M businesses, NGOs, open-source communities, local initiatives, government. Who’s Gen M? Obama, kind of. Larry and Sergey. The Threadless, Etsy, and Flickr guys. Ev, Biz and the Twitter crew. Tehran 2.0. The folks at Kiva, Talking Points Memo, and FindtheFarmer. Shigeru Miyamoto, Steve Jobs, Muhammad Yunus, and Jeff Sachs are like the grandpas of Gen M. There are tons where these innovators came from.

Gen M isn’t just kind of awesome — it’s vitally necessary. If you think the “M”s sound idealistic, think again.

The great crisis isn’t going away, changing, or “morphing.” It’s the same old crisis — and it’s growing.

You’ve failed to recognize it for what it really is. It is, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, in our institutions: the rules by which our economy is organized.

But increasingly they’re your institutions, not ours. You made inherited them but you failed to renew them and now they’re broken. Here’s what I we mean:

“… For example, the auto industry has cut back production so far that inventories have begun to shrink — even in the face of historically weak demand for motor vehicles. As the economy stabilizes, just slowing the pace of this inventory shrinkage will boost gross domestic product, or GDP, which is the nation’s total output of goods and services.”

Clearing the backlog of SUVs built on 30-year-old technology is going to pump up GDP? So what? There couldn’t be a clearer example of why GDP is a totally flawed concept, an obsolete institution. We don’t need more land yachts clogging our roads: we need a 21st Century auto industry.

I was We were (kind of) kidding about seceding before. Here’s what it looks like to me us: every generation has a challenge, and this, I think, is ours: to foot the bill for yesterday’s profligacy — and to create, instead, an authentically, sustainable shared prosperity.

Anyone — young or old — can answer it. Generation M is more about what you do and who you are than when you were born. So the question is this: do you still belong to the 20th century – or the 21st?


Umair and the Edge Economy Community

9 thoughts on “The Generation M Manifesto (Re-mixed v.1)

  1. Pingback: Remixing the Generation M Manifesto | the Open/Conceptual Studio

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  3. the_sophist

    Not really a Manifesto. Yes it is a public declaration of principles and intentions, but it is very one sided and lacks an explanation as why things have evolved the way they have. “You did this…you wanted this” is not an explanation. This post is more a manifest destiny than a manifesto. Using “Generation” in this context is incorrect as well. The subject is a paradigm shift with competing economic and social-political ideologies, not a difference of generations. But let’s leave arguments of definitions to the philosophers. “Tectonic”? Perhaps. However the argument is very loosely put together and comes very close to positioning the generation M movement as being new. It is not. The similarities to the hippy movement 50 years ago, or the downfall of communism 20 years ago (and I could go on) are everywhere. But maybe that’s the point Umair is trying to make in a round about way. Yes the way we do things is changing, but the desire to change things is not. The statement/disclaimer that it “is more about what you do and who you are than when you were born” is a thesis statement which has not been backed up. That said, replacing the “I” with “we” is an excellent correction eaves. You missed some though.The undertones suggest that we are at the precipice of a monumental change brought about by the ability to engage in the exchange of data/information like never before. As our conversations become more global, innovation has the potential to occur at every node while ideologies continue to become richer. The flood gates of thought are fully open and ideas are flowing freely…building new institutions that are replacing the broken ones. Really? One can argue that there is a new culture in the making that is leaving people behind in a digital divide. It’s not a tide lifting all boats, more like a tidal wave rushing in with the people living on the beach being that last to see it coming. Footing the bill for yesterday’s profligacy might be this generation’s challenge, but the next generation’s challenge will be much more difficult to overcome. The technology and infrastructure to do what “we” are doing isn’t cheap and I doubt it will be given away for free. It is creating new social power/class structures all around us, especially on the international stage.GDP as a measurement where its growth is an indicator of a rising quality of life is dated. I would even go as far to say that it has now become an inverse relationship. Why don’t we try and focus on the fact that the quality of our environment is the same as our quality of life. And if we can make the environment a commodity we can make the old system work for us not against us. Now that would be tectonic. If we use the tools we are creating wisely, we can transform things. There is no need for a divorce. Alimony is just too expensive :)

  4. Name

    I came about this little manifesto by way of Julian Sanchez, so I was surprised when it appeared here. I'm inclined to sympathize with Sanchez, if only because I'm inundated with this sort of puffed-up rhetoric all day (as I spend 12+ hours on a metro university campus).From my understanding, manifestos are supposed to be prescriptive, with only sufficient descriptive content to contextualize the primary intent of the author. The above, therefore, would be at best a weak manifesto – since this is an itemized description of a straw-man versus a shining new world order. For an interesting comparison, have a look at some of the protest literature written in the late seventies. The sense of moral decline, of profligacy at the expense of future generations, etc. It bears mentioning that it was supporting precisely the politics we're trying to tear down.Manifestos are supposed to distill the zeitgeist to a call-to-action (mostly arms). This just shovels platitudes without any sort of direction. It's also infuriating to suggest that people who had faith in the performance of the current political environment were either scheming capitalist villains, subjugated proletariat wage-slaves or pathetically naive bourgeoisie patsies. Such accusations are utterly fatuous, borderline hypocritical, coming from someone with his CV. I don't think this guy has actually worked on anything that matters…

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