(the following is a first draft for the Platform Re-set manifesto. I fully support the final version, but still think my version has a few nice one-liners)
- We are artists and art professionals living and working in The Netherlands.
As artists we question the world around us. We question beauty and dogma. This can be confusing, even confrontational, but we are always sincere and constructive in our critique . We are always ready to enter into serious dialogue about our work and our position in society. Lately, we have been portrayed as ‘subsidieslurpers’, parasites, freeloaders and worse. That hurts and it generates anger and fear – not just for ourselves but for the general direction of society.
What kind of society rages against its own artists and intellectuals? And what kind of society does not understand the intrinsic importance of imagination and critical thinking?
- Where once the marketplace played a small but important part of society, today society plays an increasingly smaller and subordinate part of the market.
Societal institutions which were developed to ensure basic opportunities and services for everyone and which have served to establish a sense of pride and positive image of the social society, are being dismantled to the deliberately misleading cries of ‘efficiency’, ‘economic necessity’ and ‘progress’. We see it as an indisputable fact that the dismantling and selling out of healthcare, education, cultural institutions, postal services, infrastructure, energy and security is a conscious effort to undermine and undo the social structure of society, and will only benefit the captains of industry who promote the dismantling in the first place. By dismantling familiar institutions, the government and the multinationals inject distrust, suspicion and envy into society. However, in a perverse workaround, market ideologues manage to blame the distrust and envy on the very institutions, that they themselves have crippled and dismantled.
By dismantling our shared institutions, we are dismantling society.
- We experience a growing animosity towards knowledge and high culture.
Anyone, who tries to argue against the dismantling of our shared institutions or the structural denigration of fellow citizens and high culture, using arguments based on fact and reason rather than uninformed hyperbole and prejudice, are made out to be the enemies of ‘progress’ and ‘the people’. Pejoratives from bygone regimes are quickly pulled out of the closet and objectors are labeled ‘out of touch’, ‘elitist’ or ‘traitors’. Ideology and conviction trump understanding and fact, we are becoming a society of fundamentalists.
Where does the disdain and fearfulness of reflection, intellect and expertise come from? Who really benefits from the ‘dumbing down’ of citizens, discourse and society?
- We want to reclaim responsibility.
We believe our society is reaching a dangerous tipping point and we recognize, that it is time to start putting our weight on the right end of the scales. Maybe there is some truth to the argument that the ‘people’ have become estranged from art and maybe, we, the artists, have been too complacent, too content with the privileges we have come to take for granted. The same complacency can be found in every single sector of society, from politicians, bankers and journalists to social welfare recipients, small business owners and creative industries; that, however, is no excuse. If we have been asleep, then it is time to wake up, not because others tell us to, but because we realize we occupy an important position in society, not only as artists, but as intellectuals.
We owe it to ourselves and to society to use our capacities as intellectuals to rejoin the discussion on what kind of society we wish to live in.
- We wish to reestablish humane values.
We mean to reset the principles on which our society is built and how we define ourselves and our success as citizens. Principles, which were once established to protect the rights of all citizens, and have since been watered down in the name of security, real politics or profit making. If we choose to continue down the road of market ideology and self-serving capitalism, society will continue to unravel and eventually cease to exist. Alternatively, we can choose to fight for the humane values and ideals we believe should be at the base of our society.
We believe that the foundation of society is not the amount of money you can take from your neighbor but compassion for the other, pursuit of knowledge and celebration of diversity.
- The times once more are a-changing, and we need to change our strategies as well.
We recognize the need for demonstrations, political activism and manifestations, but are skeptical towards the effects due to the proven cynicism of power-obsessed politicians and market ideologues. The larger the demonstrations, the greater disdain they are met with. We aim to try and develop new strategies for engaging both the politicians and the general public. We will embrace the use of digital media as a vehicle for change in the analogue world. We will offer a language and a toolbox to those who do not have it.
We will utilize our artistic skills, insights and passions to make our stance as clear, convincing and engaging as possible.
- There are numerous ways to reengage, many more than we can imagine, therefore we propose this open platform.
Anyone who shares the ideas put forth here and wishes to act but cannot find the platform, or thinks herself alone, to him we offer this manifesto as an umbrella and this site as a platform. Here theoretical discussions can take place and practical actions and manifestations can be planned. Post your extensive essays, informed opinion pieces or inspired manifestos. Organize manifestations, flashmobs or public interventions.
Each individual or group will know that their contributions will be part of a larger movement. They will be the individual chapters in a story about a society where art, knowledge and human dignity, regardless of creed or ethnic background, are regarded as its rock solid foundations. Not as a Utopian ideal but as the daily duty to each other we all share as humans and as citizens.
We want to tell that story, patiently and with pride, and reclaim responsibility for the society we wish to create and live in.