Friday 15 April 2016

Revolt Again

Revolt from the Center
Niels I Meyer, K Helveg Peterson & Villy Sorensen
Translated by Christine Hauch
Marion Boyars, 1981

When published in Danish in 1978, Revolt from the Center sparked a vigorous popular debate across Scandinavia, giving rise to an ongoing influence on social legislation over the intervening decades. Written by three eminent figures in their respective fields of politics, philosophy and physics, the success of the book in a small Scandinavian country with a population of only 5 million is not perhaps remarkable. However, from the first the book was tailored for a world readership. Written in a single voice speaking, sound common sense within the setting of a world political economy already hell-bent on social and ecological devastation, the book has not dated with the passage of time. The central theme is the responsibility of the individual citizen to take account of the common good of the earth community as they go about their everyday concerns.

To assist in the process of freeing the individual from the inherited straight-jacket of welfare through paid work, the authors of Revolt from the Centre suggest the payment of a 'Citizen's Wage'. The unconditional payment of an income to every citizen from the moment of birth is seen as a means to blur the divisions between work, education and leisure. Over recent decades calls for a 'Citizen's Wage' have come from a variety of notable individuals and interest groups across a wide spectrum of opinion, speaking with varying degrees of experience and authority in their chosen fields. However, although discussions have ranged across the continents, engaging academics and activists concerned with social justice and environmental sustainability, they have been based on the assumption that the division of labour and the wages system as we know it are set in tablets of stone. In REVC we find refreshing discussion of devolution of power and responsibility to the individual and the local community.