I realized no one had taken minutes. I discussed this with my young friend Catherina Savattere and she wrote the following up as clearly as she understood the numerous contributions. At our next meeting we should try further to pin down our aims. Catherina used “I” meaning, me Vivienne.
- The meeting was hosted in the London office of change.org
- Cindy Sasha, a member of Climate Revolution, gathered a group of about 20 intellectuals.
- This was my first time meeting with some of the intellectuals involved and I think they are very important people. I’m very hopeful and confident that we actually will do something.
- We prepared 2 leaflets for everyone present to have some kind of starting point: the Press Release of the Vivienne Westwood AW16/17 Fashion Show in London and the “Climate Revolution Plan 2016”.
Looking towards Future Meetings:
- For me the aim of Intellectuals Unite is to make sure that we move towards a Green Economy/we need to get there urgently/crucial in order to save the planet.
- We should aim to build and go on demonstrations whenever possible and whenever we feel that it is important
- We should have visiting speakers – I suggested Lauren Gavaghan, one of the organizers of the recent junior doctor protest movement, for the next meeting to come and give us the full picture of the dispute so that we can compare it with the distortions and lies reported in the mainstream media.
- University of Surrey at Guildford contacted Cindy after this meeting to inform her that they want to get involved with the next Intellectuals Unite meeting.
Key Points in the Meeting:
- You’re not going to get through to people unless you attack government lies/ the mainstream media merely repeats them/they only give as bits and pieces, only “their side of the story”. For example, if you want to sum up an issue and you need 4 factors to get the answer/the truth and you are only given 2 you will not be able to get the right answer. More, if the media intentionally select the 2 that favors their argument you might get completely the opposite answer from the truth.
- One professor/scientist present said we urgently need to challenge the “neoliberal radicalism” that emerged with Thatcher/Reagan; that this is the real threat – the doctrine that the poor deserve to be poor and the rich deserve to be rich. Margaret Thatcher said there’s no such thing as society. What that meant was that we’re all just atomized individuals, every man for himself. This doctrine is also expressed through Reagan’s statement “Government is not the solution to our problems. It is the problem”.
- I think Intellectuals are the only real challenge to governments. At the time of the Renaissance intellectuals were the most respected and most important people in society. Another example was China. China lasted for a thousand years, probably longer, but at least a thousand years up until 1900. Although every three hundred years their empire either witnessed internal strife or got attacked by outside forces, those outside forces never overruled the country culturally. The invaders became like the people they conquered because the culture was so wonderful and so strong. So the barbarians, the Mongols for example, adopted Chinese culture. One of the main reasons why Chinese culture lasted for so long is that there was a complete identity of culture throughout the whole of that vast territory; the social cement that kept people together. Intellectuals were hold in high esteem and appointed to important functions. They had to take a rigorous test only the most studious could pass. If intellectuals/thinkers are the strongest influence on society, then we will have a better world than the one we’ve got now. At the moment the world suffers from the isolation of intellectuals. I mentioned in passing that politicians are morons (and criminals). We never had such a bunch of thoughtless, brainwashed, reflex-actioned people running the country. They’re completely impervious to reason. They are completely locked into their ideology ‘if it is good for business we are all for it.’ Unfortunately that is what keeps them in power while only benefiting them and their vested interests.
- The UK is a very good place to start our movement. For its size, it is incredible. It carries so much prestige; its history, its culture, its empire, its geography. It is famous for being clever and for its brilliant brains throughout history. And it’s best friend with the U.S. If we did manage to overwhelm the political body in this country with reasoned arguments and facts – to give the complete picture to people instead of lies – then I think we could really achieve something. I think it could be our only hope to make the world a better place.
- The working class the victim of the current system? I objected to the use of the word “the working class”. Because the working class aren’t heroes just because they’re the working class. Someone said it’s very difficult to define classes anymore because everyone is getting poorer, most people are, and the middle and working classes seem to be all in it together. I guess we should really be talking about Intellectuals Unite because this is inclusive, everybody is welcome to join. No divisions and/or classes.
- We do need to know the past in order to know the present and to know the future; that’s in the rap.
- Someone was worried that using the term “intellectual” would sound like elitism. I said no, because intellectualism is who we are, it’s human. I said we need to reclaim the status of intellectuals. We should claim our right to do so because it lies at the core of humanity; because we want to be humans, we want to be intellectuals!
- “I do not want to be in a position of telling people what to think” one academic said. I jumped in and said we’re not trying to tell anybody what to think – the most important for everyone present is to know what they think for themselves; this is the precondition for every intellectual.
- I talked about human evolution. I said that what makes us human and different than other animals is that we think and we can put our thinking into words, and make art, and stop the world by stopping time and abstracting it with art. We can communicate through what makes us human. What defines our species is our humanity. We can evolve into even better beings by our thinking and we can use our thinking to better society.
- When student fees were first introduced in the UK about 80% of people were appalled and really against it and the government just ignored public opinion and did what they wanted and imposed these tuition fees a political scientist present told us. Now about 68% of people think that students should pay fees. This shows how easy it is, with the propaganda we’ve got, to completely turn around public opinion by ignoring it anyway and then time will break people down and your propaganda will break people down and you’ll just control everybody.
- A member of change.org gave an example of two men who had been made homeless by the government and therefore had to live rough under the flyover for weeks. They came to change.org and he got millions of signatures on their petition. He was saying what an important petition group change.org is. This also gave us another example of neoliberalism; where you don’t care about the homeless people because “it’s their fault for being homeless, so they’ll have to wait for their money.”
- One of the many academics present made the argument that creating a better society rests on a financial system that reflects the true value of land. He believes in the doctrine of Henry George, a 19th century American political economist, journalist, and philosopher. That it would solve all our problems if we could deal with that. He told us he has spent his life trying to figure out how to get people to adopt policies that are good for society at large. What do you have to do to overthrow the forces that are causing all the injustice and damage? How do you work for people to make the world a better place? He gave the example of how Greece at the present moment is in a worse position than ever; he blames the former finance minister Varoufakis (or did he mean Syriza?) for not having the balls to stick with what he believed in for finally having thrown his principles over board.
- Intellectuals are being attacked by politicians so that they conform and thus support their political power; instead of encouraging intellectual freedom. They’re trying to take away their intellectual/factual/non-ideological independence and are trying to box them; preach our dogma! Intellectuals realize that they suffer from the isolation from other intellectuals. We need the freedom to teach and disseminate the truth. Intellectuals must be able to look for the truth and challenge propaganda with truth. This is being challenged by the governments all the time, who enforces an education system where intellectuals must adhere in order to keep their jobs. Intellectuals are well aware that their freedoms are under threat, just as all our freedoms are.