About the New Era Network
NEW ERA: a network of active people of goodwill working in Britain & India for strong local and regional economies, healthy environments and a just and peaceful world.
This venture is rooted in years of exchanges with Christine Parkinson on our common vision of ‘Civilisation 2000’. Repeated promptings led to the setting up of New Era. The first was a remark made by Angela Woods of the Bretton Woods Reform Organisation:
The point is that there is no common understanding of what the alternatives to globalisation could be, which is caused by the diversity, tension between NGOs and activists, and likely also by the absence of a coherent overarching alternative to capitalism (Angela Wood: by email: 16 October 2001)
The second inspiration came in 2003 from reading The Ecology of Health (Schumacher Briefing 3) by Robin Stott. Later that year came the third – the suggestion of CHSUK member Mark Tully that the costs of our commercial, industrial and trading systems – currently ignored by conventional economists – be highlighted. Another stimulus was provided in 2004 by the World Social Forum. Being in Mumbai for a month before and after the event I was able to collect a wide range of responses. The following comments were taken from Indian press cuttings, ending with a final prod from the Sunday Times:
Student Andre Fernandes attending the Forum: The speeches are very vague, there are still no alternative or concrete solutions given.
Chief minister of Maharashtra, Sushilkumar Shinde visited the Forum and spoke to journalists at the media centre, ending: the ideas thrown up by the Forum are ‘okay in theory’ but no longer viable.
Bill Clinton, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, ‘rubbished’ the anti-globalisation forces – including the social forum gathering in Mumbai – they are mourning for a past that never existed.
Gurcharan Das, attending the Forum: this kumbh mela of do-gooders was also the world’s largest gathering of misguided and bewildered souls ever assembled. Rather than attending these circuses, they would do far more good if they helped solve our real problems . . .
Anjali Doshi reporting on the Forum: Too much dialogue is the Achilles’ heel of this forum. Practical alternatives remain elusive as unfocused passions define dreams of an equal world . . . The irony is that this much-needed platform keeps reinventing contradictions within itself. But how can a new world order be built on an edifice of confusion?
And later still, in UK, Michael Portillo MP described those who challenge ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’ as being involved in a largely incoherent, Canute-like attempt to resist the inevitable.
These remarks prompted the gathering of a network of people, some of whom have participated in the World Social Forum meetings. They are helping to solve real problems [Das], to define practical alternatives [Doshi] and are entirely coherent [Portillo].
Satish Kumar of Schumacher College, whilst in Mumbai, confirmed the need for working together: Problems are convergent so solutions must also be convergent. If I do land reform, you do education, someone else does solar energy, we lose out. If we work together holistically, we will all be more effective.