Subtitle: Imagination taking power

Ministry of Imagination Manifesto released as the world goes to the polls.

[Download The Manifesto here].  This year, 49% of the world goes to the polls in 64 countries. As Time magazine puts it, “2024 is not just AN election year. It’s perhaps THE election year”. The outcomes of these elections will hugely shape the world and our future, most importantly of all is the US Presidential election which could see Donald Trump returned as President, which would unleash what The Economist recently described as “the biggest danger to the world”. In most cases, voters are being asked to choose between deeply unimaginative manifestos, all firmly wedded to a business-as-usual economic model that is clearly and dangerously failing around the world. 



The rise of the far-right around the world is profoundly troubling, underpinned as it is by dystopian visions of the future and the need for ‘strong’ leaders to protect us from those futures. But what would a Manifesto look like that was based on a positive vision of the future, one that is appropriately ambitious to the scale of the challenges the world is facing while at the same time bold, imaginative and audacious? I would argue that the failure of progressive parties and movements to set out bold visions of the future has left the space for the far right to fill, and that getting better at bringing positive futures alive in people’s imaginations is vital. As political theorist Wendy Brown wrote recently:

“We can refute the premises of these positions until the cows come home. But only a compelling vision of a less frightening and insecure future will recruit anyone to a progressive or revolutionary alternative future—or rouse apolitical citizens for the project of making that future. This vision must be seductive and exciting, and it must be embodied in seductive and exciting leadership and movements, hopefully oriented by an ethic of responsibility”.

Since 2020, the fortnightly ‘From What If to What Next’ podcast has invited two guests to time travel into the 2030 that resulted from our doing absolutely everything we could possibly have done, and to describe that world to the listeners. In late March 2024, I stopped the podcast at its 100th episode in order to focus on other projects, but it remains as an amazing body of work.

Alongside the main episodes, Patreon subscribers also received bonus Ministry of Imagination podcasts, in which they were inaugurated as Ministers at the Ministry itself (part-Hundertwasser, part-Hogwarts, part-Yellow Submarine) and invited to choose 3 policies each that would rapidly accelerate our transition to a world in which those changes had happened. The result was over 600 deeply thoughtful, considered, audacious and ambitious policies covering everything from free art materials for all, to a Universal Basic Income and every company having to list all their failures as well as their successes in their annual reports.  

This year, perhaps now more than ever, we need a taste of what policymaking underpinned by the radical imagination looks like. Recognising how extraordinary and powerful this collection of possibility-infused policies from an eclectic mix of people from all around the world (including Brian Eno, Rutger Bregman and Kate Raworth – ecologists, renegade economists, artists, prison abolitionists, somatic trauma therapists, printmakers, politicians, disability activists, rewilding practitioners, prison abolitionists and so many more) I felt it was important to collect them all in one accessible place. And so ‘The Ministry of Imagination Manifesto: an imagination-based manifesto for times that need one’ was born. We’ve painstakingly edited together all the policies, under subject headings, and the whole thing has been beautifully designed by Capella Andrean of The Creative Bloc

You can download it here. 

Please share it far and wide. Send it to any policy-makers or politicians you know. Post it anywhere you can. Don’t let the possible be constrained by the imaginative poverty of our current manifesto writers. The sponsorship we have has covered the cost of production, but we’d also love some funds to cover creating some printed copies. If you find this inspirational and you’d like to support it, please consider making a donation. Thanks.



As Ruha Benjamin in her 2024 book ‘Imagination: A Manifesto’ puts it: 

““A world without prisons? Ridiculous. Schools that foster the genius of every child? Impossible. Work that doesn’t grind us to the bone? Naïve. A society where everyone has food, shelter, love? In your dreams. Exactly”

The Ministry of Imagination manifesto is supported by the good folks at Boomtown Festival, Wake the Tiger, Team Love, Bath Spa University, Moral Imaginations and Transition Network. My deepest thanks to Tamzin Pinkerton for her help with editing it, Capella Andrean, every single Minister at the Ministry of Imagination for their brilliant policy ideas, and every subscriber who made the podcast possible. Thanks. 

We’d love to hear what you think of it. Do let us know in the comments. 


Comments

  1. Ruth Sapsed
    April 15, 2024

    So inspiring that you have put this together and keep championing our rights to imagine and dream of a better future together. Proud to have been a tiny part of it and now looking forward to sharing it on.

    • Rob Hopkins
      April 15, 2024

      Thanks so much Ruth!

  2. Kristoffer Ryeng
    April 15, 2024

    This is magnificent, I really love the tiny bits I’ve have time to read so far!

    We have so many flawed systems that need to be completely redesigned (and thus reimagined).

    I believe the most important are our political systems, in most countries, as those are required for many of the other major changes.

    Party politics are divide-and-rule (divide et impera) by design. We need new systems where we are collaborating to find the best solutions, rather than fighting and playing blame games…

  3. Ben Tawil
    April 15, 2024

    This is such a hopeful, optimistic and beautiful collection of ideas, much if not all of it possible. Thanks Rob for pulling this together and gifting it to the world.

  4. OWGF
    April 16, 2024

    So much goodness in here, it’s going to take me a while to process it all and, then no doubt, put bits of it on my blog.

  5. Trish Hansen
    April 16, 2024

    This is BRILLIANT! Thank you – there are few things more powerful envisaging practical utopias in bringing flourishing futures to being.

  6. Melissa Baird
    April 16, 2024

    My Linked In post as follows: Mirroring Ed Gillespie recommendations, this is a wonder full creation of the best of human ideas and optimism founded on deep connections to the sanctity of biodiversity, creativity and the higher heart-values of a human. Imagine doctors issuing prescriptions to people who are burnt out and sad: Not to ‘take this’, rather: ‘Listen to this; the dawn’s chorus’. Or having human representatives of biodiversity species (I want to be the bee’s one), transforming education with full heart, accountability for those who ‘lead’ and so much more. You will never have to wonder what to talk about again, considering how much we do about the weather. Brilliant collective, creative work. Thank you Rob Hopkins and all who shared their wisdom for this astonishing and long overdue manifesto for joy, wonder and systemic change. This has made my day a whole lot brighter and my love of the dawn’s chorus even stronger. You can download a copy from https://www.robhopkins.net/2024/04/15/ministry-of-imagination-manifesto-released-as-the-world-goes-to-the-polls/ #wonder4theday #robhopkins #storytelling #ministryofimagination

    • GreenHearted
      May 12, 2024

      Melissa, in Canada, different government agencies overseeing parks have provided doctors with green prescription pads so they can prescribe outdoor time experiencing the rest of Nature.

  7. Quoll
    April 17, 2024

    Is there an A5 b/w version?

  8. Frank
    April 17, 2024

    Thanks for this, Rob. The introduction already gave me goosebumps. Some of the people you’ve talked to are my pill-against-age cynicism. I haven’t read it yet, but I can’t start without thanking you for your effort and vision to try to make things better.

  9. Hannah SMith
    April 18, 2024

    What a wonderful project. The world is so short of bright hopeful narratives at the moment, this work really resonates and looks beautiful. Hope you will be able to make a printed edition as I would definitely like to have one.

  10. Austen Smith
    April 18, 2024

    What a delicious and inspiring resource! Thank you to all of the brilliant minds who have contributed to this. Nourishment for the mind <3

  11. Caroline Busatto
    April 19, 2024

    Amazing piece of inspiration! Thanks Rob (and team!), it will inspire the crafting of futures worldwide.

  12. Dr David Mead
    April 20, 2024

    All of this is a Planetery issue. To change anything, such as the mechanics of international economy, the whole world can only agree solutions to make our specific areas what we all would dream them to be. This is a very huge programme which would be like a miracle for all. The forming of United Nations was the great hope for something like this, and we now see that the international economic system is what really runs the show, to the detriment of us all. Until the economic system is changed I don’t believe that all of our good intents can move the needle very far or quickly. But can our aspirations powered by thoughtful and, (yes) privileged people change the structures of power without radical change which would create harm for the vulnerable in the process of change.?

  13. Alexander Crawford
    April 20, 2024

    A very inspiring mosaic of ideas! Thanks for putting it together. There are far too few “crude looks at the whole” of all the innovative, unorthodox, progressive and disruptive ideas floating around, it’s so great to have them all in one place.

  14. Erika Zárate
    April 22, 2024

    So inspiring, and a very helpful resource for our local political advocacy! Thanks for such an imaginative approach to this, as advocacy can sometimes by quite inaccessible depending on the person and community who would like to be, or should be, engaged. And this manifesto has a strong storytelling base that makes it both fun and accessible!!

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