Handbook For the Positive Revolution Part 2



PENGUIN BOOKS              1991


The Positive Revolution

A stool has three legs and is stable on rough ground. A chair with four legs is only stable on smooth ground. A revolution has to work under difficult conditions – everything is not always smooth.

The positive revolution has three supporting legs:

  1. Principles: The basic principles are the guidelines for thinking. The basic principles set the direction for thinking and for decisions. In the positive revolution we design rather than destroy and for ‘design’ there must be a direction.
  2. Methods: A painter uses a paintbrush to paint. A cook uses a frying-pan to cook. A carpenter uses a saw to cut wood. What are the methods and mechanisms of the positive revolution?
  3. Power: The positive revolution does not use the power of violence. It uses the power of perception, of information and of effectiveness. These powers can be used much more widely than violence.


The principles

There are five basic principles of the positive revolution:

  1. Effectiveness: Without effectiveness there are only dreams. Effectiveness means setting out to do something and doing it. Effectiveness is the ‘thumb’ on the hand, because without the thumb the hand is useless.
  2. Constructive: The direction of the revolution is positive not negative, constructive not destructive. This is represented by the index finger because that is the finger you use to point out the direction and the way to go.
  3. Respect: Respect covers the way you behave towards all other human beings. Respect covers human values and human feelings. A revolution is by people but also for people – so respect is essential. This is represented by the second finger because this finger is the longest finger of the hand and respect is the most important principle of all. If you cannot be positive towards fellow human beings what is the point of being positive?
  4. Self improvement: Every individual has the right, and duty, to make himself or herself better. This is both the energy of the revolution and also its purpose. A machine cannot make itself better but a human being can. This is the third finger. We do not notice this finger much – but it is there all the time. So self-improvement must also be there.
  5. Contribution: Contribution is the essence of the positive revolution. Not what you can expect or demand, but what can you contribute. If ‘contribution’ is so very important why does it just have the little finger on the hand? To remind us that we can contribute even if the contribution is very small. Eventually, small contributions add up to big effects.



We must deal with the direction first because without a direction there is no revolution – just energy and grumbling.

  • Constructive means action, building, making things happen – but always in the positive sense.
  • Traditional revolutions are destructive. The positive revolution is constructive – there are things to be built.
  • The positive revolution says: ‘You have been playing a game which has not contributed enough; now there is a different games: do you want to use your talent to take part in the new game?’
  • Humour is a key part of the positive revolution.



The positive revolution puts design instead of criticism. Instead of saying what is wrong with something we try to say: ‘How could this be done better?’

  • Design needs the creative and constructive thinking we never teach in schools or universities because we are too busy teaching knowledge, criticism and analysis.
  • As not every action is equally effective, we need to think carefully about the design of our actions.
  • Design is a way of focusing constructive energies on to a target. The consideration of alternatives, of objectives, of priorities and of resources available is all part of the design process.



  • When you pick up a few pieces of paper in the street, how constructive are you being?
  • You are helping yourself by practicing the attitude and discipline of contribution. You are setting an example that can spread to other people.
  • The biggest difficulty with the principle of contribution is that everyone says: ‘I am not in a position of power so what can I do?’
  • One of the most important roles of the positive revolution is that of the ‘work packager’. There is nothing worse than having people with the time and energy to contribute but not knowing what to do.
  • A catalogue of the different ways in which ordinary people can contribute can be put together by a group that specifically sets out to design valuable forms of contribution.

The catalogue could include such things as: Collecting and passing on information; Bringing people together for a purpose. Explaining regulations to people and helping to fill in forms. Micro-education in teaching things to people willing to learn. Helping people who are sick or handicapped. Stopping environmental pollution. Cleaning places up and making them more attractive. Preventing crime. Adding to the catalogue on a local level or a wider level. Encouraging a constructive attitude in others. Devaluing negativity and passivity. Passing on the message of this handbook to others. Setting up a project group or joining a project group.

Constructive achievement can become a hobby. Setting out to do something and then doing it gives a great sense of joy. It is this idea of achievement as a hobby that is the basis of the E-Clubs (‘E’ for effectiveness) that are described later in this handbook.

Circles of Concern

Imagine three circles, one inside the other. The innermost circle represents your self. The next represents your family, friends and community. The third circle represents the country and the world.

  1. SELF: What are you contributing to yourself? This includes skills, education, training, experience. It also includes a positive attitude, a constructive attitude, and the discipline of contributions. Self-improvement is one of the five basic principles of the positive revolution so it is an important area of contribution.
  2. LOCAL: I could have suggested one circle to represent your family and your friends and another circle to represent the local community in which you live and also the community of the people with whom you work. I did not want to do this because there is already too much of a gap between family and friends and the local community. So the circle includes family and friends and the local community and the work community. Your family will always be special for you and this single circle also makes your community special. There is no boundary between your family and your community.
  3. COUNTRY AND WORLD: This is a big area but each country is made up of its people and the world is made up of many countries. How you vote in elections, what signals you send to politicians, how you try to make the country work, these are all matters in this third area. If you learn to read and write, that is a contribution to your country as well as yourself. If you grow more crops, that is also a contribution to the country. If there is a reduction in crime, that contributes both to the community and to the country.

These three circles can also become another symbol of the positive revolution.

Of any action we can ask: Is this action constructive? To which area or areas does this action contribute?

Special Talent and Positions

Leave a Comment