Background

The motivation underpinning European project OZO (2) is straightforward: to resist the ongoing segregation in society between haves and have-nots. I am thankful that I grew up in a period when social mobility was more than an empty promise. Raised in a low working class environment but by an ambitious mother I made the jump from social workers’ lab rat to university student. That jump would be much harder nowadays.

To me, those at the lower end of society are not ‘they’. They are me. They are us. Unfortunately, we at the lower end are in general not treated as ‘us’. Although for instance in my mother country, the Netherlands, there is a proclaimed egalitarian ideal, it is a specific kind of egalitarianism: a hierarchical egalitarianism tainted with condescendence. In elite circles it is still considered a good thing to offer support to those at the lower end but it is offering support to ‘those people’.

While access to wealth always was limited now access to essential services like legal services has also become a luxury good. The danger is that as a result a profound segregation comes into existence, separating those with wealth and access from those without. I call this a separation between humans and crabs. The crabs in this situation fight violently over the crumbles left by humans. If this separation would last we’d end up in a situation in which the crabs will have made peace with their situation and no longer will fight it out between themselves: they will collaborate it out.

Maybe it is the ultimate human wet dream to rule over disciplined dancing crabs. But it is not my wet dream. I’d like the crabs to have a chance to be human and be treated as human. This is why our foundation’s mission is: “to provide youngsters and parents who feel underprivileged with instruments to better achieve psychosocial integration”. All those who identify as being at the lower end of society should have the means to experience autonomy (experience individuality, agency and influence), to experience achievement, and to experience belonging.

Project OZO provides such an instrument: a bottom-up online dialogue tool that comes both with moderation and with a script. The instrument helps us at the lower end of society to support ourselves rather than fight each other or trip each other over. Please feel free to use it any way you want.