I have proposed the following to my local branch of PPS-UK as an activity that we might pursue, but I would be interested to hear what others think…
Public Talks on Participatory Democracy:
As a starting point for rebuilding the Left and in preparation for the establishment of the First International of the 21st Century.
The failings of “representative” democracy, in the political sphere, alongside the totalitarian nature of corporations, in the economic sphere, is becoming all too apparent to the people of Britain. This reality creates a great opportunity for progressives. We need to tap into this dissatisfaction and propose a positive alternative. I believe that “participatory democracy” is the concept around which we can revive the Left in the UK. But how do we get such a revival going?
One way would be to organise public talks on participatory democracy. Such talks could take the following format –
· Speaker 1 – Talk on UK based efforts to bring about participatory democracy. For example we could invite someone from Leeds University Student Union who have been implementing participatory democracy within their union (for more examples of UK initiatives towards participatory democracy see Hilary Wainwright’s Reclaim the State).
· Speaker 2 – Talk on international efforts to bring about participatory democracy. For example we could invite someone from Hands off Venezuela or the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign to talk about Venezuela’s progress towards participatory democracy.
· Speaker 3 – Talk on long term vision for participatory democracy. For example we could invite someone from PPS-UK to give an introductory presentation on ParPolity, ParEcon etc.
· Speaker 4 – Talk on the connection between health and inequality. For example we could invite a speaker from the Equality Trust to present arguments on the benefits of a more equal society.
Each talk could last say 15 minutes followed by Q&A. Some of the benefits of this approach are that –
1. It would help to bring together different parts of the progressive-left community. Working together on a common theme would help to build trust and mutual respect.
2. It would create an opportunity for left-progressives to engage with the general public. In-so-doing the Left would be overcoming its isolation from the public and hopefully drawing new people into its organisations.
With the right level of backing and commitment all of this could develop into something much more significant. As talks developed around the country and more people / organisations engaged in this open and public process of exploring participatory democracy the more we would be rebuilding the Left within the UK. Furthermore, as we did this, we would also be forging a new Left that could form into a UK branch of the new International that has been called for by President Chavez of Venezuela.