[p2p-research] a new politics in the uk?

Ryan Lanham rlanham1963 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 5 17:35:46 CET 2009

Great article.  Really insightful.  One of the best analyses I have seen.
Madeleine Bunting must be quite the thinker.


On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 4:53 AM, Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004 at gmail.com>wrote:

> From: TriumphOfContent at yahoogroups.com
> [mailto:TriumphOfContent at yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Steven Brant
> Sent: Monday, June 01, 2009 7:01 AM
> To: steve at trimtabmanagementsystems.com
> Subject: [TriumphOfContent] Beyond Westminster's bankrupted practices, a
> new
> idealism is emerging (Guardian.co.uk <http://guardian.co.uk/>)
> http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/31/reform-transition-
> a-new-politics
> Series: A new politics: blueprint for reforming government
> Beyond Westminster's bankrupted practices, a new idealism is emerging
> Progressive politics will take root from the rubble of a Labour
> defeat. The Transition movement is giving us a glimpse now
> Madeleine Bunting
> Sunday 31 May 2009 20.30 BST
> Something remarkable has happened. Politics has become entirely
> unpredictable. Suddenly all manner of political reform is back on the
> table, a new urgency has been infused into tired debates about
> political disengagement and apathy, and radical reforms are being
> proposed to reinvigorate the hollowing out of political institutions.
> While the detail is vague, the scale is sweeping: Cameron talks about
> a massive redistribution of power; a cabinet minister urges a
> referendum on electoral reform; even an architect of Blair's third
> way, Anthony Giddens, calls for a political revolution, and talked
> last week of needing new utopias to inspire a new politics of climate
> change. In a recent article, Martin Jacques comments on how New
> Labour, which built its fortunes on "there being no alternative", is
> now being forced into the humiliating circumstances of having to find
> one.
> This last task is a tall order, but given the febrile nature of the
> times, let's sketch out how that might develop, and offer Giddens a
> first draft of what a 21st-century utopian politics might look like.
> The first step will be defeat. The only uncertainty about the
> European elections this week is whether people are so angry that they
> don't bother to vote or so angry that they cast a protest vote. The
> most useful vote this week would be for the Greens - a protest vote
> that will help push the environment up the agenda. But this week is a
> mere sideshow compared with what Labour will receive at the general
> election next year - and for its brand of politics to be thoroughly
> discredited, it needs a drubbing.
> Apart from a few diehards, it will be hard to mourn the defeat in
> 2010 of a political party that lost its moral bearings in its bid to
> woo middle England, slavishly reflecting back what it believed this
> narrow constituency wanted to hear. It won ballots by flattering and
> indulging a mythology of the good life as individualistic aspiration
> and material enrichment, and never challenged the multiple erroneous
> assumptions on which this was based. On the two vital progressive
> issues of its age - inequality and the environment - it wasted a
> crucial decade and squandered parliamentary majorities on
> contradictory and inadequate gestures.
> What it palpably failed to grasp was how crucial political reform was
> to regenerate progressive politics. A party that had been
> professionalised and managerialised in the 80s, not surprisingly, did
> not understand how to respond to people's appetite to participate,
> and author their own lives. It only knew how to manipulate and manage
> public engagement, and earned deep resentment for doing both. Only
> out of the rubble of defeat in 2010 will a new progressive politics
> begin painfully to emerge well beyond the bankrupted conventions of
> Westminster politics.
> If you want to catch a glimpse of the kinds of places outside the
> political mainstream where that new politics might be incubated, take
> a look at the Transition movement. Ed Miliband, the energy and
> climate change secretary, was one of the first to spot its potential
> when he described this young and fast-growing movement as "absolutely
> essential". Other politicians have been similarly intrigued, and last
> year The Transition Handbook came fifth in MPs' list of summer
> reading. It isn't hard to see why politicians are so interested. The
> Transition movement is engaging people in a way that conventional
> politics is failing to do. It generates emotions that have not been
> seen in political life for a long time: enthusiasm, idealism and
> passionate commitment.
> Within three years it has gone from an idea to having 170 towns,
> villages and cities signed up as transition communities, working in
> 30 countries, and thousands more all over the world using the
> transition model. It is viral, catching on faster than its founder,
> Rob Hopkins, can track. Its message is that peak oil and climate
> change demand dramatic changes in the way people live, and, given
> that no one has the answer, communities themselves must start working
> out how that change might come about. It offers no answers, no
> solutions, only some tips in a handbook for how to get started.
> Transition lays the challenge squarely at the door of everyone. This
> is too big and difficult for government alone to tackle, too
> overwhelming and depressing for individuals to face alone.
> Transition is rooted in a new politics of place: geography matters
> again as people look to the community immediately around them to
> devise the solutions for sustainability and resilience. At one level
> it works as a way of regenerating social capital, building up
> relationships with neighbours, working out how to collaborate again
> on common interests - community gardens, recycling, waste and
> strengthening the local economy. At another level it is about
> educating people about the challenges of peak oil and climate change,
> but the mobilisation and consciousness-raising is directed towards
> optimism and hope, not despair: how can this community use its skills
> and imagination to build its future?
> The result is a proliferation of experiments, all of which are
> charted on their wiki websites: the collaboration is both local and
> global. Communities in Somerset can swap ideas and get inspiration
> from Brazil, Australia or the US. It's a world away from the smooth
> presentation of party politics, and transitioners are quick to point
> to the disclaimer on their site - they have no idea if the movement
> will work. They're organising local food festivals now, but tomorrow
> it could be community renewable energy. The emphasis is always on
> conviviality and enjoyment; on learning skills that have been lost
> over the last few decades - how to cook, grow food, repair and make
> things. Scotland has funded several transition organisers to work
> across the country. This is an unusual thing: local grassroots
> environmentalism that is full of hope for the future.
> Their meetings don't have agendas or presentations - Miliband came to
> their annual conference recently as a keynote listener. They use
> what's called open space technology, in which everyone brings their
> ideas and everyone participates. Humble, self-organising, the
> movement owes much to the idealistic thinking of the early 70s. This
> is a time for revisiting those alternatives, which have been so
> contemptuously dismissed for a quarter of a century.
> Part of its growing success is how it meets several needs
> simultaneously. It tackles social recession - the sense of
> disconnection and fragmentation of community - at the same time as it
> collaborates on the huge behavioural change that will be required for
> a low-carbon society. The latter is far more likely to come about in
> the context of personal relationships than as a result of discredited
> politicians dictating change. It is fulfilling an unexpected appetite
> for political engagement at a time of widespread disillusionment with
> the conventional political processes.
> Hopkins is emphatic that transition groups refuse all political
> affiliation; they must build alliances to work across all parts of
> their community. But it is intriguing to see how the movement is
> experimenting with the sorts of ideas those in conventional politics
> are talking about - localism, decentralisation of power to
> communities, an environmental politics that is utopian and hopeful
> rather than gloomy. Of course detractors can point out its wholemeal
> worthiness, but it is stubbornly swimming against the tide of
> pervasive political pessimism, and given the unpredictability of the
> times, who knows where it will end up?
> --
> Work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhurakij_Pundit_University - Research:
> http://www.dpu.ac.th/dpuic/info/Research.html - Think thank:
> http://www.asianforesightinstitute.org/index.php/eng/The-AFI
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Ryan Lanham
rlanham1963 at gmail.com
Facebook: Ryan_Lanham
P.O. Box 633
Grand Cayman, KY1-1303
Cayman Islands
(345) 916-1712
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