Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Henry Tam: Political Philosophy & Policy Advice

Dr. Henry Benedict Tam is a writer, educator and policy advisor who has published extensively on political ideas, government actions, and community empowerment. His writings set out how thoughtful cooperation and democratic governance should be advanced:

[1] Key Ideas - the Communitarian Case for Democracy & Cooperation
Ideas such as ‘freedom’, ‘cohesion’, ‘rights’, ‘responsibility’, ‘justice’, are used frequently to underpin foundational claims, even though they are often too vaguely expressed or distorted by flawed arguments. We cannot engage in fair and cogent examination of political arguments unless we clarify our use of key concepts.
Time to Save Democracy: how to govern ourselves in the age of anti-politics: sets out what democracy should entail; its relationships with civic cohesion, rational learning, and power distribution; and what needs to be done to ensure it can function effectively (“Compelling and challenging in its analysis of democracy” – Professor Diane Reay, University of Cambridge).
Communitarianism: a new agenda for politics & citizenship: sets out why inclusive communities need to be developed; the importance of cooperative enquiry, mutual responsibility, and citizen participation; and policy implications for the public, private, and third sectors (“an excellent statement of the communitarian approach to politics and citizenship” – Professor Desmond King, University of Oxford). [See also its companion volume, Progressive Politics in the Global Age]
Responsibility & Personal Interactions: sets out the interpersonal basis for establishing the criteria for determining when people should or should not be held responsible for their behaviour, and dispels fallacious arguments for responsibility denial. [See also its companion volume, Punishment, Excuses, & Moral Development)]

[2] Historical Lessons - Learning from Past Development
Conflicting interpretations of the past can lead to significant differences in what values and practices are regarded as worthy of being pursued today. To move forward, we need to understand how previous problems were actually overcome, how ideas adapted over time to changing circumstances, and what reform approaches succeeded or failed.
Against Power Inequalities: a history of the progressive struggle: provides a global history of the ideas and movements involved in tackling exploitation and oppression (“history retold as a panorama of struggle, hope and co-operation [by] a master storyteller” – Ed Mayo, Secretary General, Co-operatives UK).
The Evolution of Communitarian Ideas: history, theory, and practice: provides a scholarly account of how ideas for developing more cooperative and inclusive communities developed over the centuries (“above all a powerful history of ideas, of great importance to our polarized age” – Professor Amitai Etzioni, author of The New Golden Rule). [Forthcoming from Palgrave Macmillan]

[3] Practical Advice - Guidance on State-Citizen Cooperation
It is often suggested that what matters is what ‘works’ in practice. But what counts as ‘success’ or ‘benefits’? And what arrangements are more likely to secure them? Disagreement over what is to be done in the name of the public interest should be resolved with reference to the relevant experiences and evaluations.
Whose Government is it? the renewal of state-citizen cooperation: brings together expert analyses and recommendations on how to empower citizens to have more informed and effective influence over public policies and practices (“instructive and inspiring to read … packed with insights for citizens and officials alike” – Peter Levine, Tufts University, US).
Together We Can: brings together (a) resources developed under the national ‘Together We Can’ cross-government programme for civil renewal and community empowerment (2003-2010) [it was showcased as an exemplar at the 2008 international meeting of the Global Network of Government Innovators (USA)], and (b) publications relating to democratic engagement, public sector development, and deliberative participation.

[4] Critical Reflections - How to Question the Powerful
None of us should accept without question what we are told, but nor should we dismiss findings or rules arbitrarily. It is important to develop a critical mindset that is disposed to deliberate with others on an evidential basis in reaching conclusions as to what merit our assent.
What Should Citizens Believe? exploring the issues of truth, reason & society: gives a general introduction to the challenge of resolving conflicting beliefs in society, and includes short essays to facilitate discussions about truth and reason in a democracy.
Political Literacy and Civic Thoughtfulness: highlights the problem of political illiteracy, and how it can be tackled through the cultivation of civic thoughtfulness, using the 'Synetopia' framework in assessing the level of political aptitude and identifying key actions to be taken to attain improvements.
’Question the Powerful’ a resource guide: lists a variety of resources for promoting objective reflections and discussions about social and political topics.

[5] Alternative Futures - the ‘Once Upon a Con’ series of dystopian satires
These novels depict disturbing social and political trends, highlight the power of rhetoric and misdirection, and explore what kinds of resistance and reform are urgently needed (see Once Upon a Con for an overview):
Kuan’s Wonderland: an allegorical novel about the mysterious realm of Shiyan, where a young boy is brought before the institution known as Plutopia. “Original and very engaging” (Fantasy Book Review); “an unmissable page-turner” (President, the Independent Publishers Guild). Recommended by the Equality Trust.
(For more information, go to Kuan’s Wonderland: a quick guide)
Whitehall through the Looking Glass: a satirical tale about how a group of powerful corporations known as the Consortium came to take over the government of Britain and America. “[A] timely reminder of the dangers of the rapidly-accelerating corporatisation of our political and economic life.” (F. O'Grady, General Secretary, TUC); “We need Tam's absurdist vision of Whitehall to help wake us all up” (S. Duffy, Director, Centre for Welfare Reform).
(For more information, go to Whitehall through the Looking Glass: a quick guide)
The Hunting of the Gods: a saga set on a much transformed Earth where immortal rulers dictate terms to subjects who are brought up to fight against their foreign enemies until a resurrected stranger reveals to them the origins of the self-proclaimed gods. Questions are raised about microbotic technology, personal identity, and the widening gap between those who have a rich and prolonged life and those have nothing but insecurity.

In addition to his wide range of writings on politics and society ('HT: Bibliography'), Henry Tam has led on many civic development initiatives through his work as Director, Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy (University of Cambridge); Head of Civil Renewal (Home Office, UK Government); Visiting Professor, Lifelong Learning (Birkbeck, University of London); and Director, Community Safety & Regeneration (Government Office, East of England).

He has been a guest speaker at the World Forum for Democracy (the Council of Europe); the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation (Harvard, USA); the Institute of Sociology (Warsaw, Poland); the Society for Applied Philosophy; the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics; the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies (Washington, USA); the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation (Ireland); the London Business School; the Oxford Centre for Advanced Study of the Social Sciences; Church Action on Poverty; South Place Ethical Society; UK’s National School of Government; and many other organisations. (For a list of the talks given, go to ‘The QTP Talks Series’)


• Associate Fellow, the Crick Centre, University of Sheffield (2017-).
• Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge (2011-2015).
• Visiting Professor, School of Lifelong Learning, Birkbeck, University of London (2008-2011).
• Fellow, Globus Institute for Globalization and Sustainable Development, University of Tilburg, the Netherlands (2000-2008).
• Fellow, Chartered Institute of Marketing (1993-2011)
• Research Fellow, Centre for Citizenship Development, Anglia Polytechnic University (1992-1995).
• Diploma in Public Relations & Marketing, CAM (Communication, Advertising & Marketing) Foundation (1988).
• Ph.D in Philosophy, (Swire Scholar) the University of Hong Kong (1981-1984).
• BA/MA in Philosophy, Politics & Economics, (Neale Scholar) the Queen’s College, University of Oxford (1978-1981).

Catch up with his political reflections on the Question the Powerful blog; and follow his tweets on current events via @HenryBTam.

Friday, August 7, 2020

‘Being Thoughtful’: a reading guide

Being Thoughtful is a philosophy of life that many will embrace on reflection of what different paths may entail, and can be cultivated through the development of one’s understanding of the world around them.  It can be applied to one’s beliefs and life choices, one’s relationships with others, and one’s actions as a member of wider communities.

To find out more to consider and share with others, the following may be of interest (these are short essays of 500-800 words, unless otherwise indicated):

[A] Why Embrace ‘Being Thoughtful’ as a Philosophy of Life
·      ‘Being Thoughtful: a philosophy of life’ (2020): an introductory outline of the ethos. (Question the Powerful – 16 September 2020)
·      ‘What Kind of People Are We?’ (2012): distinguishing the different types of people we could be if we embrace or reject thoughtfulness as a guide to life.
·      ‘The Reciprocity Test: Pros & Cons’ (2013): using the concept of ‘reciprocity’ to ascertain our dispositions towards being thoughtful.
·      ‘The Case for Cooperative Problem-Solving’ (2012): why cooperative problem-solving is central to living thoughtfully.
·      ‘Cooperative Problem-Solving: the key to a reciprocal society’ (2012): what are the key elements to cooperative problem-solving.
·      ‘The General Theory of Responsibility: an introduction’ (2020):  a guide to resources explaining what a thoughtful conception of responsibility involves.
·      ‘Left, Right or Optimal?’ (2017): why being thoughtful is concerned with the optimal choice rather than conventional labels and pre-conceived expectations.
·      ‘The Cooperative Gestalt’ (2013): explaining how the ‘cooperative gestalt’ is the mindset with which one perceives the world in a thoughtful manner.
·      ‘Learning More about Cooperative Gestalt’ (2013): a guide to more materials explicating the cooperative gestalt.
·      What Should Citizens Believe? (2018): a collection of texts that explore rationality and how to deliberate over what to believe.

[B] How to Advance Thoughtfulness in Practice
·      ‘The Path of Thoughtfulness’ (2020): what is to be done to stay thoughtful in the face of threats and obstacles.
·      ‘The Cult of Thoughtlessness’ (2017): understanding the causes and dangers of thoughtlessness.
·      ‘Four Threats of the Counter-Enlightenment’ (2018): why counter-enlightenment trends need to be tackled.
·      ‘In Defence of Cooperative Communities: 7 points to note’ (2018): how are cooperative communities sustained by thoughtful minds to be defended.
·      ‘Guide to Synetopia’ (2016): a guide to essays on aspects of the concept of ‘synetopia’ and their relevance to practical reforms.
·      Political Literacy & Civic Thoughtfulness (2016): a pamphlet on how to cultivate civic thoughtfulness in society.
·      ‘Six Degrees of Cooperation’ (2014): where should thoughtful cooperation be more extensively developed.
·      ‘Politics & the Cooperative Gestalt’ (2015): what is the relevance of the cooperative gestalt to political action.
·      ‘The Cooperators’ Dilemma’ (2018): understanding the difficulties faced by those challenged by others’ non-cooperation.
·      Time to Save Democracy (2018): a book length work on why and how democracy should be strengthened in line with the philosophy of thoughtfulness.

[C] What Key Ideas have influenced the Philosophy of Thoughtfulness
·      ‘Find out more about Communitarianism’ (2013): the theory and practice set out in the book, Communitarianism, provide the basis for the philosophy of ‘Being Thoughtful’, and this resource guide gives more information about it and other short, relevant articles.
·      The Evolution of Communitarian Ideas: history, theory & practice (2019):  a book that provides a comprehensive exposition of how communitarian ideas have developed over time.
·      ‘In Praise of Mo Tze’ (2010): on the ideas of the ancient Chinese philosopher, Mo Tze (or Mozi). 
·      ‘Democritus: an agreeable hypothesis about everything’ (2018): on the ideas of the ancient Greek philosopher, Democritus. 
·      Question the Powerful: quincentenary of the 1514 watershed’ (2014): on the ideas of a number of Renaissance thinkers.
·      ‘Our Bacon Needs Saving’ (2011): on the ideas of Francis Bacon, their influence since the 17th century, and the opposition to them.
·      ‘Who’s Against the Enlightenment’ (2007): on the importance of the ideas of the Enlightenment and the attempts to discredit them.
·      ‘Cooperation: A New Order of Life’ (2017): a review of Stephen Yeo’s book on George Holyoake and his vision for thoughtful cooperation.
·      ‘Mill, Dewey & Me’ (2009): on why J. S. Mill’s and John Dewey’s ideas are important in the development of the philosophy of thoughtfulness.
·      Against Power Inequalities – a history of the progressive struggle (2015):  a book on the intellectual and political battles to tackle one of the most serious threats against thoughtful cooperation – power inequalities. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Henry Tam: Bibliography

List of Published Writings (1990 - present)

‘Is Real Power Sharing Possible?', A Better Way (April 2020)
• ‘Communitarianism’ in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Relativism, ed. by Martin Kusch (London: Routledge, 2020).
• 'National government programmes: enabling communities to take action', in Participation at 45˚: techniques for citizen-led change, compiled by Colin Miller (Compass, 2020)
The Evolution of Communitarian Ideas: history, theory, & practice, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019)
Whose Government is it? the renewal of state-citizen cooperation, (Bristol: Bristol University Press, 2019)
• ‘Democracy Endangered’, RSA Journal (autumn issue, 2018)
‘Social Justice Needs a Vibrant Democracy’, Compass, (28 Oct. 2018).
What Should Citizens Believe? - exploring the issues of truth, reason, & society, (Sheffield: Citizen Network, 2018)
• ‘Lessons in Governance: China & the West’, Inspires, the magazine for Oxford Politics and International Relations alumni (2018).
• ‘The Vote is Not Enough’, the Crick Centre (March 2018): http://www.crickcentre.org/blog/vote-not-enough/
• ‘3 critical steps we need to take to save democracy’, Policy Press Blog (March 2018): https://policypress.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/3-critical-steps-we-need-to-take-to-save-democracy/
• ‘The Conservatives have turned universal suffrage into a contest for manipulation. Here’s what we must do’, openDemocracy, (February, 2018) https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/henry-tam/conservatives-have-turned-universal-suffrage-into-contest-for-manipulation-here-s-what-
Time to Save Democracy: how to govern ourselves in the age of anti-politics, (Bristol: Policy Press, 2018)
• ‘Don’t give up on democracy just yet’, The Hill, US (December 2017).
• ‘Citizenship & Civic Engagement’, submission to House of Lords’ Select Committee (2017).
• ‘Five Reasons to teach the Civic Ethos’, The Centre for Welfare Reform (2017).
• ‘Four Lessons on Power Inequalities’, Bernard Crick Centre for Promoting the Public Understanding of Politics (June, 2017).
• ‘Political Literacy and Civic Thoughtfulness' (booklet), The Centre for Welfare Reform (The Need for Roots series), (2016).
• ‘Interview with a Political Writer', Banana Writers' Insider Series (2016).
The Hunting of the Gods (a novel) QTP: 2016.
• ‘Synetopia: Resource Distribution Revisited’, The Centre for Welfare Reform, (March 2016)
• ‘Synetopia: A Model for Collaborative Leadership’, Civil Service College, (March 2016)
• ‘Utopia, Dystopia, & Synetopia’, WEA Eastern Newsletter (Jan 2016)
• ‘Snide & Prejudiced: a tale of constitutional shenanigans’, openDemocracy, (November 2015)
• ‘Equality and the Governance of Welfare’, The Centre for Welfare Reform, (Sept 2015)
• ‘Communitarian governance: a public education challenge’, openDemocracy, (July 2015)
• 'Towards an Open Cooperativist Development Agency’, P2P Foundation, (March 2015)
• ‘Rethinking National Security’, The Centre for Welfare Reform, (Feb 2015)
• ‘'Communitarianism, sociology of', in James D. Wright (editor-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol. 4. Pp.311-316 (Oxford: Elsevier, 2015).
Against Power Inequalities: a history of the progressive struggle, (new edition) Birkbeck: 2015.
• ‘Labour for the ninety-nine percent’, in The Orient (The Official Newsletter of Chinese for Labour, February 2015. Vol 15).
• ‘Leadership beyond Command & Control’, Civil Service College, (Nov 2014)
‘Let’s Talk About Democracy’ in nED (the network for Education & Democracy): (August 2014).
• ‘What would Whitehall be like in fifty years’ time?’ in Despatches, the Civil Service College newsletter (Vol.2 July 2014, p.2).
‘Whitehall through the Looking Glass: a novel exposé of corporate government’, published interview in Shout Out UK, 8 May, 2014).
Whitehall through the Looking Glass (a novel). QTP: 2014.
• 'Communitarianism', in the Encyclopedia of Action Research (Sage Publications, 2014).
• 'Progressive Lifelong Learning: pros and cons', NIACE Journal, 'Adult Learning', winter, 2013.
• 'Cooperative Problem-Solving & Education’, Forum journal, Volume 55 Number 2 2013.
• 'The Curious Case of Chinese Politics in Britain’, The Orient (2013).
• 'When Plato met Potter’, Book Brunch (published 18 June 2013).
• 'Cooperative Problem-Solving: what it means in theory and practice', FYPD, University of Cambridge, 2013 (download article here). Polish version, 'Demokracja: lekcje kooperatywnego rozwiazywania problemow’, published in edukacja obywatelska w dziataniu, ed. by Kordasiewicz, A. & Sadura, P., (Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar, Warsaw, 2013).
Kuan's Wonderland (a novel). QTP: 2012.
• ‘Citizen Engagement and the Quest for Solidarity’, in After the Third Way: The Future of Social Democracy in Europe>, ed. by Olaf Cramme and Patrick Diamond (London, I.B. Tauris, 2012).
• ‘Democratic Participation and Learning Leadership’, published in Polish as ‘Szkola liderow’ in Partycypacja: przewodnik krytyki politycznej, ed. by Sadura, P. & Erbel, J. (Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, Warsaw, 2012).
• ‘Rejuvenating Democracy: lessons from a communitarian experiment’, Forum, Volume 53, Number 3, 2011.
Komunitaryzm, (Polish translation of Communitarianism, by J Grygienc & A Szahaj), Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikolaja Kopernika, Torun 2011.
• ‘Through Thick & Thin: what does it really take for us to live together’, in Ethnicities, ed. by Dina Kiwan, Volume 11 Issue 3 September 2011.
• ‘The Big Con: reframing the state-society debate’, PPR Journal, Volume 18, Issue 1, March-May 2011.
Against Power Inequalities: reflections on the struggle for inclusive communities, (original edition) Birkbeck, London University, 2010.
• ‘The Importance of Being a Citizen’, in Active Learning for Active Citizenship, ed. by John Annette & Marjorie Mayo, (NIACE, 2010).
• ‘Bringing up Citizens’ – review of Patrick Keeney’s Liberalism, Communitarianism & Education, in PROSPERO (Autumn issue, 2009).
Review of White, S. and Leighton, D. (ed.) Building a Citizen Society: the emerging politics of republican democracy (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2008) in RENEWAL (Vol. 17 No.2, Summer 2009).
• ‘Citizens’ Access to Power’, in County Beacon (the County Councils Network magazine) April 2008.
• ‘Power to the Citizen’, in VINE (the Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East newsletter) Summer 2008.
• ‘Civil Renewal: the agenda for empowering citizens’, in Re-energizing Citizenship: Strategies for Civil Renewal, ed. by Gerry Stoker, Tessa Brannan, and Peter John, (Macmillan Palgrave, 2007).
• ‘The Hidden Barriers to Collaboration’ in The Collaborative State, ed. by Simon Parker and Niamh Gallagher, (London: Demos, 2007).
• ‘The Case for Progressive Solidarity’, in Identity, Ethnic Diversity & Community Cohesion, ed. by M. Wetherell, M. Lafleche & R. Berkeley, (London: Sage, 2007).
• ‘Communities in Control’, New Start (Volume 8, No. 345, 23 June 2006).
• ‘Civil Renewal & Diversity’, in Social Capital, Civil Renewal & Ethnic Diversity (Proceedings of a Runnymede Conference), 2005.
• ‘Live and Let Eat’, a review of Steven Lukes’ Liberals & Cannibals: The Implications of Diversity, in The Responsive Community, Spring/Summer 2004.
Progressive Politics in the Global Age (ed.) (Cambridge: Polity, 2001).
• ‘What is the Third Way’, review of The Third Way and The Third Way and its Critics (by Anthony Giddens), for The Responsive Community. (Summer 2001).
• ‘The Community Roots of Citizenship’, in Citizens: Towards a Citizenship Culture, ed. by B. Crick (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2001).
• Review of Schools and Community: The Communitarian Agenda in Education (by James Arthur with Richard Bailey), for the Cambridge Journal of Education. (May 2000).
• 'Rediscovering British Communitarianism', The Responsive Community, (reprinted in the Co-op Commonweal) Spring, 1999.
• 'Time to take a stand: Communitarian Ideas and Third Way Politics', International Scope Review Vol 1, Issue 1, 1999.
• ‘Communitarian Ideas and Third Way Politics', Local Government Voice, July 1999.
Communitarianism: A New Agenda for Politics & Citizenship (Macmillan, 1998).
Putting Citizens First, with John Stewart (Municipal Journal/SOLACE, 1997).
Punishment, Excuses & Moral Development (ed.) (Aldershot: Avebury Press, 1996).
• 'Communitarianism and Citizens Empowerment', Local Government Policy Making, January 1996.
• 'Communitarianism and Humanism: The Need for a Citizens' Movement', The Ethical Record, February, 1996.
• 'Education and the Communitarian Movement', Journal for Pastoral Care in Education, September 1996.
The Citizens Agenda (The White Horse Press 1995).
• 'Crime & Responsibility' in B. Almond (ed.) Introducing Applied Ethics (Blackwell's 1995).
• 'Enabling Structures' in D. Atkinson (ed.) Cities of Pride (Cassell 1995).
• 'Recognise Your Responsibilities', The Professional Manager, March 1995.
• 'The Real Communitarian Challenge', County News, May 1995.
• 'Towards a Communitarian Philosophy', Philosophy Today, May 1995.
• 'Communitarianism & the Co-operative Movement', The Co-op Commonweal, Issue 2 1995.
• 'Community Movement', Local Government Management, Autumn 1995.
• 'Take the Community Route to People Power', Local Government Chronicle (24/11/95).
Marketing, Competition & the Public Sector (ed.) (Harlow: Longman, 1994).
• 'Empowerment: Too Big a Task?' The Professional Manager, March 1994.
Citizenship Development: Towards an Organisational Model (LGMB 1994).
Serving the Public: Customer Management in Local Government (Harlow: Longman 1993).
• 'Power to the People' Local Government Management Summer 1993.
• 'How Should We Live?' The Philosopher, October 1993.
Responsibility & Personal Interactions: A Philosophical Study of the Criteria for Responsibility Ascriptions (Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990).

Monday, August 3, 2020

The General Theory of Responsibility: an introduction

The materials that constitute the general theory of responsibility are to be found across a number of books and articles. An outline of the key ideas and their interconnections is set out in below, followed by a guide to the publications where detailed exposition of these ideas can be found. A three-part introduction to these ideas will also be posted on Question the Powerful (in May 2020).

Our aim is to explain why we should guide and encourage others to act responsibly, what that means in practice, and how to promote the socio-political conditions that are conducive to responsible behaviour at all levels.

[1] Mutual Responsibility
Our Concern for Each Other:
The starting point is the evolution of human connectedness that is reflected by the universal acknowledgement of the Golden Rule of behaviour – that we should act towards others as we would have them act towards us. This forms the basis of mutual responsibility, whereby we recognise the need to account for our behaviour to each other.
The Problem of Indifference:
Some people may lack concern for others because of emotionally damaging upbringing, acquired prejudice, unfortunate pathology, dogmatic embrace of egotism, or some other empathy-depleting factor.
Empathic Thoughtfulness:
We need to cultivate empathic thoughtfulness as a preventative measure in general, and as a restorative technique where necessary. People can learn to see others as fellow human beings and develop a sense of responsibility towards them.
Togetherness in Society:
We need socio-political actions to enhance togetherness across communities to connect people and build solidarity, including the development of shared mission, mutual respect, and coherent membership

[2] Cooperative Enquiry
Our Reasoning with Each Other:
Our concern for each other means that we want to do what is helpful and avoid what is harmful for one another, and this requires us to differentiate what merits our belief regarding the consequences of our actions. This in turn calls upon us to be prepared to subject any claims being considered by ourselves and others to a mutual empirical scrutiny that is embodied in cooperative enquiry, exemplified by scientific research, legal due process, and impartial public inquiry.
The Problem of Ignorance:
Some people may not be aware of the relevant facts because of a lack of information, their adherence to dogmas, being deceived, or finding the details or arguments too complex to follow.
Cognitive Thoughtfulness:
We need to cultivate cognitive thoughtfulness so that people learn to enhance their reasoning skills, appreciate what constitutes a proper exchange of evidence and comments, and assess with confidence the reliability of diverse sources of information based on their track record in conducting cooperative enquiry.
Objectivity in Society:
We need socio-political actions to promote objectivity across communities to improve people’s awareness of the consequences of their behaviour, including the development of collaborative learning, critical reviews, and responsible communication.

[3] Citizen Participation
Our Decision-Making Involving Each Other:
If we are to take into account the feelings and reasons others have before we decide on any course of action that can affect them, we need to find meaningful ways to involve others in our decision-making. We would want to be so involved ourselves when others make decisions that affect us. This is the relationship fostered by citizen participation – at the heart of the culture of democracy.
The Problem of Imposition:
Some people may act irresponsibly because they would not factor in others’ concerns in their decisions as a result of their own impatience, arrogance, or incompetence in reaching out. There are others whose options for responsible action are much curtailed because they have been left with little control over their lives by more powerful people.
Volitional Thoughtfulness:
We need to cultivate volitional thoughtfulness, both to guide those overlooking the input from others to adopt a more inclusive mindset in seeking the views of those whose lives are affected by their decisions, and to help those with less power in society to expand their influence.
Power Balance in Society:
We need socio-political actions to secure better power balance across communities to ensure genuine mutual consideration is given when key decisions are made, including the development of participatory decision-making, civic parity, and public accountability.

Guide to Further Reading

For more on the central ideas of Mutual Responsibility, Cooperative Enquiry, and Citizen Participation:
[a] an introduction to what they involve and their policy implications – Communitarianism: a new agenda for politics & citizenship: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Communitarianism-New-Agenda-Politics-Citizenship/dp/0814782361
[b] a historical account of how the related ideas and practices have developed over time – The Evolution of Communitarian Ideas: https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783030265571

For more on the educational and wider civic actions needed to promote responsible attitudes and behaviour:
[a] a summary of the ideas and practices related to Empathic Thoughtfulness, Cognitive Thoughtfulness, and Volitional Thoughtfulness – Political Literacy & Civic Thoughtfulness: https://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/political-literacy-civic-thoughtful.html
[b] an extensive examination of why and how we should pursue the socio-political objectives of Togetherness, Objectivity, and Power Balance – Time to Save Democracy: https://policypress.co.uk/time-to-save-democracy

For more on the nature of Responsibility, and the problems of Indifference, Ignorance, and Imposition:
[a] a critical examination of the criteria for ascribing responsibility – A Philosophical Study of the Criteria for Responsibility Ascriptions: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Philosophical-Study-Criteria-Responsibility-Ascriptions/dp/0889467862
[b] a collection of essays (by a range of experts) on the obstacles to responsible behaviour – Punishment, Excuses & Moral Development: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Punishment-Excuses-Development-Avebury-Philosophy/dp/1859722601

For more on the effective approaches to advance responsible collective action through Citizen Participation:
[a] a collection of essays (by leading academics and practitioners) on how to improve state-citizen cooperation – Whose Government is it: https://bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/whose-government-is-it
[b] a guide to the resources available to raise understanding of the value and practical application of citizen participation – Together We Can Resource Guide: https://hbtam.blogspot.com/2019/07/together-we-can-resource-guide.html

For more on the socio-political barriers to responsible behaviour:
[a] a collection of essays dealing with philosophical arguments as well as practical policy issues relating to the Problem of Ignorance – What Should Citizens Believe: https://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Should-Citizens-Believe-Exploring/dp/1548183105
[b] a short global history on the undermining of Power Balance in society and how it could be tackled – Against Power Inequalities: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Against-Power-Inequalities-progressive-struggle-ebook/dp/B00RQQYA5M/
[c] a collection of essays (by progressive writers) on the vision and policies that can steer us away from the threats of irresponsible diktats and exploitative arrangements – Progressive Politics in the Global Age: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Progressive-Politics-Global-Age-Henry/dp/0745625797

For ‘The General Theory of Responsibility (part 1), go to: https://henry-tam.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-general-theory-of-responsibility.html
For ‘The General Theory of Responsibility (part 2), go to: https://henry-tam.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-general-theory-of-responsibility_11.html
For ‘The General Theory of Responsibility (part 3), go to: https://henry-tam.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-general-theory-of-responsibility_21.html

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Question the Powerful: Essays

Full Listing
Set out below is a complete list of the essays posted on the Question the Powerful blog. Click on the title to find out more. For a list of Henry Tam’s key writings (books and articles) published elsewhere, see ‘Henry Tam: Bibliography'.

No. 296 The Scientific v the Arbitrary
No. 295 Skin-Tone Negativity Syndrome (STNS)
No. 294 Left Without Words
No. 293 Priority One: Political Power
No. 292 The General Theory of Responsibility (part 3)
No. 291 The General Theory of Responsibility (part 2)
No. 290 The General Theory of Responsibility (part 1)
No. 289 The Impact of Communitarian Empowerment
No. 288 3 Steps to Democratic Consensus
No. 287 The Case for Regulation is Going Viral
No. 286 The Five-A-Side Model for Electing National Leaders
No. 285 The Toxic Spread of Authoritarian Intimidation
No. 284 Brexit Blues
No. 283 A Smokescreen called ‘Politically Motivated’
No. 282 The Path of Thoughtfulness
No. 281 Lessons for Democrats
No. 280 Remember, Remember, Vote Them Out in December: here’s a 10-point reminder
No. 279 Question Boris Johnson: an election special
No. 278 Proud to be Open-Minded
No. 277 The Politics of Saints & Sinners
No. 276 You Say You Want a Constitution
No. 275 Shameless Subversion: Con politics explained
No. 274 Where is the Jobs Manifesto?
No. 273 The Art of Political Criticism: an educator’s guide
No. 272 The Stoic-Epicurean Resolution
No. 271 What to do about Manipulative Authoritarianism?
No. 270 Key Lessons on Power Inequality
No. 269 Humpty Dumpty’s ‘Democracy’
No. 268 Ask Grayling: the politics of chaos
No. 267 Cooperation First: a new educational focus
No. 266 The Politics of Reckless Endangerment
No. 265 Policies for Renewing State-Citizen Cooperation
No. 264 Fool’s Paradise: the ultimate political resort
No. 263 Carry On Brexit
No. 262 The Politics of Forgivableness
No. 261 Con Politics & its 6 core tricks
No. 260 The War & Refugees Tax Programme
No. 259 Licence to Bill
No. 258 The Unholy Alliance
No. 257 Five Categories of Irresponsible Communication
No. 256 Mistaken Group Identity
No. 255 Democracy & the 2016 Referendum
No. 254 In Defence of Cooperative Communities: 7 points to note
No. 253 Four Threats of the Counter-Enlightenment
No. 252 How to Mind the Money Gap
No. 251 Democritus: an agreeable hypothesis about everything

No. 250 The Most Important Ideas to Teach
No. 249 The Xenophobic Curse: how the Right keeps getting it Wrong
No. 248 Neo-Humans & Sub-Humans
No. 247 Patriotism Subverted: Putin’s Strategy to Destabilise the West
No. 246 Big Egos, Small Print, & Zero Accountability
No. 245 Exposing the Affordability Con
No. 244 The Political Wing of Bad Business
No. 243 What Should Citizens Believe
No. 242: Society’s Identity Crisis (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 241: The Real Political Divide (Progressive Ethos)
No. 240: The Brexit Con (Brexit)
No. 239: The ‘Public Money Protection’ Act (Economics)
No. 238: Democracy on Life Support (Democracy)
No. 237: The Cooperators’ Dilemma (Cooperative Development)
No. 236: Four Deities & a Humanist (Ethics)
No. 235: What Voters Want (Democracy)
No. 234: Paradigm Lost (Progressive Ethos)
No. 233: Snakes on Power Ladders (Ethics)
No. 232: Unhappy Ending: the politics of secession (Global Politics)
No. 231: Exposing the Affinity Myth (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 230: What do we mean by ‘Civic Engagement’? (Community Empowerment)
No. 229: Cooperation: A New Order of Life? (Book review: ‘Victorian Agitator – George Holyoake: co-operation as this new order of life’, by Stephen Yeo)
No. 228: Tech’gemony: the crisis of human redundancy (Economics)
No. 227: Performance Enhancement & Fair Competition (Ethics)
No. 226: The Will of the People? (Democracy)
No. 225: Impartiality or Bias in Politics (Education)
No. 224: The Importance of Being English (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 223: Isn’t Profit a Tax on Workers? (Economics)
No. 222: From Russia with Brexit & Trump (Global Politics)
No. 221: National Alliance for Brexit (Brexit)
No. 220: Gambling with the UK’s Future (Brexit)
No. 219: The Rules-Freedom Symbiosis (Democracy)
No. 218: Left, Right, or Optimal? (Electoral Politics)
No. 217: To Share or Not To Share (Economics)
No. 216: 5 Simple Security Tests (Global Politics)
No. 215: The Art of Not Playing God (Ethics)
No. 214: Nationalism of the Puppet Kind (Con Politics)
No. 213: The Business of Advancing Values (Cooperative Development)
No. 212: Attlee & Bread (Progressive Ethos)
No. 211: The Cult of Thoughtlessness (Political Education)
No. 210: The Livelihood Challenge: 10 actions to consider (Economics)
No. 209: 2017: a precarious jobs odyssey (Electoral Politics)
No. 208: Three Wise Memos (Progressive Ethos)
No. 207: How Anger Trumps Anxiety (Electoral Politics)
No. 206: The Brexit-Trump Regression (Con Politics)
No. 205: Dr. Frankenstein, I presume (Con Politics)
No. 204: The Pathology of Marginalisation (Power Inequality)
No. 203: ‘Gains’, ‘Losses’, & Real Value (Economics)
No. 202: The Vote is Not Enough (Democracy)
No. 201: Automation, Immigration, & Civic Remuneration (Economics)

No.200: Give Collaborative Leadership a Try (Cooperative development)
No.199: The Politics of Deranged Generalisation (Con politics)
No.198: Keeping the Con in ‘e-CON-omics’ (Economics)
No.197: Dis-United Kingdom: 10 issues to watch (Democracy)
No.196: The Lawbreaker’s Mask (Con politics)
No.195: Education, Society & the Cooperative Gestalt (Education)
No.194: The Thoughtful Guide to Political Types (Electoral politics)
No.193: Terminate the Machines? (Economics)
No.192: 10 Ways to Subvert Legality (Power inequality)
No.191: Only Fools & Porsches (Con politics)
No.190: Moral Relativism & the Empathy Scale (Ethics)
No.189: A Strategy for Cooperators (Cooperative development)
No.188: There’s Something About Capitalism (Economics)
No.187: The Politics of Anti-Rationality (Con politics)
No.186: Flag, Freedom, & Family ... (Electoral politics)
No.185: Goodbye Utopia, Hello Synetopia (Progressive ethos)
No.184: Political Education with a Twist (Education)
No.183: Snide & Prejudiced: a tale of constitutional shenanigans (Con politics)
No.182: The ‘All-or-Nothing Fallacy’ of Polarised Politics (Democracy)
No.181: Synetopia: progress through cooperation (Progressive ethos)
No.180: Let’s Come Clean about Nuclear Waste (Environment & Energy)
No.179: Nietzsche, all too Nietzsche (Ethics)
No.178: Journey to the Real Centre of Politics (Progressive ethos)
No.177: Convert or Con Victim? (Con politics)
No.176: Plutocracy: a lesson for citizen education (Power inequality)
No.175: O Humanities, Where Art Thou? (Education)
No.174: The Public-Private Divide (Con politics)
No.173: Lifelong Learning & Everyday Governance (Education)
No.172: Left at the Identity Checkpoint (Progressive ethos)
No.171: Democracy at the Workplace (Cooperative development)
No.170: The Meaning of ‘Pro-Business’ (Con politics)
No.169: Money Can Buy You Votes (Electoral politics)
No.168: Remember: Together We Can (Solidarity & Diversity)
No.167: What’s in a Vote (Electoral Politics)
No.166: Thatcher, Europe & Referendum (Democracy)
No.165: Invasion of the Power Snatchers (Power Inequality)
No.164: Cooperation Unbound: a new model for democratic education (Education)
No.163: Politics & the Cooperative Gestalt (Cooperative development)
No.162: We are Spartacus – We are Syriza (Economics)
No.161: Davos’ Inferno (Power inequality [Satire])
No.160: Debunking Culture War (Progressive ethos)
No.159: Politics: what is it good for? (Education)
No.158: The Voter Vanishes (Democracy)
No.157: Between the Buddha & Camus (Progressive ethos)
No.156: The Con Identity (Con politics)
No.155: The Meekest Link (Cooperative development)
No.154: Revolution for Beginners (Democracy)
No.153: Six Degrees of Cooperation (Cooperative development)
No.152 The National Safety Fund explained (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.151: Experimentally Seeking Progress (Progressive ethos)

No.150: Keeping Democracy on its Toes
[interview with Jessica Crowe, Executive Director of the Centre for Public Scrutiny] (Democracy)
No.149: Question the Powerful: the political education project (Education)
No.148: QTP Resources for Political Education (Education)
No.147: We Are What We Eat [book review of Incredible! Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution: the story of Incredible Edible Todmorden, by Pam Warhurst and Joanna Dobson] (Community empowerment)
No.146: Politically ‘Incorrect’ or Morally Repugnant (Progressive ethos)
No.145: Cooperation Denial (Cooperative development)
No.144: Scapegoats United (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.143: In Solidarity or In Solitary (Global politics)
No.142: The Crook, the Bees, their Hive & its Haters [a fable] (Power inequality [Satire])
No.141: All Quiet on the Voting Front? (Electoral politics)
No.140: Rethinking Education [interview with Diane Reay, Professor of Education, University of Cambridge] (Education)
No.139: A History of the World in 500 words (Power inequality)
No.138: The Art of Exposing Emperors (Education)
No.137: Time for a Cooperative Government (Cooperative development)
No.136: Anarchy: Daydreams & Nightmares (Democracy)
No.135: Politics for Outsiders: an educational mission (Education)
No.134: Chinese Pride or Western Prejudice [book review of Chinese Whispers: why everything you heard about China is wrong by Ben Chu] (Global politics)
No.133: ‘Question the Powerful’: quincentenary of the 1514 watershed (Progressive ethos)
No.132: The Author Formerly Hated for ‘The Prince’ (Progressive ethos)
No.131: The Art of Nurturing Communities [book review of Community Research for Community Development, ed. by M. Mayo, Z. Mediwelso-Bendek, & C. Packham] (Community empowerment)
No.130: Who Needs Capability Assessment? (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.129: The Cooperative Gestalt (Cooperative development)
No.128: The Economics of Disability (Economics)
No.127: Who’s Afraid of Political Education? (Education)
No.126: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Syria? (Global politics)
No.125: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Teacher (Education)
No.124: The Reciprocity Test: Pros & Cons (Progressive ethos)
No.123: Bouncers for Cyber Clubs? (Freedom of speech and belief)
No.122: Downturn Abbey (Power inequality [Satire])
No.121: Anti-Social Enterprise (Con politics)
No.120: Oppose the War on Welfare (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.119: Chartist No. 6: the call for annual elections (Democracy)
No.118: Whose Money Is It Anyway? (Economics)
No.117: The Greed Tyranny (Con politics)
No.116: The ATOS Inquisition (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.115: Don’t Know Much About Politics? (Democracy)
No.114: Community Development at the Crossroads (Community empowerment)
No.113: The Power Hypothesis (Power inequality)
No.112: Communitarianism Revisited [co-written with Jonathan Boswell] (Progressive ethos)
No.111: No, Minister (Democracy)
No.110: Leave No One Behind (Progressive ethos)
No.109: Like to Teach the World to Vote? (Education)
No.108: Who’s Afraid of Father Christmas (Power inequality [Satire])
No.107: Tune into UN 194: the Sound of a Beautiful Resistance (Global politics)
No.106: Dreaming of a Dark Christmas (Education)
No.105: The Biggest Co-op of All (Cooperative development)
No.104: A Bomb for an Eye (Global politics)
No.103: The Crude, the Mad & the Ugly (Con politics)
No.102: A Message to America [from FDR] (Electoral politics)
No.101: The Powerful Can’t Hide [guest post by Ann Walker] (Power inequality)

No.100: Cooperative Problem-Solving: the key to a reciprocal society (Cooperative development)
No. 99: Who are the Wealth Creators? (Economics)
No. 98: Help Us Question the Powerful (Democracy)
No. 97: Unsure about the Start Our Children Get? (Family policy)
No. 96: Political OCD: is there a cure? (Con politics)
No. 95: The Targeting of ‘Troubled Families’ (Family policy)
No. 94: Your Power, Your Government (Democracy)
No. 93: Can the NHS Stay in the Race? (Welfare & Healthcare)
No. 92: Pyramid Hockey (Power inequality)
No. 91: Democracy’s Debt to Young People (Democracy)
No. 90: What kind of people are we? (Progressive ethos)
No. 89: Kuan’s Wonderland: a political fable (Education)
No. 88: Friends, Romans, Lend Me Your Euros (Economics)
No. 87: The Case for Cooperative Problem-Solving (Cooperative development)
No. 86: Where Next for Criminal Justice? [book review of Where Next for Criminal Justice, by David Faulkner and Ros Burnett] (Criminal justice)
No. 85: The Free Speech Conundrum (Freedom of speech and belief)
No. 84: I’m Super-Rich, Get Me into the White House (Electoral politics [Satire])
No. 83: Much Ado About Cooperating (Cooperative development)
No. 82: The Department for Wealth (Con politics [Satire])
No. 81: Welcome to the Premier League of Education (Education)
No. 80: Re-enter the Dragon (Global politics)
No. 79: Educating Fodder (Education)
No. 78: Santa & the City (Xmas Special) (Power inequality [Satire])
No. 77: Can Democracy Be Saved? (Democracy)
No. 76: What Next for the WEA? (Education)
No. 75: Corporate Flu (Con politics [Satire])
No. 74: Debt or No Debt (Economics)
No. 73: The Politics of Cultural Inclinations (Progressive ethos)
No. 72: Poor Circulation and Economic Disorder (Economics)
No. 71: The Lopsided Playing Field Power inequality)
No. 70: The Eton Redemption (Con politics [Satire])
No. 69: The Know-Nothing Executives (Democracy)
No. 68: The Nasty Media (Media)
No. 67: The Big Con (Con politics)
No. 66: A Tale of Two Strategies (Electoral politics)
No. 65: Left Disorientated? (Progressive ethos)
No. 64: The Joker to the Right (Con politics)
No. 63: Royal Family Values: a historical fact sheet (Power inequality)
No. 62: Memento Tory (Con politics)
No. 61: 68 places to change the Government’s mind (Electoral politics)
No. 60: From Wisconsin, With Love (Con politics [Satire])
No. 59: The Murdoch Empire Strikes Back (Media)
No. 58: SOS: Save Our NHS (Welfare & Healthcare)
No. 57: Beyond the Matrix (Con politics)
No. 56: Our Bacon Needs Saving (Progressive ethos)
No. 55: Deep Freeze Alert (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 54: An Interview with ‘Father Christmas’ (Power inequality [Satire])
No. 53: On Strikers & Own Goals (Unions)
No. 52: Paint it Red (Con politics [Satire])
No. 51: Anger Mismanagement (Con politics)

No. 50: Another Coup on Animal Farm (Con politics [Satire])
No. 49: Against Power Inequalities (Power inequality)
No. 48: A Mad Tea Party’s Brewing (Con politics)
No. 47: The Ultimate Horror Show (Con politics)
No. 46: In Praise of Mo Tze (墨子) (Progressive ethos)
No. 45: Ever Tried Homeopathic Democracy? (Democracy)
No. 44: Begging the Charity Question (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 43: The Denial Industry (Con politics)
No. 42: Mill, Dewey & Me (Progressive ethos)
No. 41: A Simple Equation (Power inequality)
No. 40: Interdependence Day (Global politics)
No. 39: The Fox & the BBC (Media)
No. 38: An Alliance to Promote Democracy (Democracy)
No. 37: Some Like it Thick (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 36: Pride & Tiananmen (Global politics)
No. 35: Know Thy Goal (Progressive ethos)
No. 34: King John’s Lesson for the G20 (Global politics)
No. 33: Powerlessness can damage your health (Power inequality)
No. 32: Year of the Invisible Ox (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 31: Unite or Perish (Global politics)
No. 30: The Pension Pirates (Con politics)
No. 29: The Anatomy of Change (Con politics)
No. 28: Axis of Stupidity (Con politics)
No. 27: The Freedom to Crash (Economics)
No. 26: Talk about Slavery (Power inequality)
No. 25: Thou Shall Make Money (Con politics)
No. 24: The Gene Code Lottery (Power inequality)
No. 23: The S Word (Democracy)
No. 22: The Good, the Bad and the Foreign (Progressive ethos)
No. 21: Between Nader and the Plastic Sea (Electoral politics)
No. 20: The Minorities Myth (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 19: Wheat from the Chav (Con politics)
No. 18: Where’s our American vote? (Global politics)
No. 17: Let them eat bullets (Welfare & Healthcare)
No. 16: The Alpha Male Syndrome (Power inequality)
No. 15: Variations on a theme of ransom (Unions)
No. 14: The Crisis of Civic Disengagement (Democracy)
No. 13: What’s wrong with being all-powerful? (Power inequality)
No. 12: Together We Can (Community empowerment)
No. 11: Long live the Con (Con politics)
No. 10: Give restorative justice a chance (Criminal justice)
No. 9: Weapons of mass confusion (Global politics)
No. 8: Of frogs and men (Environment & Energy)
No. 7: What exactly is pro-family? (Family policy)
No. 6: Why single out the freedom of discussion (Freedom of speech and belief)
No. 5: Belief is not enough (Freedom of speech and belief)
No. 4: Who’s against the Enlightenment? (Progressive Ethos)
No. 3: Aren’t they all Human Values? (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 2: Why tolerate the Power Gap? (Power inequality)
No. 1: Is Redemption Possible? (Ethics)