Friday, March 6, 2015

Against Power Inequalities: a historical guide

Against Power Inequalities is a global history of the emergence of power inequalities around the world, the progressive struggle to rein in those with excessive power, and the ideas and movements that have sustained the drive for more inclusive communities. It provides an accessible guide to the roots of exploitation and oppression in power imbalance, explains their inter-connections across time and nations, and sets out how some of them have been overcome while other challenges still remain.

It has been a widely recommended book for political education:
• “Tam’s book is an intellectual tour de force … It bears reading and re-reading, because the issues of power and community are so fundamental, and the history so rich and evocative.” - C. Derber, Professor of Sociology, Boston College (USA)
• “… a book that is breathtaking in its panoramic overview of the genealogy of power inequalities and the struggles against them. ... In its forensic, but always optimistic, analysis of how citizens have worked in the past, and continue to work, towards a fairer, more just society, we have an inspirational example of a text that speaks truth to power.” - D. Reay, Professor of Education, University of Cambridge
• “Henry Tam tells the inspiring, global story of democratic struggles against concentrated power and offers guidance for progressives today. It is a broad, bold, and thoughtful manifesto for popular democratic reform.” - P. Levine, Research Director, Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University (USA)
• “Tam's book is a kaleidoscope of human history in which he tells a compelling story. He understands the nature of power and the negative impacts it can have in almost any conceivable culture.” - R. Spellman, Chief Executive, Workers Educational Association
• “[The] work of a truly independent scholar.” - E. M. H. Hirsch Ballin, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Tilburg, The Netherlands
• “Henry Tam is a master storyteller.” - E. Mayo, Secretary General, Co-operatives UK
• “The author boldly claims that his book provides a historical guide to the progressive struggle for power redistribution, and draws out the underlying obstacles to the development of more inclusive communities. This is a mightily ambitious claim. ... Having read the new edition of Against Power Inequalities, I now recognise the power of his keyboard, and believe his claim for the book to be justified." - J. Tizard, the Huffington Post (UK)

What are the key issues to reflect on
• What does the historical pattern tell us about how power inequalities are likely to arise?
• Do we discern common roots of oppression in greed for power regardless of differences in culture-specific beliefs and customs?
• What are the key factors behind successful attempts to counter domination by the powerful?
• Why must the struggle against power inequalities be sustained if exploitative relationships are not to re-emerge?
• What democratic activism can actually achieve despite the odds?

How to get hold of this publication
The new expanded edition, published in 2015 to commemorate the 8th centenary of Magna Carta, is available in e-book and paperback format.
Click on Against Power Inequalities for details.

Options for further engagement
• Contact the author with your questions
• Share Against Power Inequalities with others through a political forum or a reading group
• Set up a discussion group to explore the key themes and ideas directly with the author
• Use the book as the basis for an exercise in retracing the key moments in the historical struggle against those with excessive power, and identifying the lessons for contemporary attempts to reverse the growth of power inequalities.

Supplementary Texts
In addition to Against Power Inequalities, the following books are useful to broaden our historical understanding of the struggle to curb the powerful and promote democratic inclusion for all:
• Gay, P. Enlightenment: An Interpretation (Vols 1 & 2), Gay (Wildwood House: 1973)
• Kloppenberg, J. T., Uncertain Victory: social democracy and progressivism in European and American thought 1870-1920, by (Oxford University Press: 1986)
• Lux, M. The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America came to be, (John Wiley & Sons: 2009)
• McMahon D. M., Enemies of the Enlightenment: the French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity, (Oxford University Press: 2001)
• Nicholas T., The Five Giants: a biography of the welfare state, (Fontana Press: 1996)
• Nord, P., The Republican Moment: struggles for democracy in nineteenth century France, (Harvard University Press: 1995)
• Rodgers, D. T., Atlantic Crossings: social politics in a progressive age, (Harvard University Press: 1998)