Friday, September 14, 2018

Henry Tam & Question the Powerful

Dr. Henry Benedict Tam has written about politics and society in a wide range of publications ('HT: Bibliography'), and presented his ideas at events hosted by state and non-governmental institutions in Europe and the US.

The Question the Powerful project disseminates ideas and findings based on the work he has carried out in a variety of educational and policy roles: 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); Director, Community Safety & Regeneration (Government Office, East of England); Chair, Communitarian Forum (St Edmunds College, University of Cambridge).

You can catch up with his political reflections on the Question the Powerful blog; and follow his tweets on current events via @HenryBTam. More information about the available learning resources are set out below:

KEY PUBLICATIONS

[1] Political Ideas
Works that examine the key ideas relating to governance, responsibility, community, democracy, and citizenship; and explain how a civic-communitarian approach can help to resolve conflicting claims about how we should live:

What Should Citizens Believe? exploring the issues of truth, reason & society
This is ideal for anyone looking for a general introduction to the challenge of resolving conflicting beliefs in society, and for all those involved in lifelong learning who would like to have a range of materials to facilitate discussions about truth and reason in a democracy. Available as an e-book or in paperback.

Time to Save Democracy: how to govern ourselves in the age of anti-politics
This book presents a diagnosis of what prevents democracy from functioning, and goes beyond the familiar ‘get the vote out’ ideas, to set out 9 key areas where reforms are necessary to ensure we can govern ourselves more effectively. It puts forward forty recommendations to help us avoid the twin threats of oppressive rule and debilitating chaos.

Communitarianism: a new agenda for politics & citizenship
This standard text on progressive communitarian ideas has been praised on both sides of the Atlantic, and nominated by New York University Press for the 2000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.
(For more information on Communitarianism and its companion volume, Progressive Politics in the Global Age, go to Info on Communitarianism)

Against Power Inequalities
A short global history on the progressive struggle against exploitation and oppression. “An intellectual tour de force” (Professor Charles Derber, US); “history retold as a panorama of struggle, hope and co-operation [by] a master storyteller” (Ed Mayo, Secretary General, Co-operatives UK).
(For more information, go to Against Power Inequalities)

Responsibility & Personal Interactions
An in-depth study on when people should be held responsible for their behaviour, with the proposed criteria tested against legal judgment in seminal cases. It provides a basis for exposing flawed attempts to deny responsibility.
(For more information on this book and its companion volume, Punishment, Excuses & Moral Development, go to Info on Responsibility)

[2] Leadership Guidance
The materials outlined below draw on reviews of effective practices in a wide range of institutions and personal experiences in shaping public policies, to provide guidance on how to develop cooperative communities and advance the public interest:

Together We Can: the practice of community empowerment
‘Together We Can’ was a national 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). Practical ideas and policy recommendations can be found amongst the resources listed here.

Political Literacy and Civic Thoughtfulness
A guide to the problem of political illiteracy, and how it can be tackled through the cultivation of civic thoughtfulness, using the 'Synetopia' framework. This provides a basis for assessing the level of political aptitude and identifying key actions to be taken to attain improvements.

Cooperative Gestalt: the practice of cooperative problem-solving
The discussions with academics and practitioners via the Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy (University of Cambridge) facilitated the codification of how best to engender cooperative problem-solving. For articles and other materials on how organisations can secure more effective collaborative working to achieve their goals, see: here.

Serving the Public: the practice of democratic engagement
Guidance based on research and policy work that helped one local authority gain recognition as the best in England (Braintree, 1993), another one winning the award for youth participation from the Prime Minister (St Edmundsbury, 1999), and which led to the establishment of a national network of Civic Pioneer authorities: here.

[3] Dystopian Writings
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 The Anti-Con Novels 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.

TALKS, ADVICE & TRAINING

Henry Tam has been invited to share his ideas on politics and society at events convened by many diverse organisations such as WEA (Workers’ Educational Association); Church Action on Poverty; South Place Ethical Society; the BBC; National School of Government; Metropolitan Police Authority; Urban Forum; Civil Service College, and Community Service Volunteers.

He has also 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; and other research institutions.
(For a list of the talks given, go to ‘The QTP Talks Series’)

ACADEMIC & PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION

• 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).

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The QTP (Question the Powerful) Talks Series

• ‘Dysfunctional Communities: Causes & Remedies’, London Leaders Programme, London Councils, 13/9/18 [QTP 116]
• ‘Succeeding through Collaborative Leadership’, Ministry of Defence, 9/5/2018 [QTP 115]
• ‘Public Policy & the State of Democracy’, Cambridge University’s Centre for Science & Policy, Fellows Seminar, Cabinet Office, London, 18/4/2018 [QTP 114]
• ‘Civic Engagement and Integration’, House of Lords, 29/11/17 [QTP 113]
• ‘Organisational Storytelling’, Civil Service College, 25-26/10/17 [QTP 112]
• 'Reimagining Your Future', Newham College, London, 6/3/17 [QTP 111]
• 'Getting the Best from People', workshop with the Higher Education Funding Council for England, Bristol, 14/2/17 [QTP 110]
• ‘Civic Engagement’, presentation to La Ligue de L’enseignement, Cambridge, 8/11/16 [QTP 109]
• ‘Taking Control of Our Lives’, Cambridge Commons, 1/10/16 [QTP 108]
• ‘Power, Reason & Social Purpose; the critical role of adult education’, WEA tutors conference, Cambridge, 27/5/16 [QTP 107]
• ‘Collaborative Leadership’, Northern Ireland Civil Service, Belfast, 4/5/16 [QTP 106]
• ‘A Recipe for Work, Life & Everything?’, Workers Educational Association, Cambridge, 2/4/16 [QTP 105]
• ‘The ‘Together We Can’ case study’, Civil Service College, 17/3/16 [QTP 104]
• ‘Commoning, Governments, & Cooperation’, at the Commons Strategies Group & Heinrich Boll Foundation event, ‘State Power and the Commons: Transcending a Problematic Relationship’, Germany, 29/2/16 [QTP 103]
• ‘Together We Can: Public Leadership', talk given to delegation of Indian Government's senior civil servants, 18/9/15 [QTP 102]
• ‘God, Goodness, & Great Britain’, address at the Suffolk Interfaith Resource/East of England Faith Agency conference on Human Rights, Religious Rights, and British Values, West Suffolk College, Bury St Edmunds, 9/7/15 [QTP 101]
• ‘Politics: what is it good for?’, a series of days schools with the WEA across the East of England (from Cambridge to Norwich) 28/2/15 – 25/4/15. [QTP 100]
• 'Future of Democracy in Britain’, Trades Union Council, Wisbech & March, 21/3/15. [QTP 99]
• 'Collaborative Leadership’, Scottish Housing Regulator, 24/2/15. [QTP 98]
• 'Cooperation, Communities, & the Cambridge Commons’, Cooperative Party, Cambridge, 18/2/15. [QTP 97]
• 'Succeeding through Collaborative Leadership’, Civil Service College, 17/12/14. [QTP 96]
• 'Politics: so what are you going to do?’, the British Chinese Project, London: 29/11/14. [QTP 95]
• ‘Austerity & Scapegoat Politics’, University of the 3rd Age, Cambridge: 12/11/14. [QTP 94]
• ‘What has politics ever done for us?’, address at WEA (Eastern Region AGM): 8/11/14. [QTP 93]
• ‘Youth & Democracy’, presentation at ‘Round table on youth participation and impact in democratic decision-making’, World Forum for Democracy, Council of Europe, Strasbourg: 3/11/14. [QTP 92]
• ‘Democracy through the Looking Glass’, presentation to sixth formers, St Albans Girls’ School, Hertfordshire: 25/9/14. [QTP 91]
• ‘Managing Ministerial Expectations’, Civil Service College: 18/9/14. [QTP 90]
• ‘Thriving on Diversity’, Civil Service College: 9/9/14. [QTP 89]
• ‘The Art of Making Science Work’, Implementing Implementation Science conference, East London Consortium of Educational Psychologists, Cambridge: 28/7/14. [QTP 88]
• ‘Co-operation versus Con-Operation’, Annual Conference, Confederation of Cooperative Housing, Manchester: 11/7/14. [QTP 87]
• ‘Novel Exploration of Inequality’, Adult Learners Week, WEA East Midlands, Nottingham: 19/6/14. [QTP 86]
• ‘10 Things to Know About Machiavelli’, for the Documentary Film Makers Cooperative, London: 18/5/14. [QTP 85]
• ‘Government: 1974-2014’, 40 Years of Change, South Canonry, Salisbury Cathedral Close: 3/5/14. [QTP 84]
• ‘Aspiration, Aptitude, Availability', Careers Day address, University of Cambridge, 2/5/14. [QTP 83]
• ‘Why Vote’, WEA, Deciding Locally campaign, broadcast interview: 22/4/14. [QTP 82]
• ‘Leadership in Policy Development’, session for Indonesian delegation, Civil Service College, London: 20/3/14. [QTP 81]
• ‘Socialism and Education’, Lecture to PDDE (Politics, Development, & Democratic Education) Masters Students, University of Cambridge: 7/11/13. [QTP 80]
• ‘Enlightened Learning & the Cooperative Gestalt’, Power of Adult Learning, (joint conference by Learning Link Scotland, WEA Scotland, the Scottish Community Development Centre, Dyslexia Scotland, and Lead Scotland), University of Edinburgh: 23/10/13. [QTP 79]
• ‘Will this be the Plutocratic Century?’, CRASSH (Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities), University of Cambridge: 13/5/13. [QTP 78]
• ‘Left with a Hard Choice’, Fabians & Cooperative Party event, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge: 7/5/13. [QTP 77]
• ‘Democracy: Lessons in Cooperative Problem-Solving’, Youth has Impact Conference, Field of Dialogue Foundation & Civis Polonus Foundation, Warsaw, Poland: 15/3/13. [QTP 76]
• ‘Cooperative Problem-Solving’, Take Part Network event What Next for Community-Based Learning, London: 6/3/13. [QTP 75]
• ‘Community Development at the Crossroads’, Keib Thomas Memorial Seminar, CDNL (Community Development Network, London), London Metropolitan University: 13/2/13. [QTP 74]
• ‘Education for Democracy: cooperative problem-solving’, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge: 12 &13 September/2012. [QTP 73]
• ‘Positive Change Through Social Action’, WEA Oxford: 18/5/12. [QTP 72]
• ‘Education with a Social Purpose’, WEA North East, Newcastle: 4/5/12. [QTP 71]
• ‘Whose Politics is it anyway?’, Chinese for Labour, London: 29/2/12. [QTP 70]
• ‘An Insider Look at Public Policy Development’, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge: 1/2/12. [QTP 69]
• ‘Reciprocity Lost: the origins, breakdown and renewal of reciprocal society’, WEA bi-annual conference, Nottingham University, Nottingham: 29/10/11. [QTP 68]
• ‘Democratic Participation and Learning Leadership’, Challenges of Civic Participation conference at the Sociology Institute, University of Warsaw, Poland: 15/4/11. [QTP 67]
• ‘Take Part in Changing Times’, Take Part Conference, London: 9/2/11. [QTP 66]
• ‘Top Ten Myths about Empowerment’, Faith Communities: Empowering Communities, the Church Action on Poverty National Conference, Broxbourne: 3/3/09. [QTP 65]
• ‘Empowerment in Britain’, session for delegation from South Africa, National School of Government, London: 11/2/09. [QTP 64]
• ‘Together We Can tackle the power gap’, The Frontiers of Innovation Conference: 20 Years of Innovation in Government, the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, University of Harvard, USA: 1/4/08. [QTP 63]
• ‘Citizen Engagement’, Public Engagement in Local Government: Empowering Citizens to shape their Communities, CAPITA conference, London: 6/11/08. [QTP 62]
• ‘Faith & Cohesion’, Religion & Community Cohesion Workshop, Dept of Politics & International Relations, Royal Holloway College, University of London: 18/6/08. [QTP 61]
• ‘Learning from Communities’, IDeA sponsored conference on Community Consultation, 28/6/07. [QTP 60]
• ‘BBC and community empowerment’, presentation to BBC news editors, convened by Kevin Marsh (Editor of the Today Programme), London: 21/2/06. [QTP 59]
• ‘Re-engaging your community’, LGC (Local Government Chronicle) conference, London: 21/2/06. [QTP 58]
• ‘Building Stronger Communities’, NLGN/IDeA conference, London: 2/2/06. [QTP 57]
• ‘Community Engagement’, CPPS seminar, London: 26/1/06. [QTP 56]
• ‘Identity, Ethnic Diversity and Community Cohesion’, Runnymede & ESRC Identities Programme Roundtable, London: 21/9/05. [QTP 55]
• ‘Making Community Engagement a Priority in Citizenship Education’, joint DfES/Home Office seminar with Ministers, London: 15/6/05. [QTP 54]
• ‘The Politics of Civic Anxiety’, public seminar, the Centre for Advanced Study of the Social Sciences, University of Oxford: 18/5/05. [QTP 53]
• ‘Civil Renewal: Together We Can’, Joseph Chamberlain Lecture, Birmingham: 21/4/05. [QTP 52]
• ‘Neighbourhood Governance’, Fabian Society, LGIU, UNISON Policy Seminar, London: 10/2/05. [QTP 51]
• ‘Local Government and Civil Renewal’, CPPS conference on the future of local government, London: 14/12/04. [QTP 50]
• ‘Together We Can’, conference on community engagement and civil renewal with Home Secretary & other Ministers, London: 8/12/04. [QTP 49]
• ‘Civic Pioneers’, Home Office launch event, Birmingham: 9/9/04. [QTP 48]
• ‘The Role of Civil Renewal’, CLES Inclusive Regeneration Summer School, Manchester: 29/6/04. [QTP 47]
• ‘Higher Education and Community Partnerships’, the Annual Higher Education and Community Partnership Conference, University of London: 19/5/04. [QTP 46]
• ‘Civil Renewal: in theory & practice’, South West Regional Seminar, University of Plymouth: 13/5/04. [QTP 45]
• ‘Civil Renewal’, seminar with Home Secretary and the Home Office Ministerial team, London: 17/12/03. [QTP 44]
• ‘Power and Civil Renewal’, Urban Forum Annual Conference, London: 2/12/03. [QTP 43]
• ‘Communitarian Democracy’, Bertelsmann Stiftung, International Workshop on Participative Democracy, Berlin: 16/10/03. [QTP 42]
• ‘The Future of Community Development’, 21st Century Community Development conference, the Standing Conference for Community Development, Lougborough: 11/10/03. [QTP 41]
• ‘Social Democracy in the Global Age’, Fabian Society Roundtable: 21/5/02. [QTP 40]
• ‘Delivering Crime Reduction’, Ministerial Seminar, the Home Office, Queen Anne’s Gate, London: 9/1/02. [QTP 39]
• ‘Equality & Diversity’, launch of the Black & Minority Ethnic Network (East of England), Cambridge: 9/4/01. [QTP 38]
• ‘Tackling Crime Together’, Home Office Conference with the Home Secretary, Cambridge: 17/2/01. [QTP 37]
• ‘Crime Reduction’, national public policy seminar, London: 18/1/01. [QTP 36]
• ‘Citizenship at the community level’, Philosophical Quarterly conference, Citizens: Towards a Citizens Culture: 13/11/00. [QTP 35]
• ‘Forging a New Ireland: a communitarian approach to deepening democracy’, the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation, Summer School, Forging a Communitarian Ireland: The deepening of democracy and civil society, Ireland: 25/8/00. [QTP 34]
• ‘Inclusive communities and global governance’, 12th Annual Conference of the Society for Socio-Economics, London School of Economics: 8/7/00. [QTP 33]
• ‘Is there a Third Way to bridge Divided Communities?’, Citizens OnLine Conference, BAFTA, London: 23/5/00. [QTP 32]
• ‘What are Communities?’, Society for Applied Philosophy, Are Cities Communities? Workshop, Senate House, University of London: 4/3/00. [QTP 31]
• ‘What is Consultation about?’, Joined Up Listening conference, West Midlands Local Government Association: 24/11/99. [QTP 30]
• ‘The Progressive Path to Inclusive Communities’, the School of Public Policy, University of Birmingham: 23/11/99. [QTP 29]
• 'Inclusive Communities', United Nations Association Conference, The Making of the Third Millennium, St Edmundsbury Cathedral: 15/6/99. [QTP 28]
• 'Citizenship Education: communitarian versus individualist perspectives', Philosophy & Education Renewal Group, University of North London: 15/5/99. [QTP 27]
• 'Communitarianism, Power & Citizenship', Communitarian Summit, Washington, USA: 27/2/99. [QTP 26]
• 'Are there common values to be taught?', International CSV Learning and Serving Together Conference: 4/12/97. [QTP 25]
• 'The Future of Social and Moral Education', Communitarian Forum Workshop, St Edmunds College, Cambridge: 26/4/97. [QTP 24]
• 'Communitarian Politics: Past, Present & Future', Joint Conference for St John's and St Anne's, University of Oxford: 20/2/97. [QTP 23]
• 'Education for Citizens', seminar, the Philosophy of Education Society meeting, Cambridge: 30/1/97. [QTP 22]
• 'Democratic Schools', CSV Education Conference, Service Learning: 12/11/96. [QTP 21]
• 'Communitarian Management', the UK Management Development Network Seminar, London: 23/10/96. [QTP 20]
• 'Communitarianism', the Cambridge World Issues Group: 31/7/96. [QTP 19]
• 'Communitarianism & Humanism', the South Place Ethical Society: 14/1/96. [QTP 18]
• 'Communities, Communitarianism and Local Democracy', the ADC (Association of District Councils) Seminar on Community Governance: 15/12/95. [QTP 17]
• 'From Public-versus-Private to Communitarian Management', the Judge Institute of Management Studies, University of Cambridge: 9/11/95. [QTP 16]
• 'From Markets to Communities', the Local Government Information Services, national conference, Bedfordshire: 21/8/95. [QTP 15]
• 'Communitarian Marketing', Anglia Business School, Cambridge: 29/6/95. [QTP 14]
• ‘Crime & Society’, the Society for Applied Philosophy's 1995 Conference: 19/5/95. [QTP 13]
• 'Public Health: from Customers to Citizens', 5th Annual Symposium of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Girton College, Cambridge: 31/3/95. [QTP 12]
• 'Interagency Charter', the Cabinet Office's Citizens Charter Conference: 5/12/94. [QTP 11]
• 'Marketing & the Public Sector', Oxford Brookes University's Business School Marketing Forum: 1/12/94. [QTP 10]
• ‘Citizens & Government Institutions’, national conference Cities of Pride: Rejuvenating Britain for the Third Millennium, Birmingham: 19/11/94. [QTP 9]
• 'Marketing & Competition in the Public Sector', the Judge Institute of Management Studies, University of Cambridge: 8/11/94. [QTP 8]
• 'Criminals and Citizens: the Quest for Responsibility', the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Philosophy Group: 24/11/93. [QTP 7]
• 'Citizenship and Participatory Democracy', the Centre for Citizenship Development's Open Workshop, St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge: 6/11/93. [QTP 6]
• 'Marketing and Citizenship in the Public Sector', Anglia Business School: 4/11/93. [QTP 5]
• 'Raising Ethical Awareness in Large Organisations', the Inaugural Meeting of the Ethical Business Forum, London Business School: 26/10/93. [QTP 4]
• 'The Rise of Communitarianism', the Centre for Citizenship Development seminar, St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge: 16/10/93. [QTP 3]
• 'Crime & Diminished Responsibility', the Society for Applied Philosophy's London Workshop: 6/3/93. [QTP 2]
• 'The Core Values of Public Service', the School of Public Policy, University of Birmingham: 7/5/91. [QTP 1]

Monday, September 10, 2018

Henry Tam: Bibliography

List of Published Writings (1990 - present)

The Evolution of Communitarian Ideas, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2020)
• ‘Communitarianism’ in Handbook on Relativism, ed. by Martin Kusch (London: Routledge, forthcoming 2019).
Whose Government is it? the renewal of state-citizen cooperation, (Bristol: Bristol University Press, forthcoming 2019)
• ‘Democracy Endangered’, RSA Journal (forthcoming autumn issue, 2018)
• ‘Social Justice Needs a Vibrant Democracy’, Compass, (forthcoming 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, May 14, 2018

Citizens' Right to Learn

2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which set out the support and protection citizens across the world are entitled to expect from those they have entrusted with the power and resources to run their country.

One of the key challenges arising from disputes over alleged violations of human rights and what actions should be taken, is how people can resolve such disputes when ignorance, deception, and misinterpretation so often get in the way. If people fail to see wrongdoing for what it is, or are duped into regarding vital interventions as unwarranted interference, the defence of human rights will face an uphill struggle.

It should be remembered that Article 26 of the Declaration states not only that “everyone has the right to education”, but that “education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

In practice, it is rare for education at any level to pay much attention to raising people’s awareness and understanding of the problem of belief evaluation. Naïve embrace of ‘freedom of expression’ as a licence to lie, incite or misdirect has enabled the enemies of human rights to subvert democracy and con millions into blaming scapegoats. What is urgently needed is a sustained campaign to boost critical learning about how to differentiate reliable claims from dubious assertions.

The ‘Question the Powerful’ project, in association with the global Citizen Network, has brought out a new book, What Should Citizens Believe? It provides accessible resources for anyone interested in teaching, promoting, or facilitating discussions about ideas and practices that support reasoned assessment of what citizens ought to believe.
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What Should Citizens Believe? exploring the issues of truth, reason & society is available in the following formats:
E-book (£2.99): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07CSYRF8H
Paperback (£5.99): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1548183105

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all royalties I receive from the sale of the book in 2018 will be donated to Amnesty International.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Question the Powerful: Essays

Full Listing (with theme category)
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. 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)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Endangered Democracy: the Civic-Communitarian Response

While there is widespread recognition on both sides of the Atlantic that democracy is not working as it should, no consensus has yet emerged regarding what is to be done about it. Some say major constitutional changes are necessary; some call for more efforts to get the vote out; and others lament the futility of trying to tackle money power, social media distortions, or – with routinely around a third of registered voters (in the US and the UK) not turning out to vote – incorrigible apathy.

If we look more closely, however, at what thinkers concerned with the underlying political health of communities have been saying, we may be able to work out what prescriptions are really required. Thinkers such as Bernard Crick, David Marquand, Jonathan Boswell, and Henry Tam in the UK, or Philip Selznick, Amitai Etzioni, Michael Sandel, and Charles Taylor in North America, have been variously described as ‘communitarian’, ‘civic republican’, or in some cases both. Despite their differences on some philosophical or sociological issues, when it comes to democratic governance, they all maintain that it has to be grounded on a community of cooperating citizens.

If people thought only about their own individual interests, and were disinclined or unable to take into account the concerns and reasons expressed by others, then a superficial electoral structure would not be capable of facilitating decisions that enhance the common good of the people, or improve their respective lives as interdependent citizens. On a personal basis, some would exploit the fear and gullibility of others to make unjust gains for themselves. On a collective basis, the nation would be more divided and insecure.

The civic-communitarian response, to coin a term, is to press for actions to be taken to rebuild the community basis of democratic relationships. These are connected with three inter-related elements. First and foremost, there is the need to develop a real sense of togetherness among the people. A laissez faire attitude to leaving individuals to do as they please is a recipe for social fragmentation. Diversity and solidarity can be complementary only if concerted efforts are made to facilitate people learning about the distinct contributions each other can bring. Togetherness, in turn, requires objectivity in discourse. If lies, prejudices, intimidation, and misdirection were allowed to distort facts and undermine any prospect of mutual understanding being attained, people would rarely, if ever, come to see what would serve their common good, or why they should back one set of public policies rather than another for the sake of their country. Finally, togetherness can only be preserved if none has attained sufficient power to act with little regard for the consequences that may have for others, and it is recognised that people are broadly interdependent in safeguarding their overall wellbeing.

Let us look at what actions should therefore be developed to rescue democracy from its perilous state.

Togetherness

Democracy would be reduced to a contest among hostile factions without a sufficiently robust sense of togetherness. To cultivate it, there should be widespread opportunities for citizens to formulate shared missions through collaborative projects; move away from echo chambers to meet and get to know others at open communal events; learn to co-design civic outcomes; and engage with politicians, experts and their fellow citizens in reviewing how public actions actually affect them.

Mutual respect should be promoted through techniques that enable people to understand how they might feel if they were subject to some objectionable policy or treatment being proposed for others in a similar situation. There must be more effective mechanisms to investigate and remove discriminatory rules or procedures (such as those affecting district boundaries or ID requirements) that make it more difficult for particular groups in the community to exercise their electoral power. Reconciliatory support should be readily available to bring people with conflicting views together to explore common ground and avoid escalation, except in cases where some are determined to inflict injury on others.

To ensure people appreciate what it is to be members of their shared polity, there should be thorough explanations of what that membership entails in practice beyond any abstract talk of rights and responsibilities. Citizens of a country should be involved in reviewing the membership terms and conditions so that issues such as why new members may be needed, or what current members should or should not be allowed to do with money they have made in the country (e.g., moving it to offshore accounts), can be transparently addressed.

Objectivity

Communities’ capacity for democratic decision-making is inescapably linked to the extent to which their members can learn, reflect on, and exchange ideas in an objective manner. Although in a democratic society, no religious faith or secular ideology can be allowed to impose its doctrines on everyone, pluralism is only feasible if civil dialogues can take place as a result of all people possessing a shared understanding of what coherent reasoning and evidential examination entail.

Publicly financed, but independently run institutions are necessary to review and codify truth claims, so that trusted judgements on what merit belief are derived from the latest expert assessment and informed consensus, rather than arbitrary declarations or well-funded misinformation campaigns. This applies to every level of societal interactions where an authoritative resolution of conflicting claims is sought, right up to the Supreme Court, which can hardly lay claim to impartiality when, in virtually all the cases (since 1986) where the most politically contentious issues were decided on a 5-4 majority, members of the court backed the position favoured by the party of the president who nominated them [Note 1]. Instead of relying on the backing of the majority party in Congress, the court’s membership should be dependent on the support of both Democrats and Republicans.

And contrary to the myth that the freedom of speech is absolutely sacrosanct, the US has from the beginning set and enforced legal limits on irresponsible communication that may incite lawless behaviour; is unacceptable in itself (e.g., exchange of paedophilic words/images); makes use of information that belongs to someone else; contains false or misleading details; or threatens national security. There is an urgent need to apply the principles of restriction already embedded in existing laws and practices to those who use a combination of the political powers they have gained, the money provided by businesses disdainful of the public interest, and the levers of manipulation over social media, to deceive the public and undermine the sharing of factual reports.

Power Balance

Honest dialogues are necessary but not sufficient to sustain democratic governance. Those with amassed power and wealth can always just ignore what citizens consider to be better options. Instead of handing all decisions to a few on the back of electoral contests that barely engage with the real issues, communities should have more quality-assured deliberative events that will empower them to select public policies and representatives. At the same time, in line with subsidiarity, more decisions ought to be delegated to those who are better placed at the local level to consider what should be done. Voting arrangements should also be improved so that people can rank their preferences rather than accept that in safe, first-past-the-post seats (the predicament facing most voters) their vote is highly unlikely to make any difference whatsoever.

As the widening of wealth inequalities exacerbate the power gap between the corporate elite and the majority gripped by economic insecurity, a fairer distribution of resources should be advanced through more extensive adoption of worker cooperative practices and strengthening of public provisions to counter-balance private iniquities. Limits for financial support for political candidates must be brought down to a much lower level; and anyone who thinks that it is a side issue should be reminded that, for example, between 2004 and 2012, in each of the five bi-annual contests in the House of Representatives, over 80% of the candidates who spent more than their rivals won, while spending on federal campaigns in 2012 alone was over $6.2 billion, with 68% of that money coming from just 0.26% of the population [Note 2].

Libertarians have tried to argue that the retreat of state institutions would leave individuals with greater freedom, when in fact it would enable the most powerful corporations and the people with vast wealth or weapons to pressurise others into submitting to their demands. What is needed to strengthen democratic freedom is a two-fold enhancement of public accountability – with robust public bodies to hold individuals and corporations to account, and a network of state agencies that can investigate and take action against those holding political office, not excepting the president.

Conclusion

Communitarian and civic republican thinkers may not agree among themselves or with each other on every issue. But they do have in common an important set of ideas on how fair and vibrant communities can function democratically. These ideas are not about refining democratic procedures on the margins, but go to the heart of how any system that aims to share governing power equitably among the governed has to be sustained culturally and structurally. The actions outlined above are essential to revive democratic rule. Delays in their implementation will jeopardise any chance of democracy surviving the twin onslaught of plutocratic divisiveness and resurgent extremism.

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Note 1: Rodriguez, L. (2016) ‘The Troubling Partisanship of the Supreme Court’, Stanford Political Journal: https://stanfordpolitics.com/the-troubling-partisanship-of-the-supreme-court-da9fd5a900ac
Note 2: Prokop, A. (2014) ’40 charts that explain money in politics’, Vox: http://www.vox.com/2014/7/30/5949581/money-in-politics-charts-explain (Chart 11) and (Chart 2).

Henry Tam’s new book, Time to Save Democracy: how to govern ourselves in the age of anti-politics is available from Policy Press: https://policypress.co.uk/time-to-save-democracy

[A version of this essay appeared previously in the newsletter of the Institute of Communitarian Policy Studies, Washington, USA, 2018]

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Time to Save Democracy

To govern ourselves or not to? This is the existential question of politics. With the rise of distrust, alienation, and extremism, it is all the more difficult to secure democratic self-rule when neither those in power nor the general public seem dependable when it comes to making decisions that can transform our lives, for better or worse.

In the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges, Henry Tam’s new book, Time to Save Democracy, explores what should be done to revive democracy. Presenting in a clear and accessible manner, he goes beyond the familiar ‘get the vote out’ ideas, to set out 9 key areas where reforms are necessary to ensure we can govern ourselves more effectively.

Against the suggestion that democracy has run its course, this book unpacks why democratic governance is indispensable and puts forward forty recommendations to help us avoid the twin threats of oppressive rule and debilitating chaos.

Reviews of Time to Save Democracy

“This is a spirited, wide-ranging defence of democracy, and a call to arms for its renewal, from someone who has practised what he preaches in both government and civil society. In the best traditions of reasoned pluralism, readers will find much to debate and argue about in this book.”
- Nick Pearce, Professor of Public Policy & Director of Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath

Time to save Democracy is essential reading for all those concerned about the state of democracy today but even more important reading for the increasing numbers who take democracy for granted. Always compelling and challenging in its analysis of democracy, past and present, the book is also full of hope. However, this is no insubstantial optimism but rather an insightful and richly informed progressive agenda for developing democratic cooperation ... [It] provides a powerful and convincing manifesto for democracy at a time when we most need one.”
- Diane Reay, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge and visiting Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science

“We cannot be complacent about the place of representative democracy in this country and across the west. The weaknesses of current models suggest that the turbulent politics and insecurities of the day may well overturn existing democratic arrangements. Henry Tam’s Time to Save Democracy offers a practical guide for those of us who wish to fulfil the goals of democracy as a framework for ‘collective self-governance’ at all levels of society, from community activists up to national politicians and civil servants. It should be read and acted on.”
- Stuart Weir, Founder, Charter88; and inaugural director, Democratic Audit, University of Essex.

“Henry Tam’s new book sets out strategies for developing and sustaining more democratic ways of relating to each other, rooted in more equal relationships of power. This is such a timely contribution to contemporary debates.”
- Marjorie Mayo, Emeritus Professor of Community Development, Goldsmiths, University of London

“At a time when 42% of people entitled to vote in the UK did not do so, including 15% who did not even register, it is important to create more and better ways for people to participate in democratic decision making. Henry Tam’s erudite book will certainly aid the development of democratic practice.”
- Titus Alexander, founder, Democracy Matters

“In Time to Save Democracy, Henry Tam reminds us of the importance of collaborative learning and the development of a critical mind set, and their centrality in our pedagogical approaches. This is a call to action for anyone interested in lifelong learning and the critical links between adult education, civic engagement and democratic participation.”
- Mel Lenehan, Principal, Fircroft College

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Order your copy of Time to Save Democracy from Policy Press: https://policypress.co.uk/time-to-save-democracy