Activists from across the world gather for The World Transformed 2018

Hope Worsdale writes about the fringe festival turning UK politics on its head.

September 14, 2018
5 min read

A panel event at The World Transformed 2017

Between 22nd and 25th September, thousands will flood the city of Liverpool for a political festival like no other. In a few short years, The World Transformed (TWT) has become a mainstay of the Labour Party Conference fringe; a festival of politics, arts and music bringing together big names with inspiring grassroots voices, tackling topics that are often overlooked, and showcasing a fresh and dynamic model of politics which breaks away from stale traditions.

This year, TWT will host over 250 hours of political discussions, debates, workshops, skills training, exhibitions, performance, sports, children’s activities, parties and more, and will feature over 300 politicians, activists, writers and academic from across the world – from France and Germany to Tanzania and the US. Open to people of all ages, identities and backgrounds, this city-wide festival will provide a political space for attendees to hear from political leaders, learn how to run a successful campaign in their community, take part in a football tournament and dance to a live DJ set – all within the space of a few days.

But this event is far from simply a fun-filled 4-day gathering. The World Transformed is working to build left wing power both inside and outside of Parliament, and to grow a grassroots social movement which is capable of not only electing a socialist Labour government, but delivering a genuinely transformative political programme.

The events of the last few years have demonstrated that there is a hunger in Britain for a different kind of politics and a new society; one that takes power from the establishment and puts it into the hands of the many. Labour’s recent manifesto laid out a positive political vision which contrasted sharply with the ongoing agenda of austerity, privatisation and inequality offered by the Conservatives. This vision has seen Labour Party membership triple in size since Corbyn became leader, and has brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets to campaign for Labour victories across the country.

There is so much to be hopeful about. But there is also a lot of work to be done if we are to effectively channel this energy into building a sustainable, active and self-educating movement that can truly transform society. To deliver real social change, we need to build power both inside and outside the party. At TWT 2018, we are getting serious about this crucial work. By tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the left today, we are setting our sights not just on the next general election, but far beyond it. How can we transform the global economy? How can we meaningfully challenge the corporate right wing press? How can we combat the global rise of the far right? At TWT 2018 we’ll be seeking to collectively find solutions to these pressing challenges.

And learning from socialists abroad is integral to this. That’s why at TWT 2018 we’re platforming voices from all over the world – from Deliveroo riders across Europe to organisers from National Nurses United in the US – to share ideas and practices and forge links of international solidarity. Our vision for a different kind of society cannot be restricted to a single country – we don’t just want to build a UK for the many, we want to build a world for the many too.

And as such, The World Transformed serves as far more than just a 4-day festival. TWT creates an open space for collective political education that strengthens our entire movement. TWT is about harnessing and sharing ideas, creativity and skills which are the tools we use to build our movement far beyond the festival. Scaling up mass collective political education is integral to building a transformative movement, and it’s something which has been neglected on the left for far too long – giving us all the opportunity to learn from each other, and the confidence to put that knowledge to work in our communities. At TWT 2018 we are making it a priority. That’s why we’re not just about bringing in big names, but also about platforming ordinary activists who share their experience and knowledge of what it’s like to both suffer the effects of right wing political agendas and to actually change things in their communities.

Since the establishment of The World Transformed, there has been an explosion in interest around political ideas festivals, with local versions of TWT popping up in communities across the country. The centre and the right have also tried to set up own similar events – but without a compelling positive vision for the future, they’ve generally proved flaccid failures, as hollow and uninspiring as the politics they represent. It is a shared sense of fighting for a more just and equal society which makes The World Transformed so special. The World Transformed is about imaging the world we want to live in, and together starting to build it from the ground up.

Red Pepper is a media partner of The World Transformed 2018. Hope Worsdale is an organiser for the festival. For more information and to reserve your place, visit https://theworldtransformed.org/

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