Even in the wake of the December 2019 election trauma, there’s much to celebrate. Labour are Europe’s largest socialist party and we have just won 10.3 million votes (32 per cent) for the most socialist manifesto I’ve ever seen. That’s a cornerstone to build on that socialists elsewhere would love to have, but in order to sustain and grow it the 21st century socialist spirit Jeremy Corbyn represents has to remain at its heart.
Only Rebecca Long Bailey is promising to deepen the democratic revolution, with overdue open selection for MPs and a mass membership who can act as catalysts for that democratic revolution in our workplaces and communities.
Once Rebecca wins, we can and I hope will move beyond largely social media activism to actually being the change we want to see, building that democratic revolution in our own workplaces, unions and communities at grassroots level.
For example, here in Marsh Farm, Luton, we’ve spent years struggling to lay the foundations for a new, more participatory way of doing local economics and democracy. We call it BUD (Bottom Up Development).
In place of boring meetings attended only by a few, we will be piloting quarterly Peoples’ Assemblies where residents can come together to hold service providers to account, distribute funds, debate local issues and build our collective power to act. The Assemblies will have added spice with creative performance and art provided by local ‘artivists’ whose creative contributions will be blended in with the civic duties, making it an enjoyable and creative experience for all.
The ‘generator’ for this new democracy is ‘Marsh Farm Futures House’. This is our community-owned enterprise centre, which provides the space, resources and funds our community needs to become less reliant and more self-managed.
Marsh Farm hosted an ‘Organisation Workshop’ where 40 unemployed locals reclaimed and restored two acres of disused land for a community farm and brought a disused 18th-century farmhouse back into use.
Both sites are now in development and serve as home to six new social enterprises (Fidel Gastro’s Bar Restaurant, RevoLuton Arts, Marsh House Music Studio, Luton Urban Radio, Sauce of the Lea Cafe and Henge Farm). Profits made from the project after wages and running costs are covered will be recycled into a ‘RevoLuton Fund’ seeding more social enterprises.
This is just one example of many, showing that we can be the change we want to see. And the struggle it results in is a more valuable learning experience than doing a Politics degree at university.
As our much loved and missed brother Matt-I Chance put it: “Providing alternatives and fighting vested interests at micro level in my own community made me better overstand power and how it’s exercised in the same way at macro level. It’s the same dynamics.”
And Matt-I is right. Enabling organisation at grassroots level is the key to unlocking the democratic revolution. This is what Labour needs to do.
#231: People, Power, Place ● International perspectives on municipalism ● 150 years since the Paris Commune ●100 years since partition in Ireland ● Re-thinking home in a pandemic ● Moving arts online ● Simon Hedges’s vaccine ● Latest book reviews ● And much more!
And you choose how much to pay for your subscription...
In Bolsonaro's Brazil, democratic resistance has brought about a surge in 'new municipalist' political initiatives. Cintia Martins Freitas considers the potential for collective candidacies and shared mandates
Despite some omissions, Stephen E Hunt's examination of radical novelist Angela Carter's time in Bristol and Bath provides a useful lens to analyse the countercultural history of the two cities, argues Sue Tate.
Though sometimes misdiagnosing political problems as spiritual pathologies, James Suzman's book provides a compelling history of how work came to dominate our lives. Review by Madoc Cairns
As more and more video games infuse their narratives with explicitly political themes, B.G.M. Muggeridge asks why so many fall short in actually challenging capitalism
Magee's memoir isn't an intimate history of the Brighton Bombing. Instead, it delivers a much more powerful treatise on struggle and reconciliation, writes Daniel Baker
The crisis unfolding in India underlines the need for global, coordinated, industrial vaccine strategy, argues Luke Cooper