archive: December 2019

4 December 2019

Astra Taylor: “I have long argued that democracy has never truly existed. Instead of being something we once had and only recently lost, I see democracy as a horizon people must continually struggle towards. It is an ideal that must be deepened and expanded. … What makes democracy so elusive is its inherently contradictory nature. Working towards a more democratic society will involve balancing a range of opposing values: freedom and equality, conflict and consensus, the local and the global, the present and the future. Democracy also requires weighing spontaneity and structure. Open revolt and rule-making, insurrection and statecraft — both sides are necessary in order for progress to be achieved. Democracy is messy. Time and again, rebellions, wildcat strikes, debtors’ revolts and urban uprisings have bent the will of recalcitrant authorities. But history also shows that there are no shortcuts: sudden outpourings of discontent have to be expanded, managed and advanced by the hard, slow work of organising for change. We should celebrate the contagious energy of mass demonstrations and street confrontations, while also channelling their fervour into focused, strategic efforts that have a chance of being longer-lived. … May this generation not look back and say it didn’t try.”

3 December 2019

Lizzie O’Shea draws on Frantz Fanon’s work on race and identity to reconceptualise digital privacy as a form of self-determination: “A key part of the problem is that privacy as a right has been defined too narrowly, framed as the right to be left alone and little more. Part of our job, then, is to open up the more radical possibilities of this concept, to show that privacy is about the capacity to explore our personal faculties without judgment, to experiment in community-building on our own terms. The right to privacy is the right to exist in a world in which data generated about you cannot be used as an indelible record of your identity. Privacy is not just a technical approach to information management delegated to individual responsibility. … A more expansive way to think about privacy, then, is to see it as a right to digital self-determination. It is about self-governance, the right to determine our own destiny and be free to write a history of our own sense of self. Self-determination has a long history in legal and philosophical thinking, but it gained new meaning in the latter half of the twentieth century during the explosion of postcolonial struggles, including in the struggle for Algerian independence that Fanon was involved in. There are good reasons to see the struggle for digital self-determination as a successor of these movements.”

Osmond Chiu: Community wealth building aims to develop a framework to develop workable solutions that tries to keep money in local communities. Instead of spending significantly more, it relies on being smarter with how money is spent, taking advantage of the benefits of local industries, which support local multiple businesses through their supply chains and employ workers that will spend back into the local economy. It sees the economy as circular and rejects the extractive model of economic development which sees money taken out of local communities, and encourages a race to the bottom on taxes, wages and conditions. … While it is not a silver bullet to the challenges of regional economic development, community wealth building might be one way to start pushing back against economic decision-making that is based on the narrow criteria of financial cost. Instead, this approach can help re-embed the community into discussions about the kind of economy, and society, that we want.” Chiu highlights the success of Preston, in the north of England, to illustrate how community wealth-building can strengthen a community and improve people’s daily lives.