I used to avoid party politics. I thought it wouldn’t be a way to promote positive change, because political leaders would only consider options framed by national vested interests and international finance. Instead, I focused on the contexts around political parties, such as increasingly public awareness of key issues, promoting change in the practices of business and financial institutions, and supporting alternatives at the grassroots. This year, that changed for me. As my University role is part time, I took an opportunity to support the office of the Leader of the Opposition in the UK. For the first time in my life, I saw the potential for a mainstream political party in the UK to engage with wider social movements for a sustainable transformation.
A lot has been said about the current leadership and direction of the Labour Party, and of left-wing politics in general. Nothing beats hearing directly from the people involved. So, for a sense of his philosophy on leadership and change, I recommend a speech Jeremy Corbyn MP gave in London on April 29th called “Stepping Up for Britain”. For an insight into the economic approach Labour proposed, I recommend a speech in May from John McDonnell MP, the Shadow Chancellor. For Corbyn’s views on security and foreign policy I recommend the latter half of a speech he gave some days after the terrible bombing in Manchester. I was pleased to work with them on those speeches, during my support for the election campaign.
The result of the election was one step forward in the process of establishing a broad left agenda for the future of economy and society. Nevertheless, there remains much to be done in the UK, Europe and elsewhere for governments to enable people to improve their lives and communities in a rapidly changing world.
In other news:
2017 marks 20 years since my first book was published! With Dr David Murphy, we looked at collaborations for sustainable development in the book “In the Company of Partners.” To mark this anniversary, I gave an open lecture at the University of Cumbria, which you can watch here. My article of reflections on what has happened on this topic over the last 20 years is available in Issue 66 of the Journal of Corporate Citizenship.
In May, with Matthew Slater, we presented a paper on the future of complementary currencies in an age of blockchains at the joint academic-practitioner RAMICS conference in Barcelona. We also outlined a new initiative to create the protocols and tools for the massive scaling of socially useful new currencies. We then presented these ideas to participants and supporters of the social and solidarity economy at a RIPESS event in Athens. In my next update, I will outline the shape of this effort, which federates over 300 local currencies into one initiative. For some of the philosophical background see www.creditcommons.net
From September, I am taking a year-long sabbatical to (attempt to) write a popular book that will convey some of the things I work towards. The project will take me through London, Valencia, Athens, Geneva, Milan, Manila and Bali, so if in any of these locations, it would be great to hear from you.