Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Manifesto

Me and a few others are involved at the moment in putting together a new political website to take over where the late lamented UKWatch left off. Here's something I've drafted for the 'about' section of that website to explain what we're....well.....about.
'New Left Project' is a working title that we may or may not stick with. The site should come online in the autumn.
About the New Left Project
The New Left Project takes as its starting points:
  • First, a belief in the value and equality of human life;
  • Secondly, an endorsement of the fundamental rights that flow from this (as set out for example in the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights); and
  • Thirdly, the view that those rights are best honoured by cohesive, co-operative societies based primarily on collective and democratic social organisation and run on the principle of economic and ecological sustainability.
The New Left Project takes the view that the political economy of Britain is - in common with much of the rest of the world - characterised by the undue influence of various concentrations of socio-economic power. The disproportionate influence that these institutions, corporations and elite groups of individuals wield over how our societies are governed elevates the goals of power and profit over the principles of human equality and freedom. Wars, poverty, inequality, potentially catastrophic damage to the Earth's climate, and other unacceptable constraints and denials of human freedom, rights and welfare are largely caused by these fundamental imbalances in the distribution of political, social and economic power, both in individual societies and across the globe.
We are conscious of the fact that, to the extent that progress has been made over the course of history in addressing power imbalances and challenging injustice, these successes have been won by popular political action, rather than being handed down by the powerful as gifts. The end of the Atlantic slave trade, voting rights, women's suffrage and the defeat of Apartheid all came for the most part as the result of individuals organising together, campaigning and articulating the case for progressive change.
With this in mind, the New Left Project seeks - via this website - to contribute to and facilitate broad-based campaigning for progressive political change, in line with the values, beliefs and opinions set out above. We will engage with as wide a range of issues as our knowledge and resources will allow; from climate change, to economics, foreign affairs, and many others. Our focus will reflect the fact that we are UK-based, but also that we recognise and value the long-standing internationalist tradition in progressive politics.
We will produce original analysis and comment pieces. We will work to spread useful information and ideas by drawing attention to books, articles, video and events that we believe will inform and interest our readership. We will facilitate debate and conversation between people who broadly share our views and beliefs, with the aim of aiding the development and improvement of progressive politics. In all these activities our goal will be to achieve and maintain a high standard of productive, thought-provoking and informative discussion at all times.

In this way, the New Left Project hopes to make its own contribution to the efforts that are being made by millions of activists in countries across the world to challenge economic injustice, environmental damage, war, imperialism and human rights abuses.



Blogger hi0u91e9 said...

This looks very exciting.

I was just wondering. How is the manifesto to be implemented (enforced?) so to speak? There is for example a branch of the left (most notably Alain Badiou) that opposes the concept of human rights as a political and juridical concept, arguing that it contains reactionary assumptions

At any rate this is a really worthwhile project, and I would love to help in anyway that I can

Thursday, August 06, 2009 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger David Wearing said...

Thanks. You're welcome to submit articles for us to consider for publication when it comes online. We'd definitely welcome the chance to look at some original content.

I don't think there's much to "enforce" in terms of the manifesto. We're just explaining what we're about and what out aims are.

I can't comment on the piece you link to without reading it properly. However, I have to say I've little time for left-wing rejection of enlightenment values like objective truth, human rights etc. When the left gives up on those concepts it ceases to be the left in any useful sense.

The fact that the establishment has coopted the concepts and language of human rights does not mean that the concepts themselves are non-progressive. That's a very shallow analysis fashionable amongst post-modern/post-structuralist types who are often too busy looking at surface to consider content. The problem is not that human rights are an establishment concept but that the establishment (centres of political and economic power) utterly reject human rights in practice, merely appealing to them in rhetorical terms.

Again, that's not a response to the article you mention. Just a few words on that sort of thinking, which I've encountered elsewhere.

Thursday, August 06, 2009 6:00:00 PM  
Blogger hi0u91e9 said...

i agree with the points you mention, but they are not the ones hallward (or Badiou) are making. there's have more to do with a kind of epistemological blackmail that militate against collective action and collective emancipation.

unfortunately i don't have the time to rehearse the argument now (although at some point it might be useful for me to practice doing so), but you might well find you don't agree with it anyway :)

good luck in the project, its really important, and i would jump at the chance to submit original material (does that mean a lot of the stuff will be posts from other sites?)

Thursday, August 06, 2009 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger David Wearing said...

fair enough. I was commenting on a general family of arguments, rather than his ones. I know he's written a good book about Haiti, so I should give it a fair read. I've just developed an instinctive reaction over the years to enlightenment-critical stuff written in dense and apparently overcomplicated language.

We're gonna try and maximise original material, but yeah inevitably some will be taken from other sites, blogs etc. Even ZNet do that. Its kind of inevitable really if you want to have a good amount of content. You're welcome to suggest stuff we can link to / reproduce as well as submitting your own work. It all helps.

Still, these things are hard to get off the ground, so before giving it too much big talk lets wait and see what emerges. But I've some confidence we can put together something decent.

Friday, August 07, 2009 2:48:00 PM  

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