Planning for 2014

The Collapse of the Berlin Wall. Brick by brick we can do it again

A prosperous new year to all (with of course prosperity radically redefined to encompass new ideas about what really makes us more wealthy; see for example Prosperity without Growth, by Tim Jackson).

The Friday Room is considering its next programme of meetings. To this end I’d like to invite you, or a group you are involved with, to offer to organise or even lead a Friday Room discussion. The only caveat is it fits in with our aims here.

So take this as a cajoling and gentle encouragement to ‘own’ the organisation of a meeting of your choice and be given trust (with others if you wish) to create a meeting of a subject and in a style of choice. This is the new deliberative horizontal politics, doing away with command and control, which Compass chair Neil Lawson believes is on the horizon.

The Friday Room has been offering this sort of political space for several years now. There has been much discussion on what The Friday Room should be, or become. Suggestions were made, for example, that the FR should be more activist focussed, or even stand candidates in local elections. This idea is now not be so pressing as other groups such as Left Unity or Greens enter the ever widening non-neoliberal political space.

These stirrings of a radical progressive left are to be welcomed in my view. However discussion is needed on what the purpose of the Friday Room is.  Here are some thoughts from my perspective:-

  •  To bring together groups and people of the progressive left to discuss issues of common interest which promote or impede the creation of the good society.
  • To build the ‘capacity’ of an alternative politics by raising consciousness and developing skills.
  • To network and share ideas and information.
  • To enjoy and respect each other company in a debating and social context.

A talking shop? Yes, unashamedly, but its good to talk; the road to the good society is lined with a billion conversations. Groups, both formal and affinity, such as the Greens, Left Unity, the non-aligned, progressive faith communities, Liberal Democrats and Labour members should see the FR as a forum to air ideas and policies, to challenge and be challenged; an opportunity to cut political teeth and gain confidence. Unlike our large-corporate dominated economy, no one has a monoply on ideas.

Indeed these groups should encourage their members to attend the Friday Room, rather than have separate meetings of their own for the purpose of political education. It is far better to discuss with people with different views than ourselves – we should nourish the dialectic and perhaps we’ll synthesise something new. In this, we really are all in it together.  This is a message we should focus on this year.

If you do have an idea for a meeting, please make contact here.

Philip Leicester

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