Reclaim the State

Adventures in Popular Democracy

14 June 2005

Hilary Wainwright sets out on a quest to find out how people are putting concepts like participatory democracy and economic solidarity into practice locally and taking control over public power

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The anticapitalist protests at Seattle and Genoa are dramatic symbols of a growing collective anger about the globalising power of a few multinational corporations. But there is more to anticapitalism than demonstrations: concepts like participatory democracy and economic solidarity form the heart of alternative but equally compelling visions.
In "Reclaim the State", Hilary Wainwright sets out on a quest to find out how people are putting such concepts into practice locally and taking control over public power. Her journey starts at home, in east Manchester, where local community groups are testing Tony Blair’s commitment to "community-led" regeneration by getting involved in the way government money is spent. In Newcastle, she joins a meeting of homecare workers and their clients to challenge the threat of privatization of homecare services in that city. In Los Angeles she talks to the people behind the community-union coalitions that have had major successes in improving the impoverished bus system and in winning a living wage for employees of firms contracted by the city. And in Porto Alegre she discovers the wider democratic potential of the participatory budget, the basis of investment decisions in many Brazilian cities. Local democracy and "people power", it turns out, provided the foundations for a global alternative, as her visit to the World Social Forum reveals. 

 

June 2005
TNI/Verso (eds.)
250 pages
ISBN/ISSN: 1 85984 698 0

About the authors

Hilary Wainwright

Hilary Wainwright is a leading researcher and writer on the emergence of new forms of democratic accountability within parties, movements and the state. She is the driving force and editor behind Red Pepper, a popular British new left magazine, and has documented countless examples of resurgent democratic movements from Brazil to Britain and the lessons they provide for progressive politics.

As well as TNI fellow, she is also Senior Research Associate at the International Centre for Participation Studies at the Department for Peace Studies, University of Bradford, UK and Senior Research Associate at International Centre for Participation Studies', Bradford University. She has also been a visiting Professor and Scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles; Havens Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison and Todai University, Tokyo. Her books include Reclaim the State: Experiments in Popular Democracy (Verso/TNI, 2003) and Arguments for a New Left: Answering the Free Market Right (Blackwell, 1993).

Wainwright founded the Popular Planning Unit of the Greater London Council during the Thatcher years, and was convenor of the new economics working group of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly from 1989 to 1994.\

Follow Hilary on twitter: @HilaryPepper

 

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