Reclaim the State
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
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.