Political learning that matters

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Rowan Williams understands the election of Donald Trump to be a failure of mass democracy and his theatrical politics as a betrayal of the disenfranchised (New Statesman, 20 November 2016)

What this election has shown about politics in the US and Europe, he says, is that "it is to do with the discontent of the disenfranchised and insecure. … They have become detached from the work of politics by the erosion of liberties and economic opportunities. … The politics of mass democracy has failed. It has been narrowed down to a mechanism for managing large-scale interests in response to explicit and implicit lobbying by fabulously well-resourced commercial and financial concerns.

The political learning that matters, "is the experience of genuine political debate and decision-making at local levels, the experience of identifying challenges, negotiating sustainable solutions, and learning to manage conflict without violent rupture or the demonising of minorities. This is the work that goes on in co-operative practice at every level— in education and industry, and through citizens’ organisations (President Obama’s political nursery), food co-ops, microcredit institutions and voluntary street pastors … we need better analysis of and investment in local civic activism."

"What will it take," Williams asks, "to reacquaint people with control over their communities, shared and realistic values, patience with difference and confidence in their capacity for intelligent negotiation?"