Compass’ assumptions: discussion

Compass

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

As progressives, our mission is to create a path out of our deep political and democratic crisis, built with meaningful hope.

However, our progressive movement keeps failing to build from firm enough foundations, opting instead for shortcuts, so we end up addressing the symptoms and not the causes of the crisis. Brexit is a symptom of the crisis. The shortcuts have to stop. It is time to dig deep.

What lies ahead of us is a long and complex struggle and we all have a role to play. As we take up ours, we want to bring you in on the assumptions that underpin our work.

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Because, rather than presuming that people intuitively understand where we are coming from, we want to be open about what we assume – why we say and do what we say and do.

We hope this will help you, and anyone else who wants to work with or alongside us, to understand us. That matters, because only if we truly understand each other will we build the strong relationships we need for the journey ahead.

Please have a look at our assumptions and let us know what you think below: tell us what you like, what you dislike, and what we should add. And please, tell us about your assumptions too.

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  1. Posted by Dave Webb

    The assumptions are a good start but there is a danger that your agenda for civic action becomes disconnected from political activism. Without political action, civic action risks becoming a means to continue a kind of grey, half-dead centrism rather than make progress towards your goals. How will you connect civic action with a particular kind of political action, aimed at pushing back against the marketization and financial exploitation of more and more sections of society?

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  2. Posted by Dom Horne

    The current political system incentivises policies that are popular and which appeal to people’s opinions. Policy should be based on evidence, not opinion. Journalists and the public should challenge politicians and each other to justify their opinions through evidence. Surely it can’t be that difficult to deal in facts?

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  3. Posted by Peter Wood Cotterill

    Your assumptions reflect my thoughts and I can think of nothing constructive to add! Keep up the good work!

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  4. Posted by Alistair Denness

    Citizens Assemblies are a good starting point progressing through to a more co-operative approach emphasising the local rather the power being held centrally. Our economy must be based on joint efforts between Government,Finance and Commerce/Industry with the support of our higher and further education (which must be revived) institutes for research&development and training.

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  5. Posted by Manda Scott

    I am deeply moved by the One Nation party arising in the US as a way to step away from the zero sum win/lose dynamic of the old political paradigm to a view where we all flourish – people and planet.
    There’s a podcast here: https://anchor.fm/emerge/episodes/Christopher-Life—OneNation-An-Omni-Win-US-Political-Party-e4tnal/a-akkjo7

    And the page is here: https://www.onenation.party/1

    We need to find politicians (perhaps new ones) who are prepared to let go of the old tribalism and start to behave in genuinely radical ways. We need to step into the deepest and best of who we can be and that means finding that place where science, spirituality and politics meet. The post-metaphysics movement seems well placed to do this, but I am most encouraged in the UK by the rise of Extinction Rebellion and the sociocracy that the movement embraces. We need to make radical societal change and we need to let the frameworks emerge. This is an emergency. I am more than willing to help if there’s a clear way to do it.

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  6. Posted by Irene Ridgeon

    Your assumptions are very much in line with my own aspirations. I just wonder how we get the message out to a wider audience and how we tackle the longer-term aim of a better-informed electorate, less vulnerable to divisive propaganda.

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  7. Posted by Peter Harris

    I agree in the main with your assumptions – but the crucial question is how do we get cultural change (always a slow and difficult business). Many people have little political consciousness, and many deride and distrust politicians. We need to make a greater connection between the people as a whole and politics, and the present party system leaves most feeling unrepresented. A greater diversity would begin to make a difference, and one major change which would encourage this would be to end the first past the post system.

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  8. Posted by Mike Squires

    A democratic society must have democratic ownership and control of the nation’s resources,production and distribution at its heart

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  9. Posted by Sean Heneghan

    I agree, but I believe emphasis must be put on ensuring that our electoral system changes so that every vote is equal and parliament can work together better. The current system allows MPs to be elected without the majority of support from their constituents – not every vote is equal. It also enables a two party system, which feeds divisiveness, and the necessity to tactically vote by means of a false choice of the least worst weevil. Politics is a farce at the moment and the cause is that the system does not represent the people; they, we, have lost trust in our democracy.

    All are equal. If not, we all suffer.

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  10. Posted by Tim Williamson

    Nice and clear – and essentially good assumptions.
    Maybe the urgency for change needs to be emphasised.
    I think it’s painfully unfair on Labour and the other parties to have to let go of their own strongly held beliefs and concerns – when the fault lies with the system. Our current “democracy” is that system and we know it’s faulty. We need to call out our system as anti-democratic – say it for what it is. Stop describing it as “our democracy”. We know that the rest of society isn’t yet taking us seriously enough.

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  11. Posted by Michael Fuller

    Nobody can disagree with the generality of your conclusions but that is the problem – they are too general. We need specific measures that will both appeal to people and provide an agenda for a future government. Pluralism, culture, society, these are all concepts that require detailed responses based on a socially owned and useful economy. You cannot extend the boundaries of political democracy without spelling out the means of establishing economic democracy. They go hand in hand. In addition, alliances with the growth of nationalism, however necessary in the short term, do raise long term concerns and fears.

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  12. Posted by David Parker

    The emphasis on changing culture is fine but should not be counterposed to the need to change political structures at the same time. I am not sure that you intended it to readlike that as clearly devolved and participatory forms of power are central to the division. A certain ambivalence towards political parties is understandable but compass clearly needs people to engage in them.

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  13. Posted by vicki

    Thumbs up. An addition maybe about moving away from the adversorial nature of party politics. Such a toxic environment where no-one listens, everyone judges, no-one dare admit to a mistake and everyone’s focus is to defend their position by attacking others’

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  14. Posted by Ben

    Sounds great, at least if you can understand it.

    A good society is nothing if it doesn’t have meaning to the majority. Step back and look at that language. You can have all the assumptions, ends and means you like but you need to speak in a way that is relevant to people beyond your immediate circle.

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  15. Posted by Linda Whitebread

    I like this very much. Glad that you didn’t use the word capitalism, which can immediately alienate some if we are seen to be against it. But the economic system has to change so that the good of all rather than the pecuniary benefit of the few is the main goal – and this includes looking after the planet and the other creatures we share it with. You could perhaps have said more about localism, community and cooperation. Both competition and cooperation are human characteristics, and each have their place – unfortunately competition can have major disbenefits to society and the environment especially when carried out at a macro level. We need to promote more cooperation, which works extremely well especially at a local level. As well as an effective strategy for getting things done, It helps to bind people together, makes them feel valued, and gives them a purpose in life.
    Cliche: the economy should serve the people, not the other way around.

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  16. Posted by Peter H Aldous

    As a septuagenarian, I concur with your assumptions, which mesh in many ways with the aims of Extinction Rebellion, which I also support.

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  17. Posted by Neal

    Really helpful points and nudges. We can move from these more general points to more specific issues – but do so from more solid foundations. thank you

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  18. Posted by Fi O’Connor

    I have lived with proportional representation in Australia for the first 30 years of my life, so, 12 voting years. The Australian system of ‘preferences’ is a good one but still results in a two party system. The party in power then disregards values of the parties from whom they received preferential points.
    Just saying – a multi party coalition model alongside proportional representation seems to be the way forward – so that each party has a fair chance to highlight issues
    Thank you for the good work you do – we live in interesting times 😉

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  19. Posted by Fred Flintstone

    I need to see much more meat on the bones before I can commit, but I like what I’ve seen so far, let’s have some specifics.

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  20. Posted by John Salter

    I agree with your aims and objectives, unfortunately there are still too many who think that we can simply return to what they think of as “the good old days” although they never were except for a select few. Hence all the recent celebration of past “victories” rather than efforts to build a new future fit for all.

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  21. Posted by Deborah Joffe

    I think we need to remember that not all Conservatives – politicians and voters – are far right extremists or neoliberals. Many have good intentions and share values with the centre and left but have just a different way of looking at things (sometimes you can learn positively from them!). I think this is an important constituency to work with to find common ground if there is to be real political change. More in common , as Jo Cox said.

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  22. Posted by Martin Childs

    In reply to Fi O’Connor. Australia does not have proportional representation for its House of Representatives. That is why they still have a two party system like us. They have a form of the Alternative Vote, they call it preference voting in which the candidates are numbered in order in separate constituencies. This doesn’t lead to proportionality. For proportionality you need a list as well as constituencies as in the Additional Member System (AMS), or alternatively just have multi-member constituencies as in the less proportional Single Transferable Vote.

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  23. Posted by Julian Batsleer

    Much more hard-headed work needs to be done around the issue of pluralism (Hurrah). It is not just a matter of overcoming tribalism (Boo). It is about learning how to live with deep-rooted political / ethical contradictions and contestations. The multiple fissures in the polity revealed around Leave -v- Remain conflicts / oppositions will have to be lived with / through for a long time. What is called for is not some sort of agreed pluralist consensus created by the citizenry. It is more akin, for the foreseeable future, to a UK-wide version of the Good Friday Agreement in Ireland. This is essentially an over-arching requirement for those with irreconcilable differences in their political aspirations to nevertheless learn how to live together. Without such an explicit commitment to living with / through fundamental contradictions, the pragmatic and tacitcal aspirations of creating forms of progressive alliance will not move forward into territory which may be both full of hope, but also full of fear / pain / threat.

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  24. Posted by Chris Neill

    I share your assumptions. It is correct that the road through transformation is inevitably complex and long. But perhaps we could give more emphasis in how we speak about this to the recognition and practise of some simple values: truth, kindness, justice, love, will. The rise of the right-wing populist agenda and its simplistic rhetoric gives us an opportunity to offer a clear alaternative. We should be clearer that these people are presenting a world-view based on hatred, fear, lies, selfishness, ignorance and greed. As Philip Larkin says
    “In everyone their sleeps the sense of life lived according to love”.
    Let’s wake them up. As one of your earlier correspondents notes, that’s what ExtintionRebeliion is really doing and that, more that anything else, is what is drawing people to it.

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  25. Posted by Maurice Barnes

    While I understand the wish to specificially mention “driven by our global interconnectiveness”, sadly so many in the world do not believe in “equal worth and shared interest in a sustainable and just future”. Consequently this seems idealistic to an extreme. I would prefer to start by promoting localism more then globalism with this aim as being more realistic.
    Some of it uses language which can be unspecific and leads one to wonder what does/could it mean in practice.

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  26. Posted by Julian S L Jones

    I think Compass need to be wary of pinning so much hope on a Citizens Assembly. While these have at times been a useful supplement to a parliamentary democracy that may also employ referendums to decide issues they cannot replace mass participation democracy. In particular the idea that with the UK in such a polarised shambles over Brexit, it would be possible to resolve this by selecting 100 people just seems naive. Every aspect of selection, process, choice of expert advisors and so on would be contested and the legitimacy of the assembly would never be accepted by pro Brexit politicians who would suspect it of being devised to thwart them. I’m afraid having made the mistake of holding a referendum only another referendum can reverse the decision.
    Referring to the 45 degree point in the document is very unhelpful. Just say what you actually mean because almost nobody will have a clue what 45 degree point means.

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  27. Posted by Joanne

    This is good – I think a short list of bullet points as ground rules for the way you intend to operate would be a good abbreviation of the whole document. And potentially easier for people to digest. I still worry about the fact that you appear to be London-centric (recruiting to the Board for example), and the language used in this document is very ‘London’.

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  28. Posted by Maitrida James

    I support your wider view of what political change entails at this time and your awareness of the steps that need to be taken. That’s why i joined. I hope we can make progress.

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  29. Posted by Tony McMorrow

    Here today, we have crisis. the hard right are united and supported whilst all else whether Labour, Liberal et al are divided (the rest). The right have money and power whilst the rest flag behind wondering. At this rate Boris will win a general election and take us out of Europe against the collective will. Remember it takes less than a third of electorate to get a first past the post party into power. Are you not sick of hearing ‘the will of the people’ and ‘the good of the country’. If we are to be progressive and unite ‘the rest’ we need not only assumptions but principles and action plans and we need them immediately and we need a leader.

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  30. Posted by Alison Pope

    I’m very supportive, particular of the aims and the ends but I’m a bit more sceptical about some of the means.

    I’d appreciate more on the complexity of pluralism and its complexity and why it should be embraced (and to what extent). If you’ve already published on this please do point me in that direction. I agree in principle but want to understand more about how you balance it with community and avoid the paralysis of political fragmentation.

    I would also add informing to deciding and doing. We exist in an increasingly contested reality and to a large extent it is the participatory technologies of the the networked age that are disrupting established information literacies. In order to decide and do well in support of a good society how do we navigate information disorder and ensure the information commons is not appropriated or manipulated by the powerful?

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  31. Posted by Stephen Barber

    Add that the assumptions underlying neo-liberalism need to be challenged and refuted at every point. Cooperation is more important than competition. Regulation is valuable in maintaining and raising standards. Trickle-down economics is a con. Big finance does no invest in worthwhile activities. So-called wealth creators tend to create wealth only for themselves. And so on.

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