Democratic socialism was born out of an understanding that the only power strong enough to challenge capital was the collective power of ordinary people. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, working people organised to create a network of social institutions that seemed to be moving towards a more collaborative way of life.
But now, in the 21st century, that sense of collective power over our own lives has all but crumbled away.
People feel taken for granted and hungry for a voice; they’re losing faith in politicians and experience government as distant and unresponsive. Work, for many, is difficult, unrewarding and dehumanising.
A strong, social democratic society is one that moves beyond voting; to include dialogue, participation and shared decision making. We know from our own experience that working collaboratively with others for collective good offers a sense of empowerment, nourishment and growth that few other activities do.
In Democracy Works, Sue Goss makes clear the urgent need to democratise key spheres of our lives, from local and national government to the workplace; to build in greater public participation and give people collective control over their lives.
Labour must take the first step of creating the space for these conversations so that a future Labour government would have the skills, the understanding and the ways of working that would enable it to create a more democratic society.
Unlock Democracy and Compass are working together on a Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust funded project to build consensus around a new democratic settlement. With a focus on the Labour Party, other progressive parties and civil society campaigners, we are looking to create the conditions for a new 21st century democratic settlement for our nations, communities and citizens.
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