Friday, 15 August 2014

Question the Powerful: the political education project

Democracy is premised on all citizens having an equal say, and everyone being ready to cooperate for the common good. But when an unaccountable elite amasses ever more power and wealth, they become increasingly accustomed to imposing their agenda on others regardless of the consequences.

To counter this emerging dystopian scenario of the powerful securing irreversible hegemony over everyone else in society, it is essential that people of all ages and backgrounds learn about the growing threats, what they must do to resist them, and how they can build an equitable and sustainable alternative.

The 'Question the Powerful' (QTP) project has been established in conjunction with the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, to take forward the work of expanding political education so as to reverse the widening power inequalities that are corrosive of reciprocity and inclusive community life.

The project will promote a range of resources, including theoretical analyses, dystopian fiction, polemical essays, and policy guidance, which have been put together to promote an alternative to as well as a critique of the plutocratic distortion of human relationships.

It is not enough to recount the mechanisms of government institutions, or set out in abstract terms the ideal of voting, if people are to see clearly why the distribution of power is fundamental to social cohesion and personal wellbeing. By showing how power concentration in one group, who can buy their way out of democratic constraints, can damage our lives, we pave the way for a deeper and sharper understanding of what should be done to: (a) strengthen collective means to counter the harm inflicted by prevailing power inequalities; (b) cut the considerable gap between the powerful and others to secure a better balance of power for all; and (c) develop cooperative forms of democratic collaboration to facilitate the spread of inclusive networks and communities.

The ' Question the Powerful' resources (see'QTP Resources' for details) have been tested and revised through critical academic discussions, government policy implementation and reviews, and exchanges with lifelong learning participants. The project aims to work with partners in education, democratic advocacy, and the media to increase awareness and application of the ideas set out in the core resources in mounting an effective challenge to those who are relentlessly undermining democracy and cooperation.

If you are interested in supporting this educational project - through promoting/reviewing the resources it is making available; conducting face-to-face or online Q&As; arranging public talks; engaging tutors/teachers; or commissioning articles for your web/publications - get in touch with me at: