The Worldview Review

Some rough notes on my embryonic Worldview Review project: mapping the worldviews of politically engaged progressives, one PDF at a time.

To review:

I’m looking for more progressive rants/manifestos/agendas to add to my collection. I’m particularly keen for links to non-Western & non-English sources (I’ll need English translations though, unless they’re in German or Indonesian. Can anyone point me to an English version of the Portuguese ‘Manifesto of a generation in trouble‘?) I’d love pieces that:

  • Are more than a single-issue agenda or a shopping list of policy ideas
  • Describe the values and principles of the authors
  • Imply or spell out a vision of progress

If I get time I might add some books to the list, such as

  • Envisioning Real Utopias, Eric Olin Wright, Verso London 2010
  • Prosperity Without Growth, Tim Jackson, Routledge London, 2011

So far I’ve received the following suggestions:

One take on the kind of documents I’m keen to review can be found in this manifesto (PDF) from the Centre for Policy Studies – a conservative/right/free-market think tank in the UK:

“A MANIFESTO is more than a collection of policies. It should set out the principles on which the governance of the country will be based, and should show how the policies that are advocated are rooted in those values. Specific policies may change and evolve with circumstances; the principles on which they are based should be more enduring. A manifesto should therefore convey the direction in which the proposed policies will take the country, and enable the public to judge whether that direction – more than any individual policy – is one with which they agree…What is our view of the kind of society that we want? What values does it represent? And what is the role that government both can, and cannot, play in supporting that development?” (From principles to policy: What an alternative manifesto should say, Norman Blackwell and Ruth Lea, Centre for Policy Studies)

I have a deep fascination with the intellectual infrastructure that lies behind social movements. Even in an apparently pluralist age, coherent worldviews can have an abiding impact:

“For any way of thought to become dominant, a conceptual apparatus has to be advanced that appeals to our intuitions and instincts, to our values and our desires, as well as to the possibilities inherent in the social world we inhabit. If successful, this conceptual apparatus becomes so embedded in common sense as to be taken for granted and not open to question.” (David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism)

“Rarely do important ideas matter in politics. What usually matters is the momentum of entrenched power. But not always. Sometimes—when the old ideas no longer explain the world, when it is obvious that something is wrong—new ideas can matter, and matter a great deal. Today, there is a need for—and hunger for—new understanding, new clarity, and a new way forward.” (Alperovitz et al, ‘The Next System Project: New Political-Economic Possibilities for the Twenty-First Century’)

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