Next Meetup

Education and Liberation: 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed', by Paulo Freire
One thing socialists seem to be able to agree on is that 'old', 'top-down' methods of organising are dead. In place of the authoritarian left, today we see the outlines being drawn of a members-led, participatory left in which power will flow from the people, not be wielded in their name. But participatory, emancipatory politics is about a lot more than just creating the right group frameworks and rule-sets. For examples in the Labour Party context, the recent discourse around the 'democracy review' of internal party control and the 2018 Young Labour resolution passed to 'radically democratise' how MPs are selected both attest to this kind of rules-oriented thinking. But focusing on institutions in isolation from what goes on within them inevitably allows other, more subtle forms of domination and pirivilege carry on unnoticed even in the most progressive spaces. Specifically, how do we overcome the asymmetries and inequalities in the way people access and contextualise information? Not everyone comes to a democratic space with equal knowledge, and those who monopolise control of knowledge can also monopolise power, no matter how formally equal the participants in a democratic discussion may be. Building a socialist movement that is also anti-racist, feminist and in all other ways worthy of truly mass participation requires us to confront these challenges. Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire made these questions of knowledge, consciousness and self-emancipating participatory politics famous around the world with his seminal work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Little-known in the 'West'(though this is changing), Freire's work provided inspiration to millions of people participating in mass anti-colonial, national liberation and anti-authoritarian struggles during the most bitter political contests of the 20th century. From Solidarity's campaigns in communist Poland to Steve Biko's Black Consciousness Movement in apartheid South Africa to Freire's own struggles with the military dictatorship in Brazil, these ideas resonated. While it's easy for some 21st-century western socialists to dismiss the significance of Freire's writing on the deep processes involved in members-led movement-building, the liberation struggles of the last century would be unthinkable without his work. It pays to make his acquaintence. In this reading group, we'll have a look at this classic of emancipatory political struggle and discuss its implications for the Labour movement. Does the modern British left have something to learn from the methods and modes of thinking Freire advances? If not, why not, and if so, how can the Fabian Society lead by example in this area? The book isn't very long, but people who haven't finished it are of course welcome. Every page is bursting with ideas, so we won't lack for topics to discuss. The book is available on Amazon or wherever you get your readables, as well as in PDF form at Midlands State University Zimbabwe: Looking forward to seeing folks there!

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    What we're about

    The Fabian Society is the world's oldest political think tank, founded in London in 1884 by the leading lights of Victorian-era British socialism. While a think tank, it is also a mass membership organisation open to all. It went on to help found the Labour Representation Committee in 1900, out of which grew the Labour Party itself.

    We are a society of socialists committed to the traditions of democracy, equality, and the workers' movement. As an organisation, we are committed to combing the most rigorous policy research with the most wide-ranging activism.

    This reading group is a project of the North East London Fabian Society. We will meet regularly to discuss books, essays, articles and studies that shed light on the important issues facing the 21st-century world.

    Attendance is open to all, regardless of political beliefs, party affiliations(or the lack thereof), or background.

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