April 17th, 2011

Like so many others, I’ve been reflecting on the issues raised by wikileaks, the ‘Arab Spring’, and the current financial and environmental crises.  In part, this is why I wrote  Wikileaks, Tahrir Square – their significance for re-thinking democracy”. Here we see that to achieve their demands for freedom, social justice, democracy they are willing to sacrifice their lives.  There have been extraordinary acts of heroism against the violence of the dictators.  The struggles continue.


But in the West, it is too easy to say that the democratic freedoms that others seek have been achieved without reflecting on whether democracy is a reality for people in their everyday lives.  Few of us actually work in organisations that could be said to be democratic.  Most have top-down management structures that permit little if any real democratic involvement in decision making.  Where in our schools is there the space for real experiences of democratic organisation and decision making?  When it comes down to it, what real experiences do we have of democratic practices in any of the key institutions and organisations of our everyday lives? 


 It seems to me that if we are to create real democracies then as I’ve argued in various articles and books (see) as well as the paper on the middle east and wikileaks mentioned above, there must be a close relationship between education, research and the conditions of freedom with equality necessary for any political, economic, social and cultural organisation through which people meet their needs, their interests, their hopes and their demands.  It seems to me that any State that does not have the vast majority of its economic, social, political and cultural organisations managed democratically cannot be called democratic.