The Politics of Liberty in the Age of “Liquid Democracy”

How can progressive organisations operating at the margins of mainstream politics make themselves effective post-crash? In a fascinating essay for openDemocracy, Gerry Hassan argues that they should nurture their “practice and ideas to the requirements of ‘liquid democracy’”.

What would ‘liquid democratic’ organisations look like? They would:

  • Have a sense of inhabiting spaces which both engage with the system, while not being wholly part of it;
  • Be at least part-outsider: engaging in a politics of direct action, fun and imagination, as well as serious, insider-orientated politics;
  • Use new technologies and older senses of belonging and gathering to develop collective identities and democratic voice;
  • In many cases be localist or defined by the importance of the local;
  • Oppose the reach of big business – refusing to take or be dominated by corporate sponsorship.

Gerry has some interesting suggestions on where this leaves the Convention:

We will require a politics in the UK and internationally which goes back to re-establishing and reimaging the principles of democracy, justice and liberty.

This is the terrain that the Convention on Modern Liberty should situate itself on, building the widest possible constituency and a politics and practice which is ‘liquid democratic’. The Convention showed ‘a glimpse of the civic spirit’ that is ‘neither obsessed with the market nor with a supposed war on terror’. It has created a space, goodwill and momentum for creating something significant, but an open, generous debate will be needed to even begin the next stage of such an initiative.


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