Friday, October 26, 2012

The New Putney Debates start in London tomorrow

“…the laws ought to be equal, so they must be good and not evidently destructive to the safety and well-being of the people. These things we declare to be our native rights…”
- excerpt from the Agreement of the People, October 1647

From 27 October – 11 November, Occupy London celebrates the 365th year anniversary of the original Putney Debates in 1647, by holding a series of events looking at democracy in 2012. Inspired by the Levellers and Diggers demands for social justice, civil rights and equal access to the land from back then, Occupy London’s New Putney Debates will focus on the challenges facing us now and what is needed now for a more just and equal society.

Contributors include Richard Wilkinson (The Spirit Level), Natalie Bennett (new Leader of the Green Party), Michael Mansfield QC, George Monbiot, Polly Higgins, Jeremy Leggett, John McDonnell MP, Halina Ward and Professor Conor Gearty, Annette Zera, Joseph Choonara, Hilary Koob-Sassen, and many other writers, theorists, artists, and activists.

Full programme at Facebook event is here.

Throughout the New Putney Debates the emphasis will be on public participation, in the spirit of 1647 when it was said that England was “A Nation of Prophets”, with some of the events being held in the original venue – St Mary’s Church in Putney – where the Debates started on 28 October 1647.

Then and now: the fight for real democracy continues
The New Putney Debates will discuss why our so called ‘democracy’ is failing us and how we can address the enormous challenges of our time, as well as learning from the past. We want to reclaim our rights too, and reclaim democracy for the people.  All are welcome to participate in these historic debates.

The Civil War saw our ancestors rise up against oppression by the King and feudal lords to fight for the many of the democratic rights we enjoy today. The Levellers in the New Model Army made radical demands for a more equal society with an expanded franchise, freedom of conscience & speech, equality under the law and for a sovereign parliament that obeyed the will of the people.

Today our civil rights are under threat, our vote no longer seems to count and inequality is increasing. There is no evidence that the lessons have been learnt from the 2008 financial crisis and banking bailout. The needs of the ‘market’ and the banks seem to take priority over people, communities and the environment.

Highlights of the New Putney Debates:
  • Rehearsed reading and discussion of Caryl Churchill’s 1976 play in St Marys Church Putney, where the original debates took place. The play looks at the events of the English Revolution with the second half of the play focuses on the conflict within the New Model Army between the senior officers (the Grandees) and the Agitators, who stood for the interests of the ordinary men and women
  • Occupy Economics will host the Bank of England’s Executive Director of Financial Stability, Andy Haldane, for a panel discussion focusing on Socially Useful Banking. Also participating are TUC senior economist Duncan Weldon and Dominic Lindley, Head of  Financial Services Policy for Which?, with the event chaired by Lisa Pollack, FT Alphaville
  • Richard Wilkinson (The Spirit Level), will join the Debates looking at the causes and consequences of inequality and John Christensen (see Treasure Islands) will explain  ‘The Finance Curse.’
  • Michael Mansfield QC and Professor Conor Gearty will be participating in the debates discussing who the legal system benefits
  • Open-space discussion sessions exploring the crisis of capitalism and the possibilities for generating a level of social organisation that is capable of being responsible in all the ways in which the capitalist system is not
  • The new leader of the Green party, Natalie Bennett, George Monbiot and the Runnymede diggers will be considering land and democracy
  • John McDonnell MP will discussing what a real democracy would look like, and we will be asking if the time has come for a new civil rights movement.


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