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Friday, April 11, 2014

Politics for Outsiders

Dr. Henry Benedict Tam's ‘Question the Powerful’ collection brings together his works for anyone interested in learning/teaching why and how we should promote more inclusive political participation (see also the learning guide):

Against Power Inequalities: learn from history why power inequality must not be left unchallenged.
This short history narrates critical moments in opposing exploitation and oppression, and explains their inter-connections across time and nations. “An intellectual tour de force, an erudite romp through the history of civilization that highlights the origins of power and the never-ending effort to democratize hierarchical systems” (Professor Charles Derber, US); “history retold as a panorama of struggle, hope and co-operation [by] a master storyteller” (Secretary General, Co-operatives UK). (For more reviews & option to download the book for free, go to Info on Against Power Inequalities)

Communitarianism: learn about a political philosophy that explains how we should live inclusively.
This book sets out the core ideas of a communitarian vision for society, and their key political implications. It has been praised by scholars and commentators on both sides of the Atlantic, and was nominated by New York University Press for the 2000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. (For more information, including reviews and other related writings, go to Info on Communitarianism)

Kuan’s Wonderland: learn through this allegorical dystopian novel an alternative way to question prevailing power structures.
This novel weaves plot twists and striking characters with political allusions to create a memorable indictment of power inequalities. Variously praised as “an unmissable page-turner” (President, the Independent Publishers Guild); “original and very engaging” (Fantasy Book Review); and “powerfully imaginative” (Director of Education, WEA); it has been selected by the Equality Trust as a key resource in its Young Person’s Guide to Inequality. (For more information, go to Info on Kuan’s Wonderland)

Together We Can: learn from this set of resources developed to promote cooperative problem-solving.
These resources grew out of Together We Can, the cross-government programme Henry Tam devised and implemented when he led the Home Office (and later the newly established Department for Communities & Local Government) work on civil renewal and community empowerment 2003-2010. Subsequently, the evidence and advice pulled together in support of furthering cooperative problem-solving have continued to be reviewed and promoted by the Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy, Cambridge University. (For a guide to the available resources, go to Info on Together We Can)

Responsibility & Personal Interactions: learn about the conditions under which people must be held responsible for their behaviour.
This in-depth study puts forward specific criteria for when members of society should or should not be held responsible for their behaviour, and tests them against legal judgment in seminal cases. The challenging issues involved in dealing with crime and responsibility are further addressed in Tam’s book, Punishment, Excuses & Moral Development, which brought a team of experts together to examine what policies ought to be adopted in practice. (For more information, go to Info on Responsibility)

Henry Tam posts short political essays twice a month on Question the Powerful. You can follow him on Twitter via @HenryBTam; and if you would like to discuss the ideas in the above publications or explore how they can be used more widely in support of progressive lifelong learning and democratic activism, contact Dr. Henry Tam via hbt21@cam.ac.uk.