Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Henry Tam & Question the Powerful

Dr. Henry Benedict Tam has written about politics and society in a wide range of publications ('HT: Bibliography'), and presented his ideas at events hosted by state and non-governmental institutions both in Europe and the US.

The Question the Powerful project disseminates ideas and findings based on the work he has carried out in a variety of educational and policy roles: Director, Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy (University of Cambridge); Head of Civil Renewal (Home Office, UK Government); Visiting Professor, Lifelong Learning (Birkbeck, University of London); Director, Community Safety & Regeneration (Government Office, East of England); Chair, Communitarian Forum (St Edmunds College, University of Cambridge).

You can catch up with his political reflections on the Question the Powerful blog; and follow his tweets on current events via @HenryBTam. More information about the available learning resources are set out below:

KEY PUBLICATIONS

[1] Political Ideas
Works that examine the key ideas relating to governance, responsibility, community, democracy, and citizenship; and explain how a civic-communitarian approach can help to resolve conflicting claims about how we should live:

What Should Citizens Believe? exploring the issues of truth, reason & society
This is ideal for anyone looking for a general introduction to the challenge of resolving conflicting beliefs in society, and for all those involved in lifelong learning who would like to have a range of materials to facilitate discussions about truth and reason in a democracy. Available as an e-book or in paperback.

Time to Save Democracy: how to govern ourselves in the age of anti-politics
This book presents a diagnosis of what prevents democracy from functioning, and goes beyond the familiar ‘get the vote out’ ideas, to set out 9 key areas where reforms are necessary to ensure we can govern ourselves more effectively. It puts forward forty recommendations to help us avoid the twin threats of oppressive rule and debilitating chaos.

Communitarianism: a new agenda for politics & citizenship
This standard text on progressive communitarian ideas has been praised on both sides of the Atlantic, and nominated by New York University Press for the 2000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.
(For more information on Communitarianism and its companion volume, Progressive Politics in the Global Age, go to Info on Communitarianism)

Against Power Inequalities
A short global history on the progressive struggle against exploitation and oppression. “An intellectual tour de force” (Professor Charles Derber, US); “history retold as a panorama of struggle, hope and co-operation [by] a master storyteller” (Ed Mayo, Secretary General, Co-operatives UK).
(For more information, go to Against Power Inequalities)

Responsibility & Personal Interactions
An in-depth study on when people should be held responsible for their behaviour, with the proposed criteria tested against legal judgment in seminal cases. It provides a basis for exposing flawed attempts to deny responsibility.
(For more information on this book and its companion volume, Punishment, Excuses & Moral Development, go to Info on Responsibility)

[2] Leadership Guidance
The materials outlined below draw on reviews of effective practices in a wide range of institutions and personal experiences in shaping public policies, to provide guidance on how to develop cooperative communities and advance the public interest:

Together We Can: the practice of community empowerment
‘Together We Can’ was a national cross-government programme for civil renewal and community empowerment (2003-2010) – it was showcased as an exemplar at the 2008 international meeting of the Global Network of Government Innovators (USA). Practical ideas and policy recommendations can be found amongst the resources listed here.

Political Literacy and Civic Thoughtfulness
A guide to the problem of political illiteracy, and how it can be tackled through the cultivation of civic thoughtfulness, using the 'Synetopia' framework. This provides a basis for assessing the level of political aptitude and identifying key actions to be taken to attain improvements.

Cooperative Gestalt: the practice of cooperative problem-solving
The discussions with academics and practitioners via the Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy (University of Cambridge) facilitated the codification of how best to engender cooperative problem-solving. For articles and other materials on how organisations can secure more effective collaborative working to achieve their goals, see: here.

Serving the Public: the practice of democratic engagement
Guidance based on research and policy work that helped one local authority gain recognition as the best in England (Braintree, 1993), another one winning the award for youth participation from the Prime Minister (St Edmundsbury, 1999), and which led to the establishment of a national network of Civic Pioneer authorities: here.

[3] Dystopian Writings
These novels depict disturbing social and political trends, highlight the power of rhetoric and misdirection, and explore what kinds of resistance and reform are urgently needed (see The Anti-Con Novels for an overview):

Kuan’s Wonderland
An allegorical novel about the mysterious realm of Shiyan, where a young boy is brought before the institution known as Plutopia. “Original and very engaging” (Fantasy Book Review); “an unmissable page-turner” (President, the Independent Publishers Guild). Recommended by the Equality Trust.
(For more information, go to Kuan’s Wonderland: a quick guide)

Whitehall through the Looking Glass
A satirical tale about how a group of powerful corporations known as the Consortium came to take over the government of Britain and America. “[A] timely reminder of the dangers of the rapidly-accelerating corporatisation of our political and economic life.” (F. O'Grady, General Secretary, TUC); “We need Tam's absurdist vision of Whitehall to help wake us all up” (S. Duffy, Director, Centre for Welfare Reform).
(For more information, go to Whitehall through the Looking Glass: a quick guide)

The Hunting of the Gods
A saga set on a much transformed Earth where immortal rulers dictate terms to subjects who are brought up to fight against their foreign enemies until a resurrected stranger reveals to them the origins of the self-proclaimed gods. Questions are raised about microbotic technology, personal identity, and the widening gap between those who have a rich and prolonged life and those have nothing but insecurity.

TALKS, ADVICE & TRAINING

Henry Tam has been invited to share his ideas on politics and society at events convened by many diverse organisations such as WEA (Workers’ Educational Association); Church Action on Poverty; South Place Ethical Society; the BBC; National School of Government; Metropolitan Police Authority; Urban Forum; Civil Service College, and Community Service Volunteers.

He has also been a guest speaker at the World Forum for Democracy (the Council of Europe); the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation (Harvard, USA); the Institute of Sociology (Warsaw, Poland); the Society for Applied Philosophy; the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics; the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies (Washington, USA); the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation (Ireland); the London Business School; the Oxford Centre for Advanced Study of the Social Sciences; and other research institutions.
(For a list of the talks given, go to ‘The QTP Talks Series’)

ACADEMIC & PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION

• Associate Fellow, the Crick Centre, University of Sheffield (2017-).
• Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge (2011-2015).
• Visiting Professor, School of Lifelong Learning, Birkbeck, University of London (2008-2011).
• Fellow, Globus Institute for Globalization and Sustainable Development, University of Tilburg, the Netherlands (2000-2008).
• Fellow, Chartered Institute of Marketing (1993-2011)
• Research Fellow, Centre for Citizenship Development, Anglia Polytechnic University (1992-1995).
• Diploma in Public Relations & Marketing, CAM (Communication, Advertising & Marketing) Foundation (1988).
• Ph.D in Philosophy, (Swire Scholar) the University of Hong Kong (1981-1984).
• BA/MA in Philosophy, Politics & Economics, (Neale Scholar) the Queen’s College, University of Oxford (1978-1981).

Monday, May 14, 2018

Citizens' Right to Learn

2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which set out the support and protection citizens across the world are entitled to expect from those they have entrusted with the power and resources to run their country.

One of the key challenges arising from disputes over alleged violations of human rights and what actions should be taken, is how people can resolve such disputes when ignorance, deception, and misinterpretation so often get in the way. If people fail to see wrongdoing for what it is, or are duped into regarding vital interventions as unwarranted interference, the defence of human rights will face an uphill struggle.

It should be remembered that Article 26 of the Declaration states not only that “everyone has the right to education”, but that “education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

In practice, it is rare for education at any level to pay much attention to raising people’s awareness and understanding of the problem of belief evaluation. Naïve embrace of ‘freedom of expression’ as a licence to lie, incite or misdirect has enabled the enemies of human rights to subvert democracy and con millions into blaming scapegoats. What is urgently needed is a sustained campaign to boost critical learning about how to differentiate reliable claims from dubious assertions.

The ‘Question the Powerful’ project, in association with the global Citizen Network, has brought out a new book, What Should Citizens Believe? It provides accessible resources for anyone interested in teaching, promoting, or facilitating discussions about ideas and practices that support reasoned assessment of what citizens ought to believe.
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What Should Citizens Believe? exploring the issues of truth, reason & society is available in the following formats:
E-book (£2.99): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07CSYRF8H
Paperback (£5.99): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1548183105

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all royalties I receive from the sale of the book in 2018 will be donated to Amnesty International.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Question the Powerful: Essays

Full Listing (with theme category)
Set out below is a complete list of the essays posted on the Question the Powerful blog. Click on the title to find out more. For a list of Henry Tam’s key writings (books and articles) published elsewhere, see ‘Henry Tam: Bibliography'.

No. 242: Society’s Identity Crisis (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 241: The Real Political Divide (Progressive Ethos)
No. 240: The Brexit Con (Brexit)
No. 239: The ‘Public Money Protection’ Act (Economics)
No. 238: Democracy on Life Support (Democracy)
No. 237: The Cooperators’ Dilemma (Cooperative Development)
No. 236: Four Deities & a Humanist (Ethics)
No. 235: What Voters Want (Democracy)
No. 234: Paradigm Lost (Progressive Ethos)
No. 233: Snakes on Power Ladders (Ethics)
No. 232: Unhappy Ending: the politics of secession (Global Politics)
No. 231: Exposing the Affinity Myth (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 230: What do we mean by ‘Civic Engagement’? (Community Empowerment)
No. 229: Cooperation: A New Order of Life? (Book review: ‘Victorian Agitator – George Holyoake: co-operation as this new order of life’, by Stephen Yeo)
No. 228: Tech’gemony: the crisis of human redundancy (Economics)
No. 227: Performance Enhancement & Fair Competition (Ethics)
No. 226: The Will of the People? (Democracy)
No. 225: Impartiality or Bias in Politics (Education)
No. 224: The Importance of Being English (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 223: Isn’t Profit a Tax on Workers? (Economics)
No. 222: From Russia with Brexit & Trump (Global Politics)
No. 221: National Alliance for Brexit (Brexit)
No. 220: Gambling with the UK’s Future (Brexit)
No. 219: The Rules-Freedom Symbiosis (Democracy)
No. 218: Left, Right, or Optimal? (Electoral Politics)
No. 217: To Share or Not To Share (Economics)
No. 216: 5 Simple Security Tests (Global Politics)
No. 215: The Art of Not Playing God (Ethics)
No. 214: Nationalism of the Puppet Kind (Con Politics)
No. 213: The Business of Advancing Values (Cooperative Development)
No. 212: Attlee & Bread (Progressive Ethos)
No. 211: The Cult of Thoughtlessness (Political Education)
No. 210: The Livelihood Challenge: 10 actions to consider (Economics)
No. 209: 2017: a precarious jobs odyssey (Electoral Politics)
No. 208: Three Wise Memos (Progressive Ethos)
No. 207: How Anger Trumps Anxiety (Electoral Politics)
No. 206: The Brexit-Trump Regression (Con Politics)
No. 205: Dr. Frankenstein, I presume (Con Politics)
No. 204: The Pathology of Marginalisation (Power Inequality)
No. 203: ‘Gains’, ‘Losses’, & Real Value (Economics)
No. 202: The Vote is Not Enough (Democracy)
No. 201: Automation, Immigration, & Civic Remuneration (Economics)

No.200: Give Collaborative Leadership a Try (Cooperative development)
No.199: The Politics of Deranged Generalisation (Con politics)
No.198: Keeping the Con in ‘e-CON-omics’ (Economics)
No.197: Dis-United Kingdom: 10 issues to watch (Democracy)
No.196: The Lawbreaker’s Mask (Con politics)
No.195: Education, Society & the Cooperative Gestalt (Education)
No.194: The Thoughtful Guide to Political Types (Electoral politics)
No.193: Terminate the Machines? (Economics)
No.192: 10 Ways to Subvert Legality (Power inequality)
No.191: Only Fools & Porsches (Con politics)
No.190: Moral Relativism & the Empathy Scale (Ethics)
No.189: A Strategy for Cooperators (Cooperative development)
No.188: There’s Something About Capitalism (Economics)
No.187: The Politics of Anti-Rationality (Con politics)
No.186: Flag, Freedom, & Family ... (Electoral politics)
No.185: Goodbye Utopia, Hello Synetopia (Progressive ethos)
No.184: Political Education with a Twist (Education)
No.183: Snide & Prejudiced: a tale of constitutional shenanigans (Con politics)
No.182: The ‘All-or-Nothing Fallacy’ of Polarised Politics (Democracy)
No.181: Synetopia: progress through cooperation (Progressive ethos)
No.180: Let’s Come Clean about Nuclear Waste (Environment & Energy)
No.179: Nietzsche, all too Nietzsche (Ethics)
No.178: Journey to the Real Centre of Politics (Progressive ethos)
No.177: Convert or Con Victim? (Con politics)
No.176: Plutocracy: a lesson for citizen education (Power inequality)
No.175: O Humanities, Where Art Thou? (Education)
No.174: The Public-Private Divide (Con politics)
No.173: Lifelong Learning & Everyday Governance (Education)
No.172: Left at the Identity Checkpoint (Progressive ethos)
No.171: Democracy at the Workplace (Cooperative development)
No.170: The Meaning of ‘Pro-Business’ (Con politics)
No.169: Money Can Buy You Votes (Electoral politics)
No.168: Remember: Together We Can (Solidarity & Diversity)
No.167: What’s in a Vote (Electoral Politics)
No.166: Thatcher, Europe & Referendum (Democracy)
No.165: Invasion of the Power Snatchers (Power Inequality)
No.164: Cooperation Unbound: a new model for democratic education (Education)
No.163: Politics & the Cooperative Gestalt (Cooperative development)
No.162: We are Spartacus – We are Syriza (Economics)
No.161: Davos’ Inferno (Power inequality [Satire])
No.160: Debunking Culture War (Progressive ethos)
No.159: Politics: what is it good for? (Education)
No.158: The Voter Vanishes (Democracy)
No.157: Between the Buddha & Camus (Progressive ethos)
No.156: The Con Identity (Con politics)
No.155: The Meekest Link (Cooperative development)
No.154: Revolution for Beginners (Democracy)
No.153: Six Degrees of Cooperation (Cooperative development)
No.152 The National Safety Fund explained (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.151: Experimentally Seeking Progress (Progressive ethos)

No.150: Keeping Democracy on its Toes
[interview with Jessica Crowe, Executive Director of the Centre for Public Scrutiny] (Democracy)
No.149: Question the Powerful: the political education project (Education)
No.148: QTP Resources for Political Education (Education)
No.147: We Are What We Eat [book review of Incredible! Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution: the story of Incredible Edible Todmorden, by Pam Warhurst and Joanna Dobson] (Community empowerment)
No.146: Politically ‘Incorrect’ or Morally Repugnant (Progressive ethos)
No.145: Cooperation Denial (Cooperative development)
No.144: Scapegoats United (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.143: In Solidarity or In Solitary (Global politics)
No.142: The Crook, the Bees, their Hive & its Haters [a fable] (Power inequality [Satire])
No.141: All Quiet on the Voting Front? (Electoral politics)
No.140: Rethinking Education [interview with Diane Reay, Professor of Education, University of Cambridge] (Education)
No.139: A History of the World in 500 words (Power inequality)
No.138: The Art of Exposing Emperors (Education)
No.137: Time for a Cooperative Government (Cooperative development)
No.136: Anarchy: Daydreams & Nightmares (Democracy)
No.135: Politics for Outsiders: an educational mission (Education)
No.134: Chinese Pride or Western Prejudice [book review of Chinese Whispers: why everything you heard about China is wrong by Ben Chu] (Global politics)
No.133: ‘Question the Powerful’: quincentenary of the 1514 watershed (Progressive ethos)
No.132: The Author Formerly Hated for ‘The Prince’ (Progressive ethos)
No.131: The Art of Nurturing Communities [book review of Community Research for Community Development, ed. by M. Mayo, Z. Mediwelso-Bendek, & C. Packham] (Community empowerment)
No.130: Who Needs Capability Assessment? (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.129: The Cooperative Gestalt (Cooperative development)
No.128: The Economics of Disability (Economics)
No.127: Who’s Afraid of Political Education? (Education)
No.126: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Syria? (Global politics)
No.125: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Teacher (Education)
No.124: The Reciprocity Test: Pros & Cons (Progressive ethos)
No.123: Bouncers for Cyber Clubs? (Freedom of speech and belief)
No.122: Downturn Abbey (Power inequality [Satire])
No.121: Anti-Social Enterprise (Con politics)
No.120: Oppose the War on Welfare (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.119: Chartist No. 6: the call for annual elections (Democracy)
No.118: Whose Money Is It Anyway? (Economics)
No.117: The Greed Tyranny (Con politics)
No.116: The ATOS Inquisition (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.115: Don’t Know Much About Politics? (Democracy)
No.114: Community Development at the Crossroads (Community empowerment)
No.113: The Power Hypothesis (Power inequality)
No.112: Communitarianism Revisited [co-written with Jonathan Boswell] (Progressive ethos)
No.111: No, Minister (Democracy)
No.110: Leave No One Behind (Progressive ethos)
No.109: Like to Teach the World to Vote? (Education)
No.108: Who’s Afraid of Father Christmas (Power inequality [Satire])
No.107: Tune into UN 194: the Sound of a Beautiful Resistance (Global politics)
No.106: Dreaming of a Dark Christmas (Education)
No.105: The Biggest Co-op of All (Cooperative development)
No.104: A Bomb for an Eye (Global politics)
No.103: The Crude, the Mad & the Ugly (Con politics)
No.102: A Message to America [from FDR] (Electoral politics)
No.101: The Powerful Can’t Hide [guest post by Ann Walker] (Power inequality)

No.100: Cooperative Problem-Solving: the key to a reciprocal society (Cooperative development)
No. 99: Who are the Wealth Creators? (Economics)
No. 98: Help Us Question the Powerful (Democracy)
No. 97: Unsure about the Start Our Children Get? (Family policy)
No. 96: Political OCD: is there a cure? (Con politics)
No. 95: The Targeting of ‘Troubled Families’ (Family policy)
No. 94: Your Power, Your Government (Democracy)
No. 93: Can the NHS Stay in the Race? (Welfare & Healthcare)
No. 92: Pyramid Hockey (Power inequality)
No. 91: Democracy’s Debt to Young People (Democracy)
No. 90: What kind of people are we? (Progressive ethos)
No. 89: Kuan’s Wonderland: a political fable (Education)
No. 88: Friends, Romans, Lend Me Your Euros (Economics)
No. 87: The Case for Cooperative Problem-Solving (Cooperative development)
No. 86: Where Next for Criminal Justice? [book review of Where Next for Criminal Justice, by David Faulkner and Ros Burnett] (Criminal justice)
No. 85: The Free Speech Conundrum (Freedom of speech and belief)
No. 84: I’m Super-Rich, Get Me into the White House (Electoral politics [Satire])
No. 83: Much Ado About Cooperating (Cooperative development)
No. 82: The Department for Wealth (Con politics [Satire])
No. 81: Welcome to the Premier League of Education (Education)
No. 80: Re-enter the Dragon (Global politics)
No. 79: Educating Fodder (Education)
No. 78: Santa & the City (Xmas Special) (Power inequality [Satire])
No. 77: Can Democracy Be Saved? (Democracy)
No. 76: What Next for the WEA? (Education)
No. 75: Corporate Flu (Con politics [Satire])
No. 74: Debt or No Debt (Economics)
No. 73: The Politics of Cultural Inclinations (Progressive ethos)
No. 72: Poor Circulation and Economic Disorder (Economics)
No. 71: The Lopsided Playing Field Power inequality)
No. 70: The Eton Redemption (Con politics [Satire])
No. 69: The Know-Nothing Executives (Democracy)
No. 68: The Nasty Media (Media)
No. 67: The Big Con (Con politics)
No. 66: A Tale of Two Strategies (Electoral politics)
No. 65: Left Disorientated? (Progressive ethos)
No. 64: The Joker to the Right (Con politics)
No. 63: Royal Family Values: a historical fact sheet (Power inequality)
No. 62: Memento Tory (Con politics)
No. 61: 68 places to change the Government’s mind (Electoral politics)
No. 60: From Wisconsin, With Love (Con politics [Satire])
No. 59: The Murdoch Empire Strikes Back (Media)
No. 58: SOS: Save Our NHS (Welfare & Healthcare)
No. 57: Beyond the Matrix (Con politics)
No. 56: Our Bacon Needs Saving (Progressive ethos)
No. 55: Deep Freeze Alert (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 54: An Interview with ‘Father Christmas’ (Power inequality [Satire])
No. 53: On Strikers & Own Goals (Unions)
No. 52: Paint it Red (Con politics [Satire])
No. 51: Anger Mismanagement (Con politics)

No. 50: Another Coup on Animal Farm (Con politics [Satire])
No. 49: Against Power Inequalities (Power inequality)
No. 48: A Mad Tea Party’s Brewing (Con politics)
No. 47: The Ultimate Horror Show (Con politics)
No. 46: In Praise of Mo Tze (墨子) (Progressive ethos)
No. 45: Ever Tried Homeopathic Democracy? (Democracy)
No. 44: Begging the Charity Question (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 43: The Denial Industry (Con politics)
No. 42: Mill, Dewey & Me (Progressive ethos)
No. 41: A Simple Equation (Power inequality)
No. 40: Interdependence Day (Global politics)
No. 39: The Fox & the BBC (Media)
No. 38: An Alliance to Promote Democracy (Democracy)
No. 37: Some Like it Thick (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 36: Pride & Tiananmen (Global politics)
No. 35: Know Thy Goal (Progressive ethos)
No. 34: King John’s Lesson for the G20 (Global politics)
No. 33: Powerlessness can damage your health (Power inequality)
No. 32: Year of the Invisible Ox (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 31: Unite or Perish (Global politics)
No. 30: The Pension Pirates (Con politics)
No. 29: The Anatomy of Change (Con politics)
No. 28: Axis of Stupidity (Con politics)
No. 27: The Freedom to Crash (Economics)
No. 26: Talk about Slavery (Power inequality)
No. 25: Thou Shall Make Money (Con politics)
No. 24: The Gene Code Lottery (Power inequality)
No. 23: The S Word (Democracy)
No. 22: The Good, the Bad and the Foreign (Progressive ethos)
No. 21: Between Nader and the Plastic Sea (Electoral politics)
No. 20: The Minorities Myth (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 19: Wheat from the Chav (Con politics)
No. 18: Where’s our American vote? (Global politics)
No. 17: Let them eat bullets (Welfare & Healthcare)
No. 16: The Alpha Male Syndrome (Power inequality)
No. 15: Variations on a theme of ransom (Unions)
No. 14: The Crisis of Civic Disengagement (Democracy)
No. 13: What’s wrong with being all-powerful? (Power inequality)
No. 12: Together We Can (Community empowerment)
No. 11: Long live the Con (Con politics)
No. 10: Give restorative justice a chance (Criminal justice)
No. 9: Weapons of mass confusion (Global politics)
No. 8: Of frogs and men (Environment & Energy)
No. 7: What exactly is pro-family? (Family policy)
No. 6: Why single out the freedom of discussion (Freedom of speech and belief)
No. 5: Belief is not enough (Freedom of speech and belief)
No. 4: Who’s against the Enlightenment? (Progressive Ethos)
No. 3: Aren’t they all Human Values? (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 2: Why tolerate the Power Gap? (Power inequality)
No. 1: Is Redemption Possible? (Ethics)