There is a widespread view that local democracy in Britain is in deep trouble and that people face a crisis of civic engagement and political participation. This book counterweighs the many negative accounts that seek to dominate the political discourse with talks on political apathy and selfish individualism. It commences with an examination of theoretical debates as to the meaning of local democracy and related concepts. The book looks at the policy agenda around local democracy in the context of the developing nature of central/local relations since 1979. It considers the available evidence on level of political participation and civic engagement by looking at eight themes. These include the state of formal politics, forms of civic engagement, community identity and the emerging world of the internet/world wide web. The book also looks at nine key aspects of the reform of local democracy over the last fifteen years, including local democracy and the New Labour reform agenda; the constitutional position of local government; and double devolution. It focuses on the so-called 'crisis of formal democracy' at the local level. The book ascertains the recent developments beyond the realm of elections, political parties and formal political institutions. It then concentrates on local services and policy attempts to widen public participation in the shaping and delivery of such services. Finally, the book discusses the concept of sustainability and regeneration strategies to build sustainable communities, both physical and social.
This is a book about local democracy, about community and civic engagement in Britain. It was conceived as a counterweight to the many negative
accounts that seek to dominate our political discourse with their talk of
political apathy and selfishindividualism.
Barack Obama made the point effectively in the American context long
before his successful bid for the Presidency. In an interview given to the
Chicago Reader newspaper on 8 December 1995 he set out his now wellrehearsed argument about the need for change in the way the USA does its
, argued that the DUP is not right of centre when it
comes to ‘issues of how the market should operate’ or ‘in terms of how society should
work’ (Eaton 2015). Those words echoed the sentiments outlined in the Conservative
manifesto (2017: 11): ‘We do not believe in untrammelled free markets. We reject
the cult of selfishindividualism. We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and
Though there was evidence that a small majority of DUP members ‘feel closer to
the Conservative Party’ than they do to any other party (Tonge et al. 2014: 178–9)
– and there
, collective interests. Selfishindividualism and survival of the fittest are not a good basis for holding any group together, including the elite.
Lunatics running the free market asylum
If the current manifestation of the Establishment is no longer tied together by either shared class or collective interests, how does it maintain coherence? For Owen Jones, Anthony Sampson and other recent Establishment accounts, the answer is to be located in the ideas of neoliberalism: that is, everything to do with promoting the
people as an imagined community is their strong sense of the very real, present, other Jewish people around them in their everyday lives: families, friends, neighbours, colleagues, for whom they feel connection and responsibility. 21 This is not selfishindividualism. 22 It is a neo-republican conception of being a good citizen. Millennial hilonim across the political spectrum see themselves as the most reasonable among reasonable citizens, fulcrum citizens balancing their Jewish-Israeli political competitors: for rising number of centrists, balancing the
between the sexes were also based on freedom and equality rather than ownership and dependency, and that conventional family life was a source of selfishindividualism that was incompatible with socialist co-operation and would therefore have to be transformed. Conversely, they also argued that this transformation of personal and family life would be possible only in a more equal society, in which relationships could be freely chosen, rather than based on dependency and possession.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, related ideas were being developed by some
Persuasion and the value of a concept to mainstreaming co-operation
producer co-operatives, is that they challenge this instrumentalisation
through their radically different practices. In the John Lewis case, this
promise has been betrayed.
Mapping agencies and agents thus achieves the following: assessment
of the relative strengths of the forces involved, illumination of the moral
contours of the controversy (selfishindividualism versus mutuality),
highlighting of its gender dynamics, analysis of why the justifications
of the doubters of co-operation seem inevitable, and how this seeming
inevitability might be countered. This
History of Co-operation (1908 edition,
‘revised and completed’) when I remembered that this book, like many
of his others, is as much a collection of essays in social ethics or morality as it is a conventional history. As such, it is at least as useful for the
future as for the past, reminding us, as Philip Grant does in his chapter 3
of this volume, of the ‘moral contours’ of the movement: ‘selfishindividualism versus mutuality’.
Holyoake: a resource for a journey of hope?
Beyond his part in the Owenite socialist and then the co-operative
movement, Holyoake is
towards capitalism and tradition, and generally towards those forces
which suppress the individual human impulse.
Communitarian politics is often presented as an
antidote to the selfishindividualism perceived to have been
engendered under Thatcherism. For Macmurray, however, individualism
– which he perceived in his own time – was not the cause