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What to expect from The World Transformed

Photo by Funk Dooby (CC 2.0)

This year will be the third edition of The World Transformed – a festival that grew out of the pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum. In previous years, mainstream media has portrayed the event as factional, hell-bent on exploring politically unrealistic ideas, and unnecessarily competing with the more bureaucratic Labour Party conference held in tandem.

Far from the contrary, TWT seeks to explore the ideological questions both within and crucially those absent from the Labour Party manifesto. This year will draw in organizers, thinkers and academics from numerous continents to pose an important question: how should the left, as a global force, respond to and reconstruct life after neoliberalism?

It’ll be four days of thinking as expansively as possible about the big ideas: borders, alternative economics, feminism, the decline (and rise) of unionism, and what internationalism means on the left.

As media partners of TWT, the New Internationalist will be covering the highlights, updating our readership with video reports and interviews for those who can’t make it in person. Last year, our co-editor Yohann Koshy reported that TWT was a throwback to the counter-cultural festivals of the 70s – filled with partying and critical thinking, all while aspiring to change the world. This year, we expect nothing less.

In particular, we’re pleased to see this year’s programme reorient itself around the international dimensions of collective agitation against oppressions. Kate Shea Baird, a member of Barcelona En Comú, the municipal executive that’s been governing the city since 2015, said: ‘We're facing many of the same challenges as you are in towns and cities across the UK: rising housing costs, precarious working conditions, the feminization of poverty and, perhaps most importantly, a crisis of faith in the party system and the institutions of representative democracy.’

‘As municipalists we believe that it's not enough to send better representatives to parliament, or even to win institutional power. Rather, we have to open up new spaces of direct democracy that allow people to exercise power in politics, the economy and cultural life. Only by radically democratizing our daily lives will we be able to build alternatives to the politics of commodification, isolation and fear.’

The 10 year anniversary since the financial crash is as good a time as any to rebuild said alternatives. For panelist Raquel Rolnik, a Brazilian architect and urban planner, TWT signals the end of ad-hoc technocratic policy-making solutions to fundamentally ideological problems.

She said: ‘Neoliberalism led to a change in the paradigm of housing policy in almost every nation state in the planet. It was adopted not only by traditional conservative parties but also by old labour and socialist coalitions. The World Transformed provides an exciting political space within which the left can build alternative models. This is important not only for UK but also for the transnational movement around the right to housing and the right to the city.’

At the very least, some panellists have come to offer a warning against privatization. Bonnie Castillo, the executive director of National Nurses United, the largest American nurses union said: ‘There is no place for profit in health care. In that battle we have a common enemy and struggle: ours to gain healthcare justice and yours to defend it.

'We stand with you in this fight. As nurses, we see first hand the devastating effects that a private, profit-driven system has on the health of our patients and ultimately our communities. We come to share a warning about the dangers of a profit driven privatized ‘healthcare’ system, but also with stories from the front lines of the people-powered fight for healthcare justice in the USA.’

Practical warnings and consciousness-raising alike, ultimately, it’ll be a weekend of transformative thinking around how to tip the balance of power from Westminster to places like Liverpool – where the event will be held.

Expect big names: Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who just released an ambitious workers policy, is set to speak a number of times, as well as Naomi Klein and Bhaskar Sunkara.

You can find the programme online and updates on Twitter under the hashtag #TWT2018



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