The chance for a new culture

So, a hung parliament it is. It is an extraordinary time for politics, but it is also an opportunity for our national culture and identity.

We are a warring nation still, with concepts of competition, opposition and dispute built into our laws, politics, markets and increasingly our schools. Conflict, stress and competitive consumption all come at a cost and are poor ingredients for the challenges we face as a nation.

There have long been counter-trends, such as co-operative enterprise and the peace movement. Any co-operative entrepreneur could teach our politicians a thing or two about combining practical action with sufficient consensus. But these remain minority patches in the tapestry of our national identity.

A cause for optimism is the rise in recent years of other strands of cultural co-operation – mediation in relationships, alternative dispute resolution in law, co-operative schools, new models of participation, the political experimentation of coalition building in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland assemblies.

My friend Perry Walker contacted me pre-Election to introduce an innovation he is developing, with a technique for deliberation and decision-making based on consensus.

I also recently visited the ever impressive Involve, which has helped to bring the public into policy decisions, from science to responses to climate change. Yes, we have to scale these up, learn what works and make them less expensive to embed in organisational life – including less dependent therefore on the input and expense of consultants – and explore how to redefine the media industry around new business models of engagement and mutuality.

These are exemplars. There is a new culture of co-operation coming. My fingers are crossed for a new politics of dialogue too, because the central issues of our day, such as global justice, climate change and inequality can only be solved through co-operation.

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3 thoughts on “The chance for a new culture

  1. We need to develop the core value of self responsibility as well. We live in a blame culture with a preponderance of “What can THEY do for me?” without any sense of give and take or shared responsibility. More education on co-operative values needed with examples of them in action.

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