PPS-UK: A New Society in the Making
By Mark Evans at Jul 01, 2010
Part One: What are we about?
As our name suggests PPS-UK is an organisation dedicated to the creation of a new participatory society here in the UK - in conjunction with other similar projects around the world.
By “participatory” we mean a society in which the people can interact with each other as equals. This means creating a society free from racism, sexism, classism and authoritarianism.
Today’s social systems are riddled with institutions that help maintain these different forms of elitism. Racism and sexism are still rife within British communities and families. Class exploitation is the norm within the workplace and broader economy and the true nature of British democracy as a system of manipulation and control is becoming apparent to more and more people every day. This leads us to reject the patriarchal family, mono-cultural communities, capitalist economics and representative democracy. But we also reject the traditional Left alternatives of centrally planned economics and democratic-centralism on the grounds that these are also elitist and authoritarian forms of social organization.
Understanding how these elitist systems work as barriers, stopping us all interacting as equals, is an important part of what we do. However this, by itself, is not enough! We also need to develop vision for alternative participatory social systems plus strategy that can move us from the elitist system we endure today to our future participatory society we desire.
Knowledge, vision and strategy is what we are about! We challenge elitist beliefs and expose elitist myths about why society has to be organise the way it is. We develop and advocate alternative participatory models - like parecon and parpolity - whilst also implementing participatory practises in our organising. Our knowledge justifies the need for vision, and our vision informs our strategy.
Unlike any other organisation PPS-UK gets to the roots of society’s problems and proposes radical solutions to them. By doing so we have the potential to address the major problems we face today - such as war, poverty and global warming - which in the end can all be traced back to elitist institutions and practices. Unless we take a radical approach and work to create a new participatory society such problems as these will no doubt persist for the simple reason that they are part of the current system.
Part Two: How do we organise?
Although it is probably true to say that our motivation to conceptualise an alternative society derives from our understanding of the elitist nature of the current system it is the development and implementation of participatory vision that is at the heart of what we do. From this we can see that our vision informs our strategy and is reflected in how we run our organisation. In short there is no real separation between our knowledge, vision and strategy.
Members of PPS-UK can get involved in organising in two main ways:
The first is to join a local chapter which are geographically based (if one does not exist in a particular area members can create a new chapter). Members can easily do this via the website.
In accordance with our vision local chapters are self-managed. This means that all members have the same democratic right to influence decisions in proportion to how much they are affected by the outcome of that decision. For example, if a decision only affects members of local chapter X then only members of chapter X have a say in that decision. However, if a decision affects chapters X,Y and Z then members from all three chapters have a say. From this we can see that self-management helps ensure that members interact as equals.
Another feature that we try to implement in the running of our local chapters that reflects our participatory vision is the balancing out of empowering and desirable tasks amongst members. This does not mean that all tasks are rotated so that all members do all tasks. Rather, it means that members assess tasks for empowerment and desirability and try to make sure that each members “bundle” of tasks is roughly equal. Once again, the balancing of empowering and desirable tasks helps ensure that members interact as equals.
Members of local chapters may engage in a number of activities including for example; solidarity work with other progressive organisations, bookstalls, organising local talks, film showings, etc.
The second way for members to get involved is to join a project. Projects, like local chapters, are self-managed and empowering and desirable tasks are shared out equally amongst participants. Unlike local chapters, however, projects are not geographically based. Depending on the nature of the project, in theory at least, people from different parts of the country, or even the World, can run projects together.
Projects may take many different shapes and forms. Some might be very short term, others running for years. Some may involve many people, other projects could just involve half a dozen, or maybe two, or even one member. This could include for example; writing, video or music projects.
In sharp contrast to organisations that have a central committee and / or top-down hierarchy - which can only maintain elitism - PPS-UK incorporates institutional features that help ensure that members can interact and organise as equals.
Part Three: Why should you join us?
It is important to understand that both local chapters and projects are intended as “seeds” of our future participatory society. Chapters and projects are the institutions of our alternative society in embryonic form. What we mean by this is that as chapters and projects grow in both number and popularity we are actually seeing and participating in the creation of our new society.
This means that when you join PPS-UK you will be helping to build a new society today!