Feminist Next System Literature Review

Hilary Wainwright

Hilary Wainwright is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on "the emergence of new forms of democratic accountability at the grassroots, within parties, movements, and the state." She is the editor of Red Pepper, a popular British new left magazine. In her 2003 book Reclaim the State: Experiments in Popular Democracy (description below) she documents the "already existing" examples of anticapitalist practices. From the abstract:

"The anticapitalist protests at Seattle and Genoa are dramatic symbols of a growing collective anger about the globalizing power of a few multinational corporations. But there is more to anticapitalism than demonstrations: concepts like participatory democracy and economic solidarity form the heart of alternative but equally compelling visions. Hilary Wainwright, writer and long-time political activist, set out on a quest to find out how people are putting such concepts into practice locally and taking control over public power. Her journey starts at home, in east Manchester, where local community groups are testing Tony Blair's commitment to 'community-led' regeneration by getting involved in the way government money is spent. In Newcastle, she joins a meeting of homecare workers and their clients to challenge the threat of privatization of homecare services in that city. In Los Angeles she talks to the people behind the community-union coalitions that have had major successes in improving the impoverished bus system and in winning a living wage for employees of firms contracted by the city. And in Porto Alegre she discovers the wider democratic potential of the participatory budget, the basis of investment decisions in many Brazilian cities. Local democracy and 'people power', it turns out, provided the foundations for a global alternative, as her visit to the World Social Forum reveals. Wainwright concludes with a set of proposals for turning resistance into lasting institutions of participatory democracy – an embedded bargaining power against corporate and military elites. This, she argues, will require very different kinds of political parties from ones currently alienating voters. Reclaim the State shows that the foundations for new political directions already exist, and provides imaginative and practical tools for building on them."

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