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Learning to listen

12 May 2005
In his history of the abolition of the slave trade, Adam Hochschild compares the position of anti-slavery campaigners in the eighteenth century to those who say today that cars with internal combustion engines should be phased out or abolished. Clearly ridiculous.

Well, maybe. But whatever else you think, "planetwalker" John Francis, who has spent 17 years without an automobile, may have lessons to offer (article by Mark Hertsgaard in Grist).

When he gave up cars, this environmental pilgrim also took a vow of silence as a gift to his community "because, man, I just argued all the time."

As a result, Francis found he was able to truly listen to other people and the larger world around him, transforming his approach to both personal communication and environmental activism.

A lesson here for Tony Blair, The Listening Prime Minister?

John Francis started speaking again after 17 years silence on Earth Day 1990. The very next day, he was struck by a car. He refused to ride in the ambulance, insisting on walking to the hospital instead.

CH

Can there be a green populist project on the Left?

Many on the Left want to return to a politics based on class, not populism. They point to Left populist parties not reaching their goals. But Chantal Mouffe argues that as the COVID-19 pandemic has put the need for protection from harm at the top of the agenda, a Left populist strategy is now more relevant than ever.

Is this an opportunity for a realignment around a green democratic transformation?

Join us for a free live discussion on Thursday 22 October, 5pm UK time/12pm EDT.

Hear from:

Paolo Gerbaudo Sociologist and political theorist, director of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London and author of ‘The Mask and the Flag: Populism and Global Protest’ and ‘The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy’, and of the forthcoming ‘The Great Recoil: Politics After Populism and Pandemic’.

Chantal Mouffe Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at the University of Westminster in London. Her most recent books are ‘Agonistics. Thinking the World Politically’, ‘Podemos. In the Name of the People’ and ‘For a Left Populism’.

Spyros A. Sofos Researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Lund University and author of ‘Nation and Identity in Contemporary Europe’, ‘Tormented by History’ and ‘Islam in Europe: Public Spaces and Civic Networks'.

Chair: Walid el Houri Researcher, journalist and filmmaker based between Berlin and Beirut. He is partnerships editor at openDemocracy and lead editor of its North Africa, West Asia project.

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