oh, Margaret Ledwith… keeping it real

‘The absence of a coherent political project, it is claimed, inhibits the development of a more radical paradigm in community work’, so said Cooke and Shaw in 1996 (1996, p.9). Since then, we have been through a long politics of partnership that has located everyone on the same side, a delusional tactic that has resulted in negating dialectical thought, colonising critical spaces and temporarily halting radical practice in a haze of managerialism, professionalism and the elevation of doing over thinking. Our focus has been blurred on the real issues at stake and left us as uncritical deliverers of policy, not really understanding why we are doing what we do anyway. We have lost our way (Pitchford and Henderson, 2008). At the same time, on a global level, escalating forces of neoliberal globalisation are steering us along a dangerous trajectory, with a free market principle based on a profit imperative systematically fragmenting people and planet. We are left with a world in crisis, a world of increasing social divisions and alarming environmental degradation. This is the radical challenge of our times, and my invitation is for you to join me in exploring just how straightforward it is to reclaim our radical agenda and to locate it in a more global political project for participatory democracy.

Ledwith, 2012, p. 13