This is a new edition of the book originally published by Zed Books in 1999. The book includes an Introduction written by David Austin and an Afterword from the author, Brian Murphy.
In every single country around the world, there are millions of women and men, young and old, who continue—in the face of setbacks, political alienation and the shadow of despair—to dedicate their lives to a profound and hopeful activism. These activists continue to come together to promote healthy communities where they live and work, struggling to create democratic economies and accountable government, fighting for economic and social justice for all citizens, and demonstrating for peace and human rights in their own countries and internationally. They struggle together to improve their lives and the lives of their neighbours. They struggle to keep alive a dream of a world based on the human values they have defined for themselves—a world which, at the very least, promises to strive continually towards one standard of dignity and opportunity for all, regardless of who they are or where they live.
This activism is driven by necessity, and by the personal integrity, dignity and courage of millions of individual citizens working together to make their world a better place. But at the same time this activism is increasingly inhibited, and too often extinguished, by the inevitable conclusion that change, fundamental change, will never be achieved in the face of the globalized power and greed and authoritarianism of the elites who have come to control the planet and its resources.
This book examines, and attempts to transcend, this conclusion. It focuses on human capacities and the possibility of bringing about substantive change in ourselves and the world we share. Most political theorists do not deal with the psychosocial, whereas this is where this book begins. The book deals with the significance of action, and the fundamental question of whether and how progressive change is possible. And in particular, it situates the role of transformative knowledge as a critical factor in the change process.
The book provides an analysis of the essential qualities and capacities that embody the potential of each of us to transcend the conditions of our lives and change the world—to be the ‘missing link’ between a deterministic past and an intentional and conscious future. The qualities of consciousness and ‘vision’—our capacity to see what is, and imagine what is not, but could be—are highlighted as central to activism and change. The book also explores the potential for legions of socially-conscious and engaged people empowered within an ‘open conspiracy’ for social change—an open, concerted, visible and broad-based proposition to transform elements of the prevailing social order to bring about an increasingly just and equitable world.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Second Edition: David Austin
Preface and Acknowledgements
1 The Courage to Be
2 The Dilemma of Action and the Psychology of Inertia
3 Confronting the Dilemmas: Beyond Inertia
Possibilities in Process
4 The Missing Link
5 The Individual, the Visionary
6 Challenging the Established Rationality
7 Imperatives for Modern Education
The Open Conspiracy
8 The Open Conspiracy: Allies for Health and Action
9 Theatres and Strategies: Embracing the Future
10 Education and the Open Conspiracy
Eclectic Notes on Knowledge and Action
Afterword to the Second Edition – Brian Murphy