Over 200 people attended this year’s Ideas for Freedom event, hosted by Workers’ Liberty in central London.
This year, the theme of the event was “Imagining the Future”. Discussions and workshops looked at different visions of the future — socialist visions of an egalitarian, democratic future, and what versions of any future capitalism might have in store.
The weekend kicked off with a walking tour around east London, looking at the places where Sylvia Pankhurst and her comrades in the East London Federation of Suffragettes lived and fought. The tour was led by Jade Baker and Jill Mountford.
On Friday 3 July, Rosie Woods debated David Walker, the Anglican Bishop of Manchester, on “class struggle or love thy neighbour”: which is the recipe for a better society? There was a lively discussion from the floor on questions of socialism, secularism, and religion.
Debates — between leftwingers, and between socialists and rightwing ideologues — are a recurrent theme of Ideas for Freedom. We think that the important questions facing our movement are best answered through open debate; and we think that publicly debating the strongest arguments for capitalism is an important way of making the case for socialism.
This year we debated Labour leftwinger Michael Calderbank on whether Britain should leave the EU; Scottish socialist blogger Cailean Gallagher on whether the left should support Scottish independence; and pro-market academic John Meadowcroft on whether socialism had a future at all.
Many other sessions and workshops over the course of the weekend ranged from discussions on the future of energy, the Awami Workers’ Party of Pakistan, the future of transport and education under workers’ control, and old and new directions in socialist feminism, to name but a few.
We also looked at older visions of the future: Daniel Randall introduced Peter Kropotkin’s anarchist classic The Conquest of Bread; and historian Cath Fletcher discussed Thomas More’s Utopia and class struggles in Tudor Britain.
We hope that everyone who attended enjoyed themselves and hope to work with them in the struggles to come.