Autonomy at TWT in Brighton 2017

Kyle and Will headed down to The World Transformed festival in Brighton on 23 September, hoping that it would be as good as last year’s event in Liverpool. Over the four days we witnessed a thriving political culture – where MPs, intellectuals and activists shared platforms on a whole range of topics: education reform, neoliberalism, addiction, the NHS and more.

It was particularly pleasing to see so many panels on work-related issues,  including:


  • Radical Demands From the Grassroots: ‘A Woman’s Place Is…’
  • Whose Job Is It Anyway? Radical Childcare
  • Workers and Technology
  • Trade Unions and the Technological Revolution


The festival is run by a small group of activists with the help of volunteers, and we thoroughly appreciate all the hard work that went into the event.

On the first day, we managed to catch the ‘Lifelong Education’ panel (hosted by Holly Rigby) on the morning of the first day, which was a fascinating participatory session attended by teachers from the all over the globe.

Another highlight on that day was the ‘Why the Pundits Don’t Understand Politics Anymore’ panel ¬†hosted by the Independent’s Kirsty Major and included Novara’s Ash Sarkar as well as Matt Zarb-Cousin, Rachel Shabi and Stephen Bush.



Vivek Chibber and Catarina Principe discuss different strategies for socialism
Vivek Chibber and Catarina Principe discuss different strategies for socialism

Kyle and I particularly enjoyed Catarina Principe’s and Vivek Chibber’s presentations on the history of socialist movements and contemporary political strategy. The session, titled: ‘The Long Road: From Left Government to Socialist Society’ was chaired by Jacobin’s Bhaskar Sunkara and was a fine example of rigorous theoretical discussion.

Joe Guinan discussing government investment on the brilliant 'Building an Industrial Strategy for the 21st Century' panel

On the Monday we caught the excellent ‘Building an Industrial Strategy for the 21st Century’ panel, hosted by Alice Martin and populated by The Democracy Collective’s Joe Guinan, OU’s Susan Himmelweit, CWU’s Kate Hudson and economics researcher Christine Berry. Each speaker demonstrated the wealth of forward-thinking ideas that are desperately needed in order to face the challenges that are upon us today and will be upon us in the near future. A very rich discussion!

Following on directly from the ‘Industrial Strategy’ session, Autonomy had its own session to chair on the ‘Future of Work’, at the brilliant Fabrica venue. Our panelists Helen Hester, David Frayne and Nina Power (Nick Srnicek sadly couldn’t make it) all took the opportunity to question some of our common assumptions about work and also to ask probing questions about Labour’s 201 7 Election Manifesto. The manifesto declares that work should be fulfilling, and yet doesn’t detail what this would entail; is it possible to deliver fulfilling work for all? Nina also questioned the proper relationship between technology and care. We then immediately went into break-out group discussions, with the Labour Manifesto distributed amongst the audience.


Group discussions during our 'Future of Work' panel

After the group discussion, each speaker delivered a 10 minute talk on a chosen topic – David spoke of the need to expand our political imagination, Nina discussed a whole variety of issues including the problematic definition of work (as usually excluding reproductive labour) and Helen interrogated what a new politics of time would entail.

Arguably the most interesting part of the session was – of course – when the discussion was opened to the audience. Our panelists fielded questions on ‘high-tech’ industries, on what meaningful work might be, on the ideal of full employment and on housework as a labour of love, amongst other things. All in all – a very enjoyable two hours!

The session was recorded and we will be uploading it very soon.

Left to right: Nina Power, David Frayne, Will Stronge, Helen Hester
Nina Power on the panel

The festival was closed out on the Tuesday night with a party / panel quiz hosted by Novara Media involving The Guardian’s Dawn Foster and Abi Wilkinson, Clive Lewis MP and others. The night also included a surprise visit by none other than Jeremy Corbyn himself!

Jeremy Corbyn speaks at the closing party of TWT (photo: Maisie Ridgway)

Thank you TWT – see you next year!