John Locke Essay Prize

John Locke Essay Prize-47
In the essay, Oregon State University graduate student Alexander Riccio looks at both strategy and prefigurative perspectives to seek the cure of the problems underlying society today – specifically oppression, domination, and alienation.He then calls for an open exercise of radical imagination as the means to reveal and create “open utopias” rather than the highly prescriptive utopias of Marxism and other Left projects which can undermine human agency.

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So you are probably asking why on earth you should consider writing law essays when it is not compulsory.

The answer is that entering a law essay competition can be lucrative and what student doesn’t need a bit of extra cash?

Using Detroit, Michigan as a case study, the authors outline a set of democratic cooperative institutions to be adopted in the area, including community land trusts, collective housing, social services, urban agriculture networks, community-owned energy, and neighborhood councils.

As the authors state, “a better future is ours for the taking.” This essay stood out, Naomi Klein said, because it “sketches out a flexible roadmap for scaling up participatory democracy, in a creative synthesis of a number of different strands of radical thought.” “Everyday Movement Against Capitalism: Prospects for a Prefigurative Strategy toward Open Utopia” is a “highly creative and provocative essay that looks at Marx’s ideas about alienation and connects the idea of an open utopia to a current day movement-building approach,” according to judge Dayna Cunningham.

Eighteen-year-old freshman Syed Akbari entered the prestigious John Locke Institute Essay Competition because he Googled it.

“I think it was the second result that came up when I searched for ‘philosophy essay competition,’” he said, smiling.As a starting point, Riccio proposes the cultivation of “spaces of revolutionary (re)production where permanent land and residences are available for social reproduction in all radical cultural and democratic activities.” Examples provided include the creation of community land trusts tied to cooperative businesses, and referendums oriented toward establishing present-day commons.The John Locke Institute held the essay competition awards ceremony in the splendid surroundings of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, on the evening of 14 September.The topics addressed in the essays were wide-ranging – from alternative forms of governance, representation, ownership, production, money creation and distribution, markets, banking structure, tax regulation and universal income, to new proposals for citizenship, democracy, participation, education, sovereignty, community-building structures, ethics, culture, race and gender equality, spirituality, health, ecology, and technology.With the help of the eminent activists and scholars that served as our top judges – Naomi Klein, Raj Patel, and Dayna Cunningham – we were able to narrow this field down to six winners, but it was far from easy!Looking back to two critical years (1648, which was predominantly concerned with state sovereignty, and 1848, when liberal democracy was on the rise), Sharma builds the case for reaching a renewed version of democracy by 2048—one built on participation and deliberative structures.Through the democratization of key spheres of social life (family, education, and workplace) and the creation of truly deliberative structures such as general assemblies, people will be brought “into the process of crafting a collective existence through individual expression,” Sharma writes.Essays were judged by academics from the University of Oxford on the level of knowledge and understanding of the relevant material, the quality of argumentation, the structure, writing style and persuasive force.Charles was also one of a small number of exceptional candidates who were invited to an interview on their essay with the Director of the Institute, Martin Cox, and to present a talk at the Institute’s prize-giving dinner.Horvath, Dayton Martindale, and Matthew Porges outline a bottom-up strategy to achieve a libertarian eco-socialist society, starting in a single city and expanding to a global scale.Grounded in principles of direct participation, social ownership, equality, commoning, and community restoration, the authors propose developing communal institutions of democratic, collaborative governance and self-sufficiency, including the creation of common funds and cooperatives, to build dual power and transform the political landscape.


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