We had a good meeting of twelve folk from this applied research community last weekend.
After looking at the preparatory thoughts that four of us had supplied beforehand around the theme of kenarchy and action for justice we came up with six questions that we reckoned needed addressing.
• Can anything be kenarchy until it’s given away?
• What is politics?
• What is leadership?
• What is power?
• What are we seeing that excites us positively?
• What is the new political space?
• What are we are we dreaming for the future?
We decided to begin with “what is leadership?”
We had considerable discussion about the downside of the phrase “empowering others” because of the way it put the leader in the position of the strong one. We buzzed a whole family of words that seemed to us to configure leadership in a way that was consistent with kenarchy. Some of these were “enabling”, “releasing”, “freeing”, “making space”, “creating space”, “helping people understand who they are”, “liberating”, “activating people’s abilities and gifts”. We decided that we quite liked the new word “forgoer” from “forgo.” We soon decided that the word leadership itself carried so much baggage that we decided to reject it altogether. So we looked for a new noun for leader that conveyed the idea of leadership understood through the family of words above, all of which saw leadership as something distributed, given, and not held onto. We thought about “influencer”, “sage”, “impactor”, “fool”, “moderator”, “guardian”, “encourager”, “helper”, “advocate”, and noticed that these last three were names for the Holy Spirit which seemed positive.
We developed new words for leadership and leader from the verb to enthuse: “enthusia” to replace leadership and “enthuser” for leader. We also liked the new word “kenship” for leadership, like kenarchy, connoting the emptying out of power and gifts for the other, although there was less than general enthusiasm for the word “ken” for a leader, although I confess I rather like it! We concluded that the qualities of reconfigured leadership were “to keep space open and discern the time”; “be responsible for recognising the intersection of space and time to birth the preferred future” and that “to be kenarchic it would be offered as a gift to be received”.
We then moved on to “what is politics?”
Some of us naïvely hoped that this would be easier to quantify! So the simple suggestion of “how we organise ourselves as a society” had to be qualified with the recognition of the baggage of power play resulting from how politics thus defined has been formed as an artificial construct through history as well as an organic development. Having agreed these qualifications to our definition we agreed to take them as read and to return to them under the power question when we come to it. We then extended the question of what is politics to “what we do we mean by politics in the context of kenarchy.” We came up with “how we organise ourselves as a society for the wellbeing of all the people.” Some preferred “recognising the intrinsic value of all”, and for simple brevity “how we live our lives together for the benefit of all.” We then accepted as given the seven priorities of kenarchy as providing the “how” for this, namely instating women, prioritising children, advocating for the poor, welcoming strangers, reintegrating humanity and creation, freeing prisoners and caring for the sick, and asked one another what other things are crucial for this. We decided that this particularly included definancialisation (Molly Scott Cato’s term), the question of how to accommodate difference, and finally the need to expose what interest brings us to embrace kenarchic politics and making sure that we are willing to lay that interest down rather than insist on it. Not surprisingly this last point led to considerable debate.
We had some initial discussion on “what is the new political space?” This led us to some initial thoughts on what mapping it might involve, before we ran out of time.
In conclusion we agreed to ask for brief papers on financialisation and accommodating difference for presentation and further discussion at the next weekend, which is likely to be this coming March 28th-29th. In the meantime we hope to get the online kenarchy journal up and running as soon as possible on http://www.kenarchy.org where we can progress all this further. Watch that space for details…..