Dan Hind's The Return of the Public (out in paperback this month) has been cited by the shadow media minister, Helen Goodman, in proposals to democratise the BBC's output:
We are always being told that it is "our BBC" - usually by the BBC itself. But lately some high-profile voices appear to be taking that idea seriously.
Helen Goodman, Labour's shadow media minister, has recently weighed in with a suggested collaboration with the BBC on a system of citizen commissioning allowing the public to schedule a set number of hours of radio and TV programmes...
She said her inspiration was a book by the journalist and author Dan Hind called The Return of the Public. Hind's 2010 polemic sets out a series of proposals intended to democratise public debate through a system of citizen-led editorial commissioning.
The subtitle of the piece asks "unworkable extremism or an idea whose time has come?".
'What's the point of political action?' Dan Hind asks in his latest opinion piece for Al Jazeera. He begins by outlining the general and widespread cynicism that has characterised our attitude to the public protest in recent years,
In Britain, vast public demonstrations in 2003 failed to prevent our government from joining the United States in a war of aggression in Iraq. If they can get away with that, why bother?
Politics has, for some time, been the reserve of politicians and broadcasters, who have been free to decide what is and isn't political for all of us. It seemed that we, the public, had given up the fight. However, in the light of recent events, Hind argues that what may have seemed like 'common sense' a decade ago now appears absurd; 'There is too much evidence that direct action, if sustained and sufficiently troubling to the established order, works.' Using the actions of protest group UK Uncut against tax avoidance as an example, Hind points out that,
A relatively small number of people who aren't supposed to act politically have begun to act in ways that effectively disrupt the orderly circulation of idea, goods, and alibis for inaction. In assembling and discussing matters of common concern they have exceeded the formal limits of polite protest. Their methods are demonstrably effective.
Verso and the Bishopsgate Institute are offering three pairs of tickets for some lucky winners. They are for each of these three forthcoming events in London:
Dan Hind, the author of The Threat to Reason and The Return of the Public, will take part in a debate on Resisting Control: Dissent, Protest and Organised Belligerence, with Bibi van der Zee, Alex Butterworth and others on 3 November.
Dan Hind's and Melissa Benn's talks are part of the Whose Mind is it Anyway events, a series of talks held at Bishopsgate Institute that considers what or who affects how we think and behave.