Building an Infrastructure of Dissent


Beacon is a non-party platform to further the cause of socialism in Liverpool and the wider City Region.

Building an Infrastructure of Dissent

That’s hard to disagree with and it’s certainly true that none of us are ever too old, or too clever, to continue to learn.

Many of today’s community and trade union activists will have derived their political education from the School of Hard Knocks or, if they were lucky, the University of Life – learning the rough and tumble of political discourse and tactics by ducking and diving as they sought to win elections, assume influential positions and strive to improve things for those around them.

Unions in particular have a good record of providing training to shop-stewards – practical in its content and often in a classroom setting, for which the legal right to paid time-off from work was won decades ago.

Yet, the movement for progressive, working-class political education which emerged in secular form from 18th Century Christian Sunday Schools, evolved to have a radicalising impact as the Industrial Revolution reeked its havoc, created the Chartist Movement and was then instrumental in the development of the socialist groups which ultimately formed, what is now, the Labour Party over 100 years ago has all but disappeared from the left (and left-leaning) landscape. 

We need to recreate the role of the Mechanics Institutes, Miners’ Libraries and Clarion Clubs, fit for a diverse generation of 21st Century workers with the appetite to change the world for the better from a basis of self-led education in their communities.

Hundreds of thousands of good people, prompted in to activity by the hope that Corbynism appeared to present, have found themselves unable to overcome the myriad obstacles that were put in their way (some of which was the work of the enemy) by staid structures over the past five-years and are at risk of being demotivated, demobilised and lost from political activity as a result of their experience.

Many thousands more, (with similar dents in their helmets) who’ve led campaigns in various arenas for many years have described the exhaustion that comes from eternal struggle – and too often, defeat. 

It is essential that we don’t allow such potential community champions to be lost.

To do so would represent an enormous waste that we can’t afford, so it is important that the negative energy of disappointment and frustration is channelled into something new and positive which is equipped to avoid repeating past mistakes and failures and – crucially – isn’t limited to traditional structures.

Beacon therefore warmly welcomes the launch of the Political Education Project (“PEP”) which we believe shares many of our aims and aspirations. 

We’ve begun embryonic discussions about an informal partnership that includes making Beacon resources available for the development of the project that the PEP Steering Group describe as recreating the “infrastructure of dissent” that emerged from the Socialist Sunday Schools of earlier centuries and led to significant working-class advances.

Accordingly, we would encourage our subscribers and supporters to sign-up for the first on-line learning session which opens on 1st February.

Our understanding of political economy, monopoly capital, imperialism and the role of the nation state is crucial to informing an effective resistance to austerity, unemployment, poverty, discrimination, climate change and war.

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

So, let’s go to school.


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Beacon is a non-party platform to further the cause of socialism in Liverpool and the wider City Region.