Introducing the Carnival on Modern Liberty

Cross-posted from Liberal Conspiracy.

Much as I support the Convention on Modern Liberty, I am very conscious of the fact that there are two dangers inherent to an initiative such as this. The first is that all it leads to is talk and a thousand people sitting in a hall munching on sandwiches. Linked to that is the danger that all it leads to is despair; that the problem seems so big and so intractable that people simply end up withdrawing altogether.

It is crucial that the Convention leads to positive action by as many people as possible (I came up with a list of suggestions a couple of weeks ago – I’m sure you can think of others). Our mission must be nothing less than a paradigm shift in how the general public perceives civil liberties. That is an achieveable objective and has happened in politics over the years on numerous occasions, but the level of consciousness raising we need can’t be done by a single journalist or even pressure group.

What’s more, the need for action has never been more crucial. I write this having given up a substantial portion of my weekend doing stuff to block the Government’s plans to exempt MPs’ expenses from the Freedom of Information Act. If liberty is to have any meaning, we have to be able to keep an eye on those we elect to serve. Otherwise we are no different from the animals at the end of Animal Farm, enviously peering into the House and unable to tell the difference between pig and human. Harriet Harman, champion of equality, has just added the rider “but some are more equal than others.”

We need to take urgent action on issues such as this, but it also highlights why it is high time we started being proactive.

It is with this in mind that Liberal Conspiracy, Our Kingdom and Unlock Democracy are launching the Carnival on Modern Liberty. An online companion to the Convention, it is intended to help promote debate on civil liberties on the blogosphere over the next few weeks. Fundamentally however, it is also intended to spur both bloggers and their readers into action.

What’s a blog carnival? Well, followers of the Carnival of Feminists and the Britblog Roundup will already have a good idea. In essence it is a summary of the best to be found on blogosphere on a given topic, edited by a different person each week. I will be producing the first edition this Friday over on Liberal Conspiracy. Over the next couple of weeks it will move to OurKingdom and Unlock Democracy and then we’ll be looking for volunteers to host future editions – what about you? (email offers to modernliberty *at* quaequamblog *dot* net).

If you have an article you would like to be included in the first edition you can submit it either by following this link or emailing the details to modernliberty *at* quaequamblog *dot* net. The deadline is 4pm on Thursday 22 January (if you miss this it is no problem as it will simply carry over to the next week’s edition). We are particularly looking for articles on the following sub-topics:

ACTION: our favourite category! Ideas and initiatives for raising awareness of civil liberty-related issues.

EVENTS: civil-liberty related events that you are either organising or would like to promote (you don’t need to wait until 28 February before holding a meetup, tweetup or even just a social to the pub or cinema – if it’s civil liberty related, publicise it here).

JEERS: reports of the latest assaults on liberties.

CHEERS: good news (we do get it occasionally!) and praise for the champions of liberty.

WHAT LIBERTY MEANS TO ME: think pieces about what liberty in a modern context actually means (once you’ve been all philosophical, do an action post to balance things out :)).

Finally, if I have one goal for the next six weeks, it is to get this debate out in the wider blogosphere instead of the usual political bloggers arguing amongst themselves. The UK blogosphere is gratifyingly diverse, yet too often the politicos seem to exist in a bubble.

So your first mission, if you choose to accept it, is to think of five bloggers who are not the “usual suspects” who you would like to encourage to take part in the Carnival – and then encourage them!

My five will be:

* Girl With A One Track Mind

* London Underground

* Neil Gaiman

* Bad Science

* New Humanist

To help get the Carnival off the ground, please blog your five (so they get pinged!) and submit your post to the Carnival – thanks!

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