Of Labour and Liberty
Distributism in Victoria 1891–1966
By Race Mathews
To be launched by The Hon Steve Bracks AM
When: Wednesday 26 April, 6pm for 6.30pm
Where: National Union of Workers (NUW) Headquarters, 833 Bourke Street, Docklands
Cost: Free event, but please RSVP to Sarah Cannon.
Melbourne Symposium: Cooperative enterprise, democracy and liberty
When: Friday 28 April
Where: The Kelvin Club, 14-30 Melbourne Place, Melbourne
With speakers Race Mathews, Godfrey Moase (NUW) and Melina Morrison (CEO, BCCM) and more to be announced.
Race Mathews and Barry Jones in conversation
When: Wednesday 3 May, 6pm for 6.30pm
Where: Readings Bookshop, 701 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn
Cost: Free, but book here.
Co-operatives Research Group Symposium
When: Friday 5 May, 5pm-7pm
Where: The Refectory, The University of Sydney Business School, Darlington
Cost: Free event, but please register online by 2 May via the University of Sydney website.
Public Conversation: Race Mathews and Bishop Vincent Long
When: Friday 16 June, morning
Where: Whitlam Institute, Western Sydney University
More details to follow.
What will the future of work, social freedom and employment look like? In an era of increased job insecurity and social dislocation, is it possible to reshape economics along democratic lines in a way that genuinely serves the interests of the community? Of Labour and Liberty arises from Race Mathews’s half a century and more of political and public policy involvement. It responds to evidence of a precipitous decline in active citizenship, resulting from a loss of confidence in politics, politicians, parties and parliamentary democracy; the rise of ‘lying for hire’ lobbyism; increasing concentration of capital in the hands of a wealthy few; and corporate wrong-doing and criminality.
It also questions whether political democracy can survive indefinitely in the absence of economic democracy – of labour hiring capital rather than capital labour. It highlights the potential of the social teachings of the Catholic Church and the now largely forgotten Distributist political philosophy and program that originated from them as a means of bringing about a more equal, just and genuinely democratic social order. It describes and evaluates Australian attempts to give effect to Distributism, with special reference to Victoria. And with an optimistic view to future possibilities it documents the support and advocacy of Pope Francis, and ownership by some 83,000 workers of the Mondragon co-operatives in Spain.
About the author
Race Mathews is a former Chief of Staff to Gough Whitlam, Federal MP, Victorian MP and Minister, Local Government Councillor, academic, speech therapist and primary teacher. He has held numerous positions in the Australian Labor Party and the co-operative and credit union movements and has written and spoken widely about their history, attributes, and activities. A major focus of his research has been the great complex of worker-owned co-operatives at Mondragon in the Basque region of Spain and its origins in the social teachings of the Catholic Church. He is married to writer Iola Mathews, and lives in Melbourne.
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