John Locke Essay Prize

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After reviewing hundreds of submissions from around the world, we are happy to announce our six winning original essays from the 2016 “What’s Next? We greatly appreciate the efforts of everyone who challenged themselves to think boldly and propose genuine alternatives to the present system by participating in this competition.

We received hundreds of submissions from 30 different states and 26 countries, proving that many around the world not only believe system change is necessary, but have thought long and hard about what a new system should look like and how we might get there.

We want to acknowledge the thoughtful, intriguing, original, and valuable ideas presented in each of the essays submitted.

You fill us with hope that another world is not only possible, but that together we can build it.

The topics addressed in the essays were wide-ranging – from alternative forms of governance, representation, ownership, production, money creation and distribution, markets, banking structure, tax regulation and universal income, to new proposals for citizenship, democracy, participation, education, sovereignty, community-building structures, ethics, culture, race and gender equality, spirituality, health, ecology, and technology.

With the help of the eminent activists and scholars that served as our top judges – Naomi Klein, Raj Patel, and Dayna Cunningham – we were able to narrow this field down to six winners, but it was far from easy!

Looking back to two critical years (1648, which was predominantly concerned with state sovereignty, and 1848, when liberal democracy was on the rise), Sharma builds the case for reaching a renewed version of democracy by 2048—one built on participation and deliberative structures.

Through the democratization of key spheres of social life (family, education, and workplace) and the creation of truly deliberative structures such as general assemblies, people will be brought “into the process of crafting a collective existence through individual expression,” Sharma writes.

As we are able we intend to work through the essays we received to identify ways to highlight the best ideas and proposals they contain – something we will do in cooperation with the authors.

In “From Perception to Participation,” University of Pittsburgh senior Raghav Sharma presents his vision of a next system – a system grounded in democratic confederalism.


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