Every 10 December, the world remembers the extraordinary accomplishment on that day in 1948 when so many nations came together in Paris to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The power and relevance of the recognition enshrined in the Declaration – that all human beings have fundamental rights and freedoms – is undiminished today. The Working Class Movement Library and Walk the Plank are very pleased indeed therefore to announce on Human Rights Day the launch of their podcast Begin the World Over Again – available on all main podcast platforms.
Conceived during Covid-19 lockdown, this exciting collaboration aims to use the radical thoughts and actions of the past – as documented within the Library’s rich collections – to prompt new thinking, and share it through a suite of six podcast episodes. Six artists have worked in duos with members of the writing group who took part in our previous collaboration, Bones of Paine, to explore parallels between the Library’s collections and our contemporary situation – and what the future might look like.
Episode one: Inspiring women and women who are inspiring, by composer and sound artist Sarah Llewellyn working with creative researcher Helen Jackson, relates particularly to Articles 26 & 29 of the UN Declaration, on education and full participation in society.
Episode two: Is there grass growing in-between the cobbles? Roaming in and around the WCML archives, by artist Danielle Porter working with creative researcher Hilary Friend, reminds us especially of Artlcle 24, the right to rest.
Episode three: How can Engels show us the way forward beyond 2020, as we ensure that “an ounce of action is worth a ton of theory”?, by composer Alan Williams working with creative researcher Christina McAlpine, calls us to Article 4, ‘No-one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms’.
Episode four: The Establishment and the Welfare State. How much Paine before we change the world?, by composer and sound designer Dan Steele working with creative researcher Peter Wright, summons the spirit of Article 3, ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person’.
Episode five: Can solidarity make a comeback?, by artist Alison Surtees working with creative researcher Tracy Drysdale, chimes with Article 23 on the right to work.
Episode 6: Addressing the British Empire – a conversation about institutional racism, by artist Danielle ‘Lae’ Carbon-Wilson working with creative researcher Jemma Bromley, calls on us all to remember the start of the UN Declaration and the fantastic beginning to Article 1, ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’.
The podcast’s first episode was launched on 19 November, History Day 2020, and as part of the Being Human Festival, the UK’s national festival of the humanities. As well as our main project funding from Arts Council England we would like to acknowledge contributions from the Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund and the University of Salford.
The project follows on from last year’s hugely successful Bones of Paine project, and is inspired by a quote from Paine –
“We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom from the events of a few months. The reflection is awful, and in this point of view, how trifling, how ridiculous, do the little paltry cavilings of a few weak or interested men appear, when weighed against the business of a world.”