Seb Cooke writes on his experiences at The World Transformed festival (21-24 September 2019) in Brighton.
The World Transformed is pretty much just nailing it. I know that’s a pretty unhelpful way to start a review but if I was forced to summarise it then it absolutely is nailing it. I made the decision to go to TWT only a week before it kicked off and had never been to the main event before (only the Bristol splinter event earlier this year) so my level of knowledge about what to expect was pretty minimal. What I found was a well organised, well attended political festival using its location (both in relation to Labour Conference and within Brighton itself) to excellent effect.
Once I had my event wristband (which remained intact the whole time) and my fairly priced program in hand I spent the next four days in a soft haze of radical politics, drifting between panels on global and domestic oppression and resistance, to workshops tasked with pulling together discussions on important issues in the UK today, taking time out to attend a Green New Deal rally before the motion was put to the Conference just over the road and finishing the evenings in rallies and parties late into the night.
The political content was normally as sharp and radical as I could have hoped and even further than that on occasion where rebukes were given to some MPs on panels from the floor and other members of the panel on Labour policy deficiencies. Sessions throughout the conference led to the creation of the Manifesto for the Movement which was edited, printed and distributed all before the end of the festival containing policies and concepts to keep pushing the conversation in even more radical ways. In workshops I spoke with attendees from across Europe and even from the USA who were attending TWT as a delegation for their home countries leftwing parties or other leftwing organisations as well as people from around the UK, giving a wonderful sense of mobilisation and connectivity to global struggle around the world. The inclusion of music, film, live podcasts and political games sessions as well as things like the Variety Show all really boosted the sense of ‘festival’ about TWT but also reinforced the really powerful idea that we on the left absolutely do have a history and a living culture to each other that we should be aware and proud of as well as our political struggles.
TWT is still very young and explicitly still shaping itself as it goes, but Brighton 2019 was an extremely positive experience and I firmly believe they’ll be learning all the right lessons and will keep building to be a bigger and better event year on year. I’ll be a keen continuing attendee.