The Legacy of the Dialectics Congress by Dr Leon Redler

The Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation, in July, 1967, sought to demystify violence in all its forms. The need for demystification and clarification of our situation is no less needed today than it was in 1967. Many of the speakers nearly 50 years ago were right on the mark for what would ensue if we continued on the ignorant and often perverse paths.

We’re recalling the Congress tonight, perhaps a preliminary to really reconvening a new Congress, to address the ongoing if not even more mystifying and violent world today.

But let’s consider the profound questions, which we can barely allude to tonight, of what forms of liberation we aspire to and require? Liberation from what and toward what, liberation from what and by who, and how?

What and who constrains our diverse possibilities of liberation, including the liberation from the ignorance and delusion we’re caught up in, until we begin to awake from a dream like state that prevalent political/economic/social systems encourage us to buy into …and we all too often collude with…Including identifying with the reflections our minds mirror, with all the distortions introduced by self and others, rather than getting to know the empty but lucid and cognisant nature of mind, akin to the clear surface of the mirror and inviting the possibility of spaciousness, wisdom and compassion, taught by prophets and poets of diverse spiritual traditions.

Today, corruption and injustice is all pervasive. We see it in our national and local politics, institutions and, if we’re honest and look closely, all too often in the far from ethical and caring ways we treat each other.

The manifestations of varieties of ignorance, including greed; dogmatic and inflexible positions; mindless hatred, as well as of corruption and injustice, include the pervasive murderous violence of nation states, militias, fundamentalist organisations as well as groups fighting for what they take to be just and necessary causes, the later particularly the case when no mediated alternatives seem open.

Dr Leon Redler


Radical change is needed. But what are the possible meanings, directions and ways of being radical?

Can we start with an etymological meaning, going back to the roots of the word, in this case literally meaning roots?

Can we research what might be the roots of living ethical lives, with awareness, in a ways that lead to, encourage and are ‘in sync’ with the possibility of just societies?

Can we rediscover the roots of the possibilities of living in harmony with each Other and with nature so as to really prioritise not destroying our life support systems, our ecology?

Can we discover the roots of compassion so as to say NO, ‘Not in My Name!’ to vastly unequal distributions of wealth and power?

Can we research and find the roots of speaking freely and acting openly and transparently, about all matters that people feel to be unjust, without having grounds for fearing for our liberty or even our lives, and find optimal ways to acknowledge and respond to the cries and calls of those who feel done in by whatever prevailing unjust system?

Can we do this without obfuscating the issues we’re concerned with because of our own (perhaps unwitting) attachment to our own views and needs?

There are signs that large numbers of people feel it’s time for a change. and of substantial minorities being open to the critique of our current corrupt political systems, indeed beginning to respond actively to the heavy weight of injustice impinging on their lives.

One fundamental question ought to put to ourselves and each other tonight is:

What does it mean to be in act in a radical and radically ethical manner, with profound (radical) awareness (of body, speech, mind) at this time, for those of us who can acknowledge the pervasive corruption and ignorance that prevails in and pervades our economic, political, social and other systems?

How and where can we find common ground (perhaps requiring distinctly uncommon ‘common sense’) enabling a turn in a direction that most of us can agree…IF we can…a turn in the direction of ethics, justice and compassion….and a turn toward enhancing our collective intelligence, sensibilities and responsibilities in the direction of greater vitality and, dare we say, without embarrassment…sisterly and brotherly love, enabling cooperation in working toward a world that we can say ‘Yes, Yes’ to…rather than, ‘No, not in my name’?

Perhaps the most radical starting point (but not end point!) for each of us ought to be to understand the roots of violence in me-centred, or we-centred (‘our’ nation, ethnic group, religion, subculture, etc) ways of being. But we have to continue from there to see and transcend those limitations and find ways of collective action toward which we can say’ ‘Yes, Yes!’

How can hone our individual and collective abilities for both really critical and really fundamentally naive questions… Like intelligent fearless children… As well as the intelligence, humility and responsibility to put ourselves in question.


What social change did the Dialectics Congress set out to actualise? I think there was a lack of agreement as well as commitment re what social and political change people wanted and were committed to. That was, and likely is, inevitable.

The micro-experiments ‘in psychiatry’ that were on-going in the 60’s and into the 70’s, that the 4 organisers of the Dialects were deeply engaged with, have continued but have largely lost their radical edge. The communities of the Philadelphia Association and of Arbours, for example, have become pale shadows of the radical vision of 40-50 years ago. While there are movements like the Critical Psychiatry Network, in the UK, and Open Dialogues, which may retain their potentially radical edge, the fact is that Big Pharma and the Psycho-Pharmacological Industry, like the military-industrial complex, are stronger than ever.

So where does that leave us?

Can we deepen links with each other and others in creative ways? With what other initiatives, anywhere in the world, including in virtual space, do we want to link up with?

These are some of the thoughts and questions I have at this time.

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