The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of the London Progressive Journal, its editors or its contributors.
We are undergoing a transition of political consciousness that is as profound as the Copernican Revolution.
In the analysis of sources such as the Political Compass website the traditional horizontal axis of Left-Right has been augmented with another vertical axis, that of Authoritarian-Libertarian. Together this provides a more accurate map of different political parties and their policy positions. The most alarming aspect of the analysis is that right across Europe and around the world there has been the marked domination of Authoritarian-Right policies over the past three decades, with opposition to that supposed ‘consensus’ being muted and marginalised. The result has been the theoretical and practical hegemony of market fundamentalism – the belief that deregulation of markets, along with a state that is coercive and repressive, is the most efficient and equitable political arrangement. This has now become what J.K.Galbraith called the ‘conventional wisdom’ in the Affluent Society.
The recent economic dislocations have shown that this Panglossian market fundamentalist credo is not only limited but fatally flawed. In Britain, the time is now ripe for a total realignment of our political system. According to the Political Compass analysis, and corroborated by the analysis of a site such as Labour Policy Watch (http://www.labourpolicywatch.co.uk) which breaks down the 1997 manifesto into discrete policy areas and assesses the extent to which those promises have been delivered, the catastrophic situation we face is largely the result of the transition from the Libertarian-Left history and heritage of the Labour Party to the Authoritarian-Right New Labour Party. The policy ‘debate’ and the narrative presented ‘ad nauseam’ to the electorate in the mainstream media is, therefore, fossilised. While it pretends that there is still an ideological battle between two radically differentiated forces (‘Labour’ versus Conservative), in reality the electorate are being offered a choice that is not a choice at all. The entire Westminster Parliament, which has steadily atrophied legitimacy (from the unreformed first-past-the-post electoral system to the expenses and allowances debacle) is now dominated by an Authoritarian-Right agenda which is only leavened with marginal elements of Libertarian-Right thinking. It is a masquerade, not a democracy.
The long-term result of this malaise is the breakdown of the bipolar party system. This has negative aspects but contains within it the seed of a change that is absolutely necessary in order to transform this ossified, stymied, schlerotic society into one that is dynamic, creative and flowing. The next General Election provides a perfect opportunity for Britain to reform itself on a root and branch basis by electing a Parliament dominated by Independents and members of currently marginalised parties. That Parliament could be as fundamental a paradigm shift as its 1945 predecessor. In each constituency, voters face the option to reject the various nostrums of the Right and elect people from the grassroots who offer positive alternatives to the era of market fundamentalism that found its climax in the collapse of the derivative casino economy in the autumn of 2007.
The way is open for grassroots coalitions and alliances. The Facebook group above is one small tool in helping that process, and helping us to take the small steps, and giant leaps, from one era to the next. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=74759451667
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