By Laura Eaton Lewis
We need a new way of doing politics that reflects the maturity that we have developed through our referendum process.
We have found the binary Yes/No proposition desperately inadequate for the complexity of the choice we faced. Divide and rule. Hide the agenda. My anger is not that we voted to remain under a UK flag, it’s that we voted not to give the power back to the people. Whilst we will remain locked in a system that is demolishing our human rights and our society, my hope remains, because unless we choose to let them can never have power over our imagination. We don’t need anyone’s permission, so lets just start building it anyway and let us build it not on binaries, but with depth, diversity, and humanity. Let us not replicate the model that distributes power so unequally, lets not go back to party politics, adversarial posturing and divisiveness. Let’s take our time to build it, and bring everyone with us this time. It can be done, if we can learn from what was most valuable about the YES movement and realise that it is not leadership from above, but individual innovation towards mutual benefit that was our strength. This will be our most productive and powerful tool.
Scotland is now light years ahead of the rest of the UK in terms of understanding our identity and our democracy. It’s going to be long and it’s going to be hard work, but we must bring them with us, and whilst I applaud those celebrating the #45 we must bring the 55% with us too because if we don’t do that, we will always lose. Divide and rule…
We have all become citizen journalists, researchers, debaters and campaigners, we have collectively undertaken a journey which has brought us to a level of political maturity which I don’t think anyone could have predicted. It’s astonishing, it’s innovative, and it belongs not to our ‘leaders’ but to each and every one of you.
As a society we have evolved into something new, something knowledgeable, an information sharing and commentary network which has turned us into something very powerful, and very exciting indeed. We had purpose. We forgot to eat, we forgot to sleep, we were energised by something bigger than ourselves. We became voracious in our consumption of the latest opinion or analysis on the latest development. We researched economic theory, constitutional legislation, social policy, renewable energy potential, and we wrote stories shared our questions and fears, and found the answers amongst ourselves. We have found our own leadership potential and we are still using it in a collective murmuration that is flocking, forming and reforming, in a gathering momentum towards what I hope will be real structural change. We can’t remain in this state of fight or flight, we won’t survive if we do. We need to find a way to entwine these new behaviours into our culture from ground level. Fight or flight is necessary for a revolution, but what we need now is evolution. We need to be the drops in the ocean. We’re facing a political system that’s become a zero sum game and the very thing that’s caused the race to the bottom of careerist politicians and neoliberal consensus, is our insistence on binaries. Yes or No. Labour or Tory. Westminster or Holyrood. Right or wrong. We KNOW the world doesn’t work like that, so why do we keep voting for it? Because we haven’t seen what the alternative might look like, we haven’t been able to imagine it yet. I’m going to propose that we imagine it now, that we make it anyway. We don’t need anyone elses permission to be creative, but we need to give ourselves permission to bring humanity back into politics and put politics back into our lives. How can we make political behavior part of our every day culture? We need to empower everyone. Naeb’dy left behind.
We all know the old adage about anyone who wants to be power isn’t fit for the job. It’s no wonder that the people who most deserve the responsibility are probably those least likely to put themselves forward for such a job. How crappy it would be to be a politician in this current system, how heavily it must weigh on those who actually have principles. Personally, I am affronted and I find it unacceptable that in order to remain in power, politicians have to change their principles in a million tiny ways; they are expected to block vote and there are three line whips where they vote against their conscience, and their constituents. How have we allowed party donors to rule the agenda, and perpetuate a process where anyone with the slightest shred of integrity is hounded out the door? Why do we continue with an antediluvian system that undercuts democracy at every turn? Why is it acceptable that we have a second chamber of unelected land owners and the first past the post voting system… and all of this because we insist on an adversarial system which breaks everything down to an artificial binary which by necessity, turns reason into lies and untruths and ultimately, admits the possibility of only two ‘strategic’ choices between parties whose ideology is now completely indistinguishable.
So lets stop doing that. Lets stop giving our compliance to a system that has tipped into collapse. Lets just start doing it differently, and start being that change ourselves. Lets embrace the possibilities that are open to us today to redefine democracy in a mature, new media world. Don’t tribalise, don’t bring it back to binaries, lets remain complex, remain mature and proudly embrace our multiple identities. Lets bring it back to integrity and humanity. If we REALLY want independence as a process, if we really want ‘All of Us First’, that’s what we have to become. Let us stand as independent candidates, under a ticket that declares a raft of principles that we subscribe to – Common Weal, Green, Compass… stand as a candidates in every election going, and campaign a little every single day by using conversation and honesty, face to face, and using social media to encourage the change that will give everyone the chance to imagine that our world can be better and realise their own power to do it. We can do this. In the old days it would have been a mess and would never have worked, ‘You need a strong leader’ we would have said, ‘You need organisation and discipline to get things done’ we would have said, ‘You have to compromise your principles’ we would have said. None of that is true anymore. We know that self organisation can work just as well, can even work BETTER than old-fashioned top down discipline. We know the problem with binaries, we feel keenly the invisibility of minorities, and we know that consensus politics can work.
It won’t be a mess and it doesn’t need ‘big leadership’. We now have the technology to allows us to hold all that complexity, distribute it, analyze it, open source it.
Imagine, a website that works like the politicalcompass.org but can plot your principles on a graph that shows you the closest candidate to match yours, without you needing the binary thinking of party identity to help you understand who to vote for. Imagine a website that can shows you every candidate, their voting history on every decision, and the upcoming votes that they’re about to take. Imagine a website that allows you to comment directly to them to give them direction and ask questions. Imagine forums where information can be shared, and decisions can be imaginatively prototyped with a virtual community in advance of votes being taken. Imagine a politics where we voted in people who have integrity, who are transparent about their interests and the decisions they’re taking, who are answerable to the people. Imagine we write a constitution anyway… Imagine we declare our communities to be Free States and create our own credit unions, food cooperatives and local currencies (I’ve started with the Facebook Group for the Free State of Portobello and Leith). Imagine we remove our buying power from the banks and big business, and encourage others to do the same. Imagine if we keep having these conversations with people from across the voting spectrum?’
All Of This Can Be Done.
We can rewrite what politics looks like. Instill personal accountability, collective action for mutual benefit, and diverse representation that reflects the many complex and overlapping identities within our society. We have the potential, we have the means, we just need to remember our power and do it.
We will struggle to bring the old with us, their world is one that no longer exists but continues to exert great influence through the dying print media. So we need to get out on the streets, be face to face, evolve hearts and minds together. We are not the 45%, we are not even the 99%, we are the 100% and we will do this together. It’s a long game. We’re only getting started.
So draw up a list, of all the actions you’re going to take, your personal accountability. Be mindful of your complicity in systems that do not serve our interests and shift your allegiences elsewhere. Don’t factionalise, let us be independent and complex. Let us work in mutual conversation towards mutual interest. Let us decentralise, work together and empower others to realise their own leadership and action. Let us consider standing for the next election, or get behind someone who you think should. Not a party, a person. And let us each hold conversations and share and encourage others to do the same. We are the zeitgeist and we all know this is the right thing to do, so let’s do this thing. I’ve kicked off a viral template that was devised with others from the team behind All Back to Bowie’s, it’s a simple graphic and suggestion to help collate the conversations and make it easy for other people to share the movement and hold their own gatherings… it’s your campaign if you want it to be spread the conversation like wildfire and tweet your pledges for action to #whatnowscotland share share share the empowerment… and let us bring them all with us. We are the 100%.
You can download this file and do with it as you will. There is a website whatnowscotland.org which will collate all the tweets that use the hashtag #whatnowscotland so we have an archive of all our ideas. Lets do this thing.