I am coming to the conclusion that even the most progressive of political parties are stalling.
I know that there are very sound people working away at policy positions and that the left still manage to oppose the worst excesses of the continuing neo-liberal onslaught, but it seems to mean that the problem remains that we are using the current political and economic paradigm as the model to pass our deliberations on.
But that’s just Realpolitik right? People out there expect us to present policy that is familiar, even if they fundamentally disagree with it. We have to do with the reality as we find it. We didn’t create it, what can we do? We can analyse using Marx or gramsci of course and that’s ok, but none of this moves us away from having to deal with the socio-economic-political landscape that has come to dominate the USA and Europe.
It would be much more interesting and, I believe, necessary to start introducing more creativity into policy. I have said before that if policy positions are put out there, it is not beyond the wit and wisdom of all progressive economists to figure out how to finance it.
My dad and people in his generation (the 1940′s-70′s) believed that the future would hold less physical work and more leisure time for the working class – for everyone. When do we ever hear anybody on the left seriously advocate less working hours. Not just a few hours here and there, but a three day week, for example. What about moving arts and leisure up as political priorities. The value of time and space – real quality of life issues. The process of offering a vision that takes us away from wage slavery, ill health, an education system focused on point scoring and not rounded learning and universally available flexible childcare and special needs support requires more than a rebuttal of current policy. It is a fundamentally a much wider project that must be advanced here if we are to avoid a continued slide into misery for the greater number of us.
None of this is in the political agenda in any serious way in my view and it needs to be introduced. A serious debate must begin. It takes brave people to do this in the face of ridicule from some on the left as well as the usual suspects and it is a longer term project for progressives to embark on, but the fact remains that we are not winning on the battlefield – the paradigm – that exists. We have to shift the paradigm.
Photo courtesy of Donncha O’Caoimh @ inphotos.org.