I got involved in a discussion yesterday with one of my Facebook friends. He’s of the opinion that Russell Brand is right and voting makes no difference, so you shouldn’t vote. The political system is broken and all we can do is wait until violent revolution breaks out and then we can build a new and better world from the ashes.
I am of a slightly, but only slightly, different opinion. But before I can explain where I’m coming from I have to give a sociology lesson. Some of you won’t need it, but there is so much misinformation out there that I don’t dare continue with out it.
On 5th May 1818 Karl Marx was born in Germany. He grew up to be a economic and political theorist. He worked very closely, so closely that they edited each others work, with another German called Friedrich (or Frederick) Engels. They were of the opinion that society moved through a series of stages based on what they called “the means of production”. The means of production are the processes and technologies used to produce goods and profit. Marx said that each of the stages of history had the seeds of their own destruction within them.
Contrary to popular belief, what is called communism, in both Russia and China has little to do with what Marx saw as being communism, if only because both countries tried to sidestep the current economic stage (capitalism), completely miss out the stage Marx believed would come next (socialism), and go straight for the main prize (communism). Marx would never have used the term communist to describe either country’s political system. His communism could only follow what he called socialism, and was a system where the need for and the power of the state, any form of government, had withered away completely, and everyone had freedom to do as they pleased, as well as having complete responsibility for their own actions.
Marx’s vision of socialism was something akin to the Resource Based Economics that many of my facebook friends (and I) are very keen on. Where the means of production are no longer owned by the few, but are in the hands of the many, who make decisions based on the greatest good. Marx was a very complex thinker and wrote a great deal, as did Engels. They are well worth reading, if only to look for the flaws in their arguments.
Ok, so I’m guessing you can see why that expedition was necessary. I think we are not in a recession. I think that in some ways Marx was right. I think capitalism is starting to run out of possibilities. I think things could all come crashing down some time in the not too distant future. It’s not just climate change (global warming), it’s not just peak oil, there are many things that are changing and the current system, this way of looking at things, this paradigm, is not sustainable.
Our political system is one of the things that is not sustainable. We cannot continue to be governed by people who are in it only for the money. Their corruption and greed only hastens their own downfall. Their assumption that we are all ignorant and stupid only highlights their own arrogant stupidity. They might have broken our not very good education system, but we are neither ignorant nor stupid.
We are the ones who live with the consequences of their short sightedness on a daily basis. Their power over us is neither as long term or as complete as they think. Capitalism is breaking and the cracks are showing, their behaviour is part of that whole process.
I couldn’t say if socialism, in the Marxist sense, will follow capitalism. But, if we put the work in now, there may be something better, more humane and egalitarian, to follow it. There are people trying to build new systems now, so that they will be in place if, or rather when, the old systems fail.
These people are the Transition Network (http://www.transitionnetwork.org/) To quote their own words “What does Transition Network do? Transition Network is a charitable organisation whose role is to inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities as they self-organise around the Transition model, creating initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions.
“Ultimately it’s about creating a healthy human culture, one that meets our needs for community, livelihoods and fun. We’re here to support you.
“We run events, conferences, trainings, blogs, webinars. We produce monthly newsletters, books, films, guides, tweets, and more, all with the intention of best supporting those around the world who are doing Transition.”
And I strongly recommend you check them out. They are flexible, inspiring and intelligent. They are trying to give people proper support networks in their local areas. As much as possible is being kept local, local food, local skills, local community, local help, even possibly local money. All so that there is somewhere to turn when the larger scale systems fall apart.
Modern society is both mentally and physically unhealthy. If we can embrace just some of the actions advocated within the Transition Network, we will all become healthier and stronger.
This possibility of capitalism falling apart and something new taking its place may seem very frightening, but the new things won’t be unfamiliar. They will be a different slant on things that are actually traditional and familiar. It’s as much about taking old values and ways and thinking about them in a slightly different way.
The Green Party are great fans of the Transition Network. There is a significant overlap between the ideas and values of both groups. If we can manoeuvre Green Party politicians into positions of power they will work to support Transition.
This is probably the only way we can avoid violent revolution. We might not be able to avoid it completely, but with transition in place we stand a much better chance of moving away from the wreckage that capitalism (with it’s insistence that money is more important than people) has become without too much devastation.
If we don’t vote, if we don’t stop the main parties from continuing in what has become ruinous insanity, then things will get worse. Our lifestyles will be torn apart and there may be a chance of building something better out of the ashes, but I’m afraid they will be built only after much pain and destruction.
So, in conclusion, I am suggesting that our best route forward is to embrace Transition, and vote Green to keep as much of what is good in our lives alive as we can. I would suggest that if you do not have the option to vote Green you should vote SNP, Plaid Cymru, Mebyon Kernow, Monster Raving Loony, The People’s Assembly, actually any of the small parties who can’t afford to cover the whole country, or even an independent candidate. As far as I can see it is our best hope for peace.
The Transition Network http://www.transitionnetwork.org/
The Green Party of England and Wales http://www.greenparty.org.uk/
Scottish Greens http://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/
Plaid Cymru http://www.plaidcymru.org/
Mebyon Kernow https://www.mebyonkernow.org/
The Official Monster Raving Loony Party http://www.omrlp.com/
The People’s Assembly http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/