Holyrood: Where are the alternatives?

Scottish politics is supposed to be a shining example of party diversity, an example for the rest of the UK to follow. In 2003 we had the “rainbow parliament” elected, with 7 Green and 6 Socialist MSPs. There’s something for everyone in Scottish politics.

I’m going to argue that isn’t the case, that in the wider picture of political ideology, at least in the scheme of what’s actually necessary, there isn’t as much choice for the public as there seems to be this May.

First let’s come back to that point of what’s actually necessary, what’s necessary to be done in the current global political and economic context.

Wages have remained stagnant, while a new housing bubble has emerged. The public sector has taken on the debt of the last crisis while the financial organisations are repeating their mistakes all over again. Mechanisation is diminishing the need for human labour, blowing to pieces the most basic theory of one person’s expenditure is another person’s income.

The cracks in the very structures of capitalism are emerging more than ever, our global economy has become a ticking time bomb. But when we look for answers to these undeniable problems in our very economic system, it’s hard not to be disappointed.

RISE and the Socialists offer solutions perfectly suited to the problems of the 20th century, but it seems that only the Greens even vaguely seem to be acknowledging the ones of today. If postcapitalism and democracy in the economic sphere are mentioned in the leaders’ debates, beginning this March, I’ll be very, very surprised.

When you consider the wide range of political ideologies of today, from anarcho-capitalism to libertarian Marxism, from neoconservatism to communism, the modern-day Overton Window seems depressingly narrow.

Arguably all the notable political parties standing on the 3rd of May occupy an alarmingly crowded section of our political spectrum, a moderate mix of social democratic, public and capitalist, private ownership, disagreeing only on a few select industries. No-one wants to rock the boat.

For those who look at the contradictions emerging in today’s economy and conclude that only structural change holds any sustainable future, there’s no credible box on the ballot to tick in these elections.

If there’s one thing to be concluded from this, it’s that real political change won’t come from the top. Be it from the membership of existing parties or through new organisations, the grassroots have to do what the establishment will never do, because it would endanger their stability and put not what is mainstream, but what is necessary on the agenda. It’s up to us now.

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