Saturday, 1 August 2015

Let's Get Off The Left-Right See-Saw

I never thought I'd see binary politics take over political discourse here in the UK as it has in the USA, but as I've pointed out before, it's here now. It's incredibly destructive because the all-or-nothing approach locks out dissenters and stifles debate. We need to kick it over and that begins with pushing back against the notion that there are only two options to choose between. It's not true. This is why.

Other options exist

Believe it or not, other options exist. Other strands of thought. Liberalism, for a start. Did you know that the flat-cap Socialism I often complain about tends to be socially conservative? Not so the Liberals.


I generally tend to think of Liberals as being all about attacking traditional views in the name of diversity. That an Evangelical Christian is their leader is anomalous, they're generally not interested in promoting religious values. However, as leader Tim Farron has pointed out, the Liberal Democrats are actually all about personal freedom, which is where a lot of the "make weird normal" comes from. Socially libertarian, the Liberals gravitate towards social justice and tend to favour left-wing policies. However, the allure of neoliberalism has led more than a few towards the destructive Thatcherite policies being implemented by Our Glorious Leaders.

I'll be honest, when I complain about them, and I often do, it's about how weak and spineless they are when it comes to getting stuff done. The Clegg and Cameron Show, during the last administration, was like having a mother placate her tantrum-prone toddler instead of stepping back, letting him finish his freak-out, then insisting on doing things her way. "Like a boss" is not a phrase I've ever used about a Liberal. Still, like 'em or feel indifferent towards them because they're quite nice and mean well, they exist.

The Green Party

I've been saying for some time that the Greens are Socialist, which they are. They're stuck on the fringes because they're not basing their all of their policies on evidence. I like their environmental policies and agree with them on many of the issues, but the tax-and-spend on pet policies thing does not entice. They sympathise with Pirates on copyright, etc., but know little or nothing about the trade agreements, surveillance, and other tech issues we campaign about. Their record on copyright is woeful, to say the least, wobbling over the length of the term instead of being able to speak with authority on the subject. That said, I'll vote Green if there's no Pirate standing. We need to shift political discourse back to the middle and getting Socialists into office can help with that.

The Pirate Party

We are more than a one-trick pony, and have introduced a comprehensive list of policy areas in our manifesto. However, at heart, we're still a tech party and we're working on getting our policies implemented by the bigger parties.

Our current leader, Cris Chesha, is a systems administrator who leans left/anarchist. I look forward to seeing what direction he takes the party in now that Loz is gone. We are for innovation, digital rights, and an open, democratic society. We're against surveillance, centralised, consolidated power structures that stifle the democratic process, and excessive protectionism.

Some of us lean anarchist/left and I worry it makes us unelectable, but time will tell. We haven't got into our stride yet,

These are but a few of the alternative philosophies available; there are many others.

Why stay on the see saw?

Because it's easier?

Binary thinking is flat out easier. It takes less energy to choose between Red or Blue team. The arguments for either side are clear and unambiguous; you're either taking other people's money and spending it on the feckless and idle or you're redistributed the wealth created off the backs of the underpaid workers. Each side declares you're the Devil himself if you dare to disagree with them.

I don't like binary politics for the same reason other people like it; I can't be dealing with the lack of nuance and find its tendency to over-simplify the issues in order to prop up ideological positions downright offensive. I'm smarter than that and will not be dismissed.

Because it's familiar?

Jeremy Corbyn is a very nice man, by all accounts. A believer in doing right by others, his integrity is beyond reproach, according to what I've read. He is winning a lot of followers over and looks set to become the next Labour leader because he offers a clear alternative to the awful Tory policies being enacted now. However, he's an old-school Socialist, which makes me worry that he'd make the same mistakes as his political forbears. Meanwhile, the Tory-lite Blairites warn against returning to the loony left and the Tories themselves are gloating that Labour can't win if it returns to traditional Socialim and it certainly can't win if it continues trying to be Tory but less awful.

Get off the see-saw!

See. Higher taxes but socially beneficial things like NHS, etc., will be free.

Saw. Pay less in tax, only pay for those services that you yourself use instead of subsidising the unhealthy habits of the chavs.

See. Scrap Trident, leave Nato.

Saw. Bring in Trident, prepare for war, riding on the Americans' coattails.

See. Nationalise All The Things!

Saw. Privatise All The Things!

What, are there REALLY no other options than the ones above? Come on, people, let's get off the left-right see-saw and find another, better way of doing things.

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