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Political structures struggle August 13, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

I’ve a little sympathy for the issue discussed here in the IT this last week. A piece that examines the divisions within the Green Party.

The mostly young members of the Just Transition Greens have been criticised for their unwavering commitment to their personal beliefs and written off by others as idealists – unwilling or unfit for compromise.

To many, holding true to one’s principles is a mark of admirable conviction and integrity, but as with most things in life, perception is subjective.

Instead of dismissing the voices of this next generation of activists and political leaders, shouldn’t we be asking why party political structures can’t accommodate them?

And yet I wonder is that quite the problem? Because on the face of it one would think the sheer spread of options for party political homes is now so varied that some formation or another would offer a congenial enough option. And if that wasn’t the case why not build something new. For all that one might complain about the lack of power of the left there’s plenty of room at this point for really a remarkably wide range of groups and parties to co-exist, right up to and including national level.

And not just parties. Emma DeSouza notes that she has benefited from not being party political herself in various campaigns. That option also exists too, right up to and including national level. Indeed one can be within electoral politics while being outside party politics.

And Just Transition Greens themselves are an intriguing hybrid. Of, but not in, the GP, and the broader environmental movement. Isn’t JTG itself precisely the sort of vehicle that offers one way forward? Perhaps.

I’m slightly less convinced that party political discourse is, as she argues ‘made up of slinging mud at the opposition’. That’s a part of it, but so is holding the executive to some account, even if that account is only rhetorical much of the time. That’s a necessary function in a democracy, never more so than now too. Of course one can do that as an Independent – though there’s an issue with Independents not being beholden to anyone but themselves. That’s problematic.

I’m also not sure how the following could be effected.

I hope that the departure of many committed young people from Ireland’s political arena will be taken as an invitation to reform party politics and institutions.

What precise reforms are expected? Think of Aontú that critiqued the supposed ‘groupthink’ of the other parties, particularly SF, but simultaneously places one issue at its heard in such a way that that issue cannot be touched in any manner. Or to put it a different way, ‘reforming’ party politics might suffer from unintended consequence.

There’s a broader aspect too, all too familiar to us on the left, which is that the world is, self-evidently, imperfect and that that will be reflected in social and political relations including those formations seeking to improve it (to whatever degree). We don’t expect the political world to be anything other than alienating – though paradoxically I suspect many of us have found engagement with that world central to a broader comradeship, friendship with others and our own well-being and sense of self. The challenge sharpens us, and is necessary. So perhaps it is a case of acknowledging the challenge, sometimes the sheer hopelessness of what we seek to achive but keeping at it even (especially) in the face of that.

I hope that those mentioned in the article are working their way towards a similar conclusion. There’s few enough contesting the currently dominant paradigms. We can’t afford to lose any.


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