The Alternative

Towards a Political-Economy for People and Planet

Britain is in crisis, our economy in a mess and our so-called “Representative Democracy” hardly democratic.  In or out, Brexit has opened up real opportunities for change.  But what’s the alternative to the mess we’ve got?

The Declaration of Purpose of the Independent Constitutionalists sets out to answer that question.

It is designed to be the starting-point for the shared creation of an alternative story; a story to replace the tired, dysfunctional, unsustainable myths of neo-liberal dogma that sees the world as a winner-takes-all market-place, with  growing the bottom-line as its only ambition.  For the rest of humanity, and that seems to be most of us, it’s every man and woman for her/himself.

Our proposed Alternative is not ideological, decidedly non party-political, and deliberately non-prescriptive.  We are calling for others to work with us to create a Unifying Narrative that will begin to ask some of the right questions; questions that address the injustices, unfairness, widening inequalities and ecological depredations of the current system.  We believe that the answers to such questions, whatever they are, will necessarily involve systemic reform and renewal of Britain’s broken Political-Economy that now can only be achieved through people participation.

Our purpose is to bring people together. We venture to hope that over time, as a comprehensive, inclusive and unifying narrative is addressed by all concerned, a new political architecture will emerge, one that draws inspiration from innovative thinking about every aspect of the Political-Economy.

But we need to adopt a step-by-step approach.  Initially, by appealing to the very many progressive groups and initiatives that already exist and getting them to look up from their single-cause sheets and to sit with each other, listen and talk.   Our Declaration could then help serve as an ongoing record of emerging consensus.

What kinds of idea might a narrative of this kind open up for public debate?  Well, for starters:

  • A new structure of political organisation  – Participative-Representative Democracy that combines citizen involvement through collective deliberation with genuine mandated and accountable representation;
  • A new kind of Independent Politics representative of bottom-up deliberated constituency opinion rather than top-down party ideology;
  • A new Constitution, codified, living and accessible that provides entrenched protection for all material, institutional and cultural Commons (things and ideas that belong to everybody), in particular the institutions of Democratic Deliberation;
  • The development of a new approach to the economy as sustainable, integrated, inclusive, regenerative and distributive by design, and within which Markets combine with Households, the Commons and the State to produce human and planetary flourishing;
  • In the longer term a new approach to land (including its resources) and to money, that sees both as public goods, restoring to the latter its social function as a means of exchange.  In either case, User rights and responsibilities must begin to replace private ownership as a main mode of social relations.
  • Britain’s colonial control of other nations waned after WW2 with the international call for self-governance.  Since the late 1970’s, however, its wealth elite, via under-regulated markets and finance and its vested interest in global corporatism, has begun to colonize its own people. A return to democratic self-governance by the peoples of Britain is therefore long overdue. It will necessitate devolution of power, subsidiarity and greater citizen participation within a political space protected by constitutional guarantees.  That greater participation will in turn necessitate the creation of new democratic institutions: local citizen assemblies; citizen management of local Commons; local constituency committees selecting, through sortition and rotation and so forth, mandated and accountable representatives to regional assemblies or parliaments (Wales and Scotland already have their own) of the type that the Yorkshire Parliament Campaign is contemplating.  Paradoxically, overtime this bottom-up democratic process might lead to a new Confederation – a functional and voluntary coming together of sovereign equals  – of the peoples of the United Kingdom.

The above list provides only a foretaste of what our Declaration contains. It is designed to serve as the starting-point for an open-ended, emergent and unifying vision of what might be achieved assuming we can work together.  If, in other words, umbrella initiatives like the Remaking Democracy Alliance or the 2018 Wigan event which brought together 45 activist groups from all over the UK, can provide the vehicle, our Declaration (or some future version of it) might provide a “shared vision and compass”, and a desired destination to guide our nation on its journey towards a new democracy.

Image Credit: Unsplash User Athena