Vision of Parpolity: The British-Irish Isles
Northern England and The British Irish Isles
“A revolutionary is a creator and not a destroyer; a revolutionary is also an optimist and not a pessimist. Where cynicism, apathy and inaction have never liberated a people the same could be said for destroyers (i.e., "smash the state"). It's not enough to be able to break something. The real revolution lies in making what we struggle against obsolete by creating something new and better.”
Vision of Parpolity: The British-Irish Isles
Jack Johnston based on articles by Stephen Shalom
The Participatory Society (Parsoc) Legislature
The basic building blocks of the nested council as described by Shalom are councils made up of not more or less adults than can partake in face to face debate (i.e. 25-50). These councils send rotating and instantly recallable delegates to the council ‘above’ to debate issues that affect members of multiple grassroots councils. Because any contentious issues are passed down for voting power is held at the base. As these councils would naturally grow and shrink I have taken the average of 25-50 so as to estimate how many adults any given council would ‘represent’ (i.e. debate issues affecting).
Local Councils: 25-50 adults,
1st Nested Council: approx. 38 delegates representing approx. 1400 adults,
2st Nested Council: approx. 38 delegates representing approx. 52,000 adults,
3st Nested Council: approx. 38 delegates representing approx. 2,000,000 adults,
4th Nested Council: approx. 38 delegates representing approx. 74 million adults.
The Parsoc Judiciary
Each council above the first (i.e. each Nested Council) has a ‘Council Court’ which are similar to a modern day Jury, differing mainly in that each member would serve fixed terms (e. g. 2 years). Its role would be to protect minority rights (i.e. to guard against the tyranny of the majority).
The Parsoc Executive
The nature of the Executive needs to be decided by the Legislature. It would have to follow Participatory Economic (Parecon) norms for remuneration etc. (as would the delegates of the Legislature and the members of the Council Courts).
Implementing the Nested Council: Spring 2011, Northern England
Northern England is a region of 14.5 million people with a political and economic situation unique to it and as such it merits an independent Participatory Society (ParSoc) movement in the same way any small country does. Our lack of any sovereignty is a specific political circumstance every bit as much as the possession of sovereignty is in Ireland or Sweden. Whereas Southern England has been a Conservative stronghold for most of the last 3 decades The North (like Wales and Scotland) sends few Conservative MPs to Westminster, yet (unlike Wales and Scotland) lacks any devolved powers to protect against the conservative’s reactionary domestic policies.
As an organisation seeking to grow from a small one fighting for progressive reforms to, ultimately, a system of government that ensures a just society it is necessary not only to think about what we are aiming to achieve but also about what circumstances we are starting from. Whilst the London Parsoc group has in the region of 25-50 members no other region does. The West Midlands and South Wales meet regularly but have less than a dozen members each. The North has several committed members scattered amongst Rotherham, Leeds, Newcastle, and Manchester as well as over a dozen interested observers all of which devote their energies predominantly to grassroots activism without doing so specifically ‘under the banner’ of Parsoc.
Whilst fighting for progressive reform (or indeed against reactionary cuts) is vital, if we believe that Parecon/Parsoc sufficiently acknowledges and analysis past mistakes of progressive movements and as such provides us with invaluable insights that improve our ability to avoid repeating such mistakes then we need to organise amongst ourselves, in addition to being a part of grassroots action. By doing this we can learn more about the exciting revolutionary ideas of Parecon/Parsoc and be a part of the development and growth of them. Moreover, we will be ideally positioned to encourage participatory norms in activist organisations that might otherwise lack them.
We have the advantage of the population of a small country in a small region with good infrastructure. We have the advantage of Parsoc organisations developing in the South and of progressive and independent minded civil societies with sympathetic devolved administrations to the North and West. We have the revolutionary atmosphere that results from living through the greatest inequality since WWII combined with the greatest assault on the poor since Thatcher declared high tide on the post war progressive reforms.
In time 30 or so regions will send delegates to a British Irish Isles council (4th level). In time the North will have its own council of delegates (3rd level). In time cities, towns, villages and streets will have councils with great power over their own affairs. Before that The North needs a ParSoc organisation and The British Irish Isles need a ParSoc delegate from The North.
A Political System for a Good Society, Shalom 08: http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/3854
Parpol: A Political Vision for a Good Society, Shalom 05: http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/4957