By Paul Feldman
“We can’t return to normal, because the normal that we had was precisely the problem”. That was the graffiti written on a road tunnel wall by Hong Kong democracy campaigners at the end of last year, before the global coronavirus pandemic struck.
Six months and hundreds of thousands of deaths later, their statement is universally applicable. The old ‘normal’ in the shape of state rule was and remains the barrier to social justice, real democracy, halting and reversing ecological vandalism.
State rule varies in its form from country to country. In China, which is poised to impose direct rule over Hong Kong in defiance of international agreements, it’s an authoritarian surveillance state. In the UK, the state rules behind the curtain of democratic processes which are more apparent than real.
Ultimately, in every country, the state serves the dominant interests in society. In China, it’s the super-rich (including many members of the “Communist” party!), and the giant corporations, both national and foreign.
In the UK, the neoliberal, market-driven state is a plaything of the transnational corporations, hedge funds, and investment banks and major landowners. People have no meaningful access to power.
There is plenty of evidence that favourable conditions for the emergence of the Covid-19 virus – along with gross inequality and eco-degradation – were created by this deadly cocktail of politics, money and market-driven economies.
It’s not hard to describe how the UK and other states have failed society during the pandemic. A mixture of unpreparedness, complacency and lack of resources is there for all to see as the Tory government stumbles around, helped by Labour’s feeble response.
So the question is, how do we go forward, how we do make system change through a democratic revolution meaningful for millions of workers left very much to their own devices?
Can and should we govern ourselves? How would that work? Are citizens’ assemblies the best way to go? Who makes the final decisions: Parliament or the people? How can we stop the rush to a surveillance society? How can system change bring about a fairer, more democratic economy?
Another session the following week will bring ideas together with a view to launching a campaign for system change.
Register here and will send you the details about logging in on the night.