This blog post by Green Party activist, Aidan Jones, annoyed me. I had to ruminate on it for a while but it still stuck there. Part of the problem is that I consider John and Steven to be friends and I am a fan of GPNI on their social policies. Part of the problem is that I did join NI21 last Autumn and, by association, Aidan is attacking my choices. But really the main part of the problem is blinkered thinking.
Aidan has taken a snippet of a conversation and tried to turn it into a political statement. My own politics are well documented here at http://quayperformance.com/blog/theses and if you read through them you’ll see that it’s not a manifesto for the right wing. So, how, if I am not right wing, could I be supporting a party that is right wing according to the GPNI?
Firstly, I do not believe that NI21 is right wing. The right wing parties in Northern Ireland are those who seek to create a hierarchy of citizens. Those who would put their sectarian demographic before others. Those who are happy to accept everyone if only you support their point of view. NI21 has been very clear that society needs to move forward so there is opportunity for all. Opportunity, like aspiration, Aidan claims are loaded words that benefit only those in privilege. And I say that is utter bullshit. I’m reminded of a quote that inspires me every time I think that I cannot do something until someone helps me.
Opportunity is five Armenians, two sponges, one bucket and no English.
The second thing is legacy. A party like NI21 that is less than a year old is not encumbered by forty years of policy. Parties in NI that mark their maturity by the number of policy documents they hold are missing the point. Policy does not guarantee success, obviously, and it does limit your ability to grow with the needs and wants of a modern society. Having a policy library dating back forty years is a liability in my opinion as political opponents love to see any change in policy as it represents an opportunity to torpedo you. The Greens have this issue right now as evidence now shows that nuclear power is the only way to keep our air clean and ensure the continuation of our way of life. The strong stance on nuclear means they’re faced with having to change their minds. I see NI21 as a party that can be shaped to greatness. When John and Basil took their stand, it appealed to the young, the disaffected and the fringe because these needs were not being addressed by others. They, like I, see NI21 as a fine raw material that can be shaped by skilled hands into something exemplary.
No legacy is as rich as honesty.- Shakespeare
Thirdly I think it’s stupid for centrist parties to attack each other on the eve on an election. I would love to see the non-sectarian parties come to election agreements pre-vote. I have offered and, indeed, given my own in this in private conversations. It is absolutely a rare quality for any party to sacrifice party interests for the betterment of society. It almost never happens. All I can say is that I tried.
She taught me all about real sacrifice. That it should be done from love… That it should be done from necessity, not without exhausting all other options. That it should be done for people who need your strength because they don’t have enough of their own.- Veronica Roth
Lastly, I take issue with Aidan representing one aspect of my argument “pro-aspiration” as “pro-inequality”.
Inequality is what we have now and it wasn’t caused by those who aspire to better. We have inequality of ability, we have inequality of opportunity, we have inequality of available resource. We don’t live in a Minecraft-world where we can just magic arable land out of the bare earth and where resources are infinite and equitable. We have to take what we have and try and do the best we can.
Aristotle’s axiom: The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.
Aidan mixes up aspiration with “money” as if there was a direct causal link.
Aspiration is all about equality. It is much more basic than money. It frees individuals to follow their passions and aspire to be the best they can be. This doesn’t mean that anyone who wants to be a neurosurgeon can be a neurosurgeon, however “equal” or “fair” that would be. It does mean that everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to society to the best use of their talents. It doesn’t mean that there should be a hierarchy of living and yes, it is unfair that a cleaner gets paid less than a pro-football player but rather than drag the football player down, I would want to see whether the cleaner is content. Being content is the absolute equaliser. Some, like me, will never be content until certain goals are met. I want to live in a post-scarcity society. That might be impossible in my lifetime, but I still aspire to it (and therefor my politics describe trans-scarcity society). I want to live in a post-conflct society; while everything in the news this week seems to be about raising the shoats of the past and creating new victims.
“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”
– Gaylord Nelson
I remain committed to calling John and Steven friends. I remain confident that parties like GPNI, NI21 (and even the Alliance if they can raise their head above the sectarian mire of the Executive) represent the best options for the future of Northern Ireland. I am disappointed in Aidan Jones.