Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Green behind the ears?

Call me Green behind the ears, but I've often wondered about the precise nature of Gerry Hassan's politics in terms of parties - clearly pro-independence, but certainly no acolyte of the SNP, which he obviously considers to be part of Scotland's 'forces of conservatism' (not his phrase!). But it all became a bit clearer in his recent Scotsman article:
Scotland’s Big Story is out there; an alternative, parallel nation already thriving under radar...You can find it in parts of our political mainstream, where people kick against the stultifying nature of our party politics, but if it is evident anywhere here it is in the Scottish Greens. They have a vision of a decentralist, sustainable nation, championing wind, wave and solar power, and a self-governing and self-determining community...
He contrasts this with the "modernist urge to centralise and concentrate power", which "led to us building tower block slums and believing the hyperbole of RBS and HBOS". Moreover...
The 20th century of course saw the idea of utopia taken to the horrors of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union....the notion of the utopian blueprint, of rationalising, organising and systematising a whole society should never be attempted again.
Indeed, but how precisely would the Scottish Greens' utopia of a decentralist, self-governing community work? Well this sounds slightly anarchistic in nature, at least insofar as there seems little evidence of a strong, central state government. And in fact perhaps some such micro-societies could work, provided the people involved are generally like-minded.

But for a nation as a whole such a commonality of interest seems unlikely, and to that extent the more popular conception of anarchy - as demonstrated by elements of Saturday's demonstrators in London - is more likely to prevail without a strong state apparatus.

By the same token, without robust regulation from a strong government, society would be an environmental disaster, unless of course these decentralised, self-governing communities became mere microcosms of the centralised state, in which case the duplication would seem pointless.

And to an extent this has been demonstrated by the more liberal approach to human behaviour evident in the last couple of generations, culminating in the politically correct watering down of rules and boundaries in favour of the welfare approach to law and order, with the backlash in terms of attempts to reimpose micro-management on the populace.

Which perhaps demonstrates why successful modern societies generally lie between the two extremes outlined earlier in terms of the power and reach of the state. Neither extreme seems particularly desirable or sustainable. A utopian society without law and regulation won't work - particularly to the extent that a green agenda is considered desirable - while on the other hand the overbearing state must always be guarded against.

Thus Gerry's blueprint seems as Green behind the ears as my own perspective on his politics. There's surely a profound contradiction between a concern for the environment and the dismissal of strong and centralised government.

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