With the formal launch of the Bermudian ‘Democratic Alliance’ there is now a potential for a return to ideological politics as opposed to the poli-trix that has dominated our island since 1998. This is because so far our politics has been dominated by that bland form of ideology that is known as the political centre. In truth, there have been some differences between the UBP and the PLP, as I have discussed in other posts. But beyond the question and understanding of race, as well as their respective composition and support bases, there has been woefully little difference between the two parties on substantial issues of ideology and policy.
At most the argument has been of ‘we would do this more’ or, ‘we would do this less’, mixed in with the occasional kindergarten exchanges that defines our parliamentary debates more than anything else. The UBP, nominally a conservative, right-wing party, and the PLP, nominally a social democratic/labour party, have been in recent years about as indistinguishable as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. With the arrival of Tweedleda on the stage, the hypnotic (if not idiotic) dance between Tweedledum and Tweedledee is presented with a challenge that can be answered in three potential ways:
a) Tweedledum & Tweedledee will together push Tweedleda off the stage and quickly return to their status quo;
b) Tweedledum, the UBP, is faced with the greatest initial challenge from Tweedleda, and may simply retire from the dance, leaving us with the same dance, only this time between Tweedledee and Tweedleda;
c) Tweedleda will force a fundamental change to the dance, pushing Tweedledum and Tweedledee away from the centre, Tweedledum to the right and Tweedledee to the left, with Tweedleda occupying the centre.
Only option (c) leads to substantial change for our politics; options (a) and (b) maintain the status quo, even if (b) gives the superficial impression of change. It is for option (c) that I personally would like to see realised, as this option provides the best potential for our collective national development. Of course there is the option that our politics may become more complex should further new parties solidify, such as a Green Party, the embryonic stages of which have been noted already. At the moment however I feel that many potential new parties, such as the Green Party, will pause and reflect on the Democratic Alliances arrival, which, no doubt, will try to co-opt such groups. As such I cannot see the political equation becoming more complex in the immediate period.
It is also hard to tell if (c) would lead to a substantial push to the left or right from the UBP and PLP; the equilibrium could simply result in a centre-left, centre, centre-right combination, although it would be hard to see how the centre will maintain itself over the long-term in such an arrangement.
Regardless of which option ends up being the eventual outcome of Tweedleda’s appearance, the very challenge itself presents an opportunity for at least a brief push towards ideological discussion and consciousness raising. To this end the Bermudian left (yes, there is actually one) should seek to exploit this development, and I hope to explore the problems for socialism in Bermuda that this moment allows. To do so it is necessary to outline what exactly are the problems for socialism in Bermuda? As I see it the following questions must be posed and answered:
What is the state of the Bermudian left? Where is the left? Is there a Bermudian left? Why is the left in the situation that it is?
The question of identity – or the problem of bad examples? The stigma of Stalinism and dogmatism in general.
Reform or revolution? The nature of the revolutionary organisation and the relationship with the ‘traditional left’ of organised labour and the PLP. Armed uprisings, parliamentary elections and political consciousness. Strategy and tactics.
Socialism in one country – to Cuba or not to Cuba? The day after and what comes next.
Socialisms? The problem of groupuscules – the People’s Front of Judea or the Judean People’s Front?
Key questions for the left – racism, sexism, ecology and power.
Over the next few days, when I am able, I will try to answer these problems as best I can. I would welcome suggestions from readers about what other questions they think need answered, and I will either incorporate them into the above problems, or dedicate posts to them alone.