As noted in the previous post, I drafted these notes in 2004, during a period of estrangement from the PLP.
This estrangement resulted from my general disappointment in the PLP under Premier Smith, the concern I had over the unconstitutionality of the ‘palace coup’ which removed her during the 2003 election, and frustration with the PLP’s failure to oppose the neo-imperialism of the US (Bermuda playing a supporting role for military units).
As a result of this, I investigated the options for novel political directions. One of these was the prospects for a Green Party. Ultimately, I abandoned those efforts and decided to try again to advocate green and socialist positions within the PLP.
Green Party – Why?
The UBP has historically been the party of the oligarchy, and one that benefits and seeks to perpetuate (in the modern era ‘unconsciously’ the racial divisions of Bermuda (especially as this maintains class divisions). Based on its ideological heritage and its organic (in terms of racial and class strata) composition, it is an inherently conservative party.
Paradoxically, it maintains some more socially liberal views in certain areas vis-a-vis the PLP, itself a unique product of Bermuda’s complex socio-economic development. At best the UBP represents a national-capitalist force, and so is useful against the worst excesses of the international capitalist interests. There is the prospect for some alliances with the socially liberal wing of the UBP.
The PLP has, like its sister parties in Canada and the UK, abandoned what was left of its ‘radical’ heritage. It has jettisoned its ideology for the sake of power; like Judas and his 30 pieces of silver. It maintains its organic link with the ‘masses’, with the working class, but it is led by the Black bourgeois, who cynically use ‘the masses’ to pursue its own bourgeois agenda.
In as much as it now pursues a ‘progressive capitalist’ objective, of rendering Bermudian capitalism representative of its racial demographics, it is preferred over the UBP. Furthermore, its links with the masses leave open the prospect for a genuine radical resurgence of the grassroots.
Nonetheless, the recent events, both internal and ‘external’, as in policy, render the prospects for immediate recovery of radicalism unlikely. There is the question of whether or not this genuine radical resurgence can be best initiated internally or externally. Internally allows the Leadership to clamp down and suffocate, potentially.
An external force, a new party, even a small one, is free from these constraints, and can articulate a new vision, which may then spark the internal reclamation of the PLP’s heritage as a genuine radical force of ‘progressive labour’ in its truest sense. If so, what kind of new force can fulfill this role? And is it viable right now?
The PLP maintains a significant hold, more by inertia of its own legacy and the euphoria of 1998. This will be hard to overcome, and it may be more strategic to fight within it, and to emerge as a new force (to spark within it) as the balance of forces changes, as its inertia gives way, its euphoria passes, and the rot sets in.
If the external route is taken, now or later, what options are there?
A full-on socialist party? The confusion over the term ‘socialism’ remains. The nightmare of the 20th Century versions weigh heavy on any decision to reclaim the mantle of socialism in name. It could be viable for sparking discussion on radical alternative visions, but will need to fight a consistent reclamation of its legacy and distancing from Stalinism.
Green Party? Of late the ‘Green Party’ movement has scored some successes internationally. The coalition between the SPD in Germany with Die Grunen has lent an air of legitimacy to the Green Party as a movement, beyond a protest vote. Even the candidacy of Nader in the 2000 US Presidential Election, while coming in for grief and criticism from the US left for ‘helping’ the Republicans win, has greatly boosted the ‘brand’ of the Green Party. One would expect future successes of the Green Party in the coming years.
There is an inherent connection between environmental issues and racial, class and sexual matters. It provides a potent vehicle for serving as a radical vision. It could be viable, and has less ‘baggage’ than a socialist party, although it could risk being defined as a socialist party nonetheless, and so have to expend resources on this issue.
Perhaps one of the best benefits of adopting the Green Party route is benefiting both directly and indirectly from international Green Parties. Directly, it may benefit from assistance and solidarity with the international movement. Indirectly, it benefits from brand spillover; Green Party successes elsewhere bolster the image locally.
An alternate route, resurrecting the NLP, in spirit, if not name? The NLP is, currently, essentially a spent force. It is either dead already or in its death throes. But a resurrected NLP (even if in an ideological sense) could, potentially, take the liberal wings of both the UBP and the PLP, uniting them into a new force, a new entity.
If this is done, it would help break the racial polarisation of our politics, and, potentially, kickstart both the ideological and racial restructuring of our politics. By claiming the center, it pushes the PLP to the left (in reaction) and the UBP to the right (in reaction), as well as representing Bermuda’s first truly racially transcendent party.
The challenge is that the PLP and the UBP are both squabbling over the center ground (there is little ideological difference really), and this squeezed out the NLP. The NLP’s initial creation had the opposite effect. Rather than pushing the PLP-UBP away in terms of ideological differentiation, it served as a magnet, drawing them in to the center. With their superior organisational and numerical forces (the NLP being limited, as a result of its formation as a PLP splinter group), the NLP was unable to compete and got pushed out, being the one party unable to go left or right, by definition.
Of these options, a Green Party appears the most viable…