The Left: Not That Divided When It Counts

15th November, 2020

by John Urquhart

In it together.

We here at Harmony Party UK are now approaching our fifth policy “wishlisting” video call – and so far it has been a fascinating demonstration of something I, personally, have experienced many times before: the Left just isn’t half as divided as we sometimes seem to outsiders.

(The wishlisting is a phase on the roadmap to writing our first manifesto.)

Oh, people disagree. Sure. But that isn’t “division” in the sense that outsiders would have you believe.

The Left is, at core, committed to ensuring an equal voice for all. That is, after all, the primary motivation behind socialisation of private property: there is a tension between the fact that private property is a coercive relationship, and the fact that everyone ought have self-determination that extends as far as it can before butting up against someone else’s.

Everything on the Left hinges on the notion that my freedom is your freedom and vice versa; everything on the Left hinges on the notion that some people having a lot more freedom than others is an affront to human dignity.

So much so in fact that sometimes people take this to be socialism itself – the idea that we should be good to one another.

And in some ways, that is what “from each according to ability, to each according to need” is about: it could all be said to be about suffering-focused ethics.

So I am quite proud that efforts so far towards developing Harmony’s first manifesto – though we will be producing many individual policy documents along the way – have gone the way they have. We have all been clear on our desire to ensure that suffering is alleviated first; that the only way to a happy society is via fixing the endemic problems in this one.

Discussion has been wide-ranging and relaxed; these early calls are not about pinning the subject matter down and coming to a resolution, but are about learning to work together, collectively, deliberatively, in our new participatory democracy. And it has been interesting that because the consensus phase of that participatory democracy is “open”, we have seen a mixture of participants: members and interested parties.

This is great, because it means that instead of taking our ideas to the doorstep and asking that people come on board, we’re doing it the other way around: why don’t you come by ours and tell us how you feel?

And as time goes by and the meetings slowly pile up, another thing I’m noticing is how the focus is increasing. Initially a lot of the talk was on what Harmony is, with policies a little sidelined. And that was OK: but now we’re starting to get into the core of how people feel. Some people bring their biases – and can see everything through the lens of what affects them and their communities the most. Others bring curiousity. And some just sit and listen – and all of these approaches are utterly valid and needed.

As we widen the calls in future, as the numbers increase, I look forward to more and more new faces. I look forward to more voices. I look forward to hearing from everyone with a passion for building something great and bright and new: together, almost certainly not always in Harmony, but always working towards it.

But the most positive take-away for me is this: when we’re talking about real change to make a difference in people’s lives, we’re not divisive or divided at all. We’re focused, and we all know why we need to act. On the why, we are utterly united.

The next call is on Health and Social Care, and you can take part in that by registering here.