2007 - 2022

Scotland’s Democratic Revolution

Our Scotland 2042 series imagines Scotland twenty years in the future. For details about how to take part go here.

On this historic day, the population of Scotland has overwhelming voted Yes. This unprecedented nationwide referendum, which required 2/3 majority vote, passed today with 73% of 14 year-olds and older saying now is the time to begin the 13-year process of replacing Parliament with directly democratic systems of self-governance.

Anna Jardine, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, commented “When Scotland declared independence 18 years ago, very few of us could have predicted the rapid transformations that would take place here and around the world.” Noting recent developments including thriving new communities of climate and political refugees as well as growing movements calling for decentralisation to go deeper, Jardine adds, “We have been listening.”

Lakshmi Narayan, the spokesperson for the Govan Free State, declared “Today the people of Scotland have taken a brave step towards global equality. The real wealth of Scotland is in the vitality of the land, the people and our unique communities. After all the tremendous challenges over the past few decades, this great coming together for truly sustainable democracies gives renewed hope for the future.”

Meanwhile Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Geoffrey Haddow, remarked, “This is a dangerous social experiment for such a young country. I only hope the people of Scotland realise before it’s too late that strong leadership is needed in these uncertain times.”

For now, the changes will be relatively small given the scope of transformation envisioned. Shifting from centralised representation to local and interlocal democracy requires empowerment and skills development across the population. Community-based participatory education programmes including group facilitation, consensus decision-making, permaculture design, and heart-centred listening will expand over the next four years (Phase 1).

The national curriculum for schools is changing, too, with a stronger emphasis placed on critical thinking, practical ecological knowledge, Indigenous & Celtic studies, poetry & storytelling, cooperative economics and self-care. The last is especially important notes Head Teacher Amala McGlotten of Inverness High School. “When young people learn healthy boundaries and the importance of caring for themselves first, they have a strong foundation for a life of kindness and cooperation.”

Long-standing cooperative businesses such as Greencity Wholefoods, Grass Roots Remedies and AK Press are offering consultancy to traditionally hierarchical Scottish companies wanting to reap the benefits of more egalitarian ways of working. “We’re tired of inequality,” comments Alasdair Campbell, CEO of FlyFree – producers of solar-powered zeppelins for domestic and international travel and trade. “Ecological and public health crises have forced us to see that radical changes are not only possible but necessary and desirable.”

These government and business-led approaches are working in tandem with grassroots projects, some of which have been supporting community healing and empowerment for decades. Michael Love of the Chiapas Solidarity Group talks passionately about how the Zapatista movement in Mexico has inspired direct and human-scale practices of democracy in Scotland and globally. “For years we’ve known another way is possible. Fruitful exchanges between Zapatista and local communities have paved the way for these larger-scale changes.”

Beginning in 2046, Phase 2 will initiate the transition from local & parish councils to community-based democracies making decisions by consensus. “We feel it is essential to help people unused to collective decision-making gain confidence over time,” notes Green MSP and Minister for Community Wellbeing for Edinburgh South, Elspeth McLean. “Of course,” she adds, “different local areas may feel ready to progress to Phase 2 at different times.” Government-funded services during this time are also transitioning to cooperative systems.

These steps were made possible by two key reforms undertaken by the Scottish Parliament. 2030 saw the introduction of Universal Basic Income for all residents of Scotland age 14+. This was followed by the Healthy Land Reform Act of 2035 which served to reverse the Highland Clearances by bringing fast tracts of land under community ownership as well as putting strict regulations on how many residential properties an individual or family could own.

Anarcha-buddhist economist, PA Silverstein from The Vitality Foundation, an interdisciplinary and interspiritual collective addressing social-ecological health, points to the radical decrease in substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness and major health issues across Scotland, thanks to these reforms. “People now have the energy to focus on thriving together instead of struggling for day-to-day survival. With the gradual elimination of material poverty over the last 12 years, we’ve seen tremendous personal and social evolution towards more cooperative and sustainable ways of living.”

“Cross-pollination” is the term used to describe how local community decision-making will avoid becoming insular. Government-funded community and organisational exchanges across Scotland will support participation in diverse ways of implementing direct democracy. Remarkably, the EU is very interested in this experiment taking place in Scotland and similar initiatives under consideration in Wales, the United Republic of Eire, the Basque Country, Poland, Ukraine and Slovenia. Funding is expected to become available for international exchange programmes in the next few years.

Phase 3 is planned to begin in 2050 with local democracies sending delegates to bioregional assemblies for larger-scale decision-making. A bioregion is defined by distinctive ecological & geographical characteristics. “Given the need to escalate the scale of rewilding to reverse climate change and species decline while simultaneously increasing local production of food, fuel, fiber and medicines through the application of permaculture design, it makes a lot of sense to focus on bioregions,” notes Strathclyde Professor of Ecological Economics, Shena Gordon.

Bioregional delegates will communicate with Parliament who will begin to lead by following. “For far too long, we’ve thought we’ve known best what others need. Now, we’re ready to start listening more deeply than ever before,” comments Scottish Labour MSP for Glasgow Northeast Paul Smith.

If all goes according to plan, by 2054 the Parliament in Edinburgh will begin its final year before the building undergoes conversion into one of 15 academies of advanced cooperative arts planned across Scotland. In addition to regular programmes, each will take turns hosting gatherings of bioregional delegates when nationwide decision-making is required.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Nigel de Sylva says:

    If it was left to NS we would never get Independence. She is part of Klaus Schwabs ‘ young world leaders” and as the World Economic Forum’ ( Schwab is the C,EO) and expects the New World order(the great reset,) to occur within the next 2 years, she has no interest in Scotland gaining Independence.

    1. Vishwam says:

      Hi Nigel, can I ask … did you read the article? Your comment seems unrelated to what it actually says.

      Wishing you well.

  2. SleepingDog says:

    Interesting integration of bioregions with political-economics in a possibly cellular structure; presumably helping to reduce the ravages of invasive species, eliminate monocultures and strengthen defences against epidemics. But sure, you have to have some ‘cross-pollination’ linkages, just like messages, waste products and nutrients move through semi-permeable cell walls.

    1. Vishwam says:

      Glad you like it, SleepingDog. It was fun to write! Hard to stop at 1000 words, actually. It seems a fractal democracy could be highly functional and resilient.

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