What’s perceived as general systemic failure, generational betrayal of the future and the narrowing of political parties to useless dysfunctional relics is leading to more and more rage. The instances of direct action – whether its Just Stop Oil, This is Rigged or Palestine Action – are growing in scale and intensity. You might not agree with them, but they are the sign of a broken politics.

Not everyone is on that bandwidth though.

With the softest of launches a new political project has just emerged from the THE ALTERNATIVE GLOBAL called, simply, SPRING. The project has been a long time in the curating and draws on radical and utopian ideas from around Europe and further afield. The idea is the brainchild of Pat Kane and Indra Adnan which has been seven years in the making and which they lay out here …

They argue that “In the very midst of a Winter defined by polycrisis, permacrisis and metacrisis the idea of Spring has until now been a promise, a hope, a yearning. But today we are revealing its structure, culture and long-term programme for transformation. With that, a sense of where you are already in the system and a chance to develop further—if you’re up for it.”

from The Evergreen, a Northern Seasonal (1895)

The project has four interconnected elements:

1) “Spring, the parallel polis – meaning the people recognising themselves as cosmolocal, and participating at various levels in the task of building an ecocivilisation. As the parallel polis becomes coherent, self-organising for deliberation and decision making, it constitutes itself as an entity through the appropriate technology – which makes it easier to join and gain traction.

Such an entity can then be represented in the partner state in the form of a new political party. That process (modelled in microcosm by Flatpack Democracy) can occur anywhere in the world and is already taking shape through municipalities and CANs.

2) Spring, the praxis of agency – which we describe as Natality (see our blogs). Driven by a willingness to innovate, to take courageous leaps, to play our way out of crises. Policy alone will not change our fate: we are bringing ourselves back to life, to becoming interconnected and interdependent in our daily actions.

For this we need new language, new values, a new understanding of our senses, including emotions. We see it in the public sphere as the rapid advancement of self-development literacy; new curriculums for learning; and a proliferation of new tools and social software for community empowerment.

3) Spring, the economy – arising from the working-out of cosmolocal, community agency networks with a view to ecocivilisation. The parallel polis can only maintain a certain autonomy with the development of a strong 4th sector, permaculture, land reform, community wealth building and a commitment to permaculture principles that give rise to new forms of capital and value other than financial. New kinds of jobs, new uses of time and space are all part of what is arising to deliver ecocivilisation.

4) Spring, the communications system. Maybe even more effective than the hard power structure offered by the parallel polis is the soft power that attracts the future into being (often referred to as the Third Attractor). For the past seven years, The Alternative UK / Global has produced a media system that integrates innovation in the realms of self, community and planet. It tells a new story in the face of crisis.

Essential to the new narrative is the feel, the energy, the attraction of that message which can be carried as much by music and drama, festivals and art. In that sense, Spring is a sensibility – an ontology – that is substantiated through news/information, events and ways of being together.”

For some the language will be too floral, for others there will be missing ingredients (state power, class, anger?) – for others the terminology will be unfamiliar and off-putting (cosmowhat?!)

But what is interesting about this project is how leftfield it is for Scottish politics which is often a stale and banal spectacle of actors playing out lines and parts you could mouth along with. The second is that it implicitly argues for a radical devolution, or rather confederalism and talks the language of self-determination that we have been banging on about forever here. Third, I like the way in which the problems are framed. We all know deep-down that the crisis we face are deeper and fundamentally different than any previously faced, so it seems appropriate to be discussing – at least – radically new forms of doing politics. Finally, the sense of being in ‘Winter’ (in the Narnian if not the Nairnian sense) is so overwhelming a bit of fresh-thinking goes a long way.

I have dozens of questions, but here’s five:

  1. How does this relate to capitalism?
  2. How does the parallel polis – as a dual power – relate to the state?
  3. How would the project work within Holyrood? How would it avoid being absorbed? And, or, how does it relate to the project of Scottish self-determination?
  4. The ideas of using direct democracy in the form of peoples assemblies has been being developed by various groups in recent times but has lacked ‘lift-off’, How can this be made to happen which doesn’t dissolve into another talking-shop?
  5. Where is the notion of resistance or struggle or oppression in this analysis?

My sense is that the organisers have an openness and a humility to not know the answers to all of these questions, which itself is refreshing.

The organisers have posed an invitation for collaboration: ‘To be an active designer of the space, sign up as a co-creator here. To share your own projects and initiatives mail us on [email protected]

It would be really interesting to hear feedback and responses in the comments below.



Comments (15)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

  1. John Wood says:

    This looks potentially interesting and worth checking out. Which I’ll do. Not ready to answer the questions but hope to offer some thoughts in due course. We certainly do need to change our whole approach – the dominant cultural perceptions are still 19th and early 20th ones and that is what is really destroying planet and people alike. I think the only way to change this is by ‘being’ the change, and so changing the collective consciousness. It’s not something we can expect others to do for us. This initiative shows that it is happening already. Fundamentally we surely need to ditch the individualistic, nihilist idea that life is an endless and pointless struggle based on fear. More relationships betwen people are possible than abuser / victim! We are part of the planet, not separate from it. And humans certainly don’t ‘rule’ it, however much fancy technology we have. It seems to me We could do worse than just try to save ourselves from ourselves.

  2. Meg Macleod says:

    First ..break the paralysis of fear that has been instilled.
    I would likec spring’ TO SUCCEED

  3. Jennie says:

    I like, and have the greatest respect for ( not always congruent, those two things) Pat and for his and Indra’s thoughtful, untiring commitment to trying to move forward.
    However I have to force myself to read his writing, because faced with a choice between the plain and the convoluted and/or arcane*, he always chooses the latter.

    This is not the way to get people onboard.

    * I know there’s an easy pun there. But this is a serious conversation.

    1. Fair point, though sometimes it feels like in Scotland we are averse to ideas or big thinking – there’s an anti-intellectual strand. I think it comes from our identity as ‘workers’ and hard graft being a quality. I agree language could / should be clear but I also feel we should be able to engage with ideas, new ideas.

    2. Wul says:

      Yeah. When I saw Pat Kane’s name I almost immediately disengaged. I just know I’ll not “get it”. Whatever “it” is. I don’t think this is anti-intelectualism on my part. But maybe it is. I just find his writing seems to be always working to evade understanding rather that trying to engage.

      I’ll give it a go though, because I admire the man and his values and because it sounds interesting and potentially hopeful. Sorry to sound negative and dismissive of people’s creativity and work.

  4. Dougie Blackwood says:

    There is no doubt that this aspirinationl project is where many of us would like the future to go. The mechanics of getting there have the odds very much stacked against them.

    I watched a discussion this morning that encapsulates the problem. Nominally it was about Gaza but most of the talk was about the politics of The US. The president could not decry the actions of Israel but the primary in Michigan is coming up and the electorate has a large Palestinian component.

    Both politicians and the main stream media play to the lowest and perhaps biggest portion of the electorate. Othering and self interest are the daily fare. We are not led down sensible paths but it’s all short term advantage.

    1. How does that example relate to the challenge of this project Dougie? sorry I may be being thick.

      1. Graeme Purves says:

        Isn’t a huge challenge that the existing political system and media will not simply stand by benignly observing any new parallel polis develop? Our existing politicians and media barons have built their power, agency and influence within the existing system and will not take kindly to the emergence of any healthier alternative. I have seen this at work on a small scale where local political party organisations seek to stifle and crush any grass-roots community initiatives which they are unable to control.

        I am not seeking to pour cold water on this initiative or promote a counsel of despair, but I think we need to be realistic about the scale of the challenge.

        1. Yes I think vested interests and power will protect themselves. I think the idea of dual power is to create a moral authority as the credibility of the existing authority wanes. What I think is interesting is a number of similar projects coalescing around the same aims and strategies, no one could do much on their own.

      2. Dougie Blackwood says:

        Maybe me not being clear. Yes let us all try to push the Spring Project forward but I fear it will be very much an uphill struggle.
        Like Scottish Independence we fight against a tide of negative propaganda.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    Well, Spring has a geographical as well as (cyclical) temporal location, and I wouldn’t have chosen that Winter/Spring metaphor if I wanted a global view to be taken seriously.
    “Subtropical and tropical areas have climates better described in terms of other seasons, e.g. dry or wet, monsoonal or cyclonic. Cultures may have local names for seasons which have little equivalence to the terms originating in Europe.”

    Since the presenters were still asking what is being launched and what will materialise at the end of the presentation, I cannot escape the feeling that the video steered awfy close to self-spoof. I was also a bit thrown by the apparent use of an SNP template.

    I found the humanist approach, which excluded non-human lifeforms and Earth-system governance, rather stale and disappointing. I just found this kind of wordage a bit too poetical to keep my attention.

    On the upside, if this approach does get more people talking about the forthcoming ecocivilisation, it may be worth it.

  6. Satan says:

    I found the whole article incomprehensible. I would think that the <99.9% of people who don't have a degree in political sociology would also find it incomprehensible.

    1. What did you find incomprehensible?

  7. Pat Kane and Indra Adnan says:

    Thanks so much for everyone’s comments and Mike’s substantial engagement and five questions. We are considering them all, and will write/video a longer reply in the next week.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.