Combating hopelessness

Discussion in 'protest, direct action and demos' started by friendofdorothy, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. oryx

    oryx Sitting on the bock of the day

    I can SO identify with this and was planning on posting something similar. For our generation there was also the strong influence of the post-war NHS & social care system where everything was free (NHS specs anyone? they weren't the most stylish but they did the job & were free :cool:;) and the milk snatched by you-know-who).

    There was also the 70s where unions were strong. Even some left wing people go on about the unions at that time being 'too strong'........but then, certainly in the public sector in the 80s, good working conditions had been mainly won. You had rights at work which have since been quietly and acquiescently eroded. Just a small example - in the sector I work in (housing) you got time and a half for anti-social hours - that's long gone and you're expected to be overjoyed that you're working at all. :mad: I am aware that there was racism and sexism within unions in this era so not pretending it was an ideal world.

    In the Thatcher era there was organised resistance, much more than there is now, IMHO, and more of a sense of hope. That legacy of the post-war era was still there in terms of more protection for workers, a better safety net for those out of work (the overwhelming majority of people want to work and there was a trust that you would look for viable work and literally 'sign' on if you needed to without harassment or fake training, run by some profiteering outsourcing company - in fact said shitty profiteering outsourcing companies, if not unheard of, were largely absent then, across all sectors).

    I find it really upsetting that all the things people fought for and many of which achieved some realisation in the mid-20th century - workers' rights, nationalised industries with no profit going to shareholders, free healthcare and a financial safety net - are being, or have been eroded. And we're already seeing an increase in street homelessness and slum landlordism (beds in sheds anyone?)

    There are two things giving me hope at the moment - the SNP in Scotland and their success with an anti-austerity agenda, and the number of very young people involved in what could broadly be termed the resistance. A lot of them at the rally on 20 June and just anecdotally - some of my friends' kids and other young people I know involved in left wing politics, and this is probably a trend. I hope it is.

    A lot more to say on this re party politics etc....:)
  2. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Some party political people, generally in elected positions, see people entirely instrumentally - as a mechanism by which the politico furthers their career.

    Scapegoating is the oldest political trick in the book, and unfortunately the easiest one to pull off, because all you have to do is work out which group it's most convenient to scapegoat on which occasion.
    As for in-fighting, I've always seen it as handy. It allows you to refine your arguments before presenting them to a wider public. The only in-fighters I dislike are those whose main contribution is to say "you can't do that", and I dislike them because they rarely (if ever) elucidate a decent argument as to why something shouldn't be or can't be done.

    Agreed. It goes deeper than that too, though.
    One of the fundamentals on which the European ideal of democracy is based, is the concept of a social contract or compact between the ruled and the rulers - that they govern/police/boss because we consent that they do so. We cede certain collective rights on the understanding that we receive certain protections. If the state erodes those protections (social security, shelter, health services etc), then they breach that contract/compact, and need to consider that the legitimacy of their power over us is questionable and flawed. We know what happens when people withdraw their consent to be policed, and "they" know what happens too - their system stops working, as situations as varied as the Poll Tax protests and riots, and the UK Uncut protests have shown.

    Fight the power, however you can.
  3. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    She's right.
    For me that'd mean small acts of chaos and/or subversion work well, and it can be anything from subtly altering a bit of state/council/govt propaganda on a notice board to change the meaning, to (example from youth here) filling the locks of the local NF honcho's front door with glue, to spontaneously demonstrating at a councillor or council officer who is causing local problems when you see them in public.
    Buscador's mileage may vary, though! :)
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  4. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Thatcherism brought with it a concerted effort by the state and the government to indoctrinate people - mostly through a compliant right-wing oriented media - into feeling that trade unionism and union membership were "bad", that they were somehow creepy and subversive; into feeling that leftism, or even Labourism was somehow "wrong"/unpatriotic. This indoctrination has had 35 years to take root, and even though the application of a little bit of critical thinking shows it up for the transparent load of arse-nuggets that it is, it's become the default setting for some people.

    Workers' rights, nationalised industries, free healthcare and a social safety net are inimical to the neoliberalism that Thatcher set in train. Homelessness and slum landlordism aren't.

    I think the SNP provide a good example of the establishment being shaken up, but I don't think they hold a solution to the above-mentioned problem. They're part of the Parliamentary system, and too small to force reform or change.
    In my personal opinion, parliamentary politics, and the concept of Parliamentary Democracy, are busted flushes. Our Parliamentary Democracy validates what is effectively elected dictatorship - a party voted into power has no obligation whatsoever to abide by any promises it makes or has made prior to winning power, no accountability at all to local, regional or national electorates, and no requirement to justify decisions that cause social harm. This has always been the case, but is especially germane now that the major parties all share the core neoliberal values. All our votes do is validate these muppets and their system.
    What's the alternative,then? Same as it ever was - organise outside of their confines, look after ourselves and our communities, and refuse to engage with power that has no accountability.
  5. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Sorry, thanks for posting those links - I've only just got around to reading them (its been a really shitty week for me)
    Very interesting - heres a snip for those who haven't read the link:

    CR groups as they were called were still the place to start with feminism when I was young. Spare Rib used to have a list of them I recall. I joined one in 1981. It put me in touch with women who had such different views of the world, and in touch with new ideas and new theories. The personal was political. It did feel empowering. I supposed each in our own way we did change our own lives and collectively we have changed the world. Well a bit. brixtonscot have you tried this - or would you like to? Anyone else?

    here's a bit from:
    There's a lot to read there and I don't pretend to understand with it all, but it does sound interesting. Anyone else read it all? interesting in discussing it?
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  6. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    I like these slogans from Plan C: [​IMG]

    From Plan C on the anti-austerity march
  7. brixtonscot

    brixtonscot Well-Known Member I haven't tried a consciousness raising group yet , but I have been in touch with Plan C and they have a CR going , though are not accepting new members to it at the moment in order to build personal trust amongst those participating. So it was suggested it could be possible to set up another CR group for those if there is interest on here , we could maybe get another one going

    Attached Files:

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  8. Grace Johnson

    Grace Johnson i like dairylea dunkers

    When we fully realise what we are fighting against it is so hard to maintain any hope at all, I mean, they control the schools, the media, the banks, the war machine, the prisons, the roads... even the hospitals. It's overwhelming.

    These days, I think...

    All you can do is maintain your dignity the best way you can. For some people that means gettin out on protests and scraping, for some people that means trying to manage a live of the grid and some people just try to raise their families to be fighters and question the way we live.

    But even if we are all hopelessly fucked by the world we live in and maybe nothing will change .... As long as we can maintain our dignity and our humanity, then we have something that is truly ours. Maybe, that is all we can do.... so, we can only keep fighting because that is the only response to such horrific oppression that is dignified and human.

    I think it is quite probably hopeless because I know that the system I live in will kill me..... but I'm going out swinging......
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  9. zxspectrum

    zxspectrum Banned Banned

    I don't feel very hopeful at all.

    I dare say I shall live out my days seeing no real change. Maybe something exciting will happen in 2020, but that's just wishful thinking. There is no opposition of any real strength and populist groups don't seem very good at anything bar grabbing some attention. The discourse however is stitched up by the mainstream media who routinely invite on idiots to continue propaganda. It just never ends and has reached a point where anyone who dissents from that propaganda is seen as being ridiculous and can't be taken seriously. People's perceptions, not facts, are given credence in the name of 'common sense'.

    I was born in the 70's and grew up in the 80's for the most part. During that period there was none of the technology we have today. I and people of my generation I believe have straddled a cultural and technological shift that people now take for granted. This makes it difficult to compete in the modern labour market and for skills; with the last edifice of a free education system now being dismantled that consigns someone like me even more to the scrapheap. Training opportunities are non existent, the Work Programme is a sham, and even then getting training doesn't guarantee anything. You are expected to be like Dragons Den and be a self made man; if you fail at that then you deserve your poverty and no help should be forthcoming. That's the message.

    The future looks very bleak for all sorts of people, particularly the youth. Despite being born in an internet mass communication tech-rich era it's still only an assumption - prejudice - that people all have expensive phones/computers/playsations if they are unemployed.

    I think it's going to take a lot more than wacky protest from hipster groups and well meaning but well off progressive types. Even in local council people like the Green party, whom i have otherwise a lot of time for, are failing; they are selling out and doing nothing (just look at Bristol - or even Brighton, as despite a minority council they have copped a lot of flak iirc). I think we need stronger and more direct action, but unfortunately the stomach for that just isn't there...yet?
    friendofdorothy likes this.
  10. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    I get what you're saying, but I believe we have ample historic evidence that even when the dice were more loaded against us than now, we've still managed to achieve things - the fact of trade unionism, and of the "universal franchise" are clear indications of that. Change seldom comes quickly or easily, but it does come.
    As for direct action, the stomach has always been there, but (as ever) there are always obfuscating factors, often involving political organisations who benefit more from touting and retaining the status quo, than driving actual real revolutionary change.
  11. zxspectrum

    zxspectrum Banned Banned

    Hopefully things will improve, but I thought that during the Coalition and nothing did. I had hopes that Universal Credit for exmaple would blow up in IDS' face and he would get the sack or something. How naive of me!

    The struggles we face today seem unprecedented: we have a Tory majority, even a thin one, that's planning to gut society as never before. We have TTIP and we face the end of a lot of institutions we have accepted as part of our lives: the NHS, the welfare state for example. The unparalleled gap between rich and poor is as never before.

    The power most cerainly lies with the people and if the will was there we could easily send the Tories packing. But, as unprecedented as the struggles we face, is the strength of mass media, working to keep people anaesthetised and soporific. People now, at least IME, just think that, if you speak out on issues, you're just a tedious old socialist troll, or you are to be scorned for being a scrounger or an apologis for - t use a term someone put to me on Google plus the other day in respect of the budget - 'land whales' who shit out kids just to get on the dole.

    Maybe at some point in the near future it will change. Maybe this budget was a step too far that will be a tipping point. But i'm not so sure.
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  12. ChrisD

    ChrisD .

    I'm sure I have a lot of common cause with them but their academic sociological language puts me off (& I have 3 degrees).

    Thanks for this thread though. Last week I was standing in my provincial city at an anti-austerity rally which was poorly attended (more shoppers looking on bemused than protesters). I was thinking that I've attended so many such events over the last 35 or so years and now I'm the white bearded old bloke standing glumly at the back when I used to be the ginger haired agitator at the front. The difference is now there are photos of the protest on social media so I can see how bloody old I now look.

    I haven't quite given up but I've lost my enthusiasm. Come on Urban - revitalize me please!
  13. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    Okay then, I'll tell you that things on this estate have gone from looking as though we were fighting a losing battle (on our own) to looking as though we may just about have a realistic chance of winning (and others think our problem is theirs too). Not out of danger yet, but there's still a better chance than if nobody had even tried to oppose and resist the council's attempt to push us into regeneration.
  14. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    "Change doesn't come without struggle" is perhaps not as well-known a sentiment as it used to be, as I'm well-aware of people who moan like fuck, but can never stir themselves to even e-mail their councillors or MP, let alone march; let alone do community activism of any kind; let alone give a shit about anyone but themselves - it's THAT attitude that is what we're struggling against as much as apathy and a lying, soporific media.
  15. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Apparently, so did Prince Charles!
    And remember, folks: If one of your degrees is an MBA, it doesn't count! :p

    At least you're not the white-bearded bloke selling copies of "Socialist Worker"!
    And stop worrying about looking old! :D
  16. Puddy_Tat

    Puddy_Tat meh

    my MP is a massive tory twunt. i don't see any bloody point.
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  17. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    The point isn't that your single post is likely to cause change - IMO it's never been about that, at least for the last 50 years or so - it's that your single piece of mail may be part of a steady flow of similar pieces of mail to that MP, and they may get so fed up with you and others bothering them that they actually look into it, if only to shut you filthy oiks up!
    I'm a firm believer in the power of annoyance. :)
  18. 8ball

    8ball Most Ignoreable Poster 2016

    Amnesty International got some significant results by using this principle.
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  19. smokedout

    smokedout criminal

    Yes Disabled People Against Cuts and Boycott Workfare - both hold regular london protests, also London Coalition Against Poverty, and on related notes Class War, Streets Kitchen and South London Housing Action

    Theres a fairly out of date list here, I plan to update, will post a link to this thread when I have
  20. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    They did indeed, and still do. :cool:
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  21. Puddy_Tat

    Puddy_Tat meh

    I suspect that his staff filter letters by rateable value before they decide whether to bin them or not.
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  22. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    You know what gets up my nose? It's the person who comes up to you when leafletting etc and says "I feel so much better for seeing you do it, but there's no way I can ever do anything like that..."

    Guess what? I'm not overblessed with free time or energy, I'm neither rich, nor photogenic, nor well connected (at least in the sense of having power and contacts with the so-called movers & shakers). I dislike dealing with the public, and giving interviews is draining. OTOH there are times when my comfort is far less important than what's at stake. If you absolutely can't do this, FFS find something you can do which matches your skills and personality.

    If not you, then who? etc. </soapbox>
  23. treelover

    treelover Well-Known Member

    There are some, but the support they get is limited, the group I helped set up folded because of this.
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  24. treelover

    treelover Well-Known Member

    That is disgusting and should be reported as hate post, the kippers, misanthropes, eugenicists are all over social media and the constant repetition of their bile is over time being seen as 'common sense' and a valid opinion, the only real mass social media site that can challenge this is 'Another Angry Voice, where such views are seen off rapidly. Unlike others, I think this terrain is significant, (Gramsci would have acknowledged it) and many posters on S/M sites are recoiling and leaving the field and politics in some cases in a state of shock.
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  25. treelover

    treelover Well-Known Member

    That's the majority of them now, well grey haired.
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  26. Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson Well-Known Member

    I need to not read the news for a few days now. My anger levels are through the roof atm.
  27. Yuwipi Woman

    Yuwipi Woman Whack-A-Mole Queen

    Sorry, it took a bit to get back to you. I'm sorry too that I'm going to disappoint.

    I don't have any real answers and I get discouraged too. Right now we have a new Governor who is revamping our social services department. He hired new managers from that utopia for the poor: Arkansas. So far they've proposed testing poor people for drugs and making the unemployed sign a contract on what they're going to do to get employed. Any deviation from the plan and they pull your benefits. Like they were easy to get anyway. It's just another way of humiliating people. Meanwhile we had 22 homeless people die on our streets last year. That was double the previous year. This year we're on track to break last year's record.

    I try to savor the few places where we make progress. After years of lobbying we're getting most of what we were wanting from our local electric provider. They've got the funding and started building projects that will put us at 50% renewables by 2020. We actually did that by capturing the public body that oversees it. All of those posts are appointed by the mayor and we did a lot of contact with him until he started appointing our candidates for the board. We've got about half of it locked down. The rest are Chamber of Commerce types. If you show them where they'll benefit, they're all over it (the greedy bastards). I know it sounds easy, but I've been working on these exact issues since the mid-80s. And we still have the other 50% to go.

    I also try to hang out with people that share my views at least part of the time. I live in a very, very red state in the US. So you have to hang out with people who make you feel that you're not crazy, even though everyone else is. And sometimes, I just have to ditch the phone and go off-grid for while. Grab the backpack and the hiking boots and get out of Dodge.

    See, no real answers here. I do have this feeling that something is major is going to break soon. You can't have this level of poverty and dissatisfaction that isn't being addressed without an reaction a some point. A friend of mine made the point this week that Social Security isn't security for the poor and old, it's security for the rich so the poor won't kill them all in their beds.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
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  28. ice-is-forming

    ice-is-forming Winter is coming......

    I'd just like to add that Australia is going the same way too, the posts above (including Yuwipi womans from the usa) are all posts that i could be making about whats going off down here as well. At times the hopelessness is overwhelming, its like a cloud hanging over the world. But i'll be damned if i'll change, I'll carry on doing whatever it takes to stop the gap from widening any further and then do some more to close it :mad: I can't do anything but fight, there is absolutely no way I can just sit back and ignore whats happening. Yes, lots of people are ignoring it and/or losing hope, but fuck it i can be annoying and loud enough for 100 of those people... :D

    If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem..Hold on to Hope people :thumbs:
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
  29. treelover

    treelover Well-Known Member

    New Labour and the Condems/Tories got a lot of ideas on welfare from Aus

    Howard even wanted the right of officials to be able to just walking into disabled claimants homes.
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  30. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    I think things were worse in the victorian period, the emergence of early unions like IWW is a bloody struggle and there'd never been anything like a social security system before. It was new and it was won with a combined strategy of unionisation and electoral stuff. I'm sure that's a massive simplification, and certainly ignores the structural changes of the development of capitalism post-slavery and the more immediate effects of WW1 & 2. But as a person, there was a definite strategy / strategies that could be followed.

    I think my biggest now problem is strategy. What's the strategy? I can't work one out, and I feel like the groups I've been involved with on anti-austerity stuff were all tactics and no strategy (especially the student group). The two big strategies I can see have failed (electoral strategy like TUSC or Left Unity; and community organising like IWCA). I can't be getting involved with entryism into the green party as a different electoral strategy, and I didn't go for an electoral strategy in 2009/10 when I got active again because I don't see it working, I think the last election showed I was right, that Labour won't move back to a social democratic position and Green party didn't take this space until right near the election, to me means that there's something underneath/behind electoral politics which needs to change for electoral battleground to move.

    So that means some kind of community organising but as a person I'm not great at this and definitely not good at starting things, I can work in groups organising stuff but the people/network building side of it I'm shite at cos no people skills. IWCA stuff didn't really seem to work out and I dunno what I'd do anyway. My feeling is that Thatcher set out to destroy as much communal / communitarian / socialised stuff as possible, to get people acting/working and therefore thinking individually, and that we need to push back against that with things (any things, not capital P Political stuff necessarily) that need group/socialised decisions/action, just so that we can get more of the idea that socialised stuff works for us and that we want that from the state, then we can look at electoral stuff as we might be able to achieve it. All the things Thatcher has changed (housing, transport, unions, privatised industries, sure there's other things) are stuff that we as individuals can't change, those things will come back to us through electoral politics, apart from unions, but the TUC unions are going nowhere and whilst I'd still like to see syndicalist type unions like IWW and SolFed, and the popup union at Sussex Uni iirc coming to the fore, I don't know how this happens as workplace issues are so individualised now for the most part.

    I think there should be some kind of concluding paragraph here, but there isn't. I'm not involved in any organising anymore, just in small bits of practical help with benefits stuff and as a union rep, neither of which is going to stop or change anything. Until I can feel some kind of strategy I don't really know what to do. The only tactics I think were effective were the shop sit-ins from UKUncut (but only worked because of having such a soft message) and the online actions & shop sit-ins from Boycott Workfare. UKUncut only achieved the counter to the "no alternative" and "we're all in this together" messages, did nothing to stop tax avoidance really let alone austerity; BW have got lots of comapnies/charities to pull out of workfare but the schemes roll on and get expanded and added to, I feel like it could be won by taking out all the companies/charities who take part but it's hard to keep the momentum up.

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