The mother of all downturns?

Discussion in 'UK politics, current affairs and news' started by chilango, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. Rob Ray

    Rob Ray Irony is well sad

    This is an incredibly important point imv and relates strongly to the St Mungos thread, inasmuch as it's a good example of the way neoliberal models have eviscerated what had been a (problematic) independent, non-politicised sector to the point where it's unable to even reproduce its former function as a weak social watchdog.

    It's been increasingly obvious especially in London that the relentless atomisation and scattering of working class communities has scrubbed the ability to fight back against attacks on State infrastructure and support, but it's also led to a near-collapse in the less spectacular self-organised activity that used to occur outside of headline struggles.

    Just anecdotally in anarchist circles, I was just talking to a member of the Advisory Service For Squatters today who was saying that all the action is in other cities now, outside of a few minor or spectacular holdouts the organised scene is pretty dead. A member of Rising Tide was telling me a couple of weeks ago that anti-fracking activity is fucked in the south, more vibrant further north. Same for Radical Routes (more directly because of house prices, addmitedly), and several of the groups based around Angel Alley are struggling for people atm.

    Some of that, I suspect, is a Corbyn-related downturn as lots of people are spending their time in Labour branch meetings rather than anarchist ones, but it's a longer-term trend than can be explained just by him. Some of it is the collapse in benefit security/ability to live in the city on less/support networks that used to exist, both formal and informal. There's been an exodus of the people who can manage it, and a withdrawing of people who have to concentrate on their own survival.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2018
  2. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    No I dont think there was ever one unified movement - but there were lots of unions, parties, groups and individuals who were together in generally being of the 'left'.
    Celyn likes this.
  3. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Thatcher generally knocked the shit of of ordinary working people, killed off the struggling old big industries and effectively destroyed union power. She sold the masses a sop of home /share owning neoliberal politics and the media fed them blingy celebrity crap to keep them mollified. The left disintergrated into ever smaller and smaller factions busy fighting with themselves and each other.

    I'd like to see more a solidarity, more setting our differences aside so that we can unite on the few things that we can all agree on, like:
    1. The power of exploitative big business, money markets and banks, that work against the interests of their workers, the benefit of the tax payer and the country in general, ought to be curbed and controlled.
    2. We shouldn't ruin the earth for future generations.
    3. Everyone needs a home, work, dignity and some love in their lives.
    4. I would add we don't like tories (but I'm not sure how many people would unite around that these days)
    We may not agree on everything, we won't agree on all the details or on the method of achieving goals. I don't beleive any one party or organisation can change everything. I think it will take many people, groups, organisations, media, unions, parties etc to all pull together.

    I think its generally easy to get people to agree on what they don't want than what they do want.
  4. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Yes. Burn out is a problem there was huge amounts of it in late 80s & 90s. People now have to pay for education and work for peanuts and pay huge rents. The divide between those who have and have not is widening all the time. Living without work is difficult, squatting largely illegal and living cheaply is a rarity. No wonder there is less energy for any kinds of action or political activity.
    Celyn likes this.
  5. dialectician

    dialectician The Main Enemy is at home.

    Why is the left in the UK overwhelmingly white though?

    I don't think this has been historically the case.

    why is embourgeoisement seen as a necessary way out for many immigrants?

    Why do non-white immigrants (especially) feel this isolation and individualisation that butchers talks about, but on a greater scale?

    Surely if we have to distance ourselves from the university left then that also includes the white middle-class left? I've never quite understood why white m/c intellectuals are a product of their environment but poc are traitors to some unspoken ideal.

    Just musing here.
    frogwoman, october_lost and Celyn like this.
  6. dialectician

    dialectician The Main Enemy is at home.

    how isn't that a kind of colonial assimilation.

    White people should speak up for us, our agency should be denied, our experiences should be sublimated to an abstract idea of the working class as some identity. there's no analysis of the racialisation, genderising and disablising of capitalism, no just play the noble colonialist.

    i agree that reverse racism should be criticised. but that is internal to our divided experiences I.E: antiblack sentiment in Asian communities, racism towards white eastern europeans, etc.

    Does that mean people of colour can't be criticised on their politics? absolutely not. and i detest this tiptowing that uni identity politics has engendered (allies, wtf is that even supposed to mean?) but to say oh it's all good when white people lead us is doing a disservice to the history of our antiracist struggles.
    frogwoman, friendofdorothy and Celyn like this.
  7. 19force8

    19force8 For the avoidance of faith

    Because they pretty much reflect the population of the country - overwhelmingly white.

    There's always been poc in the working class movement from the chartists onwards, but it's always been mainly white people. It would be really odd if it hadn't.

    Might have something to do with avoiding the racism in the employment market.

    It's not just about race, there's a whole swathe of identities competing for attention/resources/acceptance. The idea that working class struggle could be a uniting force rather than just another identity is alien to this milieu.

    We don't want to distance ourselves from the university left, we want to bring them back into the fold.

    We're all products of our environment. Unfortunately, the environs of academe seem to be totally compromised by privilege theory, safe spaces and intersectionality.* To the extent that you're a pariah in activist circles if you disagree with any of it.

    Musing right back at you.

    * btw, intersectionality as a way of describing an accumulation of factors isn't necessarily a bad thing, I just get the impression it's sometimes used as a means of keeping score.
  8. Celyn

    Celyn Well-Known Member

  9. dialectician

    dialectician The Main Enemy is at home.

    i'm not sure how you're going to drag the university left back into the fold tbh.

    Frankly that has a lot to do with their shit hangover politics from the cold war.
  10. krink

    krink I'll do it this afternoon

    Just to say, I couldn't give a fuck about how shit politics is on the campuses. Let them have their shit politics and keep it there, I'm not interested in those tiny, self obsessed groups. I'm not into waiting years for the promises of the Joy of Corbyn either. I don't know how I'm going to afford to live this next year and my union just says "well, it's either eat up your shit sandwich or leave" because the unions are run by the same kind of people as politics is. So, I think one of the best (the only?) way to get anywhere is to get politics and power into working class hands. Not university campus or career politics. There's no easy way, it means going out and talking to people and coming up with ideas and work. Who is going to start? There must be more than the few of us here who are not putting everything into faith in the messiah. I don't know, I'm probably talking bollocks but there you go.
  11. dialectician

    dialectician The Main Enemy is at home.

    19force8 it's just going round and round in circles.

    maybe if i wasn't so alienated and separated i'd have a better, concrete answer for you.
  12. 19force8

    19force8 For the avoidance of faith

    I think you're missing the point in several ways here.

    I never suggested anti-racist campaigns have to be lead by white people. That would be racist.

    The working class is not an identity, it's a class formed by it's relationship to the means of production. It's full of black, female, disabled and LGBT people who have a greater material interest in the solidarity of their class than they do in supporting similar people in the capitalist class. That doesn't mean they kowtow to some orientalist view of the white man's burden, they do what they've always done they fight for recognition of their oppression and win support to overcome it.

    When I mentioned being accused of reverse racism it was because I was trying to explain how white workers were also damaged by racism - by the time I got round to saying that the more a working class was divided by racism the worse conditions often were for all members of that class, black or white, protestant or catholic I was already being denounced. Not because I was trying to say black people were racist to white people. It was an example of how wide the gulf is at the moment.

    On "allies", I agree with you - I tend to think of it in the way the expanding Roman Empire had allies - really not a good idea for the "ally."

    What happens in any voluntary organisation where only a select few get to make the decisions, or even have the right to express a dissenting opinion? You'll end up with an organisation consisting of just that select few.
    Celyn likes this.
  13. 19force8

    19force8 For the avoidance of faith

    Fair enough. I'm still a bit wound up by replaying last week's encounter. Ho hum.
  14. 19force8

    19force8 For the avoidance of faith

    Well it ain't happening overnight and a substantial chunk of these kids are going straight into the working class with their shit politics and their unmanageable debt on top of their shit jobs. But I don't think you're talking bollocks, only the fact that I'm a self-deluding idiot allows me to hope my grandchildren will see a better world.
    sealion and emanymton like this.
  15. Celyn

    Celyn Well-Known Member

    Well, because the UK is mostly white, really. That means the left will be overwhelmingly white, as will the "Right".
  16. Celyn

    Celyn Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
  17. Celyn

    Celyn Well-Known Member

    What? Universities are doing shit hangover politics from the cold war? All universities? Or just some universities? If the latter, which universities?
  18. Celyn

    Celyn Well-Known Member

  19. chilango

    chilango Neither Westminster nor Brussels....

    I think there's a number of things we could usefully* do. I'll do separate posts below for each for ease of reply.

    *taking mauvais earlier point, it's still more useful (or at least no less useful) than whatever I else I could be chatting about on here.
  20. chilango

    chilango Neither Westminster nor Brussels....

    Big Ideas |What is it we are (or should be) fighting for?

    Avoiding trotting out (geddit?) a list of slogans or "transitional demands" what - put into simple terms - is it that we believe? What differentiates us from liberals? from the right? from the left as described above by butchersapron et al?

    My thoughts tossed into the ring.

    • Class Struggle: Both its structural presence and the need to organise around it.
    • Self- Management: Change being created from below
    • Collective action, mutual aid, solidarity...
    I'm sure we could go into more detail, but i think we need to distill this into a handful of grand concepts that can be expressed simply.
  21. chilango

    chilango Neither Westminster nor Brussels....

    Auditing| Where are we, what do we have left?

    Are there any orgs, groups, campaigns active that are based on those big ideas?
    What infrastructure do we have? bookshops? periodicals? social centres? websites/blogs/social media channels etc.?
    Do we have voices at the moment? Who is out there saying the stuff we (broadly) believe? Keenan Malik? Lisa McKenzie? ( I don't know...)
    danny la rouge likes this.
  22. stethoscope

    stethoscope Well-Known Member

    Far from being bollocks, I'd say it's fundamental. I just don't know how its done other than as micro-organising in communities and as a slow burning, building process, trying to empower working class people to feel they can have some sort of influence again. And then if/when connections/alliances beyond those communities can get made over time then it can grow. People here have connections to the IWCA, is this the best vehicle for this? Problem to overcome is that everything is so fragmented and isolated - how we live our lives, our work places, how we socialise, our social spaces. Hell, even me as someone who's middle class and working in higher ed, I seem to have less in common with any those around me now with this stuff than ever, and feel like an outsider to what's going on in mainstream 'left' circles. The basic stuff like social housing, welfare, worker stuff seems to be treated as 'unsexy' by a lot of left activists now, and since the referendum that seems even worse where everything has descended into 'did you vote remain or leave'. And since the EU referendum, I'm also pretty much a pariah amongst peers for having been vocal for leave from a left perspective, and those that I just assumed to be political allies/comrades for years they either seem to fall into 'Corbyn the savour' or 'if you didn't vote remain then I'm writing you off'. For me, the difference is people on the left saying 'everything is shit coz brexit', whereas I see it as 'everything is shit despite brexit'.

    So, yeah, bit at a loss though to know what we do about it really, other than wanting to do something!
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
    sealion, frogwoman, krink and 5 others like this.
  23. chilango

    chilango Neither Westminster nor Brussels....

    What are we not? | How are we creating that distance from....
    • IDPol
    • Campus and Academic bubbles
    • m/c liberals
  24. chilango

    chilango Neither Westminster nor Brussels....

    Creating Antecedents | Who and What can we point to from the past as examples of what we are talking about?
    danny la rouge likes this.
  25. chilango

    chilango Neither Westminster nor Brussels....

    ...and then we can go on to talk about what to actually do, what sort of actions are possible. But I think we need to sort ourselves out first.
  26. danny la rouge

    danny la rouge Without music, life would be a mistake.

    Cheers chilango, those are useful pointers.

    Just catching up on this as I've been caught up in my mother-in-law being gravely ill, dying and then the funeral. But: good thread, good OP, and good pointers. I'll be keeping an eye here and chipping in if I have time.
  27. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    It could be, for some people, but I think chilango is right when he says that talking about basic principles is the best place to start with this.
    danny la rouge likes this.
  28. LynnDoyleCooper

    LynnDoyleCooper Up against the wall motherfucker.

    Fuck, this is a big conversation, but a crucial one. Might try and chip in. On a practical level in the last year or so I've completely changed what I'm doing politically (as in work rather than ideas) so I'll try and bring that in when it's appropriate.

    Think the infrastructure bit really needs unpicking as well... as in what kind and for who? Moving into that and 'community politics' are the oft repeated cries when this kind of stuff comes up.
  29. likesfish

    likesfish officaly hardest and most tooled up urbanite:)

    90% of the Uk is white get out of london and some of the big citys and its just not that multicultural .

    That's why ID politics can be so dangerous it is a useful tool to be able to say a specific problems need tackaling.
    But evenutally you just run up against the numbers uk mostly white then asian then black then chinese

    But if your not white or straight your in the minority
  30. october_lost

    october_lost It's not hip any more...

    Surely the problem faced by 'the left', as always, is the lack of any percieved space outside of the unions/labour in which to operate. There seems to be very cyclical movements of appropriation by social democratic leadership of the radical millieu, and attempts to ward this off are very difficult.

    The green shoots, for me, are going to be the ultimate failure of Corbynism, and building movements which are at present untouched by the Labour party.
    dialectician and mauvais like this.

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