Saturday, 15 March 2014

Reflections and experiences of a leftwing activist.

a mix of serious and fun informal  statements about the left as  a movement.  
  • My  Formative political experiences: I've always been anti-authoritarian in spirit. The older I got the more I rebelled against  religious hierarchy/ family hierarchy. I never believed in political parties even at my most mainstream politically. I came to question the school system  around the time of  reading individualist/libertarian stuff. It took me some time of delving deep into that stuff before discovering anarchism debunks right-wing thought.
    But  my life has pretty much always been political. I grew up in  an ex- miners village destroyed by Thatcher. My parents are working class.  Since my teenage years I was aware  of a local  environmentalist  camp opposed to the building of a massive road.  Poverty/ unemployment/bosses/ being shafted on all sides by the State and Capital continuously / worked as a cleaner on army base and saw propaganda from the inside.
  •  I've tried being Liberal, being  Pro- SNP, being a democratic socialist , Worked with S.S.P.  etc. None of them made sense/ fit properly with my experiences.

    • There's times when I think anarchists are being insular and sectarian  then I discover they don't associate with X person or  X organisation because they're Entryist/Leninist/ authoritarian /full of shit. I find out too late.

    • Since understanding it ,I have never in my life doubted the class struggle exists. I experience it's expressions everywhere. The conditions of my life confirm my politics.
    • What all revolutionaries should learn is patience. The revolution cannot be rushed.
    • We theorize for social change. We should take a pragmatic/pragmatist  approach to theory.
    • It is highly important we recognise the problematic nature of being an activist. Ultimately our roles are not very significant.
    • Whatever anarchists do our behaviour must always be starkly different from the Leninists and Statists.  
    • anarchists are often in the IWW and Wobblies are often anarchists.
    • Not tactic should become routine.
    • some Leninists make me super uncomfortable with Entryist behaviours etc.
    •  Marches are exhilarating breaks from everyday life- chances to express solidarity and rage.  To recruit and radicalize they're useful.  I always say it's better to have a protest or march than to not- to have a visible show of opposition.. But that's all it mounts to. Marches are spectacles which give the illusion of action while allowing for passive involvement in the appearance of resistance. Marches are symbolic acts - the bare minimum of what we should be doing. Far too many especially the Trotskyists and Leninists believe they represent effective resistance or enter into them uncritically.
    • Maybe I should go to marches for specific reforms e.g. pro-choice or against specific people/ organisations e.g. anti-workfare etc. If we can't get to them there is little point. Large marches have the disadvantage of involving naïve reformists. The problem in marches against capitalist or bigger systems and issues is we never actually confront them on the march since they  are not embodied specifically in one person or thing. Even on an anti-tory march for example, we would need to physically disrupt them to be effective otherwise it is mere theatre and ply rebellion. I'm much too cynical and skeptical for that. I think this is how anarchists should understand marches. It seems the right viewpoint both in theory and in practice.

    • It's always awkward to encounter fans of Lenin, Che, Castro, Chavez, Mao etc.   
    • Psychologically, Capitalism is killing us.
    •Often I find myself protesting or hanging out with people I have major disagreements with-liberals, greens, Leninists, parliamentary socialists etc.    
    •When I get to hang out with anarchists it feels so refreshing.    
    •I hate talk of 'Left unity' or of escaping the left/right paradigm.
    • The contrast between political  parties and Occupy could not be more stark. I oppose the Leninist party structure of 'democratic centralism'
    • activism is hard work but it shouldn't kill you like work.
    • activism is not a job. activism should not feel a burden or sap away your life force. It should not exist over you like a demon, a reified concept. Activism is not unproblematic. We should not become insular "specialists in social change".
    • Give up Activism An article from Do or Die Issue 9- Criticism of risks and dangers in activism e.g. "Historically, those movements that have come the closest to de-stabilising or removing or going beyond capitalism have not at all taken the form of activism. Activism is essentially a political form and a method of operating suited to liberal reformism that is being pushed beyond its own limits and used for revolutionary purposes. The activist role in itself must be problematic for those who desire social revolution". I don't think the points raised in this can be ignored. Just not sure what to do about them either -always good to be self critical however.  
    •There's a fair amount of unspoken tension on the left.    
    •I couldn't hang out with right wingers. 'apolitical' folk at best. I've hung out with a UKipper and I couldn't leave fast enough. In the interests of staying out of jail, it's best I'm not forced to spend time with fascists.    
    •Some leftists act like celebrities and develop cults of personality pretty much turning up to things for photo ops  e.g. The SWP .    
    •I've stayed  in the cold giving out leaflets in the street freezing my ass off because I believe in wht I'm doing. Not for the goodness of my image or to be trendy.    
    •Most leftists I know are pro-Scottish Independence. It's increasingly awkward as I reject both sides now.    
    •I despise UNITE and UNISON (The TUC too) even though their  members in the rank and file level are cool. The TUC are sell outs.    
    •The next person to try to sell me the socialist worker gets it shoved up their arse.    
    •Occupy changed my life and many others. Once you've done it you can never go back to how things were before. You view space differently. You see any empty spaces as potential camps, you see squat spaces, skipping places and hiding places.    
    •I know I'm biased but the Left have more fun. We have some of the best socials nd parties.    
    •What is it with leftists buying wine. Not having  a go, just making an observation.    
    •We argued once about which version of The Internationale we preferred.    
    •a Maoist once told me he'd shoot me if it came to it.    
    •Trotskyists like to appropriate anarchist things.Liberals do too.    
    •Everyone who is not a Leninist has that awkward Leninist friend. You always nurse a suspicion they'd shoot you if it came to it. Some remove any doubt.    
    •I despise the SWP.  The SWP, a Leninist party infamous for it's rape apologism and hierarchy is disgusting, growing like a parasite upon any grassroots campaign and hijacking it. Yet among the Scottish Left they are prominent lingering and not going away-  like a bad smell. In fairness, I know of a number of members who are passionate well intentioned people despite my disagreements with them.    
    • The SWP could be the NSa- they're everywhere.
    • I debate having an anti-SWP demo but my worry would be the SWP membership would turn up.
    •It's sad that on some demos I've ended up chanting with the SWP because they've been the most militant folk there.Least the SWP believe in revolution( even if their concept is more like a coup) , are critical of the Labour party and skeptical of Scottish Independence which is more than I can say for some 'socialists'.                   
    •     I've learnt so much being active on the left. I've met people from all over the world. I've learnt bits of French, Spanish, Italian. I've herd countless songs and chants.  I've learnt about the politics of Syria, Ukraine, Russia, Greece, Spain, Brazil...  I've heard the experiences of immigrants, the homeless, cleaners,  sex workers,the disabled, victims of police violence etc.
  • Despite the left being saddening, maddening, disappointing, annoying, frustrating etc it can also be quite lovely. We can have good parties, stimulating discussions and hilarious fun it's best ,people become like your family even strangers. at it's worst, they become awkward relatives you might have to see but would sooner avoid.

  • It's sad that on some demos I've ended up chanting with the SWP because they've been the most militant folk there.
  • I get perverse pleasure out of the bullshit of the Leninist parties and groups and how  fundamentalist  they are. Each claims it is the only true vanguard.
  • The SWP re the hipsters of the left. They'll jump on whatever is currently popular.
  • The AWL hates the SWP and the CPGB.  Socialist appeal  hate the SWP. The SWP hates the anarchists and the AWL.

  • The SWP is the biggest most pernicious Trotskyist group but there's others:-Alliance for Workers' Liberty (AWL),
  • the CPGB ( The Communist party of Great Britain ) is old fashioned, elitist and authoritarian.  Least they're open about what they want. I think their ideas just mean  a return to the horrors of the Soviet Union. Luckily no one cares about them.
  • Not to be confused with the above is  The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist) CPGB-ML . I've never met any of there members. They oppose Trotskyism. That sounds great but  This party is so 'radical' it supports China, The Soviet Union, Bashar Al Assad, Gaddafi and North Korea.
  • Scottish Socialist Party. The SSP is small ineffective and quite a joke. They talk revolutionary but in practice are super reformist. When I was more open to parliamentary means for socialism I worked awkwardly with the SSP but never joined. I found some of their beliefs too authoritarian even then. Their spokesman was terrible, very condescending, very Trotskyist . The party had an issue with a cult of personality in the past and imploded. The current spokesman doesn't call himself a leader but he's granted a undue authority. He's the person everyone is to defer to and I noticed him become increasingly authoritarian. We were handing out leaflets the one day and he was on the mic speaking and it felt like working for a boss and hierarchical. He was telling me where to stand and in a tone of telling not asking said I should be helping out more. I told him I didn't like Lenin and he said I had to read Lenin or I'd be wrong about him. I read Lenin and I saw the words of a dictator. I read about the Bolsheviks and their words and saw dictators who were very anti-anarchist and who suppressed anyone who wanted more than a mere coup . I read Trotsky and I hated him too. By March 2013 I stopped working with the SSP. By then I considered myself libertarian socialist eventually finally going back  to anarchism.

  • United  against Fascism(UAF) is  a SWP front.
  • If I ever her of attempts to make the Labour party socialist again it'll be too soon.
  • I think Owen Jones is a pretentious bastard  and quite posh.
  • I like Billy Bragg musically but politically he's terrible.
  • I like Chomsky though he's too pro-enlightenment for me.
  • Chris Hedges is A bit of A dick for his comments on Occupy.
  • I know far  too many lifestyle anarchists.
  •  anarchists tend to be more reflective or critical of their own activities than Leninists or liberals.
  • parliamentary socialist always assumes no one could possibly think otherwise.
  • Student politics too closely models representative democracy and I oppose that.
  • are NCAFC a Trot front group?
  • Criticism of Student Elections/ NUS. I support the winners but as a system it makes me uncomfortable. Why?

    1. Makes social change about a person not a collective and the decisions they make. I think ideas of representatives are bunk except delegate democracy.
    2. Too similar to parliamentary elections when campaigning.
    3. Teaches people to think in the failed  terms of representative democracy- candidates and those who are affected by their decisions.
    4. Direct Democracy is best.
    5. The NUS should be rank and file not a bureaucratic union. There should be no distinction between those who run in and those interests it serves otherwise it ends up like bureaucratic trade unions or ends up vanguardist.
    Instead , decision making could be made by direct democracy. Individuals or groups put forward a petition or motion which is then voted on. It's only a reform not anarchy but better than what exists now. It's more empowering/ egalitarian/ democratic.

    SOAS Anti-Cuts: For A Directly Democratic Alternative to the NUS

    Communique for an absent NUS THE NUS – OUTSIDE and AGAINST reformist student organising     
  • "Socialist Appeal calls on trade unions to "reclaim" the Labour Party for themselves" haha. I cringe when 'socialists'  especially 'revolutionaries' or Maoists  tell me they're in the Labour party .
  • Favourite Demos:-  Edinburgh Bedroom Tax demo,  anti-SDL demo,

  •  more to be added.....

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