My grassroots

Posted: 23/02/2018 by zandtao in Democracy, Struggle

In the blog on George Monbiot’s talk with Russell, I talked of the existence and importance of grassroots activism. It is important to examine that activism.

I could imagine Militant (or whatever name the Trots call themselves now) would describe themselves as grassroots activists, but what they are doing is campaigning within the grassroots for whatever idealistic form of Marxism they currently profess. To me this is not activism, this is proselytising or Marxist evangelism. Grassroots means working on local issues that matter to the ordinary people. And when I examine the grassroots work I did, this was lacking; I also was in part campaigning, campaigning for the Labour party.

For me there are only two issues that in the end matter, war and wage-slavery. These are the compassionate issues which are at the basis of 1%-exploitation, end these and there is no 1%. But the point about grassroots activism is that the issues have to be defined by the community, even if that means more firemen to get cats down from trees. Community solidarity leads to class solidarity and with the issues of war and wage-slavery there is no 1%-accumulation – LONG TERM, VERY LONG TERM.

In my own activism I was half-way there, and if I had been at it longer would have improved that proportion. It doesn’t matter whether the motivation is spiritual, communist, Marxist or compassion, working with the grassroots community on issues that matter to the community is the way forward.

It is a duty. It is important to understand duty. Duty has no end product. It is the grassroots organising that matters. Of course an ideal of ending the 1% would be best for humanity but that just isn’t going to happen. If you go into grassroots activism with that objective you won’t last long.

And at the same time you have to watch ego. Many organisers, such as George Cooper, dedicated their lives to working in the grassroots movement. They would only be known by comrades, and not by their titles or impact. I contrast this with my initial egoic go-getting where I eventually ended up being National Secretary of the Labour Aid and Development Committee. Whilst it is nice to be able to say that – ego again, I was doing nothing but facilitating a pointless lobbying group which at the time I was national secretary did nothing but promote my name. I only worked a year on it, and I think it then died.

My other egoic claim to fame was my conference on International Trade Union Solidarity, and the keyword is “my”. This was not part of a movement because my go-getting activism marginalised the token participation of others. They were weak and I was bullish – not a good combination, and hence the one-off. I learnt a great deal, the conference of maybe 30 people learned, and it was topped off by the “Sisters of the Long March” impromptu performance in the plenary prior to their fund-raising gig in the evening. I am proud of this event – ego again, but recognise that it contributed little to the movement.

Later I worked hard on wage-slavery both within the Trades Council and the NUT branch. But in truth I was too focussed on national approaches, although sometimes the differences disappear because of the national nature of the organisations. But it is local where the work is needed.

For the first Gulf War, using my position on the Trades Council I was very active in peace campaigning, so active I suffered burnout. But I have no doubts that the strategies of peace and local trade unionism are appropriate local activity.

I would like to think that now I would still be doing a little to promote peace and working within the union movement, perhaps becoming a pensioner activist like good old George.

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Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Mandtao, Matriellez.

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