I cannot say that I was too active in the Anti-Apartheid movement – I was a member. I can remember letter requests coming through the Trades Council (Brighton and Hove TUC), and it was one of the few non-contentious issues that met with total approval. The mass movement activists like myself, the Trots and even Right-Wing Labour were all supportive of the AAM.
My proudest mass movement memory was an International Trade Union Solidarity conference I organised, and I say I organised from a Mandela-sense in a partly derogatory way. At that time I was deeply fervent. I was wearing several hats. I was international officer of the Trades Council, I was national secretary of the Labour Aid and Development Committee, I was a member of the non-political World Development Movement (BDM for the sake of this blog) and I was also liaising with the local Oxfam through the Brighton Labour Aid and Development Committee (BALADC). To be honest I was held back by BALADC and BDM, but between meetings I would forge ahead in developing the conference. When I reported to the meeting it was a shock to them what I had done but they were not a part of it. I was creating the same alienation I am now so critical of. One member of either BALADC or the BDM spoke to Oxfam, and I had a long and heated argument with the Oxfam Development Officer at the time. He claimed he had no political differences with me but that Oxfam’s charity status was always under question. But in this case his condemnation was that I was acting individually. My argument was that I welcomed anyone in the organisations to do more as they had all agreed support for the conference, but they were unwilling to be more active. The Oxfam guy claimed I alienated them, I probably did, but they weren’t active anyway; my alienating them was an excuse. But I was bulldozing, using democratic process and agreed motions to bulldoze; definitely NOT Occupy.
So locally I had little support but I was international officer of the local TUC, and this Trades Council was important in terms of local grass roots activism so alienating members of such token groups was not significant – discussed later. As national secretary I had access to a national database – 300 people interested in aid and development. As a result Brighton held an education conference on international trade unionism with 30 attendees including, I think, most of the local groups – in total 10 people.
The AAM was one of the education sessions as support for COSATU was very significant in terms of International Trade Union Solidarity. Most people congratulated me on the success of the conference – I will again discuss that in a bit, but what always comes to my mind was the plenary session. This was held in the largest room, but only needing to hold 30 people. Dry stuff was happening when out of the audience came 5/6 black South African women dressed in traditional clothes, and began dancing at the front of the conference room. They were the Sisters of the Long March, part of the Moses Mayekiso campaign. This was a complete wow for me – as organiser I had no idea they were going to do this; they were the main act of a dance the organisation (me) had arranged that evening – because I was busy with the conference I didn’t know they had arrived. When I later worked in Botswana I got to know that women getting up in traditional clothes and dancing was common-place, but to see it for the first time in a dry meeting room in middle-class Brighton was mind-blowing. When I think of Mandela I think of this.
I was in Southern Africa during the first election but before I reflect on that I want to discuss the alienation I caused. Firstly the international trade union event was a one-off, because there was only one organiser and activist – me. It was after this event that I decided that it was pointless for me working with half-hearted middle-class Christian and development groups. People must be as active as they are willing to be, that is between them and their consciences, but at the time I was a bull in a china shop to them. It was a learning point, and I then decided to devote myself to the Labour Movement. I suspect a significant aspect of my involvement with the group member, the Oxfam guy, and myself was guilt. The Oxfam guy had a cushy number satisfying his conscience so politically he didn’t rock the boat, the member felt guilty watching what I was prepared to do, and I was guilty because I hadn’t done enough up to that stage in my life.
This was in the second half of the 80s. I left the Brighton groups, and was voted secretary of the Trades Council where all my hard work and organisation was used to keep together a dying organisation – Thatcher’s heyday. My activity reached a crescendo in the first Gulf War where a typical week was a coach trip to Trafalgar Square, and then my workweek was a vigil and or meeting after school, and marking when I got home at 11.00pm. Needless to say I burned out, and when the war ended so did I – exhausted. My activities continued minimally, and then personal issues took me to Southern Africa.
On reflection my activity neither helped nor hindered the Brighton groups, they continued in their way – they were probably relieved when I moved on. Once my activity was part of larger organisations it was less personal the structure took over – it shouldn’t be personal. Brighton was very important to me as a time of activity, what I learned politically there through activism I carry with me now, but it was also a time of personal issues that eventually took me to leaving for Southern Africa.
So at the time of the first election I was in Botswana watching on TV. I keep recalling Mandela and Winnie walking along a lined route from a car – that was his release, but it must have been shown so often when I was in Botswana I got the feeling I was there for it; at the time, 2/11/90, I was active on the Gulf War and would not have been watching. Amongst 3 of us his release sparked an interest in teaching in South Africa so August 1994 we trapsed down to Pietermaritsburg on a fateful trip. It was this trip that I learned what racial division in South Africa meant. It was as if the pavement was divided in lanes, the white lane was wide and spacious, and then there was the lane for Indians and Coloureds, and the black lane – the Indian and Coloureds was marginally better but compared nothing to the white lane.
There were 3 separate education departments, and we walked into the black education department. I don’t know whether they had met liberals walking in before, but immediately they saw us they sent us to the white department. We said we wanted to work with black kids but we were dismissed. Hearing later of the troubles in the black schools I am now grateful. None of us wanted to work in white schools. I returned to Botswana, was more settled, and renewed my contract – I worked in Botswana just over 6 years. My friends went back to the UK after their two-year contract where I met them a couple of times and we drifted apart.
As a further indication of the racial prevalence in South Africa I got a train back to Johannesburg. I had heard this train was dangerous so I sought out a compartment with a white person in it. We got talking eventually and it turned out that he was senior in the Volksfront attending a national conference in Jo’Burg – the Volksfront were an apartheid organisation that stood for everything I didn’t believe in. Once the introductions were over we accepted each others’ differences – presumably my disparagingly being a British white liberal. The journey passed in safety, and I will always remember the journey where I genuinely felt safer with such a fascist – this taught me about apartheid in South Africa.
Over my time in Southern Africa I had much dealings with South Africa – South Africa had the infrastructure and finance in the region. There were a couple of trips to Jo’Burg to get computer stuff and fix my computer, at the time no chance of getting it in Botswana. South Africans travelled around the game parks, and I often got to meet them. One time in the Great Zimbabwe game park I met a guy who had been to a school I taught in – before I taught there, and he had emigrated 20 years before. He was a South London racist, his attitudes fitted in the white lane but he was just living his life. One time in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe I met some other guys. They were very pleasant, and described how they had grown up believing black South Africans were the scum of the earth. They needed to believe that because there was conscription and they had to take tanks into the townships to kill blacks; even at that time 96? they were apologetic. But these were just ordinary guys living in a country looking after their families – they were the same mould as my father – wage-slave, life and family. Before I left the UK for Botswana I hated the white South African accent but after meeting them they were just typical wage-slaves, the same the world over. I didn’t agree but empathised. A black friend came to visit me, and was horrified by their attitudes in one game park. I was watching them, the white South Africans were making a real effort to be friendly but for them there was years of conditioning to fight. One confided that British blacks must be different – better; of course my friend was different but not in the way he meant.
My memory of South Africa. It was the most beautiful country in the world with perhaps the worst people. This is what Mandela came out of.
PS I had just watched this Democracy Now tribute, and it sparked the above:-
Posts Tagged ‘alienation’
Tags: alienation, compassion, Compromise, division
I woke up this morning with some vague recollection of a dream concerning food and animal rights and the division on the left. I decided to go through a pointless exercise, and it is pointless for two reasons. Much that is animal rights is driven by idealism, and idealism is a regular bete noire of mine because it creates division. And the second reason is something that I always put forward as a priority, and that can never be a priority for these idealists and intellectuals – the need for unity.
To start discussing what we eat there is a principle that politically needs accepting – “you are what you eat”; so first and foremost the position we need to take is that we eat healthily. This is what Nature intended and we are part of Nature. Nature also tells us that it is natural to eat some meat or fish. Why? The scientific indicator for this is B12. Humans need B12 and this can only be obtained from animals or fish. There are some that argue B12 can be obtained from synthetic vitamins, I doubt that, but what does need to be accepted is that because B12 is needed some animals or fish need to be eaten. I would also claim that Nature has animals to provide us with food, but that need not be a political position.
This next part is not tactful but there needs to be some acceptance of the principle it presents. Animal rights positions have to some extent lost a grip. There are people within the animal rights movements who humanise animals to such an extent that they want to save the animals because of their “human” characteristics – or even “more than human” characteristics. Humans need to be caring, that is first and foremost, and so saving animals per se is not a principle; being humane is.
In general I see no need for animal testing. In many cases the animals are being tested with drugs, and synthetic drugs are not a medical means of success. This fits in with the Natural practice that we are what we eat. In other words being healthy is about ensuring our diet is good, and not whether some pills work on animals. As for cosmetic testing that is completely unacceptable, being inhumane to animals in order to be vain is not an acceptable principle of unity.
So having alienated most of the left and animal rights’ people, I now intend alienating the working-class. The typical British working-class diet is absolutely crass, and has no element of intelligence applied to it. There are working-class activists who eat foods that can only be designed to cause illness. When these people have the intelligence to recognise the power and practice of the corporatocracy and yet don’t question their diet it is foolish. However it is claimed by some nutritionists that there are people who need more meat than others, that has to be allowed for because peoples health through healthy eating needs to be a guide for a united position.
But whatever meat we eat we cannot accept inhumane practices with regards to meat. There can only be one acceptable approach to meat-eating and that is that the meat is free range. Nature I’m sure originally provided a balance between free range and the need to eat meat, this paleo balance I have discussed here. What was discussed here as a scientific rationale can also be the basis of a position of unity for the left concerning foods and animal rights. Eggs equally should be free range. How can eggs that are not naturally created – between cocks and hens – possibly be healthy? As well this is inhumane, and the conditions they are kept in to produce these unnatural eggs is also inhumane. Free range is needed.
And the biggest rallying cry for unity ought to be the recognition that in our foods there are toxins, toxins that are placed in our foods for BigFood to make a profit. We have accepted additives for convenience, and have not considered the aims of the corporatocracy. The corporatocracy exploits our labour in factories, why are they not going to exploit us elsewhere – in what we consume.
In the end Unity comes from understanding who we are. As human beings we need to be guided by compassion, and treating animals the way we do is inhumane. At the same time we need to consider that our political position needs to be guided by what is healthy for us. We are what we eat, if we eat toxins then we are going to be ill. BigFood and BigPharma work together in this. BigFood encourages us, often forces us, to eat unhealthy food. When we become ill BigPharma has pills to cure. Pills are not necessary with a healthy diet, so how we eat is a unified strategy for getting rod of pills – and the need for animal testing. Being humane to ourselves – stopping the inhumanity of the corporatocracy – is also the way to be humane with animals.
Do not place the ideas first, this is a tremendous failing of the left. Human compassion comes first, not the ideas of animal rights. Such rights are ideas that create prisons and division.
There has to be a position that unifies left-thinking people. The working-class needs their health, and this health does not come from the diet that exploits animals. Health is a platform of unity, not ideals. Let’s work together.
There are too many ideas and intellectuals involved in this area of discussion, the corporatocracy has its job done for them already. But this is a workable position of unity if people were prepared to compromise in their work against the corporatocracy, unfortunately where they compromise is usually working for the corporatocracy when compassion and not compromise need to be the byword.
Tags: alienation, division, Horizontalidad, NUT, Occupy, Trots
I saw yet another misguided posting concerning the death of socialism, and rather than get into another unresolving ding-dong with the person concerned I thought I would comment here. The comment referred to a PBS series I have not watched yet. Death of socialism?
Significant in the discussion of this death(?) is the history of Russia in the 20th century, and to understand this one needs to consider Russia in light of the dominant ethos that fashioned the USSR – the Bolshevik revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the continuous imperialist infractions, and its ultimate demise to the criminal plutocracy. To analyse these factors can show that socialism is far from dead but that this methodology of state control is deeply flawed – the methodology of state socialism or communism.
How can a mass movement revolution begin with a minority of people? The very word Bolshevik means minority, and the concept, vanguard, is disrespectful to the mass movement. These people in the vanguard wanted a revolutionary change, knew that the Russian people were not ready, were impatient, so decided that a small minority were to lead “the masses” to revolution for their own good – whether it was wanted or not. A completely false premise.
Once in power this revolution needed to maintain dictatorial control. In theory this sounds correct. Post-revolution the West sponsored a huge amount of insurrection within Russia, waging a war that lasted internally until Stalin – not unlike US intervention in Iraq, Syria and Libya and wherever else the US and its western allies have been and will go. To fight this war against the whites, dictatorial control was the chosen method – because the people were not behind the revolution in the first place. The theory is that such a dictatorship would gradually disappear as the state would have such a strong basis in the mass movement there would be no need for any form of dictatorship. Whether this was a matter of the personalities at the time or whether the concept is flawed I am not prepared to be categorical about, but the reality was that the dictatorship of the proletariat lasted until Gorbachev. Gorbachev’s approach killed a dying system. Through Perestroika and Glasnost he was encouraging the mass movement to own the system. Apathy had become endemic because of the dictatorship of the communist party, the people did not own what was happening in the USSR and were as helpless as the people are in the bipartisan “democratic” dictatorships of the West – see the movie Lifting the Veil if you don’t agree with that assessment of the West. Gorbachev tried to return that ownership to the people, but the apathy was too deeply entrenched and the people were too alienatied from the system. Opportunist criminals took over – encouraged by the West, and we now have in Russia a typical dictatorship by the Veil. What we had in 20th century “Russia” is not a history of socialism, but a history of communism – state socialism – that was based on a vanguard revolution and entrenched by dictatorship, and neither concept has any connection with the genuine grass roots mass movement – socialism.
What we do have at the present moment in time is socialism growing in a new form – Occupy or Horizontalidad (check the tag cloud). In the Middle East we have the Arab Spring, in Latin America we have Horizontalidad, in the West there are the grass roots movements that have lately unified into Occupy. Throughout my discussions on Occupy there was the theme of democratic socialism, a peoples’ movement whose organisation was not flawed and who were not bought off by the establishment, specifically the manner in which the system uses representation as a means of control – see tag cloud NUT. Far from being dead socialism has developed from being the models of imposed socialism by the state socialists and communists (dictatorship) to a genuine grass roots democracy as shown in Occupy.
Sadly in recognising the importance of the mass movement as the socialist organ we have to understand that in the current level of corporatocratic control such a movement has been controlled – repressed. Typical of that control is the repeated media analysis that socialism is dead, quite simply the corporatocracy knows that the only means that their 1% can be defeated is when the 99% act in unison as a socialist body – internally directing itself. Also important is the accompanying rejection of Marx’s economic analysis. I am no Marxist expert but the notion of marginal costs is so important, who gets the profits? Who makes the profits? The workers in the factory. Who takes the profits? The owners of the factories. In the UK when these profits were beginning to be redistributed in the 70s, the Veil engineered confrontation with the unions, and ensured that ordinary people suffered the consequences. Rather than negotiate for a fair share of the profits the corporatocracy stonewalled forcing strike action. Once that action had taken place, the unions were blamed, and there was a backlash and the introduction of the scourge of Thatcher. She killed off the unions with the attack on the miners, and now the UK has austerity programmes because there is no organised mass movement to fight back. The need for a strong mass movement, for a socialist movement, is stronger than ever. There is the birth of such a movement through Occupy but there are so many divisive intellectuals around unable to see the woods for the trees because their own individual egos, and the ideas they think they own, are more important to them than the mass movement itself. This was a problem in the movement when I was active – see tag cloud Trots, and it is the problem now where individuals present individual views through the internet rather than making the effort to work together in mass movement organisations – continuing socialism.
A significant part of this intellectual approach is ideas and ownership of ideas. Intellectuals believe that the ideas they have “created” are what causes changes. This is not the case. There are no new ideas, just rehashing of old ones. The issue is awareness, confrontation and power, awareness of the expoitation that is around, an awareness that usually comes when good people are confronted by the system and prevented from being good, and a recognition that the power of the mass movement is what will bring meaningful change. Post second world war in the UK the Veil was forced to introduce the Welfare State and NHS. Now the Veil through Cameron is forcing people who cannot get jobs (because there aren’t any) to pick up litter to get a subsistence allowance; this loss of quality has occurred from 1945 – 2013. Where is the mass movement that has allowed this loss? Unaware of the importance of mass-movement based unions, under Thatcher people allowed the unions to be decimated, a process that has continued to this day. Intellectuals are divisive in the union movement because they cannot accept rule by majority. Their ideas are too important to them, like the ideas of the vanguard that brought in the state socialism in Russia last century, and they fail to see the necessity of working in and with the mass movement. Until such ego is let go division will continue to occur, and the corporatocracy will continue to retain control.
The posting quoted the PBS series so I decided to watch it. here was my reaction:-
“Heaven on Earth
All 3 parts are linked here.
I had to stop watching, Robert Owen the second Christ? Education from birth to indoctrinate a socialist, isn’t that what we have now – a neocolonial education that accepts corporatocracy? Intellectuals. If I ever watch another PBS? Just because the media is not Tea Party does not mean the media is not biased. I am biased, I am a socialist. In establishment UK learning Robert Owen was always presented as a man with new ideas – although that is not true he just had money, but in the US he is presented as believing he was the second Christ. In the Lanark mills where the workers were treated responsibly the intellectual simply remarks on state control. This sounds as if it’s the right wing (libertarianism?) on socialism, socialism is just state socialism rather than having anything to do with the mass movement.
The series is based on a work by Joshua Muravchik “Heaven on Earth: The Rise and fall of Socialism”, and was described here as “JOSHUA MURAVCHIK has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal as “maybe the most cogent and careful of the neoconservative writers on foreign policy.” He is a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies and formerly a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.” A neocon writing about socialism, is this going to be biased? A man recognised as cogent by the Wall Street Journal? Whoever sites such as a legit discussion of socialism is wasting peoples’ time.
Is this worth pursuing?
Gave up, this is rubbish – neocon rubbish.
Understanding where socialism is today is important, this just right-wing misdirection.”
I have no idea why any progressive would put this up, I only offer the URL out of discipline.
Tags: alienation, division, intellect, Trots
This is a fascinating but exhausting characteristic.
To try to get to understand this character I am going to examine other “characters”. The first such character I met was the “Trot”. Now these intellectuals helped destroy the UK political movement, not that Thatcher really needed their help – mind you the security state still felt the need to infiltrate. Typically these Trots would arrive at university, and get a deep conviction, insight, that the political system was unfair, go to lots of meetings and learn a whole bunch of political ideas about revolution etc. – and get laid. What had been a deep insight about the inadequacy of the system had become replaced by a bunch of ideas, hence the term Trotsky intellectual – Trot.
Being politics it didn’t remain in the corridors of academia. These Trots, spouters of ideas, went out into the mass movement. But they were not constructive. In meetings that were already significantly dwindling because of Thatcher’s strategies, they would unintentionally be disruptive to the collective democratic process. Democratically they have the right to their ideas but what was the purpose of the meeting? To come together to get a joint strategy that all were agreed upon – or at least could act on. Typically a topic would be discussed and the Trots would have an extreme position, a position that I would tend to agree with personally but one which the majority of the movement found extreme. These Trots would often present a motion to the affect of their position, and argue vociferously for their motion. If you listened to the volume then you would consider the meeting favoured the motion. Such motions were regularly defeated because the majority of people were not in favour and were silent – intimidated by the noise. This intimidated silence was an aspect of alienation, and such alienation was a significant result of Trot activity within the movement.
So you might argue that these people have a right to their ideas. But you have to look at the purpose – uniting the mass movement. If left-wing politics were ever to be successful they had to as a mass democratic movement united – bringing people together. I remember organising around the Poll Tax which was a movement that had been hijacked by the Trots. I got a phone call to discuss the Poll Tax demo, the voice was interested but slightly withdrawn. We discussed a while, he said I was Militant and put the phone down; obviously I hadn’t done enough to dispel the alienation Militant had caused. Typically Trot the demo was a disaster, the more violent elements encouraged by agent provocateurs held sway, there was conflict with the police, and the majority of people never supported the movement again. Because of the power of feeling the government changed the Poll Tax to Council Tax but it still ended up being a tax on people just not quite so much. But for me this was failure, and Trots symbolised alienation.
I said I tended to support their ideas, this is still true. But it is the process that was more important, working together to build a movement not the proliferation of ideas. Turning the insight of the Veil (or some other socialist insight) into a practical democratic process was the basis for a concerted approach, something the movement was never able to do then but something Occupy has been much more successful with.
What has to be understood is that adherence to ideas is what divided the movement, helped continue the destruction of a working-class alternative, and this division was why the establishment infiltrated such groups. On a personal note these people were exhausting to deal with, just as you present approaches that they accept then they remember their ideas and cling to them – end of discussion and real process.
Intellectuals in general are divisive. Once you create an idea and you ask for people to accept that idea you create a division, those who agree and those who don’t. Unity occurs through a process, a process of working together where unity is the main objective and not the promulgation of ideas. This is why insight and intellect are in a sense opposites. People with insight and intellectuals can talk about the same things but those with insight do not cling to those ideas, they “cling” to the process of insight. If you practice insight meditation then there is no clinging, ideas might grow from the process of unity and clarity but it is those processes that are important – not the ideas themselves.
Trots and intellectuals generally I have discussed but what about a particular group of intellectuals – libertarians? These people believe in freedom. Sounds fine until you get into issues like no regulation of finance. Such financial bully-boy charters (regulations) led to the crash of 2008, and the crash and all the repossessions were considered by libertarians simply collateral damage for a correct set of ideas. How can a democratic movement put ideas before people?
Associated with the libertarian movement are people like Alec Jones and David Icke – discussed on this blog (see tag). These two and those that agree with their ideas or extend their idea base I am calling the alternative intellectuals, intellectuals who promote a set of ideas that are alternative. What happens to these people? At some stage in their life they have had a deep insight that what the system is promoting is a financial system that accrues money to the wealthy to the deformation of ordinary people, people are just wage-slaves or worse. Division is again caused because it is generally required that you believe in the ideas presented or you don’t. So you start with the correct insight that the purpose of our financial system benefits the super-rich but then you get divisions because people demand that you accept their ideas.
Then you have belief systems often religious of nature. These belief systems say believe or not so we have a division. There are people calling for religious unity, and this unity is essential. But this unity cannot come from comparing the ideas and saying that mostly our idea bases are the same. Why? They are similar. Because there will always be intellectuals who focus on the differences – creating division.
Associated with belief systems are these alternative intellectuals, they have additional belief systems about chemtrails, GMO, energy, angels, and many many more. I am not in any way trying to say that any of these ideas are true or false, I am not asking you to believe in them or not, but the alternative intellectuals are. This demand for belief creates division as well. What is important is a process of unity, we are ONE, let’s work together, work in harmony etc. There cannot be oneness on the superficial level of ideas. Ideas separate because you must accept or not – duality. But if you work on the unity that comes from insight through meditation or otherwise there is no division, only ONE planet.
Trots are exhausting, they keep barking their ideas at you because they believe in the ideas so fervently they feel you must believe them as well. But when you listen they don’t feel right because they are barking ideas and not living in insight – there is no empathy. The same applies to other intellectuals who bark their ideas at you expecting agreement – no empathy, and it becomes draining because the only objective of discussion is agreeing with their ideas or not. And it is draining because insight seeks unity and with intellectuals there is no unity. You tell the intellectual seek the answer inside but they don’t wish to go there so as soon as you start with the inside the intellectual blames others – often leading to insult. Sadly this intellectual framework does not sit well with loved ones as love seeks insight.
What is so hard is that all these people are crying out for is agreement, crying out for unity, crying out for harmony – their original insight. They seek out people with insight but as soon as they find these people with insight they test them with their ideas, do they agree? Then when they don’t pass these tests, the benchmarks bench those they have sought, when all they need to do is deeply listen. This is no different for those divided by war (as opposed to the corporatocracy who create the wars). They want peace but they can’t deeply listen to find that peace.
Yet the Trots and alternative intellectuals are fortunate because they have had a strong insight, it is that insight that made them aware of the lies in the system. But their conditioning changed that insight into a bunch of ideas, and they have forgotten that they had insight. They have lost focus, and need to return to insight. Then these ideas will know their place. Their anger and frustration insists they must bark these ideas at every opportunity – even when people don’t want to hear; their actions effectively try to drag other people into the same arena of anger and frustration. But with insight you can know about the ideas without being possessed by these emotions, without insight you cannot. These intellectuals need to remember the source of their understanding and return to insight.
These types of intellectualism, so lauded in the West, are perhaps the greatest success of the miseducation system because they have effectively eschewed insight, and at the same time causing anger and frustration and bringing about such division because of the ideas – and sometimes providing excuses for war. Peace and understanding through insight, please.
Tags: alienation, Horizontalidad, mindfulness, Occupy
I heard this term first on Democracy Now (3/10/11). Mirina was discussing a grass roots democratic form of organisation that occurred on the streets of Argentina when they had their economic crash in 2001; this article describes how it arose. I particularly note this ” quote from Pablo “It was not an ideological decision, nor intellectual, nor academic, nor political. It was the most spontaneous thing, the most basic. You went out into the street [on the 19th and 20th] and found yourself with others on a corner. It’s not that there was a decision to be horizontal, we simply found ourselves feeling a strong rejection of all that was known. A strong rejection of political parties, of the form of political parties, of all those that were in the Government, and the State We thought, we are going to do things ourselves. We are going to do things together, democratically, in a direct way, because here we are all equal. There are no bosses, we don’t want bosses, no one giving orders, we order ourselves, decide among ourselves, and well, someone said, ‘this is horizontal.’ So okay, this is horizontal because it’s not vertical. We don’t want bosses, that’s why it wasn’t vertical. But its not part of any ‘theory of horizontality.’ No one invented it, it just emerged.” “
This is the way they described what was happening in the organisation at OccupyWallSt. In this clip from Dem Now:-
– the British journalist describes how the organisational structures are similar globally, how the police tactics have similar global responses, and then Mirina Sirtin, author of the book on Horoizontalism – mentioned in above article, told us that the demonstration was moved from Chase plaza – J P Morgan’s police bribe of $4.6 million paid off very quickly.
What seems to be being described is a change in democratic emphasis. This is not a grass roots democracy that is mobilising to confront the power structures of the corporatocracy – a futile aim of the movement that I was active in 25 years ago, it is a grass roots democracy that is empowering itself. This has tremendous implications if we follow it through. Suppose we consider the economic implications of this self-empowerment. Once Occupy finishes Occupiers globally will have empowered themselves and will not be reliant on the corporatocratic organs of state and media. They will not sit back and receive in the way Thatcher’s children, money will not be their God and consumerism their way of life. Occupiers will then look to themselves for the answers, and this networking will start to include economy. I link this in with the ideas I discussed in the Mindful Consumer Network (MCN) (scroll down). They will start to recognise the need for organising and trading amongst themselves. I won’t reiterate the control of consuming I have discussed before, but just feel hopeful for the future. As the corporatocracy loses more and more money to this network consuming, they will start to squeeze more and more those people who don’t step outside the corporatocratic-provided spending. There is a hopeful future in this, the less money they have the less money they have to spend on armaments – drones, and the more chance people will have.
I feel so much happier than the negative anonymous image I discussed yesterday.
I remember back in the 80s having a discussion with a feminist group who were sympathetic to my activism – not so much that I was active in the trade union movement but I interpret it as that I was genuinely interested in working for all peoples, including women. I kept trying to persuade them that their activism was needed in the male chauvinist movement to help change it for the better; there was no doubt that it was controlled by aggressive males – including myself when I was competing with them. They would argue that a typical meeting revolved around leaders – in that situation myself as elected secretary of the Trades Council, that the speakers although controlled to some extent by standing orders were demanding that the members follow their way of thinking. And then there would be a vote and people would be expected to follow the dictates of the vote, a vote that becme the policy that the leaders enforced. The women declined to join.
Since then I have watched women who have become active, and I have seen women become just as aggressive within the movement – hence my earlier comment about thinking that loud-mouthed women had instigated the police response. But now I see a different organisational structure, and in the above Democracy Now clip the panel were women. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think women were the only people fighting in Argentina but I do see the organisations as having a different approach. At #OccupyWallSt there is a home. Groups are organised to do different functions – groups that include men, but they are stressing that these are not top-down structures – what you might call male structures, the prevailing structures of society. To be perfectly honest I don’t see how this can work – it is not my system, but it clearly does. It sounds incredibly frustrating if decisions are continually questioned but this doesn’t matter. Occupy has thrown up the model that provides hope for the future, a hope that can put a dent in the corporatocracy. My way, my methodology no matter how caring I was just didn’t work – it never could.
What are the objectives of Occupy? This question you see asked often by the Old Guard, including women that belong to it. But Occupy is not about questions and analysis it is saying:-
Occupy is not about the corporatocracy – Occupy wants to be free of the corporatocracy.
It reminds me of Wangari Maathai and her trees. The Green Belt Movement that mobilised around her involved women of the land who were planting trees. Whilst this movement did not support the dictatorship of Arap Moi, it was almost as if it was acting despite Arap Moi. They were planting trees in areas despite what the corporatocracy demanded of its puppet, Arap Moi – even if the puppet put force in their way. This is Occupy. These people are organising despite what the corporatocracy wants. Their challenge is not they will replace the leaders of the corporatocracy but that they will replace the corporatocratic structure itself – they don’t wish to participate in the corporatocracy.
I am going to let my imagination go a bit – not that the following will happen but maybe some of it will. It could be a return to barter – no consumer-oriented debt. Maybe money will be used – maybe community currencies. But goods and services will be provided between the different groups horizontally, at present food is provided for Occupy for free. OK initially the Occupy movement will use food that is bought within the corporatocracy, but gradually Occupy will realise that any food bought from the corporatocracy feeds the corporatocracy. And they will say no more. There will be Occupy farms where Occupy workers will grow food for the different wings of Occupy. The existing organic movement and communes will join in with Occupy. Systems will be put in place where skills can be traded for food for services. The top-down corporatocratic structures of Big Firms simply support the coffers of the corporatocracy so they won’t be used.
What about where Occupiers are living? Have they squatted? Well, they wouldn’t be allowed to. But no, they are on the streets – not even in tents. Sleeping bags in bivy bags under the elements. This itself is saying we don’t want your consumerism, your mortgages, your debt entrapment. Maybe after Occupy, Occupiers will form communes where people will build their own houses – without mortgages. Communes will trade with communes. And when these communes have linked Occupiers will say to teachers teach us what we need to know – not what the corporatocracy wants us to know so that we become enslaved in the corporatocratic structures.
And then teachers can teach, they can teach insight in schools. They can teach Peace. They can teach history about the old ways where over the centuries greedy banker families had manipulated governments through debt. How banks had tempted governments into debt by providing them with money that funded piracy and then colonialism. And then working with BigTechno they provided the government with indebting money that bought weapons to fight wars that only BigTechno needed – to fight pseudo wars against “Terror” that meant expensive machines were bought that flew over countries far away and killed people indiscriminately – drones. And how eventually the banks stopped allowing BigTechno to use their government puppets to pay for these weapons because Occupy had got enough people not to pay into the government and vote for the government so the banks could never be repaid.
And then Occupy began to teach again the meaning of Home and society. Home is where children grow up, this is why we have societies so our children can grow up well, so that we can care for each other. Children can begin to understand that we are part of Nature – ONE planet. Society began to learn that government structures are not for the profits of the landowners or the aristocracy or the corporatocracy but the new horizontalist structures help people in their homes to bring up children.
Maybe Nature has finally got through to women that their movement of the 60s onwards is not about getting a bigger proportion of the cake that Big men had gained by exploiting humanity. Sure there was a need to prevent chauvinist excesses but not to replace those excesses by excesses by women. These women have now begun to say we want the world back for our children – our Homes. Support the new organisation of grass roots democracy and ….
Tags: alienation, Corporatocracy, Occupy
I have been following Occupy and feel that is a breath of fresh air. Quite clearly it is going to take time for the power of grass roots democracy to take effect. There are the sinister forces of the corporatocracy that all who support Occupy want to change, but there is another sinister side – one Anonymous, listen to this:-
Do we want what this guy wants? Personally it wouldn’t worry me too much, but most people and that is who I care about they don’t want this. It is time for the voices of common sense to stand up. Government stop being bought off. Fight off your paymasters and grow a pair. Bankers your greed is unwarranted, it is time to give some of it back. I would like that you relinquish power but I know you won’t but isn’t it time you give some back? Let people think they have won, let people think they have some power, give them the vestiges of power. No-one wants sci-fi scenarios of social breakdown that Anonymous presages.
Corporatocracy, you guys are good at brinkmanship. It is time now to act wisely, give some back, so that the world can start to function. No blatant profiteering on war, cut out the drones – they are so sick, pay taxes like the rest of us, and forget the huge bank accounts – they are meaningless if society has broken down.
People, let’s keep on Occupying but be careful of what breakdown we wish for.
Tags: alienation, Corporatocracy, division, intellect
(Added to NWO page)
I have just watched most of Alex Jones’ movie, the New World Order, and I found it depressing – but not because of its content. Most of what Alex Jones is talking about I accept – the political content, but who does it attract? I am finding it hard not to attack these people. I suppose I am considered a nut so then it is OK to say that Alex Jones attracts nuts. I listened to Alex Jones – he ranted. The young man at the end was almost in tears, ranting; what will happen to him in the long run? At best a drunken stupour. Where is the balance?
So this is one version of what it means to be a conspiracy theorist. I accept conspiracy theories but not like this. When I watched Aaron Russo, I saw an “Audience of the Lost” but by comparison it appears that these Alex Jones’ followers are even more lost. The point about these conspiracy theories is to maintain a balance. Aaron began his movie with the notion that the bankers started to take control in 1913. This is enough as a basis. It does not mean that every conspiracy theory has to be believed. If you take the notion of the corporatocracy – MIC and bankers – what more is needed? Logic does the rest. There was a need for a new Cold War, so what do we get? War on Terror, – especially as David Rockefeller set out a blueprint.
But what does Alex Jones? Rather than looking at the logic and the movement, he develops a cult of personality attracting all those who want call conspiracy. When there is a lack of discernment then we lose the most important people – the ordinary people. It is necessary for train drivers, teachers, machinists, monks, nurses, priests – all working and non-working people to work together and begin to accept that what is in place is a corporatocracy, and the only choice we have is a democratic movement to attempt to influence the opportunists. Whilst I understand survivalists they don’t qualify as “ordinary”, and how many sensible people want to chum up with right-wing militia – especially socialists who understand the need to fight the fascism that inspires Breivik etc.
It is now clear why Alex Jones is tolerated, his divisive approach suits the need of the corporatocracy whose fear is an organised movement of the proletariat fashioning a genuine democracy and controlling the corporatocratic puppets. A depressing movie, please tell me I am wrong. Of course I am not American, so maybe he is more populist – he would not be accepted by Americans I have met.
I have tried to understand Alex Jones and Republicanism by joining his forum – no reply. Don’t understand this but it is worrying. I have joined the CFR and Department of Defense for the express purpose of knowing the enemy as expressed in blogs here, and there was no problem.
Tags: alienation, Corporatocracy, division, intellect
(Added to NWO page)
Watched the second Aaron Russo movie (“America from freedom to fascism”). It started well with its intro that democracy had been hijacked by bankers, and then went into income tax. Apparently there is an anomaly that in US law there is no legal requirement to pay income tax and send in a tax return. When he questioned various people in the movie they avoided the answer with usual prevarications – there is clearly a legal problem. Aaron’s arguments were all based in law, the legal system, supreme court and so on, it just sounded pointless to me. After all he had begun by saying the bankers had hijacked the system, so they have hijacked the law as well. I understand that making your arguments based in law is a sound tactic – use their own tools to defeat them, but he wasn’t doing that – he saw the law as some sacrosanct entity (my words). I usually describe the law as having two functions although the second is a corollary of the first. The law exists to protect the corporatocracy, one law for the rich and one for the poor, the corollary for the poor is that of protecting the rich – the need for general law and order – the second function. This second function for me is the more important, and it is this function that genuine law enforcers subscribe to. If income tax did become a controversial issue, the law would be changed so that income tax would be collected – it is integral for capitalist accumulation that money is accumulated from earnings by government for the bankers – part of the corporatocracy. I heard somewhere that one of the reasons for the fight for independence was to escape the taxes required by the British, historically taxes were understood in the US.
He then moved onto some very sound observations about the way the corporatocracy functions. I particularly remember noting some of the prescient quotes from erstwhile presidents. There was an attack on government throughout drawing no distinction between Democrats and Republicans, and whenever he was making the point that there was a dictatorship concern he would show the Soviet flag and describe the dictatorship as communist – a McCarthy man? In the end he called for unity within his campaign – “freedom to fascism”, demanding and end to the Fed. Interestingly he had researched who the shareholders of the Fed were and all he could find out is that they were bankers. Ironic really when you consider the recession. The bankers created the recession. They go to the government for bailout money, and the government does it. That would involve debt to the Fed so the bankers get bailout money and interest from loans from the Fed – crazy exploitation. The other issue that he focussed on was the RFID chips. I was worried about how far towards this chip the US had gone. Based on “what happens first in the US happens in the UK” this frightens me – sufficient reason to seek Thai citizenship. National ID cards are coming in and apparently these cards have the ability to send info – not just a recording media. I envisage that “jumped-up young pimples” that you phone will know all your details – frightening.
Let me begin by looking at the holes in his position. I have dealt with the income tax, although I hope there will be political mileage there. I suppose this is the Republican in him, but he kept referring back to the old presidents as if they were genuine people – not part of the exploitation. Whilst those people are not as bad as the stooges we have now, they were still in the hands of finance back then. Government has never been for the people, by the people, that is a sales pitch – good but a pitch. Maybe this is why these anti-corporatocracy people like Alex Jones are Republicans because they are harking back to the words of these early politicians.
This man is a danger to the movement. He has the capital to make this movie, from his early successes – Trading Places, The Rose. But he is a fierce individualist and demanding in terms of action. I could not imagine a civil conversation with him perceiving that any attempt to move his thinking on whether politically or spiritually would meet great resistance. Even though he exposes many things concerning the system and the way the corporatocracy functions, he is a danger to the movement because of the division his egotism creates.
The big question he raises for me is the issue of governance. I have always accepted government. I suppose growing up in the 60s Macmillan, Wilson, Heath, Callaghan were not pushed by the erstwhile corporatocracy into the extremes that Blair, Brown and Cameron are forced to go. When it comes right down to it, they are the same people – opportunist politicians. But I suppose I envisaged the possibility that there could be a democratic change. Yet I got sucked towards a party that demanded revolutionary change when I was an activist. Whilst their analysis was correct revolution is completely wrong because people don’t want it – whether class change is of benefit to them is a different question. So what is the relationship between government and the movement, what can the movement expect to gain in terms of government action. Government has become more estranged from the people in my lifetime. Now we have a problem in that during elections we have the lies of Blair, and even worse the lies of Obama. Actions are the only measure, and there is no doubt that the actions of Blair and Obama have been at the behest of the corporatocracy. I suppose the same was true earlier but the greed and inhumanity of the corporatocracy was not as gross as it is now. If there were increased democratic pressure what could it hope to achieve? I have no answer. The power and influence of the corporatocracy is increasing. Not only this but they are subverting one important protection the government offered – the need for a military. With the sophistication of weapons – the greater killing power of weapons, less soldiers are needed; well-armed corporate militias are enough. Eventually there will be no need for democratic acceptance of the corporatocratic policy through government delivery, and government control will be required less and less – isn’t this what Aaron wants but for different reasons? Maybe this is why the Alex Jones crowd is tolerated?
So the movement needs to protect collective organisation and democratic governance despite the way both have been hijacked.
Meanwhile individuals within the movement need to seek their own happiness and appropriate consuming. The movement is a job, it is something that needs to be done, to protect the lives of the people killed in our name, and to protect our own liberty – fears about the RFID chip are well founded. But to measure our lives by success in the achievements of the movement can only bring heartache. The movement is our duty as much as housework. Looking for success in the movement will only bring disillusion. Collective organisation and democratic governance are being eroded, we need to fight for these principles – even if we end up fighting for rights to have another Tony!!!
(Added to NWO page)
Because I have written about the New World Order (Alex Jones and NWO ), I need to take a view on The Illuminati as the New World Order are often associated.
Applying my limited insight I can offer no conclusions as to whether to support propositions concerning the Illuminati. However I can put forward the following observations:-
1) I assess that many people who discuss the Illuminati have gained insight into global political reality, the recognition that there are powerful elites working behind the scenes to accumulate profits, that these people create wars to make profits – I could have written these political realities in this blog – in fact I have!!
2) Freemasons – I do not know enugh about freemasons except I do know they exist because I met someone who admitted he was one. How far their network extends I don’t know. Does their network include Tony Blair, George Bush etc.? I have no idea. Arrogant and powerful people tend to let things slip, they like to show off. When you have the all-seeing eye on the dollar bill, one has to wonder. All the other circumstantial evidence of the influence of freemasons cannot be dismissed but it is that – circumstantial. If it walks like a dog and barks like a dog, then it is a dog – I cannot go as far as that. But freemasons do influence political power in some way – even if it is only jobs for the boys.
3) Occult – the world of the occult cannot be dismissed as non-existent. Every major religion talks of the devil, mara or something evil. Can people call up spirits from beyond? I don’t know, nor do I want to know. When I was in Africa people spoke of these spirits, and they often said it never affected white people. How true that is I don’t know but I did advise one African friend to be true to himself, and he found it helped in dealing with what he viewed as magic being practiced on him.
4) Alesteir Crowley – This man is fascinating and definitely a man to keep away from. Apparently he had many followers in high society when he was alive. I was reading his book “Diary of a Drug Fiend”, and his writing was hypnotic. It was so powerful it made me consider drugs just to test the experience – I had to stop reading. I have no doubts that his personal power came from his dealings with the occult, but how? I have no idea.
5) Religion – In this blog there is a ONE planet page – my religion. The left wing dismiss religion, primarily because they are intellectuals in my view. Religion has power. Insight can be developed through meditation so it can be seen as a religious process, it has tremendous power. To ignore the power of religion is a political error. Having accepted the importance of religion, how that relates to the Illuminati is certainly not clear.
But to draw all the above strings together and say that we are ruled by an illuminati of freemasons who include world leaders that are involved in occult practices, I cannot make that jump. Maybe you can. The evidence presented around is not sufficient to make the jump, but it never could be.
But there is a danger in this Illuminati analysis. I remember David Icke when he was a smoothie sportscaster. Then he started talking about lizards, and I dismissed him. Unfortunately his political analysis of how there is a world elite politically manipulating wars for me is on the button, but I never looked at that until I watched his talk at Oxford. Categorising our world leaders as satanists involved in devil-worship might also lead people, on rejecting satanism, to dismiss the veracity of the political analysis. At the same time people who believe in this film will dismiss others who don’t. So politically we have people who have the same insight into the way this Superclass are manipulating the world for profits, and these people are not working together because one group calls them devil worshipping freemasons and another can’t accept that. I have no objection to seeing the political enemy as The Illuminati, but I cannot accept that it is because they are devil worshippers.
I also feel there is a psychological point that is worth considering. Some of these people (illuminati) are described as feeling different, beyond a certain charisma I don’t accept they are different. We live in a world dominated by greed. These people take that greed to a “new dimension” by accepting that war is a suitable way to make profits. But it is the same greed that stabs our neighbour in the back or allows us to climb on the backs of friends for promotion. Perhaps we don’t want to face our own greed so we like to think that the greed of these capitalists is something different – devil worship. Personally I don’t think so, they are just human beings like you and I who have allowed themselves to be attached to greed. No one person in this world, George Bush, Tony Blair – whoever, stands up and says I want to start a war with Iraq to make a profit but when historically countries have benefitted from war profits people are not going to turn away the money. This is what we are dealing with, a status quo in which we profit from actions such as war. Such profiteering might be evil but it need not be devil-worship.
This concern about the dubious practices of the Illuminati is much more serious than I first thought. David Icke was speaking at Oxford, and it came across that he had some popularity. Young people have to be angry at the state of the world, it is their innocence – the same innocence of lifelong monks. I remember my own youthful anger looking for a target – the system, society, whatever. And I was looking for answers, how did the world get in this state? So the young people look and are told satanic cults, world leaders are satanists.
Then what happens? They become isolated because of their beliefs, and eventually they reject them. But they reject the package. If the corporatocracy are not satanists, then the US MIC is not causing the wars. If they are not freemasons then there are no small cabals manipulating the global economy. If this is what they say they will be rejecting the truth whilst rejecting the extremism.
These extreme beliefs are divisive. What are the Superclass afraid of? Effective collective action. This could come in terms of trade union action, and with less confrontation mindful consuming. They are concerned about action that affects their money. It is political activists who disappear, or whistleblowers and Assange who are targetted. These people are the dangers – the collective action, not the extremism of David Icke or Alex Jones. Apart from promoting these beliefs what actions do these demagogues encourage? None, it is all about promoting beliefs. And these beliefs can never be populist because of their extremism, so the beliefs are not a threat. Yet because they are divisive they are useful to the Superclass. I have said on this page already that Alex Jones is right-wing, as yet I haven’t looked into that. This awareness of the war economy, the manipulation of the banking by the Superclass, and the general exploitation of the corporatocracy are all grasped by Alex Jones, but I believe he attacks the left. Divisive. And whilst correct-thinking people are divided there is little chance of dethroning the corporatocracy.
I suspect young people are looking for something new to explain what is happening, why the world is in the state it is. Growing up in the 60s and 70s we became the love generation (with the pill) – well I didn’t although I wanted to. This was a good time to be alive, there was all kinds of questioning. And there was political action about the Vietnam War with some success. But then in the 80’s Reagan and Thatcher destroyed what remained of the Mass Movement, effectively telling the striving people if you play our game we will give you financial reward. From then on young people became financial slaves, slaves to debt and the wage packet necessary to pay off that debt. Now our students start their working lives with a huge noose around their necks, of course they are looking for something different. But there is no difference, there is only the Struggle. The corporatocracy continue to take advantage of the world’s population, and struggling against them is a thankless task with minimal chance of success. Is this what you offer caring young people? Is it any wonder demagogues with extreme views find captive ears?
When I sought answers to why we were in a mess, I talked about society and the system. I didn’t want to think it was people. But it is, people are greedy. When the majority of people close the minds to the crimes of their government so that they can have their own house and car, they are contributing to the problem. When the Superclass engineer wars by convincing people with a pack of lies, they do not need demonic powers – the people want to believe in their government because they want to maintain their standard of living. Does this make them bad people? In the early 90s I visited apartheid South Africa. Having spent years in the anti-apartheid movement I expected to find heinous white people, but far from it these were just people who wanted a home for their families. They accepted the politics around them because they got what they wanted – home, car and nice lifestyle. The government blamed black people for all their problems, and white house-owners accepted this. They are no different to the Israeli people who believe their Zionist government, and they are no different to the American and British people who have accepted wars in the Middle East. The corporatocracy has it all tied up. They make it easy for people to accept greed for a home and car, and go to war for moral principle. People don’t want to question and fight this as it affects their lifestyle, but sadly the corporatocracy forces us to struggle. There will be no peace whilst we let them do this – sadly, there is no easy choice – they make it that way.
All I can say is that the peace of mind that comes from insight, meditation, and the calm participation in the struggle is enough to bring happiness. And in life there is nothing better than happiness. Satanists and their detractors offer you money, but money can’t buy love and happiness.
Tags: alienation, Corporatocracy, intellect
On the left of the British political movement in the 80s, and I presume the same is true now, there was big concern about the Trotskyists – Trots. For a long time I had a reasonable relationship with the Trots because my political affiliation was as a member of the Labour Party. Trots also had a dilemma about party membership, some believed they should move the Labour party towards the Left, such as Militant, and some believed in forming parties outside the mainstream, Socialist Worker’s Party (SWP). The party I joined for a short time was the New Communist Party. I don’t regret joining this party briefly but it completely alienated me from the Trots. Now Communists always believed themeselves to be builders and viewed the Trots as splitters people who split the mass movement. In reality both did the same.
Why join the NCP? I gained an excellent political education. These people understood Marxism-Leninism, and their meetings were often about learning M-L. But what were they about politically? Nothing more than survival. The most practical communist movement at the time was the SACP (South African Communist Party) who were steering the ANC, so the NCP were significantly supporting the ANC – a good thing to do in the 80s.
What was the NCP building? Activities in the trade union movement. I remember having long conversations with a comrade who derided me for the way I was in the NUT at my school. He told me those people were using me. I argued against this and the comrade let time be the judge – exactly as he described. As the union rep I stood up against my head who was a beta-blocked bully. He did not bully me, just weaker members of staff – he simply did not promote me. In my previous school I had been passed over for Deputy HOD, and after 6 years in this school I was still main grade. It was an accepted fact in the school that I was being victimised by the head. In fact at one stage he started a warnings procedure so I resigned as union rep and within a term he had given me a bonus. Now the comrade suggested I should be working within the union branch supporting someone else. I remember having an argument with one of the members after I resigned. She told me she signed a letter agreeing that I was only acting as a representative. But the head knew enough to call their bluff. The head knew that he could victimise me because he knew the staff would not do more than write letters. I told the members that if I was being victimised by the head because of my union position then it was up to the members to respond up to and including industrial action to defend their representative. I only told them this in retrospect, I never asked them to support me in this way when I was the rep – they would never have done it. And the head knew it. Were the members wrong? In a way. But I was foolhardy at the same time, I sacrificed promotions in that 6 years for the union – not that important, in fact once I resigned as union rep I did some private tuition for a couple of hours a week earning the same amount of money promotion would have given me. Career-wise I might not have progressed but financially I didn’t lose out.
By the time I resigned as union rep I had burned out. Now I burned out during the First Gulf War where I was organising for and attending peace demos at the weekend , and doing vigils and activities during the week. I suppose the nearest medical term was chronic fatigue. My political activity began when I moved to Brighton, and I started initially in lobby groups on international issues. Whilst the people involved in the group were quite nice people they were far from activists – I was far more fervent. Now that fervency took me to borderline non-democratic positions. This came to a crunch when I had a disagreement with an Oxfam officer. Now he had personal antagonism towards political activists, and he blocked me from doing something that was significant – I can’t remember what. How I worked was that in a meeting there would be a vote on a proposal. Once agreed I then went away and worked hard on establishing that proposal. By the next meeting the proposal had become some form of action. The other members of this small group therefore felt excluded – understandably. I said I was only following the proposal and I asked that they help me but they were not committed. Their alienation led them to complain to the Oxfam guy, and he stifled my activity. I understand his position, he was less interested in the activity and more interested in having people support Oxfam – he gained supporters from the small group when he stifled me. I understand the people because they were only interested in doing a bit. And it taught me that these lobbying groups were not places for serious activity, and this led me to be active in the trade union movement.
My crowning achievement at this time was worthwhile, it was a conference about International Trade Union Solidarity. I brought together a small local Labour lobbying group, the Labour Aid and Development Committee, the local Trades Council, and Oxfam. It took me a long time to build this conference with token support from members of the groups and tacit support from the Oxfam guy, and by the time the conference had finished I had moved on as I will explain. Now the basis of the conference was a group of workshops with reputed facilitators. About 35 people attended and all people reported that they gained from the workshops. I felt good. But I mostly remember the plenary session. I had organised a dance as a fund raiser in the evening, and the star turn was the “Sisters of the Long March”, a group of South African women dancers connected with the Moses Mayekiso campaign. This typically drab plenary was winding up, and unbeknownst to me beforehand these women jumped up from the back of the hall ran to the front and started dancing. It was great, they were promoting the gig in the evening but for me their performance happened at the conference. But this conference was a one-off, and in this sense the Oxfam guy was right – the movement is not about one-offs. I didn’t start it as a one-off, I just worked on it. I would liked to have seen it go further. But no-one was with me. The Oxfam guy blamed me for this, but he was more motivated in keeping people interested in Oxfam. My speed was too fast, but without my energy nothing would have happened. For the Oxfam guy nothing happening didn’t matter so long as the people felt happy with Oxfam and remained as donors. I felt he had been tainted by his position but working in the movement is long term and I was just starting. But it can’t be right that nothing happening is the position you support.
This pinnacle achievement ushered a change in direction politically. I had begun working on International Trade Unionism through lobby groups but had avoided trade union work because of the inherent self interest prevalent in much of the trade union movement. I had democratically maneouvred a position as National Secretary of the Labour Aid and Development Committee, but it was a small group – maybe 300. I shuffled paper for a year trying to get somewhere, but it was a blind avenue – it helped a lot with the conference though. Being blocked by the Oxfam guy made me realise that I was working with the wrong people, people spending token time dabbling in local lobbying groups did not have the seriousness I had. I worked democratically with them, and although my endeavours were appreciated on one level – they could say there was some achievement in what they were doing, they felt guilty at doing little and blamed me for this. And they were right to blame me in a way, but in truth I was a fish out of water. My efforts should have been in the trade union movement all along, that is where I belonged. And by the end of this conference I knew that, and soon after I became secretary of the Trades Council – a place where my organising ability was appreciated – again because I did all the work.
In some ways I understood Trots because in many ways I had behaved like a Trot. I had the drive and determination to do something positive, but I didn’t carry the people with me because they didn’t have much drive. This drive was contentious because my objectives were far more substantive than the people I was working with, and this different pace created alienation. That is the similarity with the Trots, I created alienation. But the direction I took these groups was never based on my own intellectual agenda – a Trot characteristic, it was always within the purview of the organisations. But I was just in the wrong place.
To help wth the conference my membership of the NUT enabled me to be voted on Trades Council and I got involved with the Executive Committee as international officer – a post created to keep me interested. Soon after the conference I became Secretary. Now the Secretary was the workhorse, dealing with all the correspondence and mailings, and I was good at this because I was well organised. My commitment to the struggle was not simply verbal, and I converted that conviction into hard work. How constructive was that work is a different matter but I did work hard. At that time I was a member of the Labour Party and was considered politically neutral within the Labour movement – especially with my reputation for international work. As an organiser I was building the Labour Movement in Brighton, in truth holding it together with a few good active comrades. In holding it together one significant aspect was reigning in the Trots democratically. Trots can be dynamic people – again a similarity with my work in the lobbying groups, it is sad that their energy is wasted. What would happen? I think the poll tax was a good example. Now the Trades Council fought the poll tax, it was such an unfair tax. At the same time Militant, a Trots group within the Labour Party, had decided at their national conference that they were going to target all their political activity on fighting the poll tax. They did this by getting nominated to represent their trade unions on poll tax committees. After a couple of years of this activity they had the majority of votes on the national anti-poll tax committee, and were in charge of the fateful poll tax rally in Trafalgar Square.
In Brighton I was still secretary of the Trades Council, and I was a reperesentative on the local anti-polltax committee – that in truth was dominated by Militant. Being an official spokesperson I was also a community contact, and I remember one poignant phone call where someone who was anti-Poll Tax wanted to give their support but personally felt they couldn’t because they were anti-Militant. I was accused of being Militant, and they eventually put the phone down. I wonder how many ordinary citizens who were anti the Poll Tax stayed away from the demonstration at Trafalgar Square because it was Militant.
Now I remember old George who helped me a great deal in my time at the Trades Council. Now he was fiercely anti-Trot because he had experience of how these people had hurt the movement. I think I remember his predicting trouble at Trafalgar Square. As part of organising demonstrations it is essential that the committee organises marshalls. Now the purpose of these marshalls is to keep the demonstration law-abiding, old George had been on many demos and knew exactly what to do. And he saw that Militant were doing none of it. When we arrived on the demo there were many left-wing groups organised in their phalanges, and there were also many families – at least some people had not been frightened off by Militant. Now mostly people just walked but there were few marshalls.
Now I was nowhere near the trouble at Trafalgar Square, and kept away when I heard about it. The following I cannot substantiate but I believe it is true. There were some anarchists or extreme left groups who saw this as an opportunity to cause trouble – this will sound contentious but I believe they were encouraged by security forces. Something sparked a conflict in Trafalgar Square, and the police came in and dealt with the problem. If the demonstration had been properly marshalled these people would not have been able to start trouble.
Now Militant claimed that their campaign was a victory, I saw it as a failure. Prior to the rally the majority of people nationally were anti the Poll tax. With the trouble at Trafalgar Square these people became scared of activism, being good citizens not wanting to confront the police. When the government pretended to climb down and said they would introduce a Council Tax everyone agreed. Now you could argue that the Council Tax was a balanced solution but what it meant was that people were being taxed for living – a Poll Tax but not as much as originally mooted. As a result poor people in Inner Cities were still paying an increased proportion of tax than the richer people in suburbs or rural areas. I have no recollection of figures – so long ago, but increasing tax revenue from the poor is a government tactic – as seen by recent austerity measures during the recession whilst banks are given bailout money for causing the recession – rewarding themselves with bonuses for their quality work. This Poll Tax campaign was for me the most obvious example of how Trots organisations worked against the Mass Movement. Having alienated the majority of the mass movement by having a rally that had police conflict, the democratic support against the poll tax dissipated through fear, and the partial poll tax was introduced. Council revenue had changed from being based on rates – the size of your property, to rates and people – Council tax. If a Council tax had been originally mooted it would have been opposed vehemently as the Poll tax was. The conflict at the rally created the fear that allowed the government to get the Council Tax, yet the anti-poll tax movement is celebrated as a victory especially by the Trots. No way.
Now Trots are primarily intellectuals, and this is at the core of why they are destructive. Now as an organiser and builder within the movement I dedicated myself to working within the Mass Movement – including when I was in the NCP. This method of working meant that I was bound by the vote, and on many occasions as Secretary I enabled actions I didn’t support simply because it was my job as Secretary. I can particularly remember times of contention when what I considered the right-wing of the Labour Movement supported national protectionist policies against the Third World to elevate their own salaries. Whilst I disagreed with such decisions I was completely committed to democracy, and if I was unable to persuade by argument I should abide by the democratic vote and act accordingly.
Now this commitment to democracy is where I came into contention with the Trots. Within their own structures Trots vote democratically and abide by the decisions. However in the wider movement their position was non-constructive. If there was a particular campaign that they were interested in, they would continually swamp the agenda with their proposals. Such proposals were minority, so they always lost the vote. But then the motion would appear again. Business would be stifled by repeated calls for the same proposal that the Trades Council did not agree with. The Trots were not interested in the progress of the Mass Movement, herein represented by the Trades Council, they were only interested in promoting their own agendas. The Trades Council was always bogged down with such business so TC could not move forward. In truth it was not that active so perhaps there was not much business that would have been done, but it does highlight the difficulty of working with the Trots.
Now one of the key places where these Trots were active was in education – because they were intellectuals, in education these Trots were mainly SWP. I attended a couple of national NUT conferences, and they were always dominated by Trot motions. I recognised a Trot motion because it always finished with “up to and including strike action”. There was a great deal wrong with teaching, and what needed improving was across the board. What should have been fought for was a charter of good conditions of service including the usual issues of class size and so on. But instead it was always the issue of pay which interested the majority of NUT members. Education of students could have been vastly improved by conditions of service, but the mortgage needed more salary. It is necessary to understand that the majority of teachers were not the “breadwinner” – the sole or dominant income-provider in the home. Apologies for the incumbent sexism within this observation but the majority of teachers were women, and a high proportion of these women were the second income in the family. Such women were mothers first. Teaching at the time suited them because child care requirements matched their hours and holidays. As a generalisation, whilst these women did good jobs as teachers, they were unwilling to lose any salary on strikes as it affected their mortgage. Again as a generalisation teacher pretensions meant that they would buy the best house they could afford, and as such their salaries were eaten up by mortgage repayments. There was little fluid cash in the combined salaries, and so losing salary on strike action bit severely into their cost of living. Teacher couples were also quite common, and their desire for a good home also meant their salaries were stretched – so I am not just describing the problem as women. Conference was good fun for the Trots. They would put forward their “up to and including” motions, argue them in conference, usually lose, and go out and get drunk. There was fervour and I could see it was enjoyable. But constructive? NO. And did conference do anything constructive? No, it was a Trot battleground. Could it have done anything constructive? I suspect not, the union leaders were postholders satisfied with that.
Towards the end of my time in the union in the early 90s strike action was only entered into when members would not lose money. One important factor in this was that the NUT was losing membership with strike action, and this loss of membership meant that the jobs of the full-time officials were under threat. For the majority of members these full-time officials were the reason that people joined the union. Teachers needed protection from the scurrilous charges that were raised by errant kids – and also manipulative management. I remember a few of these cases but am going to describe two. Now the first is not first-hand. There was a village school about 30 miles from where I lived, and in this primary school a woman had worked tirelessly for the school all her life; she was one of these people who lived for teaching. Now a student had not returned a library book, and after exhausting the usual channels of discipline the student had been reported to the headteacher. This was a complete waste of the headteacher’s time but of course she was the buck where it stopped. So she chastised the student for not fulfilling their responsibility. To do this she raised a book up and down in the air in a swinging motion “why do you waste my time when not returning the book?”
One of the student’s friends was sat outside beneath the window of the head’s office. She told her friend that she saw the headteacher raising and lowering a book in her hand, and that it looked as if the headteacher was beating the other student with the book. Together they concocted a story, and the headteacher was suspended pending an enquiry into violence against the student. Now the automatic procedure is that the headteacher was suspended whilst the enquiry took place. I don’t know how long before the students recanted saying they made the story up, but the headteacher had quite rightly got the hump. She said something like “I have worked 30+ years in this school, and a couple of disruptive girls can get me suspended over such a bogus claim”. She took early retirement, and teaching lost.
Now this next one I was involved with personally. A new careerist headteacher had just joined a school. She was climbing the ladder, and was only interested in her own promotion and oppressing the staff. But one member of staff refused to be intimidated. Repeatedly he would be called into the headteacher’s office where she would chastise him and he would then argue sometimes quite vehemently. Now the headteacher was scared because this man was not behaving subserviently like the rest of the staff, so eventually the headteacher reported to the authority that she was physically intimidated by this man and she was frightened that he would assault her. The authority was called in and as his union representative I was also called in. My job was to tell him to shut up, accept that he was suspended, and wait for the due process to take its course. This happened. For about three months this case was pending, and I used to get regular phone calls from this guy who was so upset at being suspended from teaching – it was his life. I went into the school to meet with the staff. There were a group of very pleasant women teachers who simply told me that this woman was oppressing all the teachers and that the suspended member was right to stand up to her but they were too scared to do anything because they were frightened for their jobs – because this woman would sack them just for being defiant.
Now this was a church school and the member was an established member of the church community. He used to assist the priest in the mass, and was well respected by the church and school community. The headteacher had chosen the wrong person to try to oppress because he was well-loved. Normally the authority sides with the headteacher but even they realised there was nothing substantive in this woman’s claims, she was simply misusing her authority and the LEA’s discipline procedures to bully her staff. Eventually the LEA knew there was no case to be made, and after 3 months reinstated the member of staff, and the headteacher found herself another job – where she probably tried the same oppressive careerist tactics again. There were many such of this type in teaching.
So I want to discuss two further things in this recollection. The first is the intellectualism of Trots, and the importance of seeing how destructive this is in the Movement. Now the Trots basically go to uni, and quite rightly they get angry for all the reasons as typically presented in this blog. They want change as do we all, and where does change come from? Revolution. So they are promoting violence based on an academic realisation that things are wrong and they want change. Is this revolution going to happen? No way. Revolution can only be successful if it is a Mass Movement, and certainly in the UK it is not going to happen. So trying to build a revolutionary movement is pie-in-the-sky. As most people are afraid of violence fundamentally they are working against the interests of people. Most of what they do is not violent but they do create fear and they do alienate many people. Their intellectualism puts the ideal first rather than caring for what the people want. Their intellectualism causes another problem. Intellectuals argue about details rather than accepting differences for the greater good – the bigger picture. These differences in detail cause contention, and often Trot organisations will split because of this. So instead of building a mass movement certain Trots split it into separate organisations, for me mass movement is the objective. There is an irony in this as I learnt this in the NCP. And look at the communist movement in the UK. At the time there were maybe 3 small organisations, CPGB – 5000 members, CPB – Morning Star – 500, NCP – 500. Now I understand the rationales for the three parties but isn’t this divisive – Trot?
Now to burnout. My friend, old George, always spoke about burnout amongst the Trots. For me, among the Trots there was no emotional commitment to the Mass Movement – compassion, their activity was based on an intellectual desire for change. They wanted an improved society intellectually, and only that mattered. After a number of years and heated activity, they see there is no change and they burnout – often buying into the materialism they previously attacked. People like George were different. All his life he had been active, conference here, meeting there, demo here, donation there – all his life. That is compassion. He was not fighting for an ideal, he wanted a better life for the people he was involved in – compassion. He always warned me about burnout. He knew my organising was not based on intellect but compassion, but his warnings were not enough. And I burned out during the First Gulf War, two years later I left England leaving the trade union movement. I had no medium for struggle and although I always stood up for what was right in teaching, it was token and pointless as there was no organisation and international school teachers accept that if they don’t like it they move on. They don’t fight back usually. Because I could not be active I have not followed politics to my great shame, but was brought back with a shock when a Buddhist monk I once respected felt that he could support Tony Blair – and insult me in the process.
Apart from emotionally shocking me this incident with the Buddhist monk stirred me, I realised that in some ways I had forgotten the struggle – I had let the burnout extend. Buddhism is very important in the Movement. Compassion is the basis of solidarity with the Mass Movement, and the tools of Buddhism help with burnout. Burnout means you take on more than you can do, and then you burnout – that was the First Gulf War activity for me. In truth I moved my compassion from the Mass Movement into the school – away from all people to some students. Insight and meditation can help with burnout. Meditation can give you strength during the time of burnout, but it can also give you detachment – strength to step back and say this is too much for me to do. Meditation can say don’t take on any more or you will burnout. This is why I would like to promote meditation as an activity for people in the movement. Meditation also gives you greater insight into understanding the politics. An emotional reaction against what is wrong is only the first stage, from there you need to move to insight as to what is wrong – and meditation will give you that. I now remember that the struggle is for life, people with compassion need to fight throughout their lives to try to redress the balance that greed has corrupted. Meditation, insight and struggle – no burnout!