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An Erratic Orbit

A bipolar perspective on the 3rd planet

Pull Up The Roots?

Athenian Democracy was, on a modern understanding, an elitist system, excluding women, immigrants, and slaves. Less than a third of the people of the city were empowered with voting rights. British Democracy, an ongoing tussle to disperse the undue power of a very few centralised around, even today, the monarchy and the church, could not be said to be less exclusive until the 20th Century reached maturity. Universal voting rights (suffrage), at least for unimprisoned adults, might be younger, and are unlikely to be very much older, than your oldest family member.

There’s no sensible argument to be made from this to abandon the entire project, yet if we’re talking about feminism or the civil rights movement the global political atmosphere has emboldened some to denounce those movements wholesale. On the left, this attitude comports with the mistaken belief that class conscious politics naturally overcomes all other discrimination, despite much evidence to the contrary. It is in itself a form of entitlement, and more than a lack of awareness: in fact, a lack of awareness of a lack of awareness.

Fortunately, this retrogressive and naive idea of “One size fits all” Socialism is not driving the mass left movement focused around Jeremy Corbyn, its prime movers either steeped in 70s/80s progressive Labour politics exemplified by the GLC or from a young metropolitan base who have absorbed its legacy. The message is straightforward: The battle for a diverse agenda has been won. To try to counter this, however well intentioned, is to only get in the way of the genuine struggle towards Universality.

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Brexit Means Ubik

Brexit: The universal salve? The universal corrosive? The universal package of all desires, all hopes, and all nightmares?

Its meaning changes constantly, the slipperiest of eels, because

–  “We” do not have control

–  “We” will not have control

–  No-one yet knows what it will look like

–  It will be hard on some

–  It will be soft on others 

–  It is hope of freedom but it will not give the ordinary people who voted (for or against it) any more power

– The UK could end up with a relationship like Norway (outside the EU but access to the single market)  or like Kenya

– It’s partly a rejection of Thatcherism by people who have admiration, or at least respect, for Thatcher

– It’s the face of an ideology almost everyone wants to escape from, but most people don’t know what that is. And Brexit might make us *more* vulnerable to its vicissitudes

– The referendum result broadly expressed two contradictory desires:  Nationalism and Anarchy

– The PLP are hung up on scapegoating

– The PCP are hung up on power

Brexit. Available Now! A Fantastic Opportunity! The Rejuvenation Or Death Of Neoliberalism.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkLtuz34L_g&t=0m53s

Racism, censorship, exclusion, and The Labour Party

Until we stop ‘hunting for bigots’ and can start to have proper discussions of the institutional nature of racism and its relation to power, and especially the primary props of State power and inequities of capital, actions taken will be ineffective and in fact will contribute to oppression, in UK cities to the USA to Palestine and beyond.

The supposedly liberal outrage at inherent “racists” as if we have to find only those pure souls for The Labour Party without a ‘racist bone’ is ascientific and privileges the white liberally educated. Ultimately, it is itself racist. 

We see few better illustrations of the centrist and right tendency to enable fascism by perpetuating oppression than the bull-in-a-china-shop approach to anti-Semitism of the supporters of the Labour Party organisations where the current Israel government has most influence. 

If you want to find bigotry and prejudice, and you are capable of questioning yourself, you’ll find it within you and without you. It’s probably there in your perception of white van man, your views on benefits, your most laissez faire attitudes to redistribution of wealth, the demographics of your friends, and those implicit attitudes you’ve never bothered to uncover about the minorities you have least interest in finding out about.

What do we hope to find? The racism gene?! Education not witch-hunts and education for YOU (me) first of all.

It’s huge now: Katie Hopkins and left-right tensions

The stakes are so high now. For example, many European countries might make it clear that someone expressing Nazi hate speech, as Katie Hopkins did, is a security risk and is not welcome. This would serve to heighten the contrasts between the inclusive, multicultural, fully internationalist vision of Corbyn -supported by the youth and popular in most of our cities- and the insular, ultimately fascistic, perspective of the right. The question is, are liberals who see themselves as progressive capable of finally fully recognising the twin threats of a runaway right wing media and a tendency in the current Conservative Party towards isolationism? If so, they would pull out of Labour marginals, recognising the crucial importance of a Labour government that can work with Europe as well as clamping down on the excesses of the Press. 

The Labour Party and the Dumbed Down Discourse on Racism

We are still a long way away from sensible discussion about racism across the Labour Party. Racism in the modern sense as understood by those who take the most trouble to examine it as methodically as possible is not just the evolutionarily ingrained (and most probably adaptive before civilisation) distrust of people recognisable as “strangers” by appearance, and neither is it the bigotry of individuals (presumably acting from some nineteenth century notion of sinful free will). It is most certainly not an excuse for the categorization of individuals based on isolated statements or Facebook posts. It is trivial to demonstrate prejudice on such a basis in almost any adult, particularly public figures. Harvard University have tests that will show anyone at least some of the implicit prejudices that are prone to sway our opinions, often unconsciously: racist, sexist, and homophobic.

Racism word cloud
Image: http://www.kharmasworld.com

Modern racism has the distinguishing feature of virulence. That is, both in the sense of a hostility to ethic minorities unknown in the ancient world and in terms of pervasiveness and harmfulness. The isolation of left wing individuals does practically nothing to combat racism in The Labour Party, although it might make some of us feel better that ‘something is being done’ about racism. This is of course an illusion. You and I are far from immune from its influence. In fact, it is striking that the most high profile recent cases of suspensions involve long-time anti-racism campaigners, almost all women, and almost all from ethnic minorities. This should cause consternation and discomfort to anyone who wants to inoculate themselves from white supremacy.

Modern racism has its roots in, especially, Elizabethan England’s uneasy relationship with Spain, Spain’s own power battles, and the greed of Europeans who saw profit in free African labour. To make it all about individuals is  superficial analysis, conservative commentary, and plays into the hands of reactionary forces.

Towards a kinder politics

My emotional resilience, ‘bouncebackability’ and capability to ride a storm serenely, is low. The majority of Labour Party members have relatively very high emotional resilience. This is a great asset.

Now, there has been much talk of kinder politics but you can’t have an effective kinder politics when there is a political class. Middle and upper class people, mainly white, on a conveyor belt from Oxbridge into Westminster.

The obsession with politeness amongst many of the Labour Left is naive, it is manipulated by the right, it shuts down diverse voices (and especially the oppressed) and it’s horribly bourgeois. Yes there are public messages to get out that should be positive. No I will not and should not pretend to be nice to everyone in politics about everything. And neither should anyone on the genuine left.

If you ultimately want a kinder politics, use the resilience you have to be unrelenting in the fight for diversity of membership and MPs. Empower.

Fight for quotas for BAME and disabled people, for all internal positions especially. Fight for ease of access to participation. That means not only physical access but online participation and varying meeting days and times. 

Fight for transparency. Fight to change the overbureaucratic structures. 

Accept that your prejudices exist and bring in measures at local level to tackle unconscious bias. Learn from Korean airlines and transform the culture. Accept your imperfections and mistakes. You are human and your status should not depend on impossible standards.

Don’t police language or tone.

Insist on the resignation of those who are deliberately failing to recruit members or to inform Corbynite members. Don’t be kind about it and don’t let up on them. They are cheating and being unethical. Let them know constantly their behaviour is unacceptable. Don’t be polite. Be a thorn in their self-interested sides. 

Most importantly, always speak up and never censor yourself for a phony unity. Dissent is a responsibility and it is transformative.

On Ken Livingstone and Zionism

When a disciplinary hearing requires experts to discuss the finer points of whether signing an agreement negotiated with Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland – and other activities in support of self-described Zionists- constitutes support for Zionism, we’re going way beyond meaningful attempts to tackle bigotry in the Labour Party. The best you could call it is a step towards a dangerously authoritarian insistence on impossible standards of ideological purity of individuals, which is of course a vainglorious pursuit, and all the more distasteful when one considers that the loudest voices calling for this within the Party use what they call ‘ideological purity’ to denigrate both founding principles and Socialist aspirations.

I find the notion that such esoteric and subtle nuances of truth as this could be grounds for permanent expulsion from the Labour Party extremely worrying. Totalitarianism and anti-intellectualism aren’t deliberate directions for most people to move towards but I feel we should be very concerned when the Party is thinking of expelling a member for statements which even IF not strictly true fall under a category more akin to “Broadly true but it’s more nuanced than that, and there are these pitfalls we might avoid, these are considerations an expert historian takes note of…” and so on, as opposed to obvious falsehoods. 

Going down this road, then beware all members who don’t have at least a History degree in this Party for the working people. 

What Goes Around

God is a concept by which we measure our pain but music is how we feeeeel it. New York ​1977. Mick walking Central Park, missing Jerry. 

Through The Daytona Buildings 1980

 to the 21st Century.

The Dream Is Over.

Yet ideas can’t be killed. Not now. 

#DontBuyTheSun

Enjoy…

…The Eddie Schnecter Trio

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