An Erratic Orbit

A bipolar perspective on the 3rd planet



The Brexit Metonym

If anything is certain about Brexit it is that it will go down in European history as a metonym for rushed decisions made on the basis of prejudice rather than good information.

Rotting strawberries

As highly knowledgeable, well informed, anti-racist campaigner Lexiteers will be aware, that doesn’t mean it was the wrong result. Although, clearly it was, for much the same reason you don’t free a cat by dragging it through a barbed wire fence. You can tell me how awful the fence/barbed wire/cat/metaphor is in the comments but I don’t think you can do a damned thing about the collective European consciousness now you’ve voted to not be a part of it.

“What do you mean? I didn’t vote for that! I voted Leave because the EU is a protectionist neoliberal barrier to world Socialism. And because I like Tony Benn. We’re still Europeans, Dave! It doesn’t mean we voted to cast ourselves adrift from Europe.”

Actually, it does mean that. You didn’t mean it to mean that but here is the enduring symbol of Brexit, like it or not. Rotting fruit on a vine and the fruit farmer who voted Leave.

“That’s not a vine, it’s a forb. As a well-informed Lexiteer I’m as certain of that as I am that the EU will hinder Corbyn’s proto-Socialist agenda-”

-thus, as much by virtue of the human tendency to commit to a classification on the basis of a single common feature rather than meaningful commonalities here you are… fucking up my monologue rather than- Tell you what just look at the bloody picture and look at the fruit farmer. Is he you? No.

The same picture of rotting strawberries
Look at it

…What?…You have to imagine the fruit farmer. I understand that might be beyond the capabilities of a Brexiteer… imagining things…

That was just a joke. Obviously simply because you voted for Brexit along with idiots who believed Brexit would mean ¬£350 million a week for the NHS that doesn’t mean you believed that. Just look at the picture. That’s what I’m telling you. That’s what Brexit means. That’s ALL it will mean in the collective European consciousness in fifty years. It will be in films, on posters…

“But Dave, a business shouldn’t be run on the basis of cheap migrant labour, should it?”

No, it shouldn’t. But you’re forgetting the fruit farmer aren’t you? He voted for this. Him. Not being able to imagine that the people he wanted to control away from our borders might be the same people who wouldn’t want to come pick his fruit any more. So fuck off out of my monologue. I won’t tell you again…

One more time
Sans fruit farmer. “Sans” means “without”. Not that it matters any more.

There will be coasters, keyrings, pencils, mugs with this picture of the rotting fruit and no, not the fruit farmer because the person who bought the mug didn’t vote to leave the EU did they? So they can IMAGINE the fruit farmer… Huge billboards, pop up ads… “Don’t Be Like The British”… cautioning you to install antivirus software before browsing porn, with a picture of rotten strawberries…The collective European consciousness, which none of us Brits, not even me, can be part of now… rotting strawberries… and [deep bass voiceover] “Imagine A World Without Jam”…

…and Claude or Bruno or whatever his or her name is- What do we care? We’ll never meet anyone with those names again- Claudia or Brunhilde will shudder and she’ll dip into her jam and thank her lucky yellow stars. But remember this, that jam she’ll be eating will be subject to EU regulations. And do you know what that means? For the purposes of EU regulations that jam she’s eating- I mean we won’t have any jam but if you could imagine there was such a thing as jam in some far distant place like France- that jam Brunhilde is eating could, according to EU regulations, be made from cucumbers or sweet potatoes or radishes. All those things they define as jam, made from some faceless Brussels bureaucrat’s idea of fruit… Cucumber jam! Imagine…

So, all things considered, on balance, it’s probably quite a good thing we’re leaving.


Children In Need 2009

Party Politics

Party politics is millionaire MPs justifying why they voted to deny disabled people a reasonable quality of life. Party politics is “I know the country isn’t a meritocracy but” where what follows is the unconscious belief in why you deserve the property portfolio, the large salary, to be wined and dined, the expensive clothes, the restaurants several times a week… while making up excuses for “pragmatism” that are entirely down to your own mindset, that ole middle class self interest.

Party politics is smiling politely and using the right knife. It’s where our status quo is better than their status quo. It’s where those who have the least are accused of tyranny, ill discipline, and unfairness against high earning owners of prime real estate. It’s where white middle class sticklers in tiny secretive committees replicate society by dispensing “discipline” to outspoken black women and the wrong sort of Jew.

Party politics is where minority interest groups shut down the interests of minorities.

Party politics is being told to play nice with the friends of proto-Fascists because “We Are All The Party”.

Party politics is a wheedling ghost in my ear using every dirty trick to protest against my part in its downfall. Yet it was not me who killed the comfortable life for the middle. I’m just here with a mirror. And a knife which could never entirely be to your liking.

Party politics is a swelling mass movement, a new broom, bright light on the cobwebs, the release of steam, the new found confidence of the left, seeing through the games, dragging the leviathan screaming, half a million scalpels, the collective drive to a new universalism that is the only efficient future that doesn’t require the subjugation of the masses.

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.

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.

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

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.

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