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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

What is Privillage theory and how can it help us understand the world around us

Privillage theory is something i've been looking into a bit of late and thought i'd jot down a few thoughts here on its meaning and how it can help us understand things going on around us. "What do we mean – and what do we not mean – by privilege? Privilege implies that wherever there is a system of oppression (such as capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity) there is an oppressed group and also a privileged group, who benefit from the oppressions that this system puts in place The privileged group do not have to be active supporters of the system of oppression, or even aware of it, in order to benefit from it. They benefit from being viewed as the norm, and providing for their needs being seen as what is naturally done, while the oppressed group is considered the “other”, and their needs are “special considerations”. Sometimes the privileged group benefits from the system in obvious, material ways, such as when women are expected to do most or all of the housework, and male partners benefit from their unpaid labour. At other times the benefits are more subtle and invisible, and involve certain pressures being taken off a privileged group and focused on others, for example black and Asian youths being 28% more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white youths The point here is not that police harassment doesn’t happen to white youths, or that being working class or a white European immigrant doesn’t also mean you’re more likely to face harassment; the point is that a disproportionate number of black and Asian people are targeted in comparison to white people, and the result of this is that, if you are carrying drugs, and you are white, then all other things being equal you are much more likely to get away with it than if you were black. In the UK, white people are also less likely to be arrested or jailed, or to be the victim of a personal crime Black people currently face even greater unemployment in the UK than they do in the USA4. The point of quoting this is not to suggest we want a society in which people of all races and ethnicities face equal disadvantage – we want to create a society in which nobody faces these disadvantages. But part of getting there is acknowledging how systems of oppression work, which means recognising that, if black and ethnic minority groups are more likely to face these disadvantages, then by simple maths white people are less likely to face them, and that means they have an advantage, a privilege, including the privilege of not needing to be aware of the extent of the problem. A privileged group may also, in some ways, be oppressed by the expectations of the system that privileges them, for example men under patriarchy are expected to not show weakness or emotion, and are mistrusted as carers. However, men are not oppressed by patriarchy for being men, they are oppressed in these ways because it is necessary in order to maintain women’s oppression. For women to see themselves as weak, irrational and suited only to caring roles, they must believe that men are stronger, less emotional and incapable of caring for those who need it; for these reasons, men showing weakness, emotion and a capacity for caring labour are punished by patriarchy for letting the side down and giving women the opportunity to challenge their oppression. It makes sense that where there is an oppressed group, there is a privileged group, because systems of oppression wouldn’t last long if nobody benefited from them. It is crucial to understand that members of the privileged group of any of these systems may also be oppressed by any of the others, and this is what allows struggles to be divided and revolutionary activity crushed. We are divided, socially and politically, by a lack of awareness of our privileges, and how they are used to set our interests against each other and break our solidarity. The term “privilege” has a complex relationship with class struggle, and to understand why, we need to look at some of the differences and confusions between economic and social class. Social class describes the cultural identities of working class, middle class and upper class. These identities, much like those built on gender or race, are socially constructed, created by a society based on its prejudices and expectations of people in those categories. Economic class is different. It describes the economic working and ruling classes, as defined by Marx. It functions through capitalism, and is based on the ownership of material resources, regardless of your personal identity or social status. This is why a wealthy, knighted capitalist like Alan Sugar can describe himself as a “working class boy made good”. He is clearly not working class if we look at it economically, but he clings to that social identity in the belief that it in some way justifies or excuses the exploitation within his business empire. He confuses social and economic class in order to identify himself with an oppressed group (the social working class) and so deny his own significant privilege (as part of the economic ruling class). Being part of the ruling class of capitalism makes it impossible to support struggles against that system. This is because, unlike any other privileged group, the ruling class are directly responsible for the very exploitation they would be claiming to oppose. This doesn't make economic class a "primary" oppression, or the others "secondary", but it does mean that resistance in economic class struggle takes different forms and has slightly different aims to struggles based on cultural identities. For example, we aim to end capitalism through a revolution in which the working class seize the means of production from the ruling class, and create an communist society in which there is no ruling class. For the other struggles mentioned, this doesn't quite work the same way - we can't force men to give up their maleness, or white people to give up their whiteness, or send them all to the guillotine and reclaim their power and privilege as if it were a resource that they were hoarding. Instead we need to take apart and understand the systems that tend to concentrate power and resources in the hands of the culturally privileged and question the very concepts of gender, sexuality, race etc. that are used to build the identities that divide us. A large part of the resentment of the term "privilege" within class struggle movements comes from trying to make a direct comparison with ruling class privilege, when this doesn't quite work. Somebody born into a family who owns a chain of supermarkets or factories can, when they inherit their fortune, forgo it. They can collectivise their empire and give it to the workers, go and work in it themselves for the same share of the profits as everybody else. Capitalists can, if they choose, give up their privilege. This makes it OK for us to think of them as bad people if they don't, and justified in taking it from them by force in a revolutionary situation. Men, white people, straight people, cisgendered people etc., can't give up their privilege - no matter how much they may want to. It is forced on them by a system they cannot opt out of, or choose to stop benefiting from. This comparison with ruling class privilege makes many feel as if they're being accused of hoarding something they're not entitled to, and that they're being blamed for this, or asked to feel guilty or undergo some kind of endless penance to be given absolution for their privilege. This is not the case. Guilt isn't useful; awareness and thoughtful action are. If you take nothing else away from this document, take this: You are not responsible for the system that gives you your privilege, only for how you respond to it. The privileged (apart from the ruling class) have a vital role to play in the struggle against the systems that privilege them - it's just not a leadership role. Answering objections to privilege So if they didn’t choose it and there’s nothing they can do about it, why describe people as “Privileged”? Isn’t it enough to talk about racism, sexism, homophobia etc. without having to call white, male and straight people something that offends them? If it’s just the terminology you object to, be aware that radical black activists, feminists, queer activists and disabled activists widely use the term privilege. Oppressed groups need to lead the struggles to end their oppressions, and that means these oppressed groups get to define the struggle and the terms we use to talk about it. It is, on one level, simply not up to class struggle groups made up of a majority of white males to tell people of colour and women what words are useful in the struggles against white supremacy and patriarchy. If you dislike the term but agree with the concept, then it would show practical solidarity to leave your personal discomfort out of the argument, accept that the terminology has been chosen, and start using the same term as those at the forefront of these struggles. Another common objection to the concept of privilege is that it makes a cultural status out of the lack of an oppression. You could say that not facing systematic prejudice for your skin colour isn’t a privilege, it’s how things should be for everyone. To face racism is the aberration. To not face it should be the default experience. The problem is, if not experiencing oppression is the default experience, then experiencing the oppression puts you outside the default experience, in a special category, which in turn makes a lot of the oppression invisible. To talk about privilege reveals what is normal to those without the oppression, yet cannot be taken for granted by those with it. To talk about homophobia alone may reveal the existence of prejudices – stereotypes about how gay men and lesbian women behave, perhaps, or violence targeted against people for their sexuality. It’s unusual to find an anarchist who won’t condemn these things. To talk about straight privilege, however, shows the other side of the system, the invisible side: what behaviour is considered “typical” for straight people? There isn’t one – straight isn’t treated like a sexual category, it is treated like the absence of “gay”. You don’t have to worry about whether you come across as “too straight” when you’re going to a job interview, or whether your straight friends will think you’re denying your straightness if you don’t dress or talk straight enough, or whether your gay friends will be uncomfortable if you take them to a straight club, or if they’ll embarrass you by saying something ignorant about getting hit on by somebody of the opposite sex. This analysis goes beyond worries about discrimination or prejudice to the very heart of what we consider normal and neutral, what we consider different and other, what needs explaining, what’s taken as read – the prejudices in favour of being straight aren’t recognisable as prejudices, because they’re built into our very perceptions of what is the default way to be. It’s useful to see this, because when we look at oppressions in isolation, we tend to attribute them to personal or societal prejudice, a homophobic law that can be repealed, a racial discrimination that can be legislated against. Alone, terms like “racism”, “sexism”, “ablism” don’t describe how oppression is woven into the fabric of a society and a normal part of life rather than an easily isolated stain on society that can be removed without trace, leaving the fabric intact. Privilege theory is systematic. It explains why removing prejudice and discrimination isn’t enough to remove oppression. It shows how society itself needs to be ordered differently. When people talk about being “colour-blind” in relation to race, they think it means they’re not racist, but it usually means that they think they can safely ignore differences of background and life experience due to race, and expect that the priorities and world views of everybody should be the same as those of white people, which they consider to be “normal”. It means they think they don’t have to listen to people who are trying to explain why a situation is different for them. They want difference to go away, so that everybody can be equal, yet by trying to ignore difference they are reinforcing it. Recognising privilege means recognising that differences of experience exist which we may not be aware of. It means being willing to listen when people tell us about how their experience differs from ours. It means trying to conceive of a new “normal” that we can bring about through a differently structured society, instead of erasing experiences that don’t fit into our privileged concept of “normal”. It should be remembered that privilege theory is not a movement in itself but an analysis used by a diverse range of movements, liberal and radical, reformist and revolutionary. By the same token, the rhetoric of solidarity and class unity is used by leftists to gain power for themselves, even as we use those same concepts to fight the power structures they use. The fact that some people will use the idea of privilege to promote themselves as community leaders and reformist electoral candidates doesn't mean that that's the core reasoning or inevitable outcome of privilege theory. For us, as class struggle revolutionaries , the identities imposed on us by kyriarchy and the politics that go with them are about uniting in struggle against all oppression, not entrenching social constructs, congratulating ourselves on how aware we are, claiming special rights according to our background or biology, and certainly not creating ranked hierarchies of the most oppressed to put forward for tokenistic positions of power. We have to challenge ourselves to look out for campaigns that, due to the privilege of those who initiate them, lack awareness of how an issue differs across intersections. We need to broaden out our own campaigns to include the perspectives of all those affected by the issues we cover. This will allow us to bring more issues together, gather greater solidarity, fight more oppressions and build a movement that can challenge the whole of kyriarchy, which is the only way to ever defeat any part of it, including capitalism." With thanks to the A fed Womens Caucus over at http://www.afed.org.uk/blog/state/327-a-class-struggle-anarchist-analysis-of-privilege-theory--from-the-womens-caucus-.html

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The RNIB, benefit sanctions and the DWP

Whilst many of my blind friends have their views in terms of the RNIB I do think this issue needs bringing to that attention. I personally have no problem with them as it stands and to get nit picky with an organisation that is looking to put sight loss on the mainstream is foolish at best and stupid at worse. In the guardian today a RNIB spokese person had the following article published which I felt worth sharing for all. “Charity considering dozens of cases against department relating to their failure to send out benefits letters in braille or large print • • The Guardian, Wednesday 19 February 2014 20.29 GMT The RNIB said one claimant was forced to take out payday loans to feed himself after DWP advisors stopped his ESA and housing benefit. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is threatening the Department of Work and Pensions with court action for suspending the benefits of a blind man after he missed appointments which he was only informed about through letters he was not able to read. The RNIB has prepared five legal cases against the DWP and said it was looking into a further 50, which relate to the department's failure to send out benefits letters in braille or large print format . In a number of cases, the DWP suspended recipient's benefits leaving them in desperate circumstances, the RNIB said. The charity's intervention emerged as the DWP published figures showing the total number of sanctions against benefit claimants in the year to September 2013 was 897,690, the highest figure for any 12-month period since jobseeker's allowance (JSA) was introduced in 1996. The figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions cover employment support allowance (ESA) and JSA. The figures published yesterday also showed that independent tribunals were upholding nine out of 10 appeals against the DWP. Before the coalition, the number of successful tribunal appeals in any 12-month period was well under 2,000. It has risen to more than 14,000. The RNIB said one claimant – a blind man in his 30s who only wanted to be named as Robert – was forced to take out payday loans to feed himself after DWP advisors stopped his ESA and housing benefit on numerous occasions over a two-year period. After having worked most of his adult life, the man from Essex began receiving ESA in October 2011 and asked the DWP to send him communications in braille. But discrimination lawyer Samantha Fothergill who is representing Robert in the county court for full financial damages and injury over his benefit suspension, said he was only ever sent regular print letters which demanded further information and his attendance at appointments. The deadlines for the DWP's demands lapsed before Robert could get outside help to read the correspondence and his benefit payments were stopped. "His benefits got suspended but the letters also telling him they were suspended weren't accessible to him. So he didn't know. The first he heard about it was when his direct debits from his bank account stopped getting paid." Racking up bank charges, and extra payments, Robert was eventually forced to take out a payday loan at a steep interest rate to pay for food. Fothergill said he eventually received backdated payments plus a consolatory payment of £50 but remains "very angry". "We get these complaints all the time," said. She added that the DWP's system for sending out accessible information was "appalling" and "not fit for purpose". The DWP were "making blanket decisions" to sanction people rather than looking at their individual circumstances. The DWP said it could not comment on individual cases but that forms were available in braille or large print and that advisers were "on hand to help". "Anyone who has their benefits suspended should contact us and can, if necessary, appeal," the spokesperson added. The RNIB's threat of legal action comes as Archbishop Nichols, the most senior Catholic in England and Wales, said the Coalition's benefits system was becoming increasingly "punitive" and was leaving people destitute. Responding in the Telegraph on Wednesday, David Cameron rebuffed the criticisms saying that benefit reforms introduced by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, were part of a "moral mission". The total number of JSA sanctions in the year to 30 September 2013 was 874,850, the highest since the payment was introduced in 1996. It compares with 500,000 in the year to 30 April 2010, the last month of the previous Labour government. In the year to 30 September 2013, there were also 22,840 sanctions imposed on claimants of ESA – the chief benefit for the sick and disabled – in the work-related activity group. This is the highest for any 12-month period since sanctions were introduced for claimants in October 2008. The figures were taken from the latest quarterly set of sanctions totals published by the DWP. Ministers have conceded the issue needs addressing by setting up an independent inquiry into how benefit sanctions are communicated to claimants. Critics claim the DWP is operating a culture of fear with jobcentre staff given implicit targets to sanction claimants. The large numbers come before the government introduces tougher rules that will require claimants to do more to prove they are actively seeking work. The success rate of those sanctioned claimants who take their cases to an independent tribunal ran at 20% or less under the previous Labour government. Under the coalition, it has risen dramatically to 87% in the 3 months to 30 September 2013. Duncan Smith said: "This government has always been clear that, in return for claiming unemployment benefits, jobseekers have a responsibility to do everything they can to get back into work. Research by the Disability Benefits Consortium, the RNIB said, showed an increasing number of disabled people are becoming reliant on food banks as a result of sanctioning policies. Steve Winyard, RNIB's head of campaigns and policy, said that thousands of disabled people were losing payments as a result of sanctions, and that included many blind and partially sighted people. "Too often DWP and its agencies are not providing people with the information on what they need to do to receive benefits in accessible formats, like braille or large print. RNIB has won cases against DWP for these very failures. But sanctions have led to blind and partially sighted people being forced to rely on food banks whilst they wait for the government to correct its own mistakes," Winyard said. “

Thursday, 20 February 2014

CWI: A bureaucratic farce, solidarity with Bruce Wallace

and the group of 11 My former party the CWI the Socialist Party of England and Wales is under going a crisis it would seem. With the news that long standing member Bruce Wallace has been suspended has not surprised me in the slightest. This all feels very familiar to my time in the party where my blog was used to attack me and my critical thinking was frowned upon too. You would think, perhaps naively, that advocates of two different theories of crisis could co-exist in the same organisation and fight things out at length. Apparently not. After a protracted drama, Wallace has been suspended, in substance for making his criticisms openly - his blog, apparently, is “a platform for a continual stream of invective and attacks on the party”. He has already declared his intention to appeal. While I am no longer a member I have full solidarity with Bruce and the others under attack I know how it feels to feel isolated and cast out as a trouble maker. Indeed this very blog came under intense scrutiny for my own critical views of the way the Socialist party was heading in terms of its methods and ideas. There is much with Bruce and the group of 11 which I agree with most of what they say are spot on to call out the Socialist party’s reformism and dedication to a under consumptionist position economically when it comes to understanding capitalist crisis. Bruce and others including Professor Andrew Kliman who is not a member of the CWI I’d like to point out rightly point towards the Tendency of the rate of profit to fall to find the under lying cause of crisis under capitalism. Why a party cannot co exist with members holding differing views on things I’ll never know. Where is the democracy I wonder? Whilst I don’t agree with everything I can identify with their outlook when it comes to theory. They argue for vigorous theoretical debate in SPEW, based on the actual practice of the Bolsheviks in the pre-revolutionary period. They write, entirely correctly: “democratic centralism prescribes unity on the basis of action, such as programmatic action and activity, and not unity on theory. What is clearer to me though is the fact the revolutionary left and the Marxist and trotskyist left is in crisis and it doesn’t look like a solution is anywhere to be seen as many of them are stuck in their old dogmatic ways and methods. We are going through a period where, it is fair to say, the long-standing organisations of the Trotskyist left are fraying at the edges. We have seen two splits in the space of a year in the SWP. As I write, the Renewal Platform of the International Socialist Organization - the SWP’s erstwhile US group - has been expelled. Workers Power, an orthodox Trotskyist group, has shed a large proportion of its small membership over the last few years. In Ireland, the CWI organisation has itself lost a clutch of experienced members. All these splits have taken place on an extraordinarily thin political basis. We are beginning to recognise the pattern. Comrades, whether through a short, sharp shock (the SWP’s rape debacle) or through a longer disillusionment, come to realise that the grand breakthrough is not, after all, just around the corner. They advance criticisms of the toy town Bolshevism of their organisations, the delusions of grandeur, and set out on their own - whether they jump or are pushed - to really build the movement. What they do not do is sit down and think, and come up with a rounded political alternative. Thus, they drift into liquidationism.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The left and its complacency with the far right

Just last week the widely written off BNP gained a fair few votes in a by election in Wythenshawe and Sale East Michael Kane won with 13,261 votes, beating UKIP's John Bickley, with 4,301, in second. Rev Daniel Critchlow, for the Tories, came third on 3,479 votes, and Lib Dem Mary Di Mauro, came fourth on 1,176. Labour leader Ed Miliband said he was "delighted" by the result while David Cameron said he would listen to voters. The full results were: • Mike Kane (Labour): 13,261 • John Bickley (UKIP): 4,301 • Reverend Daniel Critchlow (Conservatives): 3,479 • Mary Di Mauro (Lib Dem): 1,176 • Nigel Woodcock (Green Party): 748 • Eddy O'Sullivan (BNP): 708 • Captain Chaplington-Smythe (Monster Raving Loony): 288 • Turnout: 28% With a low turnout smaller parties can get more of a look in on a smaller turnout as they don’t need such a big vote to get a decent vote. This is clear with the BNP in this case who many on the left have all but written off claiming they are in disarray and are no longer the party to be aware of instead focusing their attacks and exposures of the likes of UKIP now. But a 708 vote for the BNP shows even in big labour strongholds the fascist vote is still there bubbling under the surface. This is also the North West where Nick Griffin of the BNP holds his MEP seat for this year anyway. For me it shows that the right and especially far right is not gone away and does need confronting at all times. This 708 could tip over a thousand next times and who knows if the BNP were to ever get properly organised and with a good financial backer like UKIP now have then they would quite easily become a force again. So why does the left not seem to be taking the BNP seriously anymore. Well I think it stems from the fact the BNP lost a lot of their seats and votes in last years local elections and this was seen widely to be the final nail in its coffin. But if I’ve learnt anything about fascists is that they will always com back if an alternative is not posed for people. After the walking out of Tommy Robinson from the EDL the far right is without a figure head to rally around. But do they even need one in an area where labour takes for granted will always win and win well is a grave concern for me as the far right will see this as a chance to put down roots in such areas of greater Manchester and so on. Whilst I do not think UKIP are ea out and out racist or fascist party it is clear in their rank-and-file there is many nutters with some very archaic views on society and particular on immigrants to this country. I do think we should be aware a new found modern idea of fascism could come in the form of a euro sceptic disguise. Not all forms of fascism are the same and to think fascists only come in one form and one form only is a dangerous mistake to make. I do think the left needs to be aware of the right at all times and look to provide alternatives and not alienate people. The truth is many people are concerned about immigration in this country but are not always found to be racist at all but are buying into the media’s myths whipped up by polititians to blame immigrants for a lack of jobs, homes and low wages. In reality we need to unite together and fight for all to have the rate of the job and good levels of benefits if not. The right is on the rise across Europe I sense with Greece’s Golden Dawn the national front in France and various neo Nazi’s in Hungary and beyond. It is a worrying time but it is also something we can’t take our eye off the ball about in my opinion.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The UK floods and capitalism in crisis

I don’t live in a flooded area I’d like to make clear but I do think the recent devastating flooding in many areas of the Uk with the South West of England being worst hit it would seem do deserve some reflection I think. Allot of people’s homes have been damaged possibly even permanently with flood waters still peaking in many places. My sympathies and solidarity do go out to all affected by these storms. A transfer of foreign aid to the flood victims is not the answer in my opinion though as many reactionaries will have you think it is the answer. Those foreigners don’t need out money we need it here. This misses the point of foreign aid and the good it does and automatically assumes it is "too high" in the first place which I’d contest. In the last week David Cameron has tried to do his savior of the people hero act by turning up with wellies and a helping hand but this symbolic gesture politics standing for photographs while cutting funding for flood defenses will do little to ease peoples anger I’d say. In fact it wills b interesting to see how much this recent storms and floods and a lack of a proper reply from the government will affect their votes in these areas. The UK has been hit by a series of strong storms throughout January and into February, with no end in sight. This offers a case study of capitalism under climate change. The current string of back-to-back storms has been described as "an almost unprecedented natural crisis". It hasn't escaped notice that the response to the storms in the south west was rather lackluster, but when severe flood warnings were issued for the Thames in the Home Counties, it was suddenly announced that "money is no object". It should come as no surprise that some peoples' misery is worth more than others. The sight of land reclaimed by the sea is also something we'll be seeing more of; as both sea levels and storm strengths continue to rise (managed retreat is proposed as an alternative to increasing reliance on sea defences). It’s probably too early to draw conclusions about the state response, as it’s likely to be still in-formation in response to emerging crises.2 However, we shouldn’t assume that destruction is automatically bad for capital. A moderate amount of destruction can be seized upon as an opportunity for restructuring, reconstruction and investment (so-called 'disaster capitalism'). As the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said, "You get a hit to GDP [Gross Domestic Product] as it's going on and then you get a recovery, you get that back later on with the repair." On a system-level, rates of profit are boosted by the destruction of capital value.3 This wasn’t allowed to happen to any great extent in the economic crisis, as state intervention propped up banks and the housing bubble. In the absence of a world war to destroy capital and make room for growth (the 1940s ‘fix’), might climate change destruction contribute to a recovery of the rate of profit, amidst secular stagnation? Clearly, if this conjecture is true, this would happen in a hugely unequal, exploitative, and potentially cataclysmic manner. But how much climate destruction is best for capital? Probably more than none. Extreme weather events will start to have an increasing disruptive impact. That might result in shifts in climate policy. But damaging the capitalist economy shouldn't be mistaken for damaging capitalist social relations. Rather, capitalist relations ensure that climate change impacts tend to reinforce existing inequalities.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Another march from A to B is the best Britain’s Unions can offer this year

So the TUC will be holding another set piece demonstration/march from A to B this October the 18th. This for me shows where we are at on so many levels. It’s the last thing we need another arch in central London to go to Hyde Park to listen to Ed Miliband once again and all go home feeling thoroughly deflated. This will be the third big national demonstration since the con-dem government came to power and I do suspect the size of this one could be smaller still. The first demonstration march for the alternative back on March 26 2011 I went on full of optimism that this could be the start of things has quickly faded into my mind. The feeling after that demo and all the militant talks by union leader after union leader that we must strike together now after marching together rings rather hollow. Also who can forget in 2012 Len Mcckluskey of Unite calling for a general strike by a show of hands almost seems laughable now that people actually took that seriously at the time. For me this is all rather depressing it feels like we are going around in circles and in many wyes we are while the government and the state run rings around us laughing all the way to the bank quite literally in many cases. The title for this year’s march from A to B will be called Britain needs a pay rise so we're no longer marching for an alternative just a bit of a pay rise. How much it’s not clear. Clearly this will be channeled into voting for labour next year for this to happen no doubt. So you may ask what I think should be done instead if March’s don’t work? Well I think that fighting for ourselves not looking towards leaders to lead us all the time taking control of our own struggles where we can be it in our communities or our workplaces. Many people are at breaking point that will be able to afford to come up to London to go for a march again anyway? Will those being threatened with eviction due to the vicious bedroom tax which still rumbles on despite labours claims to abolish it be able to come along for a nice day out listening to Mr. Ed? No doubt many of the trot parties out there will talk this up as the chance to prelaunch the anti cuts movement and cease it as another hot bed to sell papers and recruit some poor souls who can be easily mislead. As Karl Marx once said it is for the workers and the workers themselves to change society not a self appointed top down leadership. Also I’m sure we will hear those calls for a 24 hour general strike from the usual suspects again. This is just not going to happen by calling on the TUC to organize it from the top down. Of course it would be welcome but we’d be far better building it from below going around the union tops if need be. Let’s start today by organising in our towns and cities without the tired old leaderships. We have the power when we get together to affect change. A march in a cold October will change nothing and the unions know this. It’s a way of letting off steam. Lets by pass them.

Monday, 10 February 2014

The brilliance of ideas

For me I’ve always been a deep thinker questioning everything where I can. This has lead me to all sorts of troubles in the past where I’ve questioned things I may not have been right to do so but I do not regret that now. I think people with ideas are brilliant being critical of things is important in this day and age of rolling news and so much information at the tips of our fingers we should be very careful what we believe and what we don’t more than ever before. I would maybe say my political ideas are somewhat cynical now and this is mainly born out through experience of various ideas and experiences I’ve been through. Having experienced being in a mass political party in the labour party and also a much smaller party in the socialist party I’ve found that party politics whilst have their merits in terms of collective thinking and the mix of ideas I do think ultimately these can be undemocratic in their outlook and their practices. So I now am not in any political party but I do still pay close attention to the former parties I was in and watch with interest as they look to improve things. I do think however political parties are not ideal for a number of reasons and for me the arena to question and think critically of things being frowned upon does not help them develop and adapt to new situations. For example labour and the socialist party is still banging on with the same tired worn out slogans which appeal to very little people or if they do they are communicated wrongly in the wrong format or medium. I think the biggest thing to remember is that we are all still learning and even when we are older and seemingly know a lot there is always more we can learn from each other and ourselves. I think questioning things and questioning ourselves in particular is a key ingredient to becoming an outward thinking person being able to reflect on what has been and what is required in a positive yet critical fashion can prove very useful in time. Politics is a funny business. Many people just don’t get it and feel turned off by it and I can’t blame them at all in fact I’ve been turned off mainstream politics the stuff you see on television for some time. But for me what we see on TV at Westminster is not politics. Politics or political thinking is all around us. The shopping we buy every week, the newspapers we may read, the conversations we have with our friends and where we work is all political everything can be political if you choose to see it that way. I think our lives are shaped by how we see the world if we wish to affect change we can do so. Things are not static and are constantly evolving all the time. We are in affect a cog in a giant wheel where we can decide to change things if we wish to. Having a idea is a brilliant thing if it is shared by others is not the point if you wish to see how far it can go you can be challenged and tested to see if your idea has any legs by this we can tweak our thinking and come to a much more rounded out way of thinking that helps us understand the world around us much more. I should really take up critical thinking with the Open University or something as there must be something I can do with my deep thinking that can benefit others. But lastly I would just say to people don’t just accept what your being told question everything and keep on doing so. The day we stop thinking is the day we stop living.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Please support the tube strikes

Thousands of London Underground workers are taking part in a 48-hour strike over proposed cuts which include closing every Tube ticket office in London. Members of the RMT and TSSA unions walked out on Tuesday and will stay out until 9pm on Thursday 6th February in the first of two 48-hour stoppages. Under the proposals being put forward by London mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London (TfL) hundreds of station staff jobs would be lost and supervisors would be moved from stations. TfL claims the plans are needed to save £50 million a year. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimate each strike could cost the London economy £50 million a day. Workers have already been taking action with an overtime ban in place since last month which has led to some station closures. From Friday union members are set to start a 'revenue strike' which should allow free travel between certain times on certain days. The second 48-hour stoppage is due to take place from 9pm on Tuesday 11th Feburary to the same time on Thursday 13th February. Picket lines Workers are asking members of the public to support their picket lines and are expecting supporters from groups fighting austerity, such as Disabled People Against the Cuts and Occupy, to attend. Please visit this website below http://www.rmtlondoncalling.org.uk/node/4830 To find out where picket lines will be and to pop down and lend your support. During the next few days where we will see some rough stormy weather why not warm a tube worker up by popping along to the picket lines and offering solidarity. This is sure to be a long drawn out bitter dispute with Boris Johnson looking to try and smash the unions. Don’t let him these are attacks against our class we must stand up and show solidarity with our brothers and sisters who work on the tube day in day out and provide the safety in their assistance they give us. As a disabled person I am hugely appreciative of the kind support and assistance I can access when travelling the tube and this allows me to access the capital and travel independently. Do not allow Boris his moment in the sun. Solidarity and victory to all tube workers.