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Thinking out loud

Why do I want to have anything to do with radical politics?

  1. Because the world faces problems - oil, climate, social justice - that mainstream politics is proving wholly inadequate at confronting
  2. Because I am interested in radical social / political theory, and consequently in how it connects to real-world actions
Why do I feel so fucking uncomfortable about being involved in any specific events / actions?
  1. Class privilege:
    • means my neck isn’t on the line in these struggles. Come what may, I will basically be ok - or ok-er than 90% of people. So it’s patronising and presumptuous to be involved and to claim to be acting/speaking for those in a very different position.
    • means I don’t have a right to speak in these spaces. My confidence and articulacy can intimidate and silence people who don’t feel so capable.
  2. Activists online love to slate “liberals”. As someone undecided and on the periphery, I’m going to get judged, attacked and mocked for not having enough “commitment to the cause”.
  3. I’ve got a job in the private sector, I’m ambitious and I want to earn enough money so that I can buy a flat and not be in poverty in my old age. I don’t want to live in a squat and I’m not prepared to live on benefits (or a PhD stipend…) as some act of protest against wage-labour. As such I’m too invested in the status quo to be involved in radical politics.
  4. I haven’t got any tangible skills to contribute - e.g. legal or housing know-how, the willingness to get beaten up in a protest, etc.
  5. What’s the point? How does it ever get beyond being a minority thing?:
    • Activism doesn’t achieve tangible change in macro politics - million people march against the Iraq war, nada.
    • Don’t see how we get there from here
    • Protests, cultural centres etc basically permitted dissidence, small-scale spaces where people can vent their dissatisfaction with the system without in fact troubling it significantly. C.f. China and the Communist party’s attitude to protests.
    • Don’t agree with the art-speak (or Hakim Bey) position that focuses on how radical political action changes the “consciousness” of the people involved - bluntly, this is not enough, it’s basically therapeutic navel-gazing.
    • I don’t understand how radical socio-political structures can scale with any legitimacy given that 90% of the population think that radicals are a bunch of feckless unwashed students. How’s it get majority buy-in?
    • Why is it verboten to ask about whether these social models are legitimate, why’s any concern about the potential for majority buy-in castigated as “dirty centrism”?
So what?
  • Decide that I’m clearly too uncomfortable with and critical of radical politics to be a part of it, even though I believe it to be necessary? (Because I don’t want to be that person who sits in the corner and just goes, “No that’s impossible, that’s stupid”, negative negative negative.)
  • Find a local project doing something clearly useful - environmental, urban planning - get involved, contribute. Stop over-thinking and just act; stop worrying about how this connects to the bigger picture (easier said than done)?
  • Follow some different radicals on the internet & read different things that I might find more constructive - someone, somewhere has to be explaining radical politics in terms that make me go “Yes, I can understand how that would work”?
  • Say ok then, I want to work from the starting point of party politics because I understand how that can make (albeit incremental and not sufficient) change in the world; join the Greens (or try to be part of the solution for the Labour Party?) and so on?
So what else?
  1. textbookmaneuver said: …and we can’t afford to define the radical by internal histories and lineages. There are many liberalisms, as Barnett and Low argue; same goes for the radical and the leftist. In solidarity, a ‘class traitor’ “like” yourself.
  2. helge answered: Doing the micropolitics of everyday life differently might be more important than wielding banners. Ethnomethodological communism FTW ;)
  3. spitzenprodukte answered: eco-action.org/dod/no9…
  4. hautepop posted this
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