Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Sorry Marianne - Broken Cycles

Remains of a protection site where everyday people got caught in another way of living and seeing

Tuesday morning the second of the fortnightly-cycles so blue-bin neatly placed outside (at crack of dawn or as late as reasonable the night before so as not to offend the street).... 2 hours after collection, Wheelie Bin Cleaner rumbles along showcasing the good people who pay for this... tomorrow, work at the Accountancy office writing about workplace pensions for small businesses (I want to write REBEL!! the pensions should come from what we pay in tax and NI already - this is a bloody scam - get the pitchforks at the ready) but instead I have to say things like "HMRC are clamping down with huge fines for failure to comply - you are breaking the law if you do not act by your staging date". If I don't write these words, I don't eat (so I link to stories of tax evasion by corporates and pension theft by the greedy – it helps a little).

Activism puts life under a microscope and when you delve in there, the routines, repetition, acceptance and conditioning are revealed to be a futile waste of this gift of life. We are 'ordered', penned, categorised and defined by incomes, possessions, certificates, obedience, cleanliness of bins.
Like most I know who have come kicking and screaming into activism (not like anyone wakes up and thinks “I know, I’ll crash my income to barely-survivable – lose some friends and respect – accept that some will see me as odd and possibly dangerous – spend most of my time researching ugly things and then give up all else in order to work for change) ...what a huge struggle it’s all turned out to be; a massive life-change that was not anticipated and is overwhelming in the shake-up it brings. Everything, everything looks different when you peel away the facade of order and find anything once considered routine - to be an ugly intrusion. I can’t remember what I used the internet for before activism, can’t recall what conversations I had with friends over leisurely lunches, can’t conceive of having been so bloody blind and complicit... but the day before I was an activist, I wasn’t one.

Watching the news this week made me cry before it made me angry. I know it was just another propaganda story for the energy sector’s fracking arm and that it was expected in their cycle of things ie: investors were looking fed-up and needed stimulation so 'Our' government complied with talk of throwing money about ...and the stocks - although not quite climactic - certainly showed some nipple-erection.

And that's the thing... we know what next, we know how this ordinarily, routinely, reliably plays out - but now, we know we know and that’s really bloody awful. Once you can see the processes in the cycles, you become aware of the huge burden that is growing. As the cycles proceed, the heavier it gets and the more difficult it is to work out how to unpack and unload. Under the weight we feel small and powerless already and then, because you can see the next layers forming, you have to start prioritising your outrage and attention. You notice suffering, realise corruption, understand how evil people have convinced themselves they’re not and that if you thought fracking was bad... bloody hell wait till you see the rest! I once said of activism that:

 “When you walk through the door marked ‘activism’ not only do you realise you’ve been in the wrong room all your life – but that once through... there are so many many more doors.”

An amazing woman of incredible grit and determination who honourably seeks to stop nuclear waste disposal (Marianne Birkby) has questioned me a few times about why it is that 'fracking' has the attention and the activists (indeed it does come over as the energy sector's 'new black')... she doesn't mean the tone of her question to accuse I don't think and I totally understand where she's coming from... once you know the real risks of the thing you have your sight on, it is hard to understand why everyone isn't standing with you.

I once said to Marianne that I thought the difference was down to a few things primarily:

-as an issue, fracking came along once we had a grip of the internet/social media/livestreaming/independent reporters – so we could get our story out in many ways and often, debunk the next mainstream news item because we had the footage, the links to peer-reviewed research, the UN-paid experts acting on moral not financial considerations and we were able to weave networks that could nourish, inform, tug and self-correct through sheer numbers and ease of access.

-unlike nuclear waste that is already actively happening, is mostly unseen and a massive threat for forever... fracking isn’t yet happening here in the UK, it comes with masses of visibility and could threaten your next breath or sip of water.  We have it easier because we’re preventing something starting up – not stopping an existing enterprise. Fracking is ONLY imminent IF we don’t act and many are realising that this means them too and right NOW, they really do matter.


I added to Marianne that the the ‘joy of fracking’ comes with it’s totally non-selective, unbiased threat to everything that relies on air and water for survival right now... so that’s every living, breathing thing and that once all the living, breathing things have fought this foe, they will also have SEEN how this came to be, what our role has been and how this was a risk our government was OK with – and ask “What else have they done or will they propose?” Add in the realisation that comes with this fight, that mainstream media misleads (I’m being fairer than I should – a lot of the time it just plain lies) and then the frack-free activists ask “What else have they lied about? What was ever true? How much has been hidden?”  Then Marianne... there’s this massive bunch of people I’d like to introduce you to :)

So although I can see too many cycles now – my focus remains this and I see it as a clear red dot in front of me... when anything has my attention, I question first “Is this hindering my progress to the red dot or assisting? Can’t tell you how much fun that method has killed!

The layers of the burden will only ease with the many taking the weight, the many unpacking its parts and the many realising we are the many.  This is happening in the frack-free movement: research too much for individuals is torn apart by the many and shared amongst us (7,000 page documents a mere morsel for us nowadays), planning application intricacies are broken down into plain talk so that all of the many can understand and we are finding an incredible truth that I have seen work miracles time and again... diversity.

For me, this is where we find our truths. I have been around campfires with strangers, where it was our differences that enriched our solutions. Where someone’s nit-picking, over-attention-to-detail habits were valued highly because they relentlessly insisted until answers came, where someone’s life-experience as an addict elicits empathy and enhances a warm, human understanding that was previously just a poor-opinion, where the quiet whispered philosophies I had never conceived, and the creatives screamed out in art that changed perceptions ... wisdom flooded these circles and has broken my life cycles. 

Thank goodness the company is good xxx

Promises amounting to nothing as expected but at least clear that if 'keeping the lights on' in a hurry is part of the reason... then the infrastructure and time required means no time soon for shale gas.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

I'm not laughing...

You know those jokes that include something like: “...and she said, but I thought I could trust him ...he’s a Politician!” and the way people look at you with sympathy/pity when you say things like: “...but I thought this was supposed to be a democracy.”

I’m not laughing though – I’m angry, really bloody outrageously, ferociously, viciously, rightfully – angry and I’m not being naive – I KNOW we can’t trust politicians and I now know that ‘democracy’ is just a loose term that’s been misappropriated but just knowing – doesn’t negate the need to be outraged and determined to act for change.

Politics tsk... such a shambles, such a lie and such a bloody dangerous con. We are lead to believe we live in a democracy and that the little 'X' in a box every 5 years or so makes it so. Yet essentially we are faced only with 2 choices - because our voting system is not proportional, keeps safe seats safe and weights our votes differently. Often we aren’t voting for what we want, simply to get the most dangerous ones out. It’s nearly always though the red ones or the blue ones, swings or roundabouts but still the same playpark.

Sometimes it’s a bit better for the less privileged and there’s social benefit and other times, it’s better for big business and the wealthy. It seems though that when Tony Blair took the Labour Party leadership, he lightened the red and shaded it blue – so even the poor system we had, was made far worse because it seemed it was always big business and the wealthy being pandered to. Our meager crumbs now mere dust droppings.

This system of ours with its lousy unrepresentative voting and sold-out politicians in key controlling roles, means that broader views get barely a notice and what could be a brilliantly effective blend of hues - is just not on offer. The choices are there in small numbers but the system reminds us that if we want the REALLY bad guys out, then we can’t vote based on moral conviction or what we truly believe – because it would be wasted.

I have spent a great deal of time with activists and campaigners in these past 5 years and like many, I’ve wondered what was the point in voting because my chance of making a difference is negligible and besides - I wanted to change the system, not engage with it or encourage it with my seemingly pointless vote.

But the problem is, the system is rigged so that control and power rests with those it rigged into office and we can’t get near the controls unless we enter first – and the only way into the system, is via its politics. Sure we have our vast numbers but what – are we all going to rush parliament? Maybe plan B ...but for now the ability to divide us through tales told in the media that demonise one sector, for another to sneer at or fear - means we’d struggle to unite sufficiently to work together on something as big as system change (we didn't do so well on unity with the whole EU thing).

A few years ago I joined the Green Party and have grown to think of it as another arena for activism – somewhere to seek change. I resonated with one of the first things I read about the party, that it ‘sought to change the system from within’. I went last week to the hustings for a new Leader and Deputy Leader/s and realised how many I knew in the room from frack-free actions and how on actions, I see more and more Green Party members... helps to reassure I’m in the right place even if politics doesn’t always feel like the right thing.

Recently there’s been talk of political alliances, issue-by-issue politics, Proportional Representation and working to change the way our government is elected. With this in mind and the awareness that nothing is as it was in government at the moment – it feels like we should prepare for opportunities wherever they present and in whatever arena they’re in.

I made my decisions for voting after the hustings although I was already pretty sure about the role of Deputy Leader/s; an easy one because I have had the opportunity to share platforms and demonstrate alongside both ShahrarAli and Amelia Womak and have the utmost respect for both. Genuine people who seem to be doing what they do, because they actually give a damn about the outcomes.

Shahrar I have seen adapt to different audiences; whether on the street at an Occupy Democracy demo or the lectern in a community hall. He has a strong presence and is a decent human being – which for me, matters.

I’ve seen the effect too of Amelia’s warm approach, plain speaking and intelligence at actions and feel that the experience both bring, will ensure some stability in what I hope is a huge surge of change in the way we do politics in the UK.

Especially as I think that if David Malone gets the role of Leader (who likely has my vote), then the  knowledge of Shahrar and Amelia will play a vital part; his background isn’t ‘traditional politics’. Maybe that’s why he feels like the sort of change I’d like to see? He has a rich past that ties in science, economics and media but it is his campaigning that attracted my attention, he appeared to be doing it like we do – because he is outraged at the injustice and lack of intelligence I think. I may be wrong of course as I have only had a little time with him but his involvement in media means there was plenty I could research. Although Caroline is also an option in the vote, I believe she already plays an exceptional role as an MP and this offers the opportunity to add to our assets rather than split one.

Meanwhile on another side of town... Jeremy Corbyn seems to offer the promise of a more true opposition and if he can get through this, I hope will aim for more co-operative politics and a can get government to addresses its own system; how it operates and who it serves. 

Right now I don’t think I have ever witnessed such a shambolic, unstable and dangerous situation in government; the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn should be unacceptable but happen anyway and we have a prime minster that no-one chose and who for her first trick, rushed through a vote on a weapon that if the truth were known, most would not want. Trident with its huge price-tag along with the actual ugly reality of what it actually does surely should not take precedence over the desperate needs in so many parts of our society from the NHS to education, prisons,  small business, energy and social care.

It’s hard to see how this all turns out but sometimes my stomach finds knots to tie trying. By contrast, in activist arenas I feel so positive and optimistic – I think this is because activists are truly inspirational people... every event/action/meeting, gifts something back. New knowledge, a brilliant contact, the warmest hug, an incredible idea, a good laugh, plans for how we make it all better and the knowing that all those people beside you – give a damn too.

Politics, parties and processes feel so alien, difficult, uncomfortable and stubborn - the task of dealing with them, hampered by hurdles, brick walls and ugly truths wrapped in red tape. Increasingly though, the Green Party (and currently, elements of the Labour Party Corbyn Campaign) – are looking a whole lot more like activism does to me. And if we are to get some control of/within the system of government, we need them to.

Planning too far ahead at such a changeable time is challenging but first things first – the aim I would think for at least 76% of us (who did not choose this government) is to ensure THIS government stops having control. We can do this without a revolution which is handy – if we just smuggle good activists in as politicians (shhhh don’t tell anyone!). 

Actually I watched Caroline Lucas defend her son against police brutality and get arrested and have on many occasions now, walked/marched/campaigned with Natalie Bennett and I’ve gone back through decades of video clips to watch Jeremy Corbyn’s speeches and conclude that there are activists already dressed as politicians, we just need a lot more of them - and we need them working together for what is best for the people of this country and not just some sector’s economy. 

Over to you David in the hope that you can work for the sort of diversity and co-operation required to wrench control from the hands of those politicians that sell out our communities to the energy sector, that risk our health with the privatisation of our NHS, that deny our children’s potential with education too poorly funded and too costly to access, that allow our pensioners to freeze because of a budget that is colder ...and that take us to wars by lying to us, putting our forces in harm’s way, causing the slaughter and suffering of millions and doing all this at our cost – in every way.

There are many arenas in which to make a stand and it is I believe by ensuring people of good intent are in as many of them as possible – that we can begin to make true change. Afterall, if you’re an activist... what would you do with control? Would you make things better for only you? Is that what your activism is about? Of course not... we’re in it for a bigger picture and greater goals than any 5-year-term-in-office could possibly offer.

Long old ramble there but all out now... heroic of you to stay to the end.