Arguing With A Labourite ;)
I have been having a discussion with a really good friend of mine on Facebook and our posts were getting slightly too long for comments on a status update so I’m replying on here.
“****, if all the Anarchists in the country voted, they may have a say but right now you are taken about as seriously as Goths or any other teen sub-culture.”
For starters anarchism isn’t a “teen sub-culture” any more than socialism, communism or any other social system or ideology is. Is capitalism a teen sub-culture? By saying that you shit all over the memory of the thousands upon thousands who have fought tooth and nail for their class. Is it for a teen-subculture that workers all over the world celebrate May Day? Was it that same teen sub-culture that won the 8 hour day? That liberated Paris from the Nazi’s? (The first tanks into Paris were manned by Spanish anarchists) That crushed the Poll Tax and brought down Thatcher? (The anti-Poll Tax campaign was started by the Edinburgh Anarchist Group) Was it these teen sub-culturalists who gave their lives in their thousands to resist fascism in Spain?
When you say that anarchists don’t have a say as they don’t vote I put it to you that the act of voting in a representative democracy is the antithesis of ‘having a say’. It is the epitome of political apathy, The abdication of political authority to another party shows a lack of both political engagement and intellectual laziness. Not bothering with doing the hard work those who vote simply allow others to do so giving them carte blanche to do as they see fit.
As I said on FaceSpace; anarchists are taken seriously by the people we struggle alongside and that’s what matters.
“You don’t vote so you don’t matter. Chavs are more highly respected because at least SOME of them bother to vote. I realise it’s a choice between John Jackson and Jack Johnson but your revolution is NEVER going to happen. Talk to anyone born in the 1960s and earlier. They will tell you people once had to decide between feeding their children and paying a doctor. That shit was stopped by Labour. People used to gather coal in the streets to heat their houses and social mobility was about zero. We’ve come a long way. Revolution is impossible unless the masses feel under threat and there really is no reason to feel so bad about our world. It’s not that bad. If you think we have oppression, live somewhere else. Anywhere is worse than here… except Holland.”
By your logic most of the people in Britain don’t matter as they have voted with their feet by not voting, are disenfranchised due to either housing or immigration status, by age or through being incarcerated. I on the other hand think that all of my class deserves a say in how their communities are and how their workplace operates. This is not achieved through abdicating responsibility to someone who has no connection to your community. This is done through real politics on a community level.
You say a revolution is NEVER going to happen. Where did you get your crystal ball? I suppose the Tsar though the revolution was never going to happen.
Social mobility has been increasing in this country aye, but that’s downward social mobility! Social mobility has never been zero in the UK over the last century but it has changed over time. (see image below) Hardly a sign of an advancing society. People today work more hours for less money and enjoy a lower standard of life than they did 50 years ago. Britain also ranks as one of the countries with the lowest quality of life in Europe.
“Immigration does need to be monitored and controlled. You can’t maintain a single culture with unchecked migration. What is Britain and British would be destroyed. Controlled migration with generous asylum laws are the best you could hope for without being swamped by several Billion people who would prefer to live here. If you don’t want to protect any part of our culture I have to ask why? Do you not like yourself? Your family and friends? What is so awful about society?”
First off, I think you need to take a step back and reread what you have written here. The argument you are posing is exactly the same as the argument used by the BNP and by UKIP. I’ll take a bit of time here to address your points one at a time. Sorry if this gets lengthy but the misapprehensions you are working with are frighteningly prevalent throughout society. I’ll look at the specifics of immigration and then at culture, community and the sense of self.
You say immigration needs to be controlled otherwise Britain would be swamped by “several billion people who would prefer to live here”. You say I have a penchant for the dramatic. You do realise that there are only 6 billion people on the planet aye and that a migration of several, which I take to mean three or more, billion people would be an event on a scale that this world has never seen. Surely just to witness this fantastic migration is a reason enough to drop immigration controls!
You have to ask yourself a number of things. Firstly why would these people want to leave their friends, families and communities to move to the other side of the world to a country where they will be despised by racists and used as a political football by politicians? I have to wonder if you have met many immigrants or refugees. I think if you had you would find that most people don’t want to be here at all but are driven here by circumstance, either economic of fleeing persecution. Economic migrants tend to move to a country for only a limited time to either save cash or send cash home for a while. They don’t want to live here.
You have to ask yourself what would drive you to move to the other side of the world, to somewhere you may have, at best, a rudimentary grasp of the language. Were your situation to be such that seemed the only option to you how would you like your host country to treat you?
Immigration controls don’t serve to protect culture, something I’ll come to in a moment, but to manage the flow of labour. Immigrant labour is used by the ruling class to keep wages low and as a means of keeping workers struggling amongst themselves rather than realising that they have more in common with the migrant labour than the people they work for. A great way of ensuring the working class does not become conscious of its economic power.
Right now onto culture. *takes deep breath*
Culture as defined in national terms doesn’t exist. Culture and cultures do exist but they can and do traverse national and geographic boundaries. Differences between cultures do not change abruptly because of a border set down in 1945 nor even because of geographical boundaries. Despite all attempts over the last century to stop them people move around the world, whether from town to town, island to island or region to region. They take their culture with them and then adopt some of the cultures they move into/through. They also impart their culture to the places they move.
Just to use Britain as an example. A staple of the British diet is now the curry. A dish introduced in the 60’s/70’s and now more popular than fish and chips or a roast dinner. Curry and chips is an example of how cultures feed into one another. Or hummous, an exotic side that you would be hard pressed to not find in a supermarket. The word ‘mush’ is another fine example. It’s a Romani word meaning ‘man’ that is now commonly used as a greeting in parts of Britain. So to describe British culture you also have to describe the culture of every person who has ever come to this island and every person that has left and then returned. It is this evolutionary nature of cultures that give them their vibrancy.
Migration controls are probably the worst thing that can happen to human cultures. By stimmying the flow of people we defy our cultures of new influences that lead to them developing. Without new influences the cultural gene pool will dry up and we will be left with nothing but a parody of a culture that never existed in the first place.
I’ll just say something on the notion of ‘Britishness’. What would you say defines Britishness? Pragmatism? A sense of fair play? Liberalism? I’m sure that if you asked any person from anywhere what they thought defined their national characteristics you would get a very similar answer.
You ask “Do you not like yourself?” as if a realisation that cultures are not defined by national borders or presumed identities means I lack a sense of self. My self identity is developed, as is yours and everyone else’s, from experiences not from some mythical national culture. I do not identify as ‘British’. British, or Welsh, Scottish or Irish, is merely a geographical description and implies little about anything which necessarily defines a person. The existence of a shared culture does influence the way a persons sense of self develops true but it is a localised culture not a national culture that influences this development of self. Everything from neighbours, family, friends through mass media, school, forms a part of that culture and that varies across short distances due to the different people participating in this local culture. These localised cultures feed into one another but at no point do they form a homogeneous mass culture.
“You have a penchant for the dramatic. By “snatched from their beds by thugs” I take it you mean people who were breaking the law, living here illegally. And by thugs you mean the highly trained police who protect the weak and infirm from lazy, greedy, dangerous criminals. You claim society protects the privilege of the wealthy from the poor but it also protects the physically weak from the strong. Without society and police, the weak, sick or old but smart would be at the mercy of the brute. Just like they were before society was created.”
I’m not being dramatic here. Families, as in small children and babies – can they be criminals – who are snatched form their beds by thugs. They haven’t committed any crimes, nothing they have done is illegal. All that has happened is that their asylum claim has been refused. The home office refuses over 80% of cases regardless of the actualities of the case. It’s also not police who carry out the raids but Home office officials who are about as trained as a security guard at Sainsbury’s.
I say again. These are families that are being raided before dawn and being dragged screaming to camps for the ‘crime’ of being in Britain. I was recently at the court case of a woman accused of assaulting seven HO agents when they came to remove her and her small child. One woman, on her own who was also seven months pregnant.
What had actually happened was she was gang raped by soldiers in her country of origin, the result of which was her fist child. So when uniformed thugs kicked her door in she flashed back to the event and grabbed a knife. She didn’t wield it at the agents though. She put it to her belly to kill herself rather than go through the brutal ordeal she had been put through in her home country. She was also charged with breach of the peace for screaming and beating her head bloody against the wall of her cell. The jury of course found her not guilty. She was later granted refugee status on account of the merits of her case. She was however in the category of ‘living here illegally’ due to the way that the Home Office deals with asylum cases.
If you want I could give you a list of the people that have been driven to suicide, self harm and self immolation by the Home Office. The Home Office enacting policies brought in by the Labour party I may add.
You’re also conflating state with society here. The two things are not the same and society does not rely on the state, the state does however reply upon society. Society does not require the state. We had societies before we had states and society doesn’t cease to function in the absence of the state. We live most of our lives in absence of the state after all, well at the moment any way.
My argument against the state is, at its simplest, that any state is a system for ensuring a minority have control over society. In place of a state I would argue, again at its simplest for a federation of community and workplace councils operating with a system of instantly recallable mandated delegates for inter council work. I’m not against the state because I’m against society. I’m against the state as it stifles society and ensures that only the few get the benefits of communal labour.
You’re right that the state protects the weak from the (potentially)strong. It protects the parasitical ruling class from the working class.
“Why take 10 steps back in social evolution? We have never cared so much in history as we do today. There has never been so little starvation in this country as there is today. Admittedly the same is not true of other countries and that is often our doing. But it always has been. Governments look after their own people as parents look after their own children first. It’s perfectly normal and to be expected. But now for the first time in history, average people want to see compassion from our leaders.”
To do away with the state is not to take steps backwards but to surge forwards. Without both capitalism and the state human society, on a global scale, would advance rapidly. Science freed from the chains of competition and a capitalist economy would be able to focus on things that advance society and increase the quality of life for all people rather than the profit margins of corporations.
You say we have never cared so much. Have you forgotten the Ethiopian ‘famine’. People gave in their millions and that was under Thatcher. People are empathic, social creatures. If there is a way we can alleviate the suffering of others then we will, in general, do so.
On the matter of leaders being generous. Have a look into how much of the money governments pledged to the Tsunami relief fund back in 2004/5 actually materialised.. You’ll be surprised.
“We are not where we want to be, but we have been moving in the right direction for decades. Anarchy would take us back to the start. Or worse, leave us at the mercy of a worse empire like the Chinese or Russians. You think you have no freedom now, just wait until you find it illegal to have spiky long hair or listen to rock music. Then you’ll beg for the freedom allowed to you today. You have the freedom to decent, criticize the government and not get tortured for the privilege.”
In what way would anarchy take us back to the start? Anarchy is not chaos and disorder, to be honest capitalism does that on a grand scale, but a different system of social organisation that ensures all share in the wealth of our communal labour rather than only a parasitic minority. Anarchy is communism as well as a means of getting to communism without going down the road of dictatorship and gulags.
I’ve never said we have no freedom now. What I have said is that this freedom is severely curtailed in that we are forced into often meaningless, and so very often demeaning, labour simply to be able to survive and to provide for our families. Our freedom is curtailed in the way that the world is divided up by nation states working for the benefit of a tiny minority.
I could go on but I’ll wait for your reply.