The Pessimistic Apathetic

Campbell 2

 

Following the No More Austerity demonstration in London on the 21st of June there was surprisingly little news coverage. Some claimed there was a blackout. Whilst I am not amongst those who believe there was a blackout, I do believe that it is very naive to not consider the possibility. Anyone oblivious to the reality of media driving public opinion has neither studied history, nor marketing, nor psychology, nor ever seen Fox News.

What I found more surprising, however, were the scathing opinions of people who are supposedly left wing Labour voters. Following an article in The New Statesmen, there were facebook discussions that exposed a lot of people as nothing more than pessimistic, apathetic defeatists. The opinions of many supposedly left wing people included:

  • The people who marched are just whiners.
  • The people who marched probably don’t vote.
  • The people who marched should just vote differently next time or form their own political parties.
  • Demonstrating makes the left look like squabbling lunatics.
  • Marching is antiquated and there is no room for it in the modern era.

Calling people who are motivated enough to take a stand and voice their opinions in a peaceable, public demonstration “whiners” blows my mind. A “whiner” does nothing but moan. A protester exercises their democratic right.

I think you would have struggled to find anyone in that march who was eligible but did not vote in the last election. These were political minded people with agendas who take their vote seriously. To say that the people should “just vote differently” suggests that anyone marching had voted for the government now in power. In fact, a disgustingly small percentage of the population voted for this government, as I previously explored in my post about the strikes. As for forming new political parties…. well that is precisely what Left Unity has done! In fact, had it none been for that march, I would never have heard of Left Unity, a left wing political party born out of a need for the left to put their individual differences aside and unite against the right.

My personal favourite, however, was the idea that marching, protesting, strikes, etc. don’t work in the modern era. These words make me embarrassed of my own generation! A generation of instant gratification with absolutely no sticktoittiveness. Do you think Rosa Parks sat in the white section of a bus and that was segregation in the American south ended?  Do you think women won suffrage with one well-mannered public demonstration? Do you think gays and lesbians are now able to legally get married only because of an annual gay pride parade? You have an awful lot to learn about the persistent nature of the people fighting for equality in this world. Protesting is a process and a perpetual mindset…. not a one-off way to spend a weekend. Do you know how good we have it protesting in this day and age? Historically speaking, it’s a fairly novel thing that we are now able to strike and protest without bloodshed and death!

Do they work? No…. they usually don’t. Not in singular instances. It is the collective affect. It’s the hive of activity that all the protesters experience which spurs us on to fight again the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that. You know a secret that the most successful, right wing, capitalist people know which you don’t? Failure is a huge part of success. Not just failure… repeated failure!

Has the protesting and the strikes from 10 July had an affect? Oh, I rather think they did! One of the biggest themes throughout both the No More Austerity march and the strikes on 10 July was a demand for the removal of Michael Gove as Education Minister. Today, it was announced that Michael Gove was demoted to chief whip, and Elizabeth Truss, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare (who had proposed some incredibly heinous ideas about putting 2-year-olds in 12-hour school sessions) was made the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Michael Gove was replaced by Nicky Morgan who is expected to be a “more conciliatory figure who will “reach out” to teaching unions as they threaten more strikes like the one staged last week.”

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TyLean Polley is an avant-garde recording artist. You can get a free download of her music at TyLeanPolley.com

 

No More Austerity

Photo from No More Austerity march.From the march of 50,000 people against austerity.

Some people are driven by a need for appreciation. Some are driven by money. Not me…. I’m driven by an addiction to new experiences, and on Saturday, I did something that was a first for me: I marched in protest!

My husband, my son and I made our way to London by train and then took the underground from Kings Cross to Oxford Circus. We were running about 15 minutes late, and I was feeling anxious about whether the march had already left and we missed it…. and I hadn’t written down directions; would we find the starting point? As soon as we rose on the escalator from the depths of Oxford Circus Underground Station, I realised how unfounded these worries were. My eyes were instantly pulled toward a No More Austerity sign on the wall of the ticket hall… and then to a TFL employee with a pink mohawk. As we ascended the last steps leading to the street – carrying our pushchair, our home made sign and our child – I could feel the levels of excitement in the air rising in tandem.

On the journey, we had been painfully hungry and hoping we would have time to grab something to eat, but we completely forgot about our hunger as we drew closer to the assembled protesters and deeper into the electrifying hive of activity. We obtained a sign that read “Gove Out” and more leaflets than we knew what to do with.

Photo from No More Austerity march. Sign reads "tax the corporate moguls" with pictures of the starbucks, google and amazon logos.

We weren’t there with any particular group, but we filed in near the NUT teachers’ union. (My husband is actually a member of the NASUWT teachers’ union, so this seemed close enough). Not that this mattered as our place within the march kept changing, having to occasionally stop to sort out our child. This turned out to be an advantage, because we got to see the wide range of people who were there to protest, and perhaps more impressively, just how far some people had come to march, including considerable representation from Wales. One person in particular caught my eye, having beautifully hand-crafted a banner that shamed our paint-still-wet cardboard made hastily that morning. It was turquoise, white and purple macramé and read “Tax the Rich.”

Photo from No More Austerity march. Beautiful handmade macramé sign reads "Tax the Rich." It's colours are turquoise, purple and white.

The demonstration took us from just outside of BBC studio to the green outside Parliament. Interestingly, BBC didn’t mention a single word about the protest of 50,000 people on their doorstep. ITV mentioned it briefly.

The following day, I began to dive into my pile of pamphlets and political literature. Some of it was just plain bat shit! (Entertaining however). A lot of the literature made excellent points. One such point was made in an A3 booklet from a new political party called Left Unity. It contained several articles written by different members, and the one that really caught my eye was written by Kate Hudson called European Elections: A Rising Left Amid the Far Right Danger. The article explains that although news coverage is extremely focused on the rise of far right political parties such as UKIP, the rise in far left parties has been nearly as great and in some cases greater.

Dreading the rise of the right, I have been throwing my support behind Labour as the best alternative, although they don’t truly represent my opinions and views. Both in America and Britain, the major left wing parties have become – in fact – moderate parties, attempting to pander to both sides. Before the European Elections, I scoured the internet for a party that was on the left and pro-EU. The best I could come up with were the Liberal Democrats. Every other party was either formed on an anti-EU policy or – at best – non-committal to either side of the debate.

I have always been proud to be an unaffiliated, independent voter, open to considering the best candidate for the job regardless of their political affiliation. However, the only thing that remains constant is change, and I now feel I need to openly support the growing wing of politics that I was inaccurately led to believe was shrinking. Yesterday, I had another “first experience.” I joined Left Unity!

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TyLean Polley is an avant-garde recording artist. You can get a free download of her music at TyLeanPolley.com