I’ve been thinking about these issues for a long time.Several things have struck me over recent times.I read an article recently that commented on how the infrastructure of the left of had gone in to decline and how so much of it has disappeared.I think that disappearance overlaps too with the emptying and disappearance of the welfare state and its radical periphery too.
Both are not just physical and in the built environment but are also cultural and located in social relations(hips)and other phenomena.
I think too that some of it has changed with technological development too.
When i began to move from being a wide eyed adolescent to a youth who could begin to engage with parts of”my”world autonomously print became increasingly important.i did not just read because i enjoyed it and because i increased my knowledge that way but because it connected me to the things i wanted to become involved in.Whilst it was a very long time before i write anything much,i soon became involved in the maelstrom of the written word.When i left London at 19 years old to become a student,a variety of publications had become key organising tools.
One of those was Time Out the London listings paper which i am aware,along with other papers now around the globe is still alive if transformed.Founded i believe by a group of journalists,writers and others who found the previous generation of listing papers inadequate,stilted and outdated,Time Out shifted from the cultural terrain of glamour,glitz,and expense accounts to an audience or rather an interest group that was younger and socially and politically more radical in lifestyle and politics,before the time when radicalism was simply reduced to lifestyle.It was an eagerly sought place to advertise events,and to check out other events that i amd others both wished to attend and to consult before organising our own.That said,i and the milieu in which is spent much of my mid teens survived and thrived using a combination of word of mouth and our own more limited and often”duplicated”media within the relatively small community,and”outer darkness”that got migrated by local politics from Essex into Greater London,during my childhood.
When i returned to live in London,that publication had become even more centre stage for a number of overlapping sub cultures in London,and that continued following a dispute at Time Out which itself reflected some of the tensions and strengths of some of those subcultures,and for a time a number of such papers including City Limits and the short lived Event thrived for a number of years.many years later as the focus of my own life shifted,somehow they all became less relevant and some disappeared.Then the focus shifted from print to internet and new media.After a gap of at least 20 years,looking back at what is online it all seems far more fragmentary than it ever was,despite the plethora of “voices”on the internet,and frankly listings papers and even on the internet have become for me almost completely irrelevant,at least in the sense that if i want to go to hear some music or poetry or a new place of interest,i don’t look in the listings and i certainly don’t look int the print,so i’m back to finding out things via a kind fo worth of mouth enhanced by”networks”connected mostly to the movements and campaigns with which i am associated.
Yet the weaknesses are still there or have returned.One is the decline of my own memory,in that as i write,and before i commit to something in particular on 4th May,i’m struggling to remember something that a few weeks ago i had already considered i ought to do.That is my problem.
Another is not my own.Since in the last 18 months or so i have found myself increasingly deeply involved in a number of campaigns,i have both drawn comparisons with previous involvements and considered the implications of recent events.I think a si found myself drawn into and attracted by socio-political activity in my teens,that was very much a time of confidence and optimism in which at one end of the scale certain groups flexed and excercised their own traditions following a war in which they saw themselves and their milieu as having won certain rights,a certain place whilst youth were becoming increasingly conscious of themselves and increasingly impatient with a dull grey culture,in Britain that granted very little.With prosperity came a demand that people should be able to gain from it,and that”we want it,and we want it now”.In the teens of this new century,as austerity tightens its grip on a working class population that the current regime are seeking to victimise,there is both increasing resistance to being blamed and made to pay for a crisis we did not cause against a wider background in which that class is both less willing to be entirely subordinated and more confident in its own greater education and right to opinion.Whereas in the 1960s it may have been freshly educated youth taking a lead from their own relative prosperity,now it is as if everything can be contested,questioned and interrogated.
As a result there are groupings,networks,organisations,campaigns and a lot else besides bringing together however loosely and informally a wider range of opinion than ever before,at least in part galvanised and held together by the new technologies primarily associated with the internet.Often it seems to me,some if not all of these have almost an inbuilt sense of urgency which may or may not relate to objective conditions which seem rather associated with the amount and velocity of information.Alongside diversification and to a certain extent atomisation in society in which i suggest there are also less remaining of the traditional routes of communication and association,tere can also be a level at which we sometimes operate in our own little worlds.We might network,but we do not necessarily network far and wide enough.Eager to establish ourselves,our positions and our activities we launch ahead without paying attention to the community,of whatever kind,next door.
I advocate that we should list and share our plans.Most of the campaigns i now find myself actively involved in publish their own diaries and do begin to liaise with neighbours and beyond.Whilst i have not been able to think far beyond that point,i am aware of my own and others efforts,and indeed that set me thinking about listings papers,the role they used to play in not simply promoting activity and events but also in placing some limits and brakes on what called be over-enthusiasm.I wonder if we can rediscover some of that mechanism and experience now or whether we simply need to reinvent it,somehow?