If i don’t write this in fragments,almost”live”as i have the thoughts occur to me,then perhaps nothing will get written by me,hence this,which piece might change or develop over time or which i simply might add the next part to at the appropriate time.
I was thinking about it again today.Observing and indeed participating at some level or another as ideas and democracy work themselves out in various parts of the left,day by day,today i took part in a discussion about how a certain debate is impacting on one part of the left.Its interesting that at some level,people are not even agreeing over what is being contested but the thats not unusual and nor is differing over what is at stake,along with questions about the integrity of participants.Although none of this is surprising,some of it remains disappointing,even if it appears to be in the nature of the beast.
It strikes me increasingly that whilst we on the left-on a good day you might call it the workers movement,in the broadest sense,are good at obfuscating our ideas in over-complexity and left-ese jargon,as well as dealing with what are genuinely complex ideas and recognising that the world is complicated,there are other times it seems to me that we go into reverse gear.Despite adhering to some notion that theory and practice are linked in praxis and in reality,we nevertheless seek to divide it.From a crass division of activity from ideas(politics),to the incremental sleight of hand that divides organisations into leadership and members,mediated by cadres and which all too easily get reduced to the clever,all seeing leadership,dominating demeaning and leading by the nose the led,which is only clear when we see through it,and the perhaps we shrug the dross off until the next time,for i fear this replicates the ways class society/capitalism works and we are doomed to repeat it until we reach the tipping point where we begin to break it-where it is both the system and the habit.
I think quite rightly,at its best the left and its thinkers revel in the complexity,diversity and richness of the world,but again we sometimes seem to imply the opposite.Sometimes when we choose priorities,we don’t just order a number of issues but we privelege one entirely over several,and end up sometimes lurching from one to another,failing to spin more than one plate at a time,to mix metaphors. We do this with people,with members with our comrades too,where sometimes interest in or recruitment of one particular group,perhaps with good reason results in the neglect or even the exclusion of others.Then there is the heady and problematic mix of say centralism with democracy,not only in tension and perhaps dialectical relationship but where then tension and dialectics are abandoned,and the idea is thrown back at us that democracy is a distraction from the activism,the grand notion of intervention and at the end of the day the centralism.
In addition.my own political/activist life and my professional experience both tell me that
we end up approaching problems as if we have to know the answers in advance,when actually what we might need is method,principles,experience and some clues.That actually we really can make it up as we go along,and that clues and questions give us the tools to assess and modify and adapt,and that actually the questions and the mistakes are as important as the outcomes and the successes.It is i guess about means and ends.
In the here and now,i believe it is likely that people are marginally more intelligent than say 100 years ago,but that we have always been so,and in a modern society we can work things out for ourselves.Sharing our skills and experience matched with democracy also gives us some clues.It may well be slower,we may well make mistakes,and it may not be perfect but in my view it can hardly fail to be better than this.Look around you!We made this-we just did not make it either in our own image,let alone in our interest.No wonder there is no god-and sometimes,in moments of doubt no hope.Yet in an uncertain world I am certain we can change it!