And I say that somewhat ironically. There is not a problem with the left but a problem with humanity. A problem, which with further thought, you discover is not so much a problem but a reality. The left – like any group – is not homogeneous. What binds us is wanting a “fairer world”. Yet we come with varying spectrum of politics, opinions on priorities, names that we call ourselves (the -ists) ideas on how to organise, beliefs on what the perfect world should be.
So I find the whole question of “the problem with the left” as being problematic in itself.
What inspired me to write this post in the first place are two things:
- Owen Jone’s dissertation length piece on Jeremy Corbyn
- Some direct actions or social media actions I have noticed recently
So first onto Owen Jones. He made several interesting points and highlight many issues that needs to be dealt with. But he offered no solutions. And this is the thing, he spent a large chunk of his piece reaffirming his expertise and credentials. Then surely he should be offering solutions – if not the likes of him then who?
And onto the direct actions – I am referring to London Black Rev organising a direct action to chuck bugs into Byron as part of the resistance against them. The following sums up my thoughts on it:
While I appreciate the symbolism of the cockroach thing at the #boycottbyron protest yesterday, gotta be honest and say I don’t back it.
London Black Revs – which is an individual masquerading as an organisation tbh – acted without consulting those who called the action.
Those who participated in the insect action didn’t think about the affect it’d have on workers; by this I don’t just mean the clean up but how those with precarious immigration status might feel about police being called inside the restaurant itself.
This isn’t the first time London Black Revs has acted irresponsibly. Last week, LBR put out a call-out about UKBA vans in N London. Myself and two friends responded and went to the location to provide support. It became clear that not only was LBR not even there, but was actively sourcing information from racists on Twitter to pass on to us. This was thoughtless in the extreme, and could have put us in very real danger.
I don’t trust someone who tips off journalists about an action and not their fellow activists. I don’t trust someone who acts recklessly in situations where it’s not their neck on the line. I urge you all to think carefully about whether London Black Revs is an individual you trust in a political or a personal capacity. If not, there are other (better!) groups to invest your time and your effort in. Stay safe friends xxx – Ash Sarkar
And this brings me onto the thing that links these two: unity within the left. I have a lot of people saying that people are traitors for speaking out, that they are doing the jobs of the right-wing media.
“Unity” is used as a silencing tool. A shut up and take it. No – when something does not sit right we should speak out. That is the only way we can make sure we remain progressive, and not stuck in a bubble waiting for the next burst (think Conservatives getting in at the last two General Elections, Brexit, and the very likely election of Trump).
My worry however is how to ensure we are united enough so that the efforts we put in mean we are making significant steps forward in the right direction. This is why I never fell for #Lexit – I knew the left are not organised enough to be able to take over the narrative sufficiently to be useful.
And it is disheartening. We are consistently under-resourced, unorganised, dealing with internalised racism, sexism and abuse – I just don’t see a way out. We need leadership – and it will not come from middle-class white straight men.
The solution is accepting this. Look at the #BlackLivesMatter movement – started by three queer Black women. And it grew from Twitter and Facebook. We should be taking lessons from these rather than using them to push forward our own political agendas once again (side-eye to London Black Revs).
The revolution will be led by Black, queer, disabled, Muslim women. And until these groups are respected enough to be given space it will only lead to the downfall of the whole movement.