I’m not sharing this post around social media, just publishing it where those who actively follow my blog will see it, and sending it to those who’ve helped with the blog one way or another. (But if you want to share it anywhere, feel free).
The failure of democracy
I set up this blog in 2017, when I was a Labour Party CLP officer, and frustrations were rising because we felt we had an important movement for change, which was threatened because it simply never got a fair hearing from the press. I started reading, and dropping money into, a variety of independent news blogs and, thinking the more voices the better, decided to join in with one of my own – because if people don’t get to hear a range of voices, they cannot campaign or vote effectively – in other words, democracy depends on good information exchange.
Many of my writings in the last few years have been aimed at trying to help severely depressed ex-Labour activists pick themselves up, keep in touch, and understand that giving up *party* politics is not the same as giving up *politics*. Then alongside that, we had another big press failure to deal with – the almost total refusal of the political, publishing and entertainment worlds to understand the women’s sex-based rights campaign (clue: it’s a legitimate campaign on a legal issue, not a phobia). So again, a small number of intrepid independent journalists and a bevy of amateurs set out to try and do the job the press should be doing.
We must not get used to a failing society
It reminds me of a recent conversation where a friend who’s a councillor said our assumption that councillors do case work all the time is on a par with the acceptance of foodbanks as normal. If our country was working properly, foodbanks would not be necessary and councillors would not be trying to rescue constituents through casework. A secure society just doesn’t need those things. I like to imagine a world where I could say the same about anti-austerity and women’s rights blogs. All my writings would be book reviews and photos of my garden.
Hard to imagine, isn’t it
Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find out what the Sam Hill is going on in Ukraine, and annoying the heck out of my friends by sharing a range of blog and social media posts, rather than the Russia-bad-Ukraine-good blarting we’re getting from the BBC (yes, yes, of course – stop the damned tanks and guns, and Putin is a criminal but he’s not the only criminal in this story…) I did it because figuring out how best to stop wars is not simple, and one point of view will not do. It requires a range of voices to be heard, even if some of them I just needed to read a few times to work out that they were nonsense.
So this missive is first and foremost a heartfelt thank you to everyone who is supporting this blog, and other independent writers, by reading and commenting, by sharing and re-blogging, and hitting those donate buttons, and now it gets even more personal. Since recession plus COVID reduced my former work (as a book trader and a small press publisher) to near zero (and since I worked out how hosted buttons work) it’s hugely helpful to me have that practical support.
In particular, I want to thank my trans friends who have shared, commented or donated. It’s immensely comforting to know that you still understand, and haven’t swallowed the idea that people like me suddenly became ‘anti-trans’ a few years back. If only the world knew there are people like you – people who had the courage to make that big decision, and live your life your way – and (you know who you are) despite that, when the ‘terf wars’ flared up, you found a whole nother heap of courage to continue associating with people like me, despite all that flack flying overhead. For those of you who know me in the real world – oh, if only those activists shouting in the street could see how easily you and I think up likely solutions to some of those ‘conflicted’ sex-and-gender issues over coffee and cake!
It just needs people to listen to other people – not just to the ones that agree with them, and apply a bit of imagination.
The common thread
My real world friends will know I spend a lot of real-world time bashing on about sex, race and class. I only found out in recent years (since the Corbyn business) that I seem to be some kind of Marxist. I think we all need a heck of a lot of talking, listening, reading and thinking together to keep this vital point in our heads: Our society systemically, incessantly attempts to set people against each other along the lines of sex, race and class. It does that because rich, privileged people have found those are the keys to making people angry and distracting them from the fact that we are all being ROBBED.
The sound and fury around sex, race and class are the main protection of the billionaires and their establishment. Billionaire-funded voices are so pervasive, and their PR organisations so ubiquitous, that we need to do our own reading, writing, speaking and listening all the time, every day, to fend off their nonsense.
I honestly, really believe this:
How to save the world
‘Occupy Rupert Murdoch’ and ‘Occupy the Media Billionaires’ came up in my Facebook ‘memories’ this week. I had forgotten! Visiting and trying to support Occupy actions in London were among my first ventures into political activism. I still think press reform (well, actually blowing the media to bits and starting again) should be one of our key aims.
When I first started writing, I used to be paid for magazine work. Putting stuff on the internet was a hobby that didn’t pay. Now, the magazines and newspapers I write for (lefty ones and women’s feminist ones) don’t pay, because non-corporate print media just doesn’t make much money – but blogs can and do pay, if readers want them to. That’s real democracy.
Saying it again just in case…
Thank you for resisting the dominant narrative. Thank you for giving credence to others’ opinions, and for talking, discussing, reading and writing in the real world, and in this internetty weird world – and please keep supporting independent blogs. I’m not being cheeky and asking for more for me here – I sincerely believe we need to encourage a range of voices because the media with their one, universal, anti-people narrative, are a big part of our problem. If we each of us dropped a few pounds into a few different blogs when we had the money, we can keep our own information world going around.
And please don’t feel bad if you haven’t got any spare money. Gods knows, all too many of us are in that situation. You can still help by sharing and talking about those blogs, and the ideas they offer.
Oh, and – you know what you get for helping someone? They turn around and ask you to help them some more. Here’s my latest blog that I really hope everyone will read – it’s called Amplifying Elaine. Please bookmark it if you’ve had enough reading for now, but please read it!