There’s a somewhat long-winded debate going on amongst lefties across blogs about the merits of ‘democratically organised versus new-social-order decentralised’ action. In other words, do we let a few people take the lead, in a democratic fashion, or do we let the anarchic system prevail where anyone can use social networks to pimp out their actions. I caricature of course, but I don’t have time to write 2000 words on the subject.
So I’ll be brief. Not long after I launched Liberal Conspiracy I was on the hunt for more women bloggers. I spotted Laurie Penny a mile off and invited her to join us (she didn’t get the email and later approached me but the point stands). Laurie, if slightly on the verbose side, was eloquent, passionate and a firebrand. Perfect for leftie-blogging, and her posts on LC always caught on fire.
My aim wasn’t to dictate what people said or even have some form of democratic accountability: it was only to build a platform where people’s writing could shine and where campaigns could be run, from a left-perspective. When she wrote controversial blog-posts attacking other lefties I resolutely defended her right to challenge existing orthodoxies. I wasn’t interested in creating a circle-jerk where new ideas challenging the old ones couldn’t bubble through. And I’d defend the right of writers to be controversial. She has since become very popular, and I’m glad LC played a part in making that happen.
Point is: the way blogging works itself is unlike previous left-wing structures. It’s anarchic, the barriers to entry are very low and it’s relatively easy for talent to become noticed. (sure, there are old-skool brand names like Nick Robinson and Tom Watson MP who command audiences because of their institutional backgrounds. But it doesn’t go for everyone). So if you’re going to organise in this space then expect most of those same characteristics to inject themselves. Arguing against that is futile. UKuncut has grown quickly because of its anarchic nature and a ‘democratic committee’ would simply destroy it. And then a bunch of other activists will come by and start their own group along the same lines.
So there are two broad points to make: I’m perfectly happy with talented, articulate and hard-working people to rise to the top and set some direction. If others want to follow them because they trust them, that’s good for the movement as a whole because you constantly have a churn of new people and ideas. Organising by committee wouldn’t work here.
Secondly, all this discussion is fairly moot. We’re not talking about organising for government here (which has to be democratic because of the scale) but simply a bunch of activists getting together. I wish people paid more attention to what the path to over-throwing the government is – not just what sort of structure is needed to get there and what they’d do once they got there. (this is all very libertarian in that sense: people who know their principles and what type of society they’d like – but no map on how to get there).
Challenging the government also involves the parliamentary process and finding ways to influence existing structures outside just demonstrations and strikes. There is very little discussion about this, as Owen Jones (to a small extent) and Tom Miller (to a large extent) also point out.
(blog post written in a hurry, am writing a longer article on this, so apologies for the caricatures).
Addendum: It would be remiss of me to point out that there are also plenty of other talented bloggers who have risen from obscurity to make a name for themselves: Adam Bienkov, Tim Ireland, Anton Vowl, Cath Elliottand many more – in their own ways (by writing well, digging into local politics and more).
Naadir Jeewa has a good post on the sociology behind protest movements
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Current affairs,Media