A lot of anti-cuts activists and students radicalised by the jump in tuition fees cite the Suffragettes. After all, they took on the establishment and won. They even used violent tactics! Take that you wimpy non-violent people who want to stick with the status quo!
But the Suffragettes were fighting for the vote. This point seems to be getting lost in all the noise. They were fighting to get representation in Parliament because there was no alternative to the laws passed there. A law had to be passed to kill off slavery. A law created the NHS. A law created income tax. A law created the BBC, broke up the railways and promised everyone a Living Wage. The Suffragettes were keenly aware that unless their vote was counted, the law would ignore them.
Now. Paul Mason of Newsnight has reviewed ‘Fightback’ the book edited by Dan Hancox, on the recent rise of activism. There’s one line that is key:
And yet, throughout Fight Back!, the lingering question is one of strategy. Given that the default ideology of this new movement is what Noam Chomsky calls “libertarian communism”, it would be worth exploring why all its predecessors fell victim to their “sour-faced” opponents from the right or the left (or, as in the Spanish civil war, both at the same time).
This is a key question. This is also why I hitched my bandwagon to the Labour party, because without strategy and a plan – you’re just ranting. To be fair, a lot of the activists aren’t just ranting (though its about the only thing the libertarian communists do). Many are organising events, getting activists involved, leafleting, providing inspiration to others, having debates etc.
But where’s the infrastructure? What are the goals? What is the strategy to achieve those goals? These questions not only remain unanswered, but are actively avoided because that always lead to some form of compromise – to reach out to people beyond the already converted. And if there’s something many of the activists hate, its compromise. So the strategy debate goes nowhere. And its never clear what the goals are, beyond opposing the Tories.
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Filed in: London Politics