Keep your computer. Give me a Montblanc pen and a pad of paper. The words will follow.
article about ‘Make me a German’ a recent BBC doc on life in Germany, I may return to this theme shortly, as I think it deserves an indepth exploration from an organising POV.
I like to hear all the American (liberal & conservative) excuses about Detroit and the Rust belt: All the normal horse sh**. All you have to do is drive across the bridge to Windsor, Canada. The neighborhoods are prosperous. The mills and factories and offices and technology parks are running and producing. The wages are high. The population has been relatively stable for decades. Crime is low. There are grocery stores, public services, health care. Everything works. They didn’t get the old-liberal memo about the inevitable decline of industry. They didn’t get the neo-liberal memo about good middle class jobs. They didn’t know the Republican story that lower wages were required to compete with Asia, apparently. They didn’t know that everyone needed to go back to public university every few years to be re-educated/indoctrinated into the neoliberal mentality to solve the economic maladies that faced them while incurring debt and falling wages. Quite striking really how full of crap all the excuses are when you see how vibrant Detroit could be, SHOULD BE, only two miles away. All the ‘reasons’ and excuses fold back on themselves and the only reason that exists, is poor governance. There is no other satisfactory explanation for the failures on every single front.
Attack on Socialist party office in Carcassonne follows guerrilla actions by wine producers angry at low prices and foreign imports
The French version of CAMRA are a bit more extreme…
Top tips on agitating from Organising101
The riots also offered a glimpse into how photographs can be used out of context:
‘Sir: In last week’s article about the poll-tax riot in Trafalgar Square (‘THE MOB’S BRIEF RULE’, 7 April) there is a large photograph labelled ‘A West End shopper argues with a protester’. The woman in the photograph is me, and I thought you might like to know the true story behind the picture.
I was on my way to the theatre, with my husband. As we walked down Regent Street at about 6.30pm, the windows were intact and there was a large, cheerful, noisy group of poll-tax protesters walking up from Piccadilly Circus. We saw ordinary uniformed police walking alongside, on the pavement, keeping a low profile. The atmosphere was changed dramatically in moments when a fast-walking, threatening group of riot-squad police appeared.
We walked on to the top of Haymarket, where the atmosphere was more tense and more protesters were streaming up Haymarket from the Trafalgar Square end. Suddenly a group of mounted police charged at full gallop into the rear of the group of protesters, scattering them, passers-by and us and creating panic. People screamed and some fell. Next to me and my husband another group of riot-squad appeared, in a most intimidating manner.
The next thing that happened is what horrified me most. Four of the riot-squad police grabbed a young girl of 18 or 19 for no reason and forced her in a brutal manner on to the crowd-control railings, with her throat across the top of the railings. Her young male companion was frantically trying to reach her and was being held back by one riot-squad policeman. In your photograph I was urging the boy to calm down or he might be arrested; he was telling me that the person being held down across the railings was his girlfriend.
My husband remonstrated with the riot-squad policeman holding the boy, and I shouted at the four riot-squad men to let the girl go as they were obviously hurting her. To my surprise, they did let her go – it was almost as if they did not know what they were doing.
The riot-squad policemen involved in this incident were not wearing any form of identification. Their epaulettes were unbuttoned and flapping loose; I lifted them on two men and neither had any numbers on. There was a sergeant with them, who was numbered and my husband asked why his men wore no identifying numbers. The sergeant replied that it did not matter as he knew who the men were. We are a middle-aged suburban couple who now feel more intimidated by the Metropolitan police than by a mob. If we feel so angry, how on earth did the young hot-heads at the rally feel?’
Mrs R.A. Sare, Northwood, Middlessex Source
“This is what three years of David Cameron running the NHS looks like: a crisis in A&E, patients waiting in the back of ambulances and over 4000 nurses lost. He has broken all of his promises on the NHS and patients are paying the price.
We can’t trust David Cameron with the NHS. Share this with your friends if the damage David Cameron is doing to our health service frightens you as much as it does me.
Today I met with health professionals at an emergency summit on this crisis in major A&Es - they want this crisis fixed. But as we approach the National Health Service’s 65th anniversary, only Labour has plans to protect and strengthen our NHS for the future.”
Andy Burnham, Shadow Health Minister.
Why the Tories should love the Trade Unions
Just noticed this article from April in Guardian; from David Skelton formerly of rightwing think-tank Policy Exchange.
Obviously I disagree with his simplistic criticisms of current union policies on opposing austerity, and I don’t think many Tories at the moment would feel the need to listen to him.
But it is interesting and does show along with Robert Halfon MP from Harlow that there is still a sympathetic strand towards unions from within the Tory party however small and invisible to most.
(via xkcd: Sticks and Stones)
Alt text: Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can make me think I deserved it.
Which is why folks who go ‘it’s just a word, it has no meaning!’ can sit the hell down.
I’ve just had the privilige of spending two days in the company of the leading organisers from the SEIU (US), Unite, and UNISON (UK), United Voices (Australia), FNV Distribution (Netherlands), and IG-Metall (Germany) as well as colleagues from Denmark, Ireland, Finland and Sweden.
It was fascinating to hear about organising campaigns from the people that initiated and led them and about the different organising cultures we have, even within the same country.
It was clear that we’re all facing a massive challenge to build up our members’ confidence let alone power - but also that we’re all hungry to try new ideas.
It was also clear to my mind that the old slogan of “think globally, act locally” is not always enough - we need to “think globally and organise everywhere”.