“so you can activist more”
it honestly seems like some leftists believe that only conservative politics are promulgated within the family so we should just ignore kids and wait until they get to college
which would be repugnant even if it were true
but it’s not true
lots of radicals have kids, lots of them pass their values onto their kids, you just don’t see them, because you push them out of your collectives and sharehouses and radical reading groups
but probably they don’t even wanna see your misogynist, racist, anti-working-class, child-hating face
This is just off the top of my head, but it’s not just to do with children, maternity or family responsibilities, it’s broader and to do with internalised capitalist assumptions about work… there’s been heaps written about “activism” and the tendency towards hyper-commitment and burnout, and how capitalist work ethics are partly behind that. I think the assumption is that it’s an individual responsibility to facilitate being able to do work/activism, however they manage that - the partner who has less $ to lose by staying at home with the kid (a woman, 90+% of the time) does so, you pick menial jobs and deliberately structure your life so you’ll never have to support anyone else (even people you probably should be supporting) so you can activist more… and that’s why there’s so much gross scrutiny about peoples’ personal choices in food/hairstyle/shoes - these personal choices are all supposed to facilitate doing more work.
But there’s never any discussion about how “the movement” or “the campaign” might actually be responsible for any of that. Or why it should be, or how. Because that’s “service delivery” not actual politics - with the subtext being that people who need “service delivery” aren’t important to “the movement” or to politics, because politics is something that can be abstracted from life. And so uni students are more important to “the movement” than anyone else because they’re deliberately cosseted into an environment where they have minimal responsibilities for others, and due to class barriers, inaccessibility, ablism, racism, and a whole lot of other structural inequality built into tertiary education, tend to have few personal needs of their own.
Ugh, too much rambly. I should go to bed.
totally. I remember thinking it was really weird that Melbourne Uni had a more visible and active Student Activist population than the more working-class Victoria University — I mean, what did Melbourne Uni students really have to protest about? Now I get it — the whole concept of the Student Activist is set up for this. and getting out of caring responsibilities to spend more time doing activism is somehow seen as being more responsible! serious! yet activism, like caring, is seen not as a social responsibility, but as a personal choice, one that requires sacrifices and can’t, indeed shouldn’t, be supported by broader social structures.
it’s like a weird vanguardism or something, except Lenin had way more of an idea of how, exactly, the vanguard’s actions would radicalise and mobilise the general population. there’s certainly no serious expectation that the majority of people will be able to join this activist class — after all, somebody needs to do the actual productive labour. somebody needs to grow the food, make the trains run on time, care for the old and the sick and the young, pay the taxes that go towards the activists’ dole, throw out the food they dumpster…like, I’m not against dumpster diving, I’d do it if it was a bit easier where I lived, I’m on the dole myself, partly because I want time to do other things so I’m being picky about jobs, I’m thoroughly implicated in this, I’m not just having a kneejerk “lazy hippies” reaction.
it’s just that on a very basic economic level, this activist lifestyle is predicated on being a small fringe group. our society could not support a significantly larger activist class. can the activist class act to destroy itself as a class? because that is what a significant attack on the power of capitalism, imperialism, etc would entail and indeed require. but in a lot of ways it’s a sweet fucking lifestyle. can they (we?) act against their own class interest like that?
(bolding for emphasis is all mine)
This is kind of why I think that activist groups aren’t actually about creating a better society, but about reproducing themselves in their own image, as parasitically as possible because it takes less effort… if they were serious about creating a better society, they’d be scrutinising the techniques and strategies they use more closely and applying what they learn to improve what they do. Instead, they recycle defunct methods that neoliberalism and especially policing learned to outmanoeuvre decades ago, except for the fact that they kind of work to reproduce Activists in the image of practised socialists, anarchists, environmentalists, etc.
But I’ll have to get back to you on what the alternative is… I’m kind of thinking it might have to do with what we’ve talked about before re: accountability and case management/individual advocacy…
yes! i have been thinking about this stuff recently, especially since a few weeks ago i was at a pub with these two guys who were going on and on about how to ‘radicalize the masses/workers’ and seemed to be from this uni activist background and just moved into union stuff…then i was trying to tell them there are already heaps or people critical of the system, how i am a worker [sex worker] and now that i have left the weird middle class activist scene of university and doing more activism around sex worker rights in australia - its obvious there are so many more people that these men seem to think ‘aren’t political’- i asked them what about sex workers, what about single mums? and they just looked at me weirdly, like what? And i’m trying to explain like its not so much people aren’t already critical of the ways our society runs especially obviously the people who are marginalized most by it, but like you probably never even talk to many say sex workers and single mums because these weird activisty communities you hang out in with ‘full time activists’ are not accomodating to many people, especially people who are carers (inc single mums) and are like built around weird ideas that the people who are ‘full time activists’ don’t need to work to support other people, or spend time caring for others in our communities and families who are being hounded by cops, raising kids with no child support, looking after younger siblings, parents fighting for their kids from government trying to take them away from criminal charges or sex work and drug use etc etc.
I don’t know, its like raising kids is seen as conservative no matter what, but investing energy in middle class uni kids is rad and worthwhile and raising kids and people doing paid work to support people around them is never seen as activist work or positive work in building communities but going to actions getting arrested for a lock on is really radical! i dont even know what the point is, they just kind of looked at me blankly, and were like ‘but isnt prostitution legal in NSW?’ when i was explaining lots of sex workers for example probably have better critiques of the police and the state and our society than youse anyway… and then they went back to discussing whether marx was still relevant or something…
Yeah, I remember when I was involved in campaigning against the Northern Territory Intervention, all these white kids were like “why aren’t Aboriginal people who live locally getting involved in this campaign” cos we were meeting in Redfern. And while we were meeting I came across all these Aboriginal people talking about how family members had been arrested, and they had to go into the lock-up at an absurd hour of the night, or they had to take care of family members in from out of town… but none of that really counts as political apparently because it’s not protesting? Well, maybe making sure one Aboriginal person makes it to their 18th, 29th, 50th, 72nd birthday is politically important too? Like, maybe people here are suffering under oppressive government policy but it’s not as simple as a single Bill or Act or Intervention that you can name in a slogan, but the only way to fight it is fight for one person at a time and actually fight for all of that person, for the whole person….
For everyone except white middle class people nurturing is fucking political.