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Some comments on “activism” from the article ‘The Arms of Exploitation: On development and technology’ in issue two of A Murder of Crows: For social war and the subversion of daily life (worth a read).

Since [the Interstate 69 Highway project] was merely in the preliminary stages, activity against it lulled. In 2002 though, when the State of Indiana was deciding which route to pick for the I-69, opponents participated in state-sponsored public forums, sent letters to their representatives, and on one occasion presented over 125,000 signatures against the planned route to the governor’s office. Once the official route was picked in January 2003, there was further letter writing, an Earth First! banner-that-failed-to-even-unravel drop, and in late 2004, members of environmental and citizen’s groups gave the new governor anti-I-69 literature in the hopes he would consider their alternative plan. Hilarious.

All of these tactics read straight from the citizen activist’s handbook; it could be any issue, and the list of activities would read the same: letter writing, petitioning, symbolic protests, dialogue with state officials, and of course mandatory whining, begging and grovelling. The types of tactics, promoted by the state, capitalists and micro-politicians, serve to undermine social conflict, to transform it into am easily manageable situation where “the people” work together with “their representatives” to come to an agreement. After all, we’re all on the same team.

In addition, this model presents further problems. Without going into a lengthy critique of activism, it suffices to say that activism is an historical social-construct, meaning that like everything else in this world, it is a product of a particular time period and of particular social relations. Housewives, police, and activists are social categories that serve particular roles in this society. Activists fulfil the role of specialists in social change who intervene in conflicts in order to act as representatives of the people involved and as those who also represent the conflict to the media. It is not a matter of ill-intentions, but rather a matter of social roles. Activists are politicians, albeit on a smaller scale.

Therefore as specialists in the field of social change, it should come as no surprise that activists further specialise in a particular niche, in the same way an academic carves out some obscure area of study in order to make his or herself more valuable. Rather than attacking the social order, activism is a practice that focuses on “solving” various problems and issues that have their roots in the same system that activists work within. Whatever conflict they are involved in, they in turn reduce them to preordained categories that fit perfectly within a framework that is easily digestible for the media and easily defused by the state. Thus in the fight against I-69, various groups were formed to oppose only parts of the plan: its effects on the environment, the “unwise” and “inefficient” use of taxpayer money, its effects of rural residents and so on. These ignore the fundamental causes and overall role of the I-69 extension and play into the hands of politicians who can cater to these partial critiques. They took a diverse area of social conflict and fragmented it into many issues in order to effectively manage the situation. 

 

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The processes used throughout the spying revelations have served to make patently clear the already-existing hierarchies and centralisation within the activist groups involved. The revelation of spying in Peace Action Wellington (PAW) and the Wellington Animal Rights Network (WARN) were discovered early April as a result of the bouncing emails from Thompson and Clark’s office, but it wasn’t until the story broke in the Sunday Star Times that the majority of people in all three groups — PAW, WARN and Save Happy Valley Coalition (SHVC) — finally learned of what had been happening.

The spying was first tentatively discovered by a member of WARN who contacted Nicky Hager. Nicky, sensing a media scoop and yet another boost to his ego, jumped on the issue and asked for secrecy around the issue, to which the WARN member agreed. Nicky contacted a member of SHVC to trawl through their emails only to discover the same bouncing emails but this time from a second spy. Again he cautioned secrecy.

As far as I know, the only other person who was made aware of the spying significantly prior to the story in the SST was from SHVC, on that grounds that they could “help with ideas for how to best push this in the media, how to ensure that it was all handled smoothly and to prep for the confrontation with Ryan and a Sunday Star Times journalist….”

When the story did finally break the two from SHVC attempted to defend their actions, saying:

“In order for research into Thompson & Clark to be done successfully and to blow this story open, we needed to have a significant amount of time. The best way for this to happen, without Somali, Ryan or T&C realising that we knew was for [first person told] to keep it to herself. If word had spread, even if only to a few of our trusted crew, that could have been enough for someone to give Ryan a look or to say something seemingly innocuous that may have tipped him off.”

The email finished on a most paternalistic note: “If you have any issues with the way myself or [the other person] have handled this, we are both more than happy to discuss them with you.”

The initial WARN member involved defended similarly:

“My first instinct when I found the dodgy email from TCIL was ‘How can I use this to cause maximum damage to the bad guys?’ and I did put that before the interests of group democracy (in my group and the others) and I did decide that keeping it secret in order to maximise the damage, outweighed any security risks to PAW and WARN (I’m not in SHV). In hindsight I would have done the same thing (except I would have told someone in PAW)”

When discussed at a Wellington PAW meeting the “someone in PAW” meant someone quite specific who was, it turned out, told a few days before the story broke.

There are a number of issues here. Firstly, all the people ‘in the know’ were already the default leaders of these supposed horizontal groups. These are people who are already in positions of significant power within these groups. The provision of this information to these key leaders, the subsequent hoarding/centralisation of the information, and the decisions they made for other members in their own groups (or for other groups as was the case with PAW) only serve to reinforce their place of power. They assumed that only they could act responsibly with the information, that only they could act so as not to give away clues, and that this was perfectly fine since they were acting in our best interests anyway. In doing so, they have denied other members in these groups and the entirety of PAW to be able to make any decisions of their own.

Secondly, there is a very explicit prioritisation of the media over horizontalism in and among these groups. Nicky wanted his scoop, the others agreed, and group processes — which in the case of SHVC were clearly defined at numerous national hui — were readily discarded. This crude instrumentalism, the dismissal of proper group processes for the sake of the media is a clear rejection of the commitment to ends & means consistency that is a cornerstone to anarchist organising. God help us if the “objective material conditions” warranted worse! It is also a failure to properly understand the efficacy of the media, which is after all only a highly mediated means of information transmission. It has a significant role in the power plays of hegemonic politics, but social revolution — and not merely political reconfiguration — comes through creating new social relationships and organisations. But what good are they if they can be discarded so readily as we have seen?

Finally, the hoarding of this information put a lot of people in positions of unnecessary risk. PAW took part in at least one protest that involved arrests over this time while others outside the group knew we were compromised, and who knows what things were said around these spies that could have been dangerous. Those who knew of the likely infiltration of these groups had an obligation to tell others, but failed to do so.

I am dismayed at the reaction from others in the campaign ranging from “a difficult task. you handled it well.” to “I strongly […] support the difficult decision [you] had to make which would have gone against the usual unspoken SHV process of transparency and openess – and against the code of friendship with all in SHV.” A difficult decision about what? to deny the opportunity precisely for others to make decisions for themselves?

The discussion on the SHVC email list went on only briefly before it was deferred to this weekend’s national hui. As it turned out, however, both from Happy Valley cancelled their plans to come to the conference.

Somehow a pair of right-wing libertarians, calling themselves “Brothers in Anarchy”, managed to get themselves a column in Victoria University’s student newspaper Salient. My response:

Dear “Brothers in Anarchy”,

By some feat of luck it appears you have managed to gain a regular column in Salient – I only wish you would make better use of it.

I should play my cards up front: I am an anarchist, but of a variety quite opposed to the vulgar politics you two profess. As far as I can tell, you seem to advocate an anti-State right-wing libertarianism, a neo-liberalism of the most extreme kind. You reject the State and democracy but seem to entertain a misplaced belief that the all-too-obvious evils of capitalism will right themselves through some sort of unabated market mechanism.

This anti-State right-wing libertarianism of yours developed a small, short-lived, but vocal following in the mid-90s in the U.S., a following that also used the label “anarcho-capitalist”. This, of course, was to distinguish them from the vast majority of anarchists at the time who – of both the social and individualist varieties – located themselves firmly in an anti-capitalist politics. This anarchism, which has strangely gone unacknowledged in your column thus far, had its roots in the development of socialism in mid-19th Century Europe (notably Russia). It underwent an historic split in the last part of the 19th Century with the Statist socialisms (Marx, Engels, Lenin, etc.) that would eventually result in the predictable events of the Long Twentieth Century. It was also this anarchism which utterly eclipsed the proponents of “anarcho-capitalism” in 1999 in the now-infamous Seattle riots and the onset of the anti-globalisation movement.

But these semantic debates between anarchists and the “anarcho-capitalist” variety are now well-worn and tiresome. Rather than arguing who represents the most legitimate variety, perhaps it is best to go back to roots upon which we can both agree.

For me, anarchism is based upon an ethics and a desire which aims towards the maximisation of freedom. This is not simply the freedom of the tyrant to do what they wish, but instead a generalised social freedom that aims towards enabling individuals the ability to “grow naturally and simply, flower-like, or as a tree grows” (to quote Oscar Wilde). That is, it is a ‘freedom-to’, rather than just the liberal ‘freedom from’.

Compare these root values with your “anarcho-capitalist” system. While you seek the abolition of the State, you seem to quite happily transfer its repressive functions (namely its police and military forces, and their enforcement of law and especially property relations) to be managed through profit-seeking security companies. You advocate State court systems being run by businesses and using some sort of price mechanism as the basis for law. In fact, in an Orwellian twist, the pigs appear as men and the men appear as pigs. The functions of the State appear to have been retained in full and delivered through the mechanisms of the market and pseudo-State corporate forms. This vision seems more like a dystopian nightmare than anything worth fighting for.

More to the point, you seem to completely miss the oppressive capitalist relations involved in the employee/employer relationship – otherwise known as wage slavery. For 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week (or more if there are no labour laws), people will continue to endure the micro-dictatorship of the workplace. And so long as private property is staunchly defended by your corporate security lackeys, a combination of poverty and no access to productive capital makes wage slavery unavoidable (unless we retreat to sea-floating platforms as you advised us in your last column??). With profit the only basis for law, I would imagine a “race to the bottom” of working conditions and wages unparalleled by even the worse exigencies of economic globalisation today.

Anarchism must be anti-Statist and anti-nationalist, but it must also be anti-capitalist.

Nothing of your political vision seems to me to be anything that might approximate the “maximisation of freedom”. Orwell wrote that “if you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face – forever” and I wonder if this might have been perfected in your politics?

From Fifth Estate… worth a read:

Revelation Vertigo

Stevphen Shukaitis

Autonomy is both the goal sought after and that whose presence–virtual–let us say, has to be supposed at the outset of an analysis or a political movement. This virtual presence is the will to autonomy, the will to be free. – Cornelius Castoriadis

There exists a tendency, shared across different strains of radical political thought, to see the horrors of our present as comprising a false totality, that when torn asunder, will reveal a more liberatory existence hidden beneath. This is to understand revolution as revelation; as the dispelling of the conditions of false consciousness, and a reclamation of an autonomous existence that continues to live on, albeit deformed, within this world we must we leave behind. Read the rest of this entry »

I think I could be the most youngest cynical old man, but here’s another rant against a protest action.

This time it’s the Howard demo that happened tonight in Wellington, which saw three of my friends get arrested, and quite a few others hurt. I didn’t think the demo was a very good idea: I said to the organisers that I believed it was a continuation of the ‘scattergun tactics’ that have characterised anarchist organising for the last 10 years (at least), and just as importantly the protest could only ever be a glorified ‘bearing witness to power’.

Scattergun tactics: It seems most anarchists and radical-ish activists spend almost their entire time organising protests against whatever pops up within their reach: whether it be new government policies, visiting PMs, or the latest war. Obviously these need to be opposed, but the form this has taken over the last 10 years is a small group of people jumping from one site of opposition to another, always in opposition to something, never ever having time to to build, to construct alternatives or to organise something that might actually get bigger. Instead, it’s just continual opposition to whatever shit gets thrown at us or others. And yet another disconnected and ad-hoc protest just falls in line with this trend. This is not a strategy to win.

Bearing witness to power: And what did we even expect from this Howard demo? To yell at him loud enough that he would change his mind? That, even if we had been successful, expect a disruption of his dinner plans to change the policies of the Australian State? Obviously not. It was to ‘show our opposition’, to have it on record that we oppose his policies.

One also has to wonder about the psychology of such situations: does the presence of such numbers of police make us feel as though we’re important? a threat? Does getting us arrested make us feel like we’ve sacrificed something for the cause?

It’s also terribly liberal in many ways. As if opposing a person makes any difference when he’s merely an actor within a social system that is propped up by relations in everyday life, not those at the top. It’s quite ironic how much attention anarchists give those in power — far more than the average joe.

We need to be far more strategic, systematic and, above all, constructive, because changing a social system isn’t going to happen from instances of spectacular opposition (just as it isn’t going to happen from political revolutions), but from thoroughgoing social revolution.

Anyway, the filth can go fuck themselves. Bad tactics aside they have no right to fucking exist.

Yes, I’m in a grump.

Relating to my last post, there’s an interesting article called “Whoever Doesn’t Really Try, Consents”.

Mass symbolic, sanctioned marches that do nothing to actually change the status quo serve as painless absolution rituals, that allow the participants to “bear witness”, to “speak truth to power” and to “wash their hands of the blood of empire.” Marches, with their biting satire and snazzy costumes, do not provide a real means for stopping the carnage they deplore. A “functioning” democracy needs some form of sanctioned, orderly protest to stimulate discussion, and if the current regime were really “that bad” they wouldn’t allow big demonstrations, right? Ineffective activism, like regulated marches, actually provides a façade of healthy interchange and is welcomed by the status quo. The majority of demonstrators are aware well in advance that their actions will likely have no tangible effect on the negative of the empire, but they go to a huge rally and can sleep better at night having chanted out their guilt. Just as it can be said qui tacet consentive videtu (whoever is silent consents) it can also be said “whoever doesn’t really try, consents.”

Dublin Anarchist MarchConsider viewing a political march as if you were seeing it for the first time: You would see a group of people assembling at some point in a city, possibly giving speeches to themselves and certainly having a good catch-up session amongst themselves. Then you’d watch them walk along the road as a group, directed by protest marshals and police seemingly working together to direct the crowd. Many are carrying signs and screaming chants and seemingly trying to convince those others on the streets with the loudness of their chants and the size of their banners. Those on the street largely continue with their shopping, some stop and watch. After much walking, the crowd will stop and regroup. Again, they’ll give speeches to themselves. They’ll individually disperse and later that day will be found in front of televisions looking if they can see themselves on that night’s news.

So, please tell me, exactly which part of this is supposed to be effective political action?

I tried to do some extensive research on the origins of the political march (I clicked the next button in my google search 15 times!) but I’ve failed to find any information. The most likely origin, as far as I can see, is the military march. This would involve a strategic grouping of forces outside a city and then a march into the city, as an overwhelming display of strength, to take control of the city. Or else, failing the servitude of the local population, it would mean battle.

It seems to me that this tactic, originally quite self-conscious of its aims, has somehow become a mere political ritual, utterly ignorant of its history and original intentions, and completely unreflexive of its effectiveness. Gone is the overwhelming display of force, gone is the original aim of using the march as a form of tactical grouping to effect direct action elsewhere, gone is any conscious notion of exactly how a march effects change.

Instead, say hello to the media spectacle. Any actual physical display of force has been replaced with a deferred show of force in the media, upon which the power of those present is utterly reliant. A show of numbers, colourful costumes, the creation of pseudo-contestations, scuffles with the police and arrests are all used to promote the value of a march as a media spectacle. Far from building the strength of those present in the march, the march-come-media-spectacle works to reinforce the institutions of the media and political apparatus and leaves those present, more often than not, feeling particularly disempowered.

“Building the movement” is the only other justification I have ever heard for the march. It’s the notion of small steps to bigger things, getting people hooked. The assumptions here are that, presently, we are too weak to have any real effect or that anything of direct effect will simply scare away the politically uninitiated. Eternally “building the movement”, we seem to be teaching people that political activity is always and only a symbolic, disempowering spectacle rather than exploring new forms of direct action that are open to mass participation. In contrast, the 2006 Te Papa demo is a good example of mass direct action (which, incidentally, employed the use of the march as a grouping tactic).

It’s time to get passed unreflexive, unconscious and ritualised political activity, and I think this begins with the end of the spectacularised march.

FistsThe post on Unite and the ensuing discussion got me thinking about unions as a form of class organisation, and the possibilities they offer to a revolutionary project, as well as their limitations. I’ve also been thinking that some form of modified anarcho-syndicalism, with a presence beyond work and in the community, could well prove to be project that might alleviate some of these limitations and is worth investigating further. For the meantime, however, here are some (incomplete) notes about existing forms of anarcho-syndicalism, starting with its essential aspects.

The Essential Aspects

Unions for workers, run by workers, with no separation between organisers and members, with no hierarchy whatsoever. Controlled from the bottom, using mandated, recallable and temporary delegates, and with no authority positions outside the shop floor, voted or otherwise. This is an attempt to stop the formation of power over workers in the form of a union bureaucrats which, despite their best intentions, develop interests of their own that come to partially align with those of capital, and become a class of their own (leftist managerial class).

Industrial unionism, not trade unionism. Unions will be organised around the workplace, not the individual trades. A hospital, for example, will be organised as a single union, not in multiple unions such as cleaners, doctors, junior doctors, receptionists, etc., in recognition of a common enemy in the employer and in recognition that no one job is more valuable than any other. Unions within a similar industry will cooperate in federation to stop scabbing and unions in a geographic locale will also cooperate in federation to organise strike support and local workers initiatives (education, food coops, etc.).

Use of direct action to get the goods. This means non-cooperation with any form of State-based worker-employer arbitration board and rather a reliance on, and development of, workers’ own strength. It means avoidance of contracts, etc. except in conditions of very weak workers’ power, as contracts prohibit direct action for agreed lengths of time.

Anti-parliamentary position. A refusal, on all accounts, to engage in State-based politics, whether backing a left party claiming to act on their behalf, or seeking reforms (as reforms invariably are made after they are established on the ground).

Preparation for the general strike/general insurrection. This includes not only preparation for the defence of workers when they take back the means of production in the form of community militias, but more importantly the preparation for continuing production (in industries worth continuing, that is) after the productive tools are expropriated. This means developing relationships with workers in other industries for which cooperation is required, developing skills among workers within an industry to continue production by themselves, etc.

The Possibilities

Schools of the revolution. Anarcho-syndicalist unions teach through practice the various essential tendencies required for an anarchist society, including cooperation, mutual aid, solidarity, egalitarian and non-authoritarian forms of organisation, reliance on themselves and not on others, etc.

Preparation for worker-run industries. This preparation doesn’t mean a continuation of the status quo of industrial society, either. It merely means that in the immediate aftermath of any general insurrection the material necessities can be provided while more thorough material changes can be made (ie. decentralisation of industry, etc.).

The Limitations

Social struggle reduced to class struggle. Anarcho-syndicalism, primarily, is organised around production and our material existence. It may not be well suited to other sites of social struggle, such as racism and indigenous oppression, patriarchy, etc., without concerted effort and an adaptation of tactics.

Tendency towards pure economism. That is, a tendency to focus almost exclusively on day to day and immediate economic issues, seeking just the bread but neglecting the roses. Other social issues well suited for anarcho-syndicalism to attack, such as war, may be sidelined (as the Spanish CNT found). As well, a vision of a general insurrection and its preparation will tend to be deferred to focus on immediate needs.

Tendency to just focus on workers, and exclude others from class struggle, ie. unemployed, single parents, students etc. This arises from the difficulty of unemployed to fight against WINZ as, unlike workers, they don’t have their labour power to deny. New tactics are required for these groups whose struggle is very much class oriented.

Opposition between workers’ immediate interests under capitalism and other social struggles. For example, between miners and ecological destruction. Successful compromises, such as the green ban, require workers to go beyond their immediate and even mid-term interests. However, the end of all coal mining industries, for example, which is necessary to halt climate change is too conflictual under capitalist relations for a working compromise.

If it was any other union I probably wouldn’t bother with this. The rest are so obviously class collaborationist and generally seem to follow the CTU’s line around productivity and skills-based economy. But the Unite Union (my union), for some reason, manages to shake off this reputation amongst radical circles despite it also being quite remarkably similar to every other contemporary workers union in New Zealand. This is the most recent and perhaps most disgusting case-in-point.

As was reported in a New Zealand Herald article on the 4th December 2006, Unite and Te Wananga o Aotearoa (free tertiary education provider) have come to an agreement which

…brings wananga tutors and union organisers into the heart of Queen St to teach literacy, computing and business skills to some of the country’s lowest-paid workers — cleaners, call centre workers, fast-food attendants and waiting staff.

That great bit of reporting by the NZ Herald leaves a lot to be desired.

Firstly, the Unite has agreed to recruit workers and its own members to a variety of Wananga courses. For every new student signed up, the Wananga gets an increase in its funding from the Government. Of course, these courses are free whether you are a member of Unite or not, but the benefit for Unite is that for every student they recruit for the Wananga they get a rather healthy commission, rumoured to be several hundred dollars. Compare this to the Union fees a full time minimum-wage Unite member would pay — just below $200 a year — and you can see the appeal.

As the NZ Herald article made clear, however, Unite is also being given a new building to house its offices, the old ASB Building which is now renamed Unite House.

The deal is clearly lucrative for both organisations: effectively the Wananga is commissioning Unite to gain access to workplaces to recruit students and gain increased funding, while Unite is gaining offices in a half-a-million-dollar building and getting paid rather well on top of this. It is unsurprising to learn, then, that Unite Secretary Matt McCarten is also the trade union representative on the board of Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

While the motivation for both organisations is clearly financial, Matt McCarten has publicly stated the reasoning behind the moves to be based around concern for workers. Workers are being paid poor wages not because the problem lies entirely with employers, he claims, but because workers are not skilled enough or confident enough to be worthy of decent pay. Thus, through cooperation with the Wananga, he is helping them towards better and brighter futures.

Not one to remain idle, however, Unite recently announced 45 short-term paid recruiting positions across New Zealand presumably charged with recruiting for both Unite and Te Wananga. The positions are quickly being dolled out to unscrupulous activists already known to Unite, and it seems most of the positions in Christchurch have already gone to members of the “pro-Mao Marxist-Leninist” group Workers Party.

Most of these details are still not public, and I doubt most of Unite members are aware of the potential cash-cows they are. McCarten’s productivist justifications aside, this deal is clearly financially motivated and in the interests of both the Unite bureaucracy and the Wananga leadership. But what about the workers’ interests?

Happy Valley Port BannerYesterday, members of the Save Happy Valley Coalition organised a 69m banner drop across two cranes in Wellington port. Ten days of preparation went off fairly well (only a few issues with the unfurling), and incredibly they managed to convince both the Police and the Port Authorities that they were allowed to be there. Apparently, the Port Authorities have so many departments that each believed the other had OK’ed the banner.

This was, however, the first action of SHVC that I refused to get involved in. Half way through 2006, a friend and I co-wrote An Anarchist Position Paper on the campaign to save Happy Valley. We charged the campaign — ourselves included — of remaining trapped within the limits of liberal environmentalism and that a re-evaluation of tactics and strategy in all areas of the campaign was required. It was met with largely hostile reception.

Our main argument was that political lobbying had to be stopped, and that a strategy of direct action was the only tactic left. We argued this from both very pragmatic and long-term angles. Pragmatic in the sense that every possible legal and political barrier had been cleared by state-owned mining company Solid Energy:

We have reached a point where both the political (ie. lobbying) and legal avenues have been exhausted. The Resource Consents process, the Environmental Court and the High Court have all legitimised the destruction of Happy Valley and the Department of Conservation has actively facilitated this process.

Many within the campaign held onto the success of the Native Forest Action campaign in 1999 that brought about the cessation of native forest logging. However, as we also saw with the anti-GE campaign, these conditions were simply not reproducible under a Labour Government:

[The failure of the anti-GE campaign] was primarily because a purportedly left-wing government was seeking re-election. As left-wing governments defend attacks from the right, discourse generally becomes more and more right wing, such that at the time of the 2003 elections no major party, besides the Green party, believed G.E. to be an issue. As such, public opinion was not a serious threat to Labour’s power.

And of course there is the long-term anarchist position with regards to lobbying, best summed up by a friend of mine:

I can’t speak for others of course, but I don’t want to lobby because I’ve done it before for NFA, forests campaigns, the Bypass, GE, marine reserves, Treaty issues etc. etc., and it always ends up as us begging them (council/govt) to do what we want, which immediately puts the decisions back in their hands and reinforces their power over us… which as an anarchist and a maori (whose ancestors refused to sign the treaty and were therefore imprisoned, beaten, raped and murdered) I refuse to acknowledge their power over me, my community and ‘our resources’.

And while sometimes the govt/council are forced to do what we ask of them, normally this is because of their own needs for power which they use us to acquire for them. This is why NFA won and it should be known (and where is NFA now?). Take the seabed & foreshore, the Bypass or GE as other examples where mass public support and lobbying have been used but the govt/council did not need us to gain/retain power. We were just ignored.

 

Despite the reception of our position piece, the last national SHVC hui (meeting) saw us overwhelmingly agree that, indeed, direct action and economic costing was the best pathway. What remained was to work out the best forms of direct action we could use, and the best ways to enable mass participation in effective direct action.

This is why I was rather stunned to see, once again, a mere media stunt that risked arrests and required significant energy proposed at the end of December. And it turns out that even in this respect it predictably failed: banner drops are old news and it received little to no mainstream coverage in the press.

I guess I’ve also come to realise the role this campaign plays within the wider scheme of things. While in the position paper we argued that the form of this campaign was what could make it have long-term revolutionary potential, I’ve now realised that it is in fact a thumb-in-the-dam campaign, a defensive campaign with little constructive opportunities besides building a culture of direct action. And that, while we can still win, the prospects for undermining the structural causes of environmental destruction lie elsewhere, for example in popular organisations that threaten capitalist relations and which are organised around people’s immediate needs and not, as it turns out, in purely environmental campaigns.