Thursday, May 01, 2008

Come tomorrow, will Rees's be in pieces?

Popping along to Union Square this afternoon for the May Day rally, to show my solidarity, dish out some leaflets and flash the Socialist Standard and the World Socialist Review at indifferent punters and surly hot dog vendors.

I was heartened to see that a couple of activists from Break The Chains were interviewed on the local TV station, New York One, this morning in anticipation of the march, and that the station's reporter, Roger Clarke, was prepared to give them both the time and space to make their case.

I was impressed by the contributions from both Mika Nagasaki and Tosh Anderson of Break The Chains, who both stated that the explicit purpose of today's march was to make the case of working class solidarity between undocumented immigrant workers and American workers. They also made noise about the need to recognise our common cause and, in Mika Nagasaki's case, she made reference to the historical roots of May Day and its importance to the Labour Movement.

Hopefully their appearance this morning will ensure a few more people attending the marches and demonstrations in both Chinatown and Union Square this afternoon.

But of course, I've also got one eye focused on what's going on back in Britain, and I've especially curious about what will be the outcome of the Mayoral and London Assembly Elections.

Will it be Red Ken or Clownish Boris? Who between Galloway's Respect or John Rees's Left List will get to claim the bald man's comb? Will the fragrant Sian Berry win a seat? Will the impossible happen and the noxious and fascistic BNP fail to win a seat? The heightened sense of excitement (and accompanying dread for the latter) is really too much and, depending on which blogger you pick for your version of truth, it's still up for grabs as to who will be smiling come May 2nd.

Of course, it's a given that the SPGB is never smiling the day after an election but I do have to give a shout out for the SPGB comrades in London who have contested the seat of Lambeth and Southwark. The Party's candidate is Danny Lambert, and from what I understand twenty members and sympathisers have been involved in the election campaign. (no doubt, some more than others.)

Friendly critics of the SPGB have been known to scratch their collective heads in bemusement when it comes to the matter of revolutionaries contesting elections in the here and now and I'll put my hands up to the fact that I share some of those misgivings but I do like what Bill has written over at the Vaux Populi blog, which goes some way in answering the grumbles of the 'cold water brigade':

"What matters for us is not the nose count (although we're always happier with more votes) but the number of people reading, discussing and agreeing with us. We don't want passive voters, but people to join us, or at least join the debate. Politics should be a two way process, not the passive spectator sport of the professionals in the mass media.

Here's something I wrote on this topic a while ago:

It's no wonder that people feel no pragmatic connection between their voting preferences and the outcomes; and no wonder that people feel so little connection with any of the parties. All these become are technocratic career structures for advancing politicians, a platform from which to project policy ideas to be reflected off the undifferentiated mass, which has no control over what is projected, beyond passive reflection.

This process of “mass culture” has, of course, been assisted by the spread of the mass media. The social relationship is the same, a few technocratic broadcasters/media barons, projecting images and ideas to be passively reflected by a land mass of consumers. Indeed, representative politics follows the same course. Instead of abstractedly measuring response in terms of money, it reads response in terms of flat votes, formally equal but failing to register differences in value or quality.

Hence why I'm happy to sprey leaflets around the place, and on new streets, to try and see if we can reach a new person and light the spark that sets them arguing." [The Last Leg]

At first glance, it appears to be such a minor political ambition but, in truth, it's asking far more of people than the current 4 year merry-go-round that passes for political democracy. As the old election slogan goes, we should vote for ourselves for a change . . . and then some.

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