I'm off to London town for the whole weekend, so I will be unable to publish any comments until I get back late on Sunday night. I'll be discussing the future of this country's revolutionary Left rather a lot in the next two days, so I thought I'd just publish 3 brief excerpts from blog posts (all from the last week) that offer some food for thought...
From Dan Poulton's review of Mutiny's Love on Trial:
'The night kicked off with a round of ‘speed debating’ which got the participants warmed up for the discussion to follow. Each section -entitled ‘Love for Sale’, ‘Love and Hate’, and ‘The State and Love’ respectively- was introduced by the chair, who interspered talks, presentations and performance with contributions from the floor in response to the subjects raised, ranging from Marxist theory to the problems faced by women who routinely experience economic and sexual exploitation under partriarcal capitalist society. Another pressing issue was the LGBT communities ongoing fight a society that would seek to exploit its difference via economic means on the one hands whilst coercing and marginalisng it with the other through such weakly ‘egalitarian’ methods such as civil partnerships.
All speakers and contributors were requested to end their presentations with a question to lead on to further debate. Although there was some initial reticence from the floor, people soon warmed to the opportunity to contribute and before long the debating table (who people were actively encouraged to sit at) was filled with people eager to speak. Most contributions were in keeping with the cooperative spirit of the event although some subjects inevitably raised contraversial and at times provocative responses. This is all to be welcomed as part and parcel of the sometimes messy business of democratic debate.
Following the speed debating, the talks began with the issue of how love can be commercially exploited and looked into the marketing of beauty pageants and fashion products which capitalise on the normative gender-roles of a patriarchical system of private ownership in which even people are positioned as status-affirming objects to be bought (or roles be bought into). A short film documenting a 40 year old protest against a beauty pageant revealed that little has changed in the intervening years with a resurgence of pageantry in the UK. It also raised the complex question of to what extent such events should be opposed and to what extent individual choice should be the litmus test of liberation.'
'The comrades of the new formation are small in number – but they could for instance, have enough members and resources to set up a cracking left daily news and comment website. A few dozen activists, with decent politics, writing skills, talent, cohesion and a little money could create a news source that we need – one that is updated continually. People thirst for a regular supply of ‘new news’ and interactivity – hence the success of some left blogs, which despite being the amateur efforts of one or two individuals, reach a wider audience than the traditional left press. Imagine the impact a larger group with more resources and not trapped by classic blog format?
Such an effort could relatively easily become popular with a little imagination. It could use embedded video with mini-documentaries – about the struggles today, about history and ideas – and also use talking head news bulletins and discussion. It could also also employ the powerful new ‘web.20′ social networking facilities to create a community of readers. Such a website is in demand! It could easily become compulsive viewing – and not just in the UK but anywhere on Earth where the English language is understood.
I don’t see why with a little effort the left could not approach or match the online operation of a major bourgeois news source, but with socialist ideas. If they did this I might even join and help! A small group could have a big impact this way. It can be the new form of the ‘political scaffolding’ discussed in ‘What is to be done’ – but for for the twenty first century.'
From Faithful to the Line:
'The technologies are now in our hands to start assembling some dramatic new ways to interact politically with the world. Hardware of an incredible sophistication – GPS positioning devices, digital compasses, and high-resolution displays – is just rattling around in people’s pockets. 85 per cent of people in the UK own at least one mobile phone.
Best of all, the software and the data needed to make it work is largely free, whether in the massive volume of information contained in Google Maps, open source software, or the ability to store and replay millions of short films on YouTube.
A bit of imagination will be required. The late, much-missed Counterfire website began to show how, with minimum expenditure, those on the left could begin to put together an impressive and useful set of tools. Historically, the left has known how to exploit new technologies: whether in the production of cheap, widely-circulated newspapers, or the creative use of film. Here’s a more recent example, from Kenya, showing how widespread mobile phone ownership can be turned to political use.
It won’t be a panacea for all the left’s many and varied problems. But it could help to open up new audiences and strengthen organisations.'