Monday, 7 November 2011

We're all anti-capitalists now.

I'm too young to be an old hippy - but Buffalo Springfield's lyrics keep ringing in my head at the moment:
There's something happening here  
What it is ain't exactly clear  
I think it's time we stop children what's that sound 
Everybody look what's going down
I had a job interview on Friday and - as I was in the area - found myself in the bizarre position of calling in at the St Paul's occupation if not exactly 'suited and booted' then certainly not in my usual scruffy state.

I didn't stay very long - but I was struck by a diverse bunch of committed people stoically enduring the miserable autumn drizzle and at great  pains to explain what they were all about to anyone who would listen. Quite eccentric and very English.

But these days I apply a kind of acid test to any movement - would it connect to the people I live with in Tottenham - the diverse inner city dispossessed ? or the people I used to work with - the white working class ? or to my daughter's friends - the next generation of activists ? If something doesn't hit at least one of these criteria then however well-intentioned it's probably barking up the wrong tree. And I'd have  confess that I came away from St Paul's still a bit ambiguous. But then a couple of surprising things happened at the weekend:

I went to the SP's weekend school 'Socailism 2011' and attended the session on the anti-capitalist occupations. I was prepared for some hack-interventions making predictable criticisms of the occupiers for not having a rounded-out socialist programme or connecting to the labour movement. But there was none of that. In fact there were several young comrades who had been on the occupations themselves - here, in the US and in Europe. They looked and spoke just like the people at St Paul's only they had pushed the anti-capitalist thing that vital last few yards into something like socialism.

Then I rode down  to Kent on Sunday for lunch with my dad. He's 82 and although he's been a Labour man all his life you could forgive him for carrying a certain conservatism at his age. In fact though - like Tony Benn - he seems to have got more radical as he's got older. He wanted to know about St Paul's what was going on -  what it was about - what did I think? As he said - and I quote: 'after all - we're all anti-capitalists now'.

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