The Anti-Capitalist Initiative’s (ACI) gathering of elements of the British Left on the 1st December 2012 in London was yet more proof of their inability to adapt to today’s world, says duvinrouge.
Despite a promising start will an inspirational speech from Joana Ramiro, followed by Preeti Paul from IOPS setting out a vision of what we are fighting for, the day then descended into tedious waffle from pseudo-intellectuals lacking any ability to inspire. This wasn’t entirely the fault of the speakers; it was the old, out of date approach of having a top table of ‘experts’ preaching to an audience in that typical hierarchical fashion socialist organisations are so well known for. These high-priests of theory are often employed by universities, write books, & mainly come from middle-class families. Participation is limited to an handful of ‘questions’ which sound more like mini-speeches from windbags who aspire to be on the top table next time around.
When will these people learn that this format will never appeal to the working class?
I appreciate that a lot of hard work went into this from some very committed well-meaning people whose political vision of a post-capitalist world I largely share. For these individuals I am truly sorry if my criticism causes offence. The sad truth though is these people need to wake up & realise that this way of organising is actually counter-productive.
There is an alternative approach. It can be summed up in one word: participation.
It’s an approach I witnessed first-hand in the occupation of St. Pauls. It was also the breath of fresh-air I felt at the recent IOPS meeting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware of their theoretical shortcomings. They are not Marxists & therefore do not have the intellectual tool-kit to fully understand the nature of the capitalist system. But, however, they do have the potential to reach out to people with an attractive post-capitalist vision. An alternative that offers people the ability to gain control over their lives by participating in society as equals & having a say in decisions that affect them. This alternative can be grasped as a real alternative when people see such an approach to decision-making & debating put into practice today.
If the organisers of ‘Up the Anti’ had put this approach into practice they would have had participates split up into groups of no more than 20 discussing questions such as ‘What are we fighting for?’ Everyone who wanted to have a say could have. Everyone would have got to know others much better, which is essential for building trust & encouraging further participation. Ideas could have been collated & examined. People could have gone home inspired that they have actually been involved in something in an active way.
I hope those good people involved in the ACI learn from this experience.